What's on air?

ESL One Cologne 2019 started on May 02, packing the most competitive teams in the world into one “BIG” event in Germany. Last year in 2018, we saw the close competition between the home favorite BIG and the phenomenal Natus Vincere in the grand final. The crowd in Lanxess area was absolutely great while cheering for their home team. Natus Vincere eventually emerged victorious with the 4th MVP for s1mple that year. s1mple would go on to be named the best player in 2018.

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s1mple put up a great performance in the grand final against BIG to scoop the MVP trophy

However, this year, things have changed. Team Liquid is on the rise with promising talents, notably EliGE with a consistent performance so far in 2019. Astralis still looks strong with their great performance in this tournament. Let’s take a look at this tournament to see the current situation with the best CS:GO event before 6 teams head to the playoffs.

First day

The first day of CS:GO commenced with many Bo1 games seeing close competition among best teams.

Closer than expected

In group A, 3 out of 4 matches were really close with the scoreline of 16-14. However, with better experience and firepower, Team Liquid, Natus Vincere and FaZe emerged victorious over MVP, mousesports and Renegades.

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Team Liquid struggled against the Korean team MVP on Nuke but managed to close out at 16-14

Totally demolished

FURIA and BIG trembled before the overwhelming power of NRG and Astralis, losing 7-16 and 4-16 respectively to their opponents.

Unexpected upsets

In the remaining 3 matches, upsets were delivered by the underdogs fnatic, NiP, and Heroic. In a good day, fnatic and NiP found their way to beat MIBR and Vitality respectively. The #2 team ENCE somehow got shaky and lost to the heavy underdog Heroic.

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ENCE unexpectedly dropped in performance

Early tickets to airport

Later on, 2 elimination matches were played out between the losers of group A. Mousesports and FURIA defeated MVP and Renegades convincingly to continue their journey.

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Sadly, "the boys" had to go home early after losing to FURIA

Early tickets to playoffs

The first day of the event witnessed the clash of titans between Team Liquid and Natus Vincere for a guaranteed ticket to playoffs. Also, NRG and FaZe with early victories also fought for the same slot. The match between the current #1 team in the world and the team that features #1 player in 2018 s1mple was indeed interesting as people would expect.

The match started on Dust2, Natus Vincere’s map pick. The CIS squad quickly proved their map choice was indeed a good option against the North American powerhouse. Natus Vincere got off on a good start with 9 rounds in the first half as CT and decent attempts as Terrorist where they brought the scoreline to 15-11. This seemed to spell the end for Team Liquid at this moment where nitr0 was the only remaining member of the team against 3 Natus Vincere guns.

Unexpected incident

However, s1mple made a questionable decision when trying to knife nitr0 from behind and failed hard. nitr0 instantly denied the humiliation attempt and pulled off a 1v3 clutch to bring the game to overtime. Natus Vincere would then run out of ideas in overtime to lose 19-22.

s1mple, why would you do that.

One “s1mple” mistake cost the CIS squad the map dearly. Natus Vincere tried as hard as they could to win Overpass only to lose the last map, Mirage. Had it not been for the silly attempt of s1mple, Natus Vincere could’ve beaten Liquid 2-0. However, the rest is history.

NRG also defeated FaZe handily in Mirage and Overpass to book their playoff ticket. The first day concluded with 2 teams left out of the competition. Renegades and MVP have to settle for $5,000 as they finished last.

Second day

The second day of the event saw more competition in the group stage B.

MIBR against the home favorite BIG

MIBR has been struggling recently. They fell deep into a loop of disappointing results to the point of swapping João "felps" Vasconcellos for Lucas "LUCAS1" Teles. In a day when even coldzera would be at bottom frag, MIBR struggled to end the game even with a 12-3 lead in the first half on Train. They could not close out the map and lost 12 rounds in a row, dropping every early advantage they could manage. The map eventually went to overtime with the victory for BIG.

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Even with LUCAS1, MIBR still couldn't win some good CS

#2 and #3 eliminated each other.

