We’re so close to the biggest non-Major of the CSGO year now you can almost smell the Cologne, and we don’t mean whatever Anchorman brand it is that OJ Borg likes to mist around himself before striding onto the stage. No, it’s ESL One Cologne this week, and the tournament organisers have already announced the crucial best-of one games that will set the tone for so many teams.
That is probably the one weakness of the ‘best format in CSGO’ right now, the fact so much of your journey can start with and depend on a BO1 encounter, but its fair to say there is no ‘right’ way to run a CSGO event yet. Let’s dive into a few of the best looking matches from day one, starting with the greatest player to ever touch CSGO vs a young squad led by an old head…
Related: ESL One Cologne 2019 schedule and brackets
Na’Vi vs Mousesports
This looks like the most exciting game of the day, although there is always a chance that Na’Vi just don’t turn up, as has been the case in the past. Since their last big outing the black and gold have added Kirill ‘Boombl4’ Mikhailov to their team in place of Ioann ‘Edward’ Sukhariev, leading to much hilarity on Instagram and what looks like an improvement in team spirit if nothing else.
In the server, it’s hard to know exactly what effect the big man will have on the rest of his team, as Edward seemed like one of the more stable parts of the Na’Vi equation for much of his recent time, at least emotionally. As with many tournaments, a lot will depend on how well s1mple and electronic go, and then what level of support flamie and now Boombl4 can provide, so the new recruit’s first job is going to be enabling the stars of his new side.
The odds are incredibly close prior to the game, with Mousesports 1.87 to Na’Vi’s 1.86, and the map has the potential to play a big part in the result. If Mousesports win the pistol, at 1.87, it will be an early test for the new Na’Vi, and given their combustible nature and the fact this BO1 isn’t an elimination game could see the European mix sweep the CIS superteam aside.
Astralis v BIG
It’s become quite fashionable in CSGO to engage in a spot of public schadenfreude about the decline of the Danish royals whenever possible, but that is only half the depressing story of this game. Alongside the drop off we’ve seen from the best to ever do it (as a team), we have a BIG team that made the final here at ESL One Cologne last year, only to implode and see their playmaking AWP star smooya leave before the Major in Katowice.
Now they come up against a vulnerable Astralis that have lost to teams like Furia and NRG in the last few weeks, and the chance is there for BIG to take if they really want to. Sadly for Gob b and his mates, the gap between these two was a chasm before Astralis took their break, and probably hasn’t shrunk enough to make this a realistic target for a team ranked 30th in the world, behind Tricked and Aristocracy.
A lot of Astralis’s recent losses have been close ones, so if the game is competitive the total rounds could be over 26.5, at 2.55 on Luckbox.com. While it would be nice to see another home run, esports is great for the fact we don’t need a home team to be in every event for it to matter, and the chances are this will be an easy win for the Danes.
NIP v Vitality
It’s mad to think that in the space of a few short months Vitality have gone from being a team written off by many as "that ZywOo side" into a genuine contender for titles, but on the other hand they have great funding, some of the most experienced and talented players in France, and have been given time to find their way by their org. All in all then, this is a good advert for doing things the right way in CSGO, and it may be their time to shine.
As for the Ninjas, they come in with emotion coursing through their normally ice-cold veins, with the news that GeT_RiGhT will be leaving the playing staff after the Berlin Major. It’s a wonderful thing that possibly the greatest player to play CSGO gets to have a nice farewell tour, and it makes them even more dangerous than before as the magic will surely be a factor.
Vitality are favourites for a reason, but with a BO1 and the Magic in the air that 1.41 to NIP’s 2.68 might start looking a bit overconfident if Forest grows into the game and GeT_RiGhT’s is feeling himself. With REZ starting to look like a real star of the Swedish game too now, this could go either way, and will come down to how well NIP are able to stifle ZywOo, as he remains the focal point of the French offensive.
Pictures: Copyright ESL Adela Sznajder Helena Kristiansson