It is that time of the year again, the most extravagant event of the year that is not a major. ESL One Cologne being held in the historic Lanxess Arena with a pot of $300,000 and another notch towards the Intel Grand Slam many teams are looking for glory in Cologne. With the clear-cut favorites being Astralis, we will preview teams looking from the outside in and some key players to watch throughout the festivities.
Can MIBR Defend Their Throne?
Cologne has been a magical place for the Brazilians over the last two years. Hoisting their second straight major trophy in 2016 and captivating another immense victory this past year, the Lanxess Arena is the closest place to home for FalleN and company. This time around things are very much different, with a roster that has looked impressive but for the majority has seen lackluster placings and inconsistent form all across the lineup, things need to change. Now under the famous “MIBR” tag, one that carries historic prowess throughout all the Counter-Strike scene, this may be the spark that certain players throughout the team need.
Speaking of the latter, boltz has gotten the short end of the stick regarding roles since the addition of Stewie2K into the lineup. Boltz has fallen back into more supportive roles and has seen a drastic dip in form (frags) in recent events. One notable scenario where the former Immortals star can be seen as a liability is on the CT side of Inferno. Boltz plays the pit anchor role on the A bombsite, and against individuals such as s1mple, it is unlikely that he will win more often than lose.
With around two-and-a-half weeks off since ESL One Belo Horizonte, many questions will be up in the air for MIBR. Map pool, individual form and IGL’ing are ones fans have been asking for some time now. Just like old times, Cologne is where mibr can answer all of the questions.
Has the Mouz found the right Snax?
In a roster moved that shocked the Counter-Strike world just days ago, the Virtus.Pro legend find a new home in the European mix team. This move has left many fans wondering why mouz would recruit Snax and the timing. Yes, when Snax is on form, he can easily be one of the top players in all the world, but the issue is we have not seen that version of Snax for some time now. Coming into mousesports he should take a support role as he is replacing the oft-criticized STYKO.
Role wise, yes this could put this team behind in the quest to tackle Astralis for the number one spot, but selecting Snax as their primary pick is questionable. One of the major criticisms of mouz have been their affinity for attending every premier LAN they qualify for or are invited to. Since they picked him up several days before Cologne, it can be theorized that he was a second or third choice for mousesports who might have prioritized a more “supportive” player.
Coming to Cologne, mouz open against Gambit and after a win they would be pitted against either Navi or G2 Esports. Will mousesports newly added fifth find his old form or will the timing of this move prove to be the undoing of the international squad in Germany?
Swedish Counter-Strike and establishing authority.
Swedish Counter-Strike has seen more turbulent times since Fnatics triumph over FaZe Clan in March. Both NIP and Fnatic have made additions to their rosters including former NiP AWPer draken who is headed to Fnatic. Removing their hyper-aggressive awper was warranted with large amounts of criticism from the community but the addition of Lekr0 was one that immediately brought an impact.
Not featuring a dedicated awper is a trend that was first brought on by Team Liquid and has now triggered other teams to experiment with the concept. NIP now feature a pure aimer in Lekr0 who can seemingly open any bombsite and is always a threat on pistol rounds. The main concerns for the Ninjas lies in the rest of the lineup, with GeT_RiGhT’s inconsistency and the IGL capability of dennis, Cologne is a proving ground for NIP.
Fnatic has finally let loose of Golden whom we have reported may be on his way to Tempo Storm. This move came after slotting him into the entry fragger role, one that Golden is essentially a newcomer too. With a gap in the entry fragger position Fnatic have picked up an awper.
Picking up draken also forces role switch ups within the team as we see JW move into the hybrid role. Cologne will be Fnatics first showcase of their new lineup, being the first LAN with this core leeway is warranted but to think how they have fallen since their marvelous March, things may not all be bright for the Swedes.
Players to Watch.
1. draken – Fnatic -> The former NIP awper, is now one of Fnatic’s main focal points and is looking to prove that NIP kicking him was a drastic mistake
2. sergej – ENCE -> The youngest player in the tournament who has been hailed as one of the next big things in world Counter-Strike is looking to solidify that statement at ENCE’s LAN debut.
3. smooya – BIG -> The young awper was impressive in Brazil, but will need to do more if he intends to get not only BIG back on top but British CS as a whole.
4. STYKO – Cloud9 -> Announced recently as the stand in for Cloud9, STYKO has a lot to prove in Cologne. A good performance here may lead to a permanent contract or another big team move.
5. mir – Gambit -> Officially signed to the squad, mir is looking to lighten these woeful results Gambit have been experiencing over recent months.
Predictions (Top 6).
- 1. Astralis
- 2. Team Liquid
- 3-4. Navi
- 3-4. MIBR
- 5-6. FaZe Clan
- 5-6 mousesports.
Who do you see taking the top prize in Cologne? Comment your predictions below!
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