The surprise in group B saw the two top teams just behind Team Liquid facing each other in the elimination match. ENCE and Vitality both won their map pick and eventually played the third map, Inferno. ENCE seemed to run out of energy when they struggled against the tight defense of the CT. Vitality closed out the map at 16-9.

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Vitality outlasted ENCE to continue their journey

Astralis dismantled fnatic, mousesports knocked out FaZe

Astralis displayed flawless performance against fnatic, winning 2 maps 16-1 and 16-6 handily. mousesports struggled against FaZe on Inferno but managed to close it out in overtime 19-15. They would then go on to destroy FaZe on Mirage 16-8.

NiP overran Heroic, Natus Vincere managed to close out 2 maps against FURIA

NiP got a good day where REZ got a sky-high 2.23 rating on Overpass and 1.35 on Inferno. They won against Heroic 2-0 to book a playoff ticket. Natus Vincere once against struggled against the less established team, FURIA. They always got a better lead and then let the opponent make a comeback. Only when it mattered most could the CIS squad manage to close out the map. They won by a little margin with the scoreline of 16-12 and 16-14 on Nuke and Overpass. With this, MIBR and ENCE were knocked out. NiP and Astralis secured the playoff ticket.

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ENCE, FaZe, FURIA and MIBR were out

The third day

The last 2 tickets were up for grab among the 4 teams in the lower bracket. Liquid, NRG, Astralis, and NiP have already secured the playoff spot. They only played to determine the seeding of the playoffs.

BIG could not make it to the grand final this year, neither did fnatic

BIG lost their map pick in overtime and could not put up a decent fight on Nuke. Heroic eliminated BIG to get a chance at the last quarter-final ticket. fnatic managed to bring both maps to overtime against Vitality. However, with an outstanding performance from Zywoo, Vitality beat fnatic 2 times in a row to eliminate the Swedes.

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BIG could not make it to the grand final this year without Smooya

Last chance for group A, mousesports and Natus Vincere.

The CIS squad once against found themselves hitting a brick wall even with a big lead. Natus Vincere came to the map pick of mousesports comfortably, winning the first half 11-4. However, things took a turn for the worse in the second half where mousesports scored 11 consecutive rounds to reach 15-11. Natus Vincere seemed to wake up after a tactical pause to bring the game to overtime. s1mple and Co. proved themselves well with a flawless victory after double overtime, 22-19.

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mousesports could not manage to close it out though ChrisJ got 40 frags

The second map Dust 2 went the “woxic” way where he scored a 1.64 rating with 23 frags. They managed to close out the map 16-8. The third map felt so nostalgic where Natus Vincere defeated mousesports 16-14 in the first day of the event. However, the CIS squad this time looked so solid to close out the map 16-9 this time.

Liquid and Astralis became semi-finalists, Vitality punched the last ticket to playoffs.

Team Liquid got a hard time against the #2 team in North American, winning on Nuke and Inferno with close scores 16-12 and 22-20. Astralis also got a hard time closing the map Dust2 against NiP. The Danes could only pull off an overtime victory after letting NiP take the 2nd half 12-3. Yet they managed to win the series 2-0. In the Inferno game, there was one fun situation where Dupree dropped his pistol and couldn’t find his stuff back. It took him quite a while to go search for it in the T spawn.

Where did it go?

Vitality punched the last ticket to playoffs

The Frenchmen won 2 close maps against Heroic 16-13 and 16-14 to book the last ticket in the big stage of Lanxess area.

What is to expect in playoffs?

Team Liquid managed to keep up good performance throughout the series though much harder this time than the last event. Astralis seemed to find back their form after dropping no maps during their flawless run.

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Can Astralis deny the Intel Grand Slam for Team Liquid this time?

Natus Vincere got a good time with new member though they were still struggling to close out maps. However, their map pool seems to be better this time with Nuke improved. Vitality, NRG, and NiP looked promising with their current performance.

What is coming up?

The quarter-finals will take place on July 5 with Vitality against NRG and Natus Vincere versus NiP. Whoever wins will face Liquid and Astralis on the day after for a ticket to the grand final on July 7. Stay tuned for more top-level Counter-Strike.