ESL One Cologne 2015 Summary and Thoughts!

The previous weekend gathered 16 of the world’s best teams to compete for the title of 6th ever Major CS:GO tournament and a prize purse of $250,000. The tournament was quite epic I have to say! We had both the surprises of lesser teams coming out on top in match-up’s they weren’t supposed to, and, the pleasure of watching some of the worlds best teams play some spectacular CS proving they are a level or two above everyone else! Although, the event is over and we have crowned our champion, there’s still plenty to talk about and discuss within the tournament itself. Shall we begin?

As I’m going to talk about the format of the tournament and how it interacted with performance of some teams, I would like to remind everyone what the final standings of the tournament look like (plus my short thoughts of every teams performance), so later on you can see the context for my thoughts:

1. fnatic – $100,000 – number one team in the world, no doubt about that! Flusha is a monster!
2. EnVyUs – $50,000 – managed to secure 2nd place just because teams didn’t know how to counter their super-aggressive style (until Grand Final at least, where fnatic proved that they have the cure for the French disease).
3-4. – $25,000 – played a really solid tournament, finished as expected at Top 4
3-4. TSM – $25,000 – sadly, did not know how to adjust to EnVy’s super-aggressive style and had to settle for Top 4 finish.
5-8. Na`Vi – $10,000 – did all that they could; could have maybe defeated EnVy in the quarter-final, but tides were not in their favor this time; finished as expected.
5-8. Kinguin – $10,000 – did better than expected just because of the clowny group stage format; would not count them as a Top 8 team in the world.
5-8. Luminosity – $10,000 – definitely did better than expected; would enter the play-off’s even if there would be no shuffle of the groups after Day 1; well played by Brazilians.
5-8. NiP – $10,000 – did as expected; anything less than Top 8 would set them back hugely
9-16. CLG – $2,000 – sadly, did not manage to go all the way and upset neither NiP or Na`Vi; looked very promising, would not have been surprised if they would have made play-off’s; did a little bit better than expected.
9-16. FlipSid3 – $2,000 – were super close to defeating Luminosity to secure a spot at the play-off’s, but were s1mply too short-handed to seal the deal; did a little bit better than expected.
9-16. Renegades – $2,000 – did as expected; any other map than inferno in their game versus NiP and they would actually have a chance at going to the play-off’s; next time Aussies, next time!
9-16. Cloud9 – $2,000 – did worse than expected; were hammered big time by the new format of the group stages (more on that below).
9-16. mousesports – $2,000 – did worse than expected; were also arguably the team that suffered from the new format of group stages (more on that below).
9-16. Titan – $2,000 – did as expected; a lot of people thought they would make play-off’s, but it’s only obvious that his roster is not made to be Top 8 team in the world; seems like they are playing together just because there are no other options in the French scene right now!
9-16. Immunity – $2,000 – finished as expected; sadly did not have the guts to seal the deal in their game versus Kinguin at dust2 (13:16 lose); otherwise, this team has the same potential Renegades have.
9-16. eBettle – $2,000 – finished as expected; earned some pretty valuable experience from playing at event of this scale!

The new format of group stages

Before we start discussing performance of various teams that attended the tournament, I would like to share my thoughts on the new group stage format!

For those who are not familiar with it, the new format looks like this:

  1. 16 teams are split into 4 groups of 4;
  2. Groups are being played in GSL format (mini double elimination bracket);
  3. The winner of upper-bracket final in every group (meaning, you have to win two games in a row at Day 1 to proceed) earns themselves a spot in the play-off’s;
  4. Other 12 teams (according to their place in the group where they were left off – be it lower-bracket round 1 or lower bracket final) are shuffled around, using one rule – two teams should never play each other twice during the tournament;
  5. The new shuffled groups are being played, and the team that comes out victorious in the lower-bracket final earns themselves a spot in the play-off’s.

Long story short – if you win both of the games at Day 1 you instantly proceed to play-off’s. If you don’t, there’s a good chance that you’re gonna get shuffled in a group with opponents you were not set to face against at the beginning of the tournament.

I can’t argue with this format being more entertaining for the viewers, as we don’t see two teams battle each other more than once during the tournament, I just can’t stress out how big of a space for error this format leaves us with!

For example – Cloud9 were definitely expected to at least enter the play-off’s of the tournament, but fell short to Kinguin (13:16 at dust2) just because they are a team who’s advantage lays in their ability to prepare for a specific opponent (we saw that at ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 Finals). As they were matched against a team that is new and plays a PUG style-ish CS (plus they had only few hours to prepare), we saw them crumble big time! There’s no arguing about the fact that Kinguin did beat Cloud9 fear and square, but the format (plus that dust2 random, volvo please!) set them up so good, that all that they had to do was not screw it up!

The same story goes for mousesports! In my opinion, they would have a better chance at entering the play-off’s if they would be set to play Cloud9 again, than they did against newly-matched FlipSid3. Yes, I know that Cloud9 are much stronger than FlipSid3, but CS is far more complex than just playing the stronger/weaker team, it’s about being prepared for the match! Team X can perform better against Team Y (which is level above them), if they get a good preparation, than they would have against Team Z (which is level below them), but with no preparation at all! Hope you get the point!

