Europe's elite will battle it out hoping to win one of the most stacked events of the year. We break down the format, the recent roster moves and give you some betting tips in our preview of ESL One Cologne Europe 2020.
Europe’s elite will fight it out as ESL One: Cologne is about to get underway. We break down the format, the recent roster moves and give you some betting tips in our mega preview.
A grand total of $325,000 will be up for grabs as ESL One Cologne is about to get cracking. Don’t be fooled by the name, however, as this tournament will be played entirely online due to the current situation at hand. Due to latency, the tournament has been divided into two regions; Europe and North America. In this article, we will be breaking down the European portion of the event. With Europe’s finest among the participants, we should be in for a good one!
We are looking at an excellent format for this tournament, with best-of-threes throughout, as well as a best-of-five grand final. The whole thing will kick-off with a GSL style group stage (double-elimination) with two groups of eight. Once the group stage has concluded, the top four teams from each group will advance to the single-elimination playoff bracket.
The tournament kicks off August 18 and runs through August 30.
*Note: All stats are from 2020 and from online play. *
Astralis have been very active on the transfer market since Xyp9x and gla1ve announced that they would be taking a leave of absence. Their latest addition is Bubzkji, who has performed admirably throughout his time on MAD Lions. He will be making his debut at this tournament for Astralis alongside es3tag, who has been ineligible to play until now due to contract obligations with Heroic. Players like Xyp9x and gla1ve are incredibly difficult to replace, but this roster looks a lot more promising than the one that we saw earlier with JUGi and Snappi. Bubzkji will give them some much-needed firepower, and they will likely benefit from the versatility that a player like es3tag provides. The question is how Magisk will perform as the in-game leader of this team. As a rather heated - but passionate - individual, it is questionable if he is the perfect man for the job. However, if they can make it work, Astralis does have some potential to make a deep run at this tournament.
Another team that will be showcasing their new roster at this tournament is FaZe. New to the team is the former North player Kjaerbye, who comes in to replace Bymas who joined the team on trial basis back in May. The firepower on this team is undeniable, but incorporating Kjaerbye may not be the easiest task as he has played a lot of the same CT positions as NiKo in the past. It is questionable if they have had enough time to find the perfect fit for Kjaerbye, but if they can find a solution that fits both parties, FaZe may prove to be a hard nut to crack moving forward.
BIG have looked dominant ever since the transition to online play, winning DreamHack Masters Spring, cs_summit 6, and most recently, DreamHack Open Summer. BIG have catapulted up to №1 in HLTV’s world ranking, and pretty much everyone on this roster is flying high right now. Even tiziaN, who usually has more of a supportive role on this team, had an MVP worthy performance in the finals at DreamHack Open Summer. BIG will be eager to keep the momentum going, and they will have a good chance at getting off on the right foot as they have been drawn against Sprout in the first round.
Complexity had to settle for a 3rd-4th place finish at DreamHack Open Summer after being upset by Heroic in the semi-finals. Before that, they were able to take down BLAST Premier Spring Finals, which was a major milestone for the international roster. With blameF at the helm, there is no doubt that this team will head into this tournament well prepared, and it would be foolish to completely rule them out of the equation considering the level of individual skill that they have at their disposal.
Natus Vincere have definitely had their ups and downs recently, but they ended June on a good note by winning WePlay! Clutch Island. Granted, this was a CIS event that they were expected to win, but it was a positive result nonetheless. s1mple has been excellent, as per usual, but electronic has struggled somewhat with the transition to online play. It is hard to see them winning this event without the dynamic duo of s1mple and electronic firing on all cylinders, so his performance is going to be crucial if they want to go all the way.
Vitality had two runner-up finishes before the break, getting second to BIG at cs_summit 6 and second to Complexity at BLAST Premier Spring Finals. This team has been together for a while now, and they are consistently getting top placements. It appears as if they are one of the few teams that haven’t been affected too much by the switch to online play. With one of the world’s finest players in ZywOo and a shox who has been rolling back the years as of late, it would be foolish to underestimate the French side.
This tournament has an excellent format with BO3s and a BO5 final and an elite lineup of teams. This definitely benefits top teams with strong map pools. In terms of favorites, both BIG (5.80) and Natus Vincere (5.20) stand out, as they have the easier of the two groups, in my opinion. For the very same reason, I think you could make a strong case for either NiP (13.00) or Complexity (19.00) as potential dark horse picks at odds in the double digits. Complexity have already proven that they are capable of slaying giants with their win at BLAST Premier Spring Finals, and NiP have shown signs of promise under the guidance of threat from the coaching position.