With ESL One Cologne just days away, we have a look at Group B, where some massive teams reside. FaZe are surely favourites, but have shown weakness and are playing with a sub, while the likes of Liquid and North will want to prove they are better than their recent failures suggest.
The clear favourites to make it out of Group B, FaZe Clan are coming to Germany with a lot of problems nonetheless. They are yet to confirm who their fifth player will be at the time of writing, with most expecting Cromen to maintain his spot as sub for the time being, the superteam need to solidify their line-up soon if they are to be ready for a run at a major title in London later in the year.
The likes of BOOT, RNG, BIG and MIBR shouldn’t bother FaZe unless something unexpected happens, but Fnatic will want to prove the doubters wrong about their recent moves and Liquid are arguably a top four team in the world right now, so even if getting wins isn’t difficult they will need to be on top form to not lose. Of course there is talent in MIBR and RNG, but if FaZe drop a game before playoffs they will be rightfully annoyed.
The team from Singapore, not to be confused with the team from China, are due to face FaZe in their first match of the event. That is the sort of fate normally reserved for the worst of the worst, and if the pundits are honest they will all be expecting BOOT to get a royal kicking from the biggest brand in CSGO. If they don’t, then all bets are off, as we’ve seen with other underdog runs in big tournaments.
Without regular experience of European CSGO it is hard for Asian teams to reach the level they need to play at, but Tyloo have shown what talent and practice can produce, and there is a history of teams from Asia substituting preparation for time in game to good effect. That is not to say we expect a shock, but BOOT aren’t here just for fun either.
There was a sense of occasion about the way Noah Whinston announced his expensive new team at the MIBR launch…thing recently, but the details gave a lot away. The team did not strut onto the stage with the invincible aura they had twelve months ago, and on social media certain members spent a massive amount of time defending themselves against fairly benign digs, suggesting a really fragile mentality currently pervades this group.
A win over RNG wouldn’t be enough to get their groove back of course, which means they will have to face FaZe in their current form if they can beat the Aussie mix. A year back, without Stewie and with TACO, this would have been the team people were picking to win, but right now they look as lost as can be, and not close to a solution.
The Australian mix turns up at this event on the back of a decent start to the year, which includes a win over FaZe Clan. Admittedly that was not exactly on even footing, with the victory achieved at IEM Sydney, where RNG are at home, in front of a home crowd, while FaZe battle jetlag, the crowd and the sneaking thief that is complacency in the early stages of that event.
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In terms of what is expected, a lot of fans will have MIBR to wreck RNG in the first match, but there is no real reason to assume that result until we’ve reached the end of play. The former SK guys are far from the form they’ve shown in the past, and there is no reason that Nifty, USTILO and co should fear them as they would have done in the past.
According to Thorin, Fnatic are the new Ninjas in Pyjamas, with a core of players that are bulletproof despite not being top tier and one guy who can be cut with no bother. While it remains to be seen how long they persist with Xizt in this team, it does seem like no matter what happens, flusha, JW and Krimz will be allowed to continue on in the team until such a time as they see fit to leave, rather than ever being kicked.
In their half of the draw, with North and BIG alongside Liquid, there is an argument that Fnatic could go through undefeated, but they should lose to the American mix if things go to form. The problem is that Liquid are notoriously shaky at the moment, and if Fnatic can get that win, they may gain enough momentum to make a deep run and distract everyone from the awful roster moves they have been making.
North got a lot of stick for letting k0nfig leave, but since his departure the Danish star has shown how difficult a human he can be, for all his talent. The shame is that the team has not been able to parley their new peace into profit, instead seeing what looks like a very decent group of players fail to make any impact on the game at multiple events, and being overturned by tier two and three teams.
There is every chance they could crash out in the early stages of this event, and continue to do so, with the large salaries the players enjoy probably cushioning the blow of being consistently crap just a bit. That would be sad, as Valde and Kjaerbye are top end talents and deserve to show that, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be in this team, or at this event.
Given that North made it to this event via a qualifier, there will be a few folk rightly surprised that BIG are an invited team, but the German connection was clearly enough. Never mind that they haven’t done anything as a team for the longest time, that German CS is not really going anywhere or that better teams were forced to qualify, or didn’t even make it at all, the appeal of a local brand must be enough, right?
Probably not, as it turns out, with the Cologne crowd lovers of CS and not requiring a ‘local’ element in the way certain other nations do. When BIG fail to make it to the final, as they inevitably will, there will be no comments or worries about the stadium being empty as there were in Brazil, and their elimination will be no real loss to the fans, which suggests they probably didn’t deserve the invite in the first place.
Finally, the boys in white and blue and this should demonstrate why the ‘boys in’ thing is so stupid in a sector where so many teams wear the same BLOODY COLOUR! Anyway, Team Liquid have bags of talent, at the right age for it to develop well, and the sort of coach a red-headed businessman with a penchant for Brazilian CSGO pros would love to hire, and yet there is still a feeling that the failing has not ended yet.
Fortunately, they start with games against BIG and then either North or Fnatic, meaning by the time Liquid play a really good team they should have two easy wins under their belt and the sort of confidence that a roster with this much talent should feel automatically. If that happens, then all bets are off, and Liquid could make the final, but that’s been said at so many different points recently that it is far from bankable.