As much as this format is entertaining, it just does not provide us with the outcome we would like to see the most – actual Top 8 teams in the world entering the play-off’s! I would suggest using this format for any other tournament outside of the Major!

The play-off’s

The quarter-finals:

  • EnVyUs 2:0 Na`Vi – I knew this was gonna be an entertaining match-up! Na`Vi could have taken this if they would get their staff together and start playing like the Na`Vi we saw at ESWC 2015, but they didn’t. Expected win for EnVyUs!
  • TSM 2:0 Kinguin – as much as people praised Kinguin for entering the play-off’s there were no doubts that this was gonna be a one-sided match! TSM were too big of a raid-boss for Kinguin to handly both on paper and in reality!
  • Virtus.Pro 2:0 NiP – I don’t want to offend anyone, but I still don’t get why are people praising NiP and thinking that this match-up favored them over the Poles? This was a obvious 2:0 for me, and went exactly as expected.
  • fnatic 2:0 Luminosity – although Brazilians showed some teeth in mirage game, this was always in the hands of fnatic! As much as I like Luminosity and how they performed during the event, there was no way they would defeat fnatic!


The semi-finals:

  • EnVyUs 2:1 TSM – this was the series that broke my heart. Yes, I do love TSM and theoretically they would have had a better chance in the grand final against fnatic than EnVyUs did. The thing about TSM’s play-style is that they are quite bad at adapting to the enemy team, because they rarely are set in the position where they are not the ones dictating the game! They are super good at controlling the game if it’s in their hands! First two maps went as expected in my opinion (cache to EnVyUs; dust2 to TSM), but the third map was up in the air! Yes, EnVyUs do play very good inferno, but TSM have all the “weapons” to match them on this map! Sadly, they got super-rolled over, and by the time they came out of shock-state, EnVy were already victorious! Things were definitely not clicking for TSM at inferno!
  • Virtus.Pro 1:2 fnatic – speaking of spectacular CS, this is was one of the best series I have ever watched! VP demolished fnatic on mirage (16:6) and were looking great in the early-game of inferno. At one point, even I thought that VP is gonna get away with this, but then fnatic took a pause which awoke the beast! Finally out came the fnatic we all know and love, the fnatic which dominates every angle of the map! They quickly turned the tables of the match and came out victorious on inferno (14:16). The moment I saw fnatic play like that, was the moment I realized that there was no way VP is gonna take map 3 (cobblestone). And as predicted, fnatic rolled with the momentum from inferno into cobblestone, quickly and painlessly swiping the Poles out of the tournament (7:16 for fnatic). This series just showed why fnatic is a scary team and why other teams (and community) should have huge amount of respect towards them!


The Grand Final:

  • EnVyUs 0:2 fnatic – luckily for us the Grand Final was set in the same day as the semi-finals. After seeing what fnatic did to VP, I had no doubt that they are gonna take this series as well. When the game started, I was actually shocked of how hard it is even for a team of fnatic’s caliber to adjust to the new super-aggressive play-style of EnVy. They finished the half with 10:5 in their favor on T side of dust2, and were looking quite set on winning dust2! But, as always, fnatic woke up and started playing and adjusting. Round after round, they climbed back into the game, and everyone actually started to believe that fnatic could actually do this! After seeing VP-fnatic series, I thought “this was it, this was the best series of the event, there is no way, something is gonna top that”, but I was so wrong. The way fnatic just turned their ON/OFF switch was brilliant! Suddenly out of nowhere they just started playing like a whole new team, putting EnVy in uncomfortable position. This was one of the biggest (if not the biggest) comebacks of whole time! If you missed this game, go find the VOD and watch it, it’s a candy for competitive CS:GO spectator! After making the comeback at dust2 and winning it in quite a dominating way at the end (15:19), there was no way that EnVy are gonna get another chance at winning a map! Second map of the series was cobblestone which favored fnatic big time, and as expected, they came out victorious with a pretty convincing 7:16 win!


Overall thoughts:

As mentioned before, this event provided us with it all – various upsets and spectacular CS! The only thing I missed was the TSM versus fnatic Grand Finals! Some may argue that if TSM were not able to overcome EnVyUs they did not deserve the spot in the finals. Although, I can’t disagree with EnVy earning their spot in the finals, I feel like TSM would have provided us with a 3-map-thriller kind of Grand Finals, knowing that TSM is the only team in my opinion that has always had the tricks to compete (and sometimes even overcome) with the Swedish giant namely fnatic! Next time…

Our ESL One Cologne 2015 prediction statistics:

Total amount of predictions made – 20

Amount of correct predictions (%) – 14 (70%)

NOTE: These statistics are not always adequate, as blatantly predicting the team that is going to win is not always the case. Sometimes, we are advising people to play the odds or betting on the team that has the potential to upset!

– Gekons

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