ESL One Cologne Preview

by in CS:GO | Aug, 17th 2020

As DreamHack Open Summer events inch closer to the finish line, CSGO esports fans are slowly turning their attention to the next big spectacle revolving around their favorite game. ESL One Cologne is the next occasion we’re referring to and, just like everything else this year, it has been canceled. Well, the main event has been canceled amidst the rigorous pandemic regulations. But, as expected, ESL made the switch to a set of online events featuring a total of four regions.

A total of 32 teams will be competing for $500,000 in total prize money across all four events. That’s not bad considering the current state of affairs in the industry… Heck, not just the industry but the whole world.

Be that as it is, the CSGO community is thirsty for another spectacle. DreamHack Summer events stayed true to their potential, but neither of the two major events (NA and EU) has brought forth true top-tier CSGO action. But, with the likes of EG, Astralis, Vitality, and G2 back in action for ESL One Cologne, we can finally say with certainty – 2020 CSGO players’ summer break is over!

Let’s dive right into the facts, shall we?!

ESL One Cologne Preview | Interesting Facts

  • The massive one-million-dollar event that was supposed to take place late August in Cologne had to be canceled because of the ongoing pandemic. As expected, ESL moved things to the trusty online environment, carefully slicing the prize pools and dividing the action into four major regional events.
  • We’re looking at a European, North American, Asian, and Oceanian ELS One Cologne Events. The former two are rather small, each featuring just $20,000 in prize money. NA and EU events sport $135,000 and $325,000, respectively. That means the total prize pool amounts to $500,000, half of what the original LAN event was supposed to have.
  • North American and European events start on Tuesday, August 18th. The other two start on the following Tuesday, August 25th. All events end on Sunday, August 30th.
  • ESL One Cologne will feature some of the scenes biggest broadcast talent names out there. We’re talking about the likes of Machine, SPUNJ, and Pansy commentating the action, with Frankie, Hugo Byron and JustHarry supporting them up the lines.

Tournament Formats

As you’d come to expect, we’re talking about two-phase events here. However, NA and EU events don’t share the same traits. They both start off with a group stage contests that are set to eliminate half of the teams.

The European event will feature sixteen teams, two groups with eight teams in each. All group stage matches will be Bo3s; all playoffs matches will be Bo3 as well, except for the grand final match that’s set to be a best of five thriller. Top four teams from each group will advance to the playoffs where they’ll fight for the biggest share of the $325,000 in prize money.

The North American event will feature only eight teams, two double-elimination groups with four teams in each. Top two teams from each group advance to the playoffs where they’ll battle in a thrilling single-elimination bracket. There’s $135,000 in prize money, which goes to show you just how bigger and more robust the EU region is these days…

As for Oceanian and Asian ESL One Cologne events, they’re much smaller, feature lower prize pools, and sport just four teams each. These events won’t feature a group stage. Instead, they’re going straight to the double-elimination playoffs bracket. All matches are Bo3 except for Bo5 grand finals; they’re using the same trend for UB winners, one map advantage in the final contest, just like their North American and European counterparts.

ESL One Cologne Team Storylines

This is the fun part of our ESL One Cologne preview – team storylines. This section takes up roughly half of the entire piece, so let’s make every sentence count.

If you’re interested in a general one, make sure you check out our comprehensive CSGO Power Ranking Summer 2020 Edition!

Major American Teams

Just by looking at the overall number of teams in the region that can truly be called top-tier, you’ll realize what a mess the NA CSGO scene is at the moment. Besides Team Liquid, EG, FURIA and perhaps Gen.G, there’s not a single team that you can expect to win major events. Who’s left after counting out the big boys? Cloud9? Chaos? 100 Thieves? Come on, give me a break guys…

The American region (south and north combined) have just four teams that have a shot at beating some of Europe’s greatest. It’s the truth guys! No matter how much you love the American CSGO scene, the fact of the matter is that the quantity of good sides goes in favor of the Europeans. In 2019, NA CSGO finally got the push it needed with Team Liquid turning into a behemoth during the summer. However, as Team Liquid went down, so did the overall level of competitiveness in the region.

It’s the sad truth… But, I guess I should stop ranting here. Let’s turn our attention back to ESL One Cologne preview and check out the three teams that have every right to be labeled as the best of what American CSGO has to offer!

Team Liquid

Unfortunately, Team Liquid wasn’t able to close the DH Open Summer out without going to the decider map against FURIA. The regular 30 rounds were tough enough, but the overtimes were just bananas. I honestly couldn’t watch that… especially knowing it’s Grim’s debut and his emotions must’ve been running their wildest tracks out there.

But, now that it’s all said and done, now that it’s all in the past, I think we can all agree Team Liquid has made a fine acquisition. The 19-year-old Grim played his best event ever… and it was his debut event for the boys in blue. He was fragging like it was just any other day in the office. He managed to transition his Triumphant (pun intended, sorry guys) form to Liquid – let’s just hope Twistzz, EliGE and the boys will know how to use it to their advantage in the upcoming events.

That said, I honestly think (and hope) Grim will find his pace on ESL One Cologne. This $500K event will be his first real test, if he can pass it with flying marks, I reckon his place in Liquid’s starting lineup will be pretty much cemented… at least for a while. If you’re going to bet on ESL One Cologne, here’s a quick tip – if Liquid wins the first match against Cloud9 and Grim is the top fragger, bet on them to win the event… you can thank me later!


FURIA is the all-new DreamHack Open Summer champion! Yuurih and the boys defeated Team Liquid in the grand finals. And it was a pretty close match too; could’ve gone either way, really. Team Liquid almost closed it out without going to the third map, but VINI and yuurih were having none of it… and I guess the rest is history.

