As the ninth CSGO major approaches with a whopping $1 million prize pool on the line, ESL One Cologne will see 16 of the world’s best teams duke it out of the groups stage before making it to the playoffs.
The format for ESL One Cologne stays the same as previous tournaments with the original games being a best-of-one setup where teams need two wins to advance or two losses to exit. A decider match will also be played in a best-of-three series to determine the last team to advance in each group.
Below are my predictions going into group stage of the tournament with the playoff predictions following as the tournament continues. Let’s take this one matchup at a time as we progress through each group and see just how these teams matchup against each other.
GROUP A: Astralis – Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) – Gambit Gaming – Team Dignitas
Astralis VS Team Dignitas
First cab off the rank for this tournament will be between the two Danish teams Astralis and Team Dignitas. Looking at the rosters for these teams there have been a few changes that could end up making the overall difference.
Before the tournament, both teams had initiated a player swap which included “cajunB” from Astralis and “Kjaerbye” from Team Dignitas switching to the other players team. Unfortunately for Astralis, this meant that their new star player wouldn’t be able to compete as “Kjaerbye” had previously qualified with Team Dignitas. Instead, Astralis has brought in another Danish player “g1aive” who has played for CPH Wolves and SK gaming. This will be a weakened roster for Astralis going into the tournament but we will see how it plays out.
Even with the weakened roster I feel Astralis has enough of the core team members to take out this best of one pending on the map they play. Astralis has consistently triumphed over Team Dignitas in both online and offline matchups with the exception of Dreamhack Malmo when they (Dignitas) still had “Kjaerbye” in their lineup. With the swap to “canjunb” I think it may even up the scales a little but not enough to make the difference necessary.
With the wildcard of Nuke available in the mix, it could shake things up more than usual but my prediction is Astralis will get rid of it in favour of maps like Mirage or Overpass and dominate their Danish brother team.
Gambit Gaming VS Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)
For the next match we see Gambit Gaming go up against CLG in a best-of-one match. More recent roster moves have plagued both teams and it’s hard to predict which way this match will go when there is only one game to play with weakened lineups.
CLG has made two changes that just might have doomed their chances in this tournament. The first being a player trade of their star awper “jdm64” for new player “koosta” from Team Liquid. After his introduction to Team Liquid, “koosta” hasn’t had the offline performance that was needed for the team and I don’t think that’s not going to change anytime soon. The removal of “FugLy” also meant that the CLG lineup needed a fifth player to be able to attend and their coach “pita” has stepped in to compete for the foreseeable future.
Apart from making the qualifier for ESL One Cologne in 3-5th place, the Gambit Gaming has been very quiet since the MLG Columbus major. With that being said they are able to battle it out in this grudge match with CLG who took them out in a best-of-three matchup at the last tournament. This time I see Gambit Gaming with the combination of “AdreN, mou and Dosia” taking this one out due to the weakness of the CLG roster.
Winners Bracket Final – Astralis VS Gambit Gaming
The sheer amount of talent on display here from Astralis should be enough to take this best-of-one over Gambit Gaming. With the possibility of map picks going in Gambit’s favour (maps like Nuke or Train) I don’t see much coming from the CIS region team in this match and would should see Astralis moving quickly into the playoffs in first place.
Losers Bracket Final – Team Dignitas VS Counter Logic Gaming
While Team Dignitas may be a little discouraged after falling to their Danish brothers I still see them picking up the win against CLG regardless of which map is being played. CLG has had a terrible win rate since the last Major tournament and with the additional roster changes, all being in the other team’s’ favour CLG looks like it’s one loss away from disbanding entirely.
Decider Match (B03) – Team Dignitas VS Gambit Gaming
This is where Group A gets interesting and this will probably be the closest game going into this group. With Gambit Gaming being so quiet recently it’s hard to tell how they will perform against this new Danish lineup. This matchup will most likely be decided by which maps will be picked by the two teams. If the maps go in the favour of Dignitas (Dust 2, Cobblestone) then I predict a quick and easy 2 – 0 before moving onto the playoffs in second place.
If however, Gambit end up getting the map picks to go in their favour (Train, Cache) and they go to a third map then they may just be able to upset the Danish team and move onto the playoffs themselves. It’s still a 50-50 in my opinion and without knowing the maps ahead of time I think anything could happen.