One of the biggest and surely one of the most anticipated Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament is just around the corner, with the top teams in the world getting ready to pack their bags and head to the "Cathedral of CS:GO" in Cologne, Germany, where they will test their might against each other in ESL One Cologne 2019.
ESL One Cologne 2019 is set to take place between July 2nd and July 7th at Lanxess-Arena in Cologne, which will house 16 of the best CS:GO teams from 3 different regions. The participating teams will fight for the lion's share of $300,000 prize pool and the title of the champions, which will count towards their Intel Grand Slam Season 2 standings. Out of 16 participating teams, 11 got invited, while the remaining 5 had to fight their way through qualifiers. The list of participating teams is as follows: Astralis, BIG, Fnatic, NiP, ENCE, FaZe, mousesports, MIBR, NaVi, NRG Renegades, Team Liquid, Team Vitality, Heroic, FURIA and MVP PK.
ESL One Cologne 2019 will be played in two stages in the course of 5 days (July 2nd-July 7th). The group stage will divide teams into two groups of 8 teams, who will then play in a double-elimination format (GSL). The seed of the groups will be determined based on the ESL CS:GO World Rankings. All of the initial matches will be played in Bo1, while all the matches following the first round will be Bo3. Once the teams finish the group stage, only the best 3 teams will get to advance into the playoffs.
The winners of the group stage will advance into the semi-finals while the runners-up will advance into quarter-finals as the high seed. The 3rd placed teams will advance into quarter-finals as a low seed. Playoffs, which will take place between July 5th and July 7th will be played in a single elimination bracket, Bo3 matches, with the only exception being the finals which will be played in Bo5.
Knowing the basics of how one of the most prestigious tournaments will be played, let's check the participants, their strengths, weaknesses and most importantly which team out of 16 do we believe has all the needed qualities to lift the trophy at the 5th anniversary of ESL One Cologne.
After several months of absence from any "real" competitive play and after two failed tournaments, Astralis are still somehow considered as favourites to win the whole thing. Sure, their draw looks easy if we are talking last year’s Astralis, but for the current Astralis… I can hardly see them reaching the finals, let alone winning it all. They were quite shaky and beatable even on their best maps at the recent ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals and if they don't drastically improve for the upcoming tournament, Astralis won't fare well against other top 10 teams who will be out looking for their revenge for all the previous defeats against the Danes. No point betting on the false favourite this time.
Their NA rivals, Team Liquid, are currently on a roll and are looking to extend their first place on the HLTV rankings. They won three LAN tournaments in June alone and they show no signs of stopping anytime soon. DreamHack Masters Dallas 2019 and the recent ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals were full of Tier 1 competition, so nobody can say that these tournaments were easy for the NA team. They are in great shape and rightfully priced as joint-favourites and at some places even as second favourites after Astralis. All in all, Team Liquid are an obvious value bet and probably the best bet for this tournament.
Looking at the other teams, Natus Vincere just had a roster change recently and I am not sure how ready are they coming into this tournament. They have the potential to reach the playoffs, but I can hardly see them in the finals. FaZe Clan have way too many problems with their in-game tactics and even though they have one of the best players on the team, I would not be surprised if they fail to get out of the group stage. Team Vitality and ENCE have probably similar chances of winning the tournament but then again, even if they reach the finals, it will be hard for them to beat Team Liquid.
As for our prediction, we just have to go with Team Liquid. They are priced quite generously and are coming into the tournament in great spirits. In the past, they were known to choke in the finals, but looking at the last couple of events, they have successfully got over the "choking". Bet on Team Liquid to win their fifth tournament this year.
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