This isn’t FURIA’s first title in 2020, don’t get it twisted! KSCERATO and the boys have plenty of excellent 2020 campaigns to talk about. They almost won BLAST Premier Spring 2020 NA, ESL One Road to Rio, ESL Pro League S11 and DH Open Anaheim – we’re talking either runner-up or third-spot placements here. They did win an event besides DH Open Summer – DH Masters Spring was the occasion, and FURIA took $40,000 grand prize after dismantling Liquid 3:0 in the grand finals. I guess what we’re looking at here is called revenge…

Evil Geniuses

Are Evil Geniuses the best NA team at the moment? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait until ESL One Cologne is done to find out because Brehze and the boys dropped out of DreamHack Open Summer. Team Liquid is still in the competition and will be eyeing the trophy that’d put them in touching distance of EG. But, if the boys in blue fail to make an impression on ESL One Cologne, especially if they lose to EG, they’ll have a lengthy comeback road ahead of them.

As for EG’s roster, there are no changes to talk about here. All five of their starting players are still the good old ex-NRG roster we’ve grown accustomed to. They did change their coach. ImAPet stepped down in April; zews was the replacement and, realistically speaking, his CSGO coaching expertise really does show. Since his arrival, EG won two notable NA events (CS_Summit 6 and BLAST Premier Spring) and almost went all the way on NA ESL Pro League S11.

I consider EG the main favorite for taking the NA event… unless Grim shows up for his debut and starts running circles around them…

Major European Teams

You’ve probably guessed it by now – next up on our ESL One Cologne preview, we’ll be inspecting three out of sixteen top-tier EU teams that’ll be competing on the event. Let’s start off with the not so great Danes, Astralis!


Why am I going with Astralis here when the good old Astralis still hasn’t regrouped. Yep, for those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, Astralis’ roster is lacking two of their starting players, gla1ve and xyp9x. Both decided to take some time off for medical/stress reasons, and their exact return dates haven’t been announced yet. Astralis already tried experimenting with JUGi and Snappi, but it’s safe to say things didn’t really work out.

Now, we are finally going to see the new Astralis in all of its might. With Bubzjki and es3tag onboard, the current Astralis roster doesn’t look half bad. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still inferior to the original lineup that won three consecutive Majors, but they shouldn’t be that bad.

That said, I’m really looking forward to seeing them face off against the likes of Fnatic, Heroic and G2 in group B. They’re set to play against Fnatic in the opening round, and I can already see that being one of the best matches of the event.

I’m not trying to bring your hopes up guys, but I feel like the current Astralis lineup might actually work out. I’m much more confident in es3tag and bubzjki than I was in JUGi and Snappi. We’re looking at two incredible Danish talents… especially Bubzjki who showed off exceptional form in MAD Lions before being picked up by the (formerly) Great Danes.

Faze Clan

Here we have Faze Clan… and I can already see a bunch of you asking the good old question – why is Faze Clan here when they’re like the Arsenal of CSGO? Well, call me a bloody fool, but I reckon Kjaerbye is the perfect fit for the current Faze Clan lineup. I liked Bymas, that I did… but seeing Kjaerbye finally sign for a proper team since leaving Astralis back in 2018 (sorry North) makes me think we’re going to see Faze at the top of Europe pretty soon.

I’m exaggerating a bit, but what can I do – I really think Faze Clan is destined to reach the top with this new roster. Obviously, they’ll have challengers coming in from all angles, but if they manage to sync up really fast, they might even make a sensational upset on the Major. It’s a bit of a far stretch I know, but as I said, I just can’t help it.

Faze Clan’s winning days are long gone. The last notable event they won dates back to November last year. Prior to that, April… Prior to that one, October 2018. Things aren’t really looking right for Faze Clan – they need someone that can up the team morale and bring much-needed change to their gameplay… and I strongly believe Kjaerbye is the man for the job!


When talking about BIG these days, the first thing we have to mention is the fact they’re still the number one team in the world. It’s absurd, come to think of it… Heck, three months ago they weren’t even in the top 20. They were behind the likes of Spirit, Cloud9 and Complexity, which speaks a lot on its own.

But, how did BIG become so good so suddenly? Well, it didn’t come on its own; the Germans revamped their roster on January 1st this year. Yep, they didn’t waste any time with their New Year resolution… In came k1to and syrsoN, out went nex and smooya. K1to and syrsoN were the perfect fit for this BIG roster, the same way I feel Kjaerbye will be for Faze Clan. Especially syrsoN, who’s been topping the fragging charts ever since he arrived from Sprout.

Fast-forward roughly half a year and BIG had already won not one, not two but three pretty big events. The pinnacle of their success were the recent CS_summit 6 and DreamHack Masters Spring titles, although DH Open and #HSH Cups aren’t to be taken for granted either. As far as ESL One Cologne goes, I’m sure BIG will be eyeing another strong finish. However, I honestly can’t see them winning this one. Both times, they won grand finals (against G2 and Vitality) in chaotic 3:2 fashion… I don’t think luck will be on their side for the third consecutive time… if they reach the grand finals, that is. 

ESL One Cologne Schedule

As for the schedule, the group stage matches on EU and NA events will last until Wednesday, August 26th. The playoffs kick off on the very next day with the grand finals scheduled for the last day of the event. While we’re talking about the schedule, we might as well check out the groups of both NA and EU events:

NA ESL One Cologne Group Stage
Group AGroup B
FURIAEvil Geniuses
ChaosTeam Liquid
100 ThievesCloud9
EU ESL One Cologne Group Stage
Group AGroup B
Ninjas in PyjamasAstralis
Natus VincereFaze Clan
MAD LionsG2 Esports


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