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Analyzing ESL One Cologne and making Major predictions

Chiu on This
A short and regular opinion blast from Stephen Chiu

‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast

With the PGL Krakow Major coming up, I thought I’d write up some thoughts about what happened at ESL Cologne and what that means going into the Major. For bigger breakdowns I’d recommend TL;DW by Thorin or the Mega preview by lurppis. For this part, I’ll focus only on the teams that were at Cologne and are going to Krakow. Here are my predictions on who will make the playoffs: SK, FaZe, Astralis, G2, Mouz, Gambit, North, Fnatic.

Na’Vi: Cologne was the first time Na’Vi showed it could win a best-of-three. Or even get to a position to play a best-of-three. The last time they did it at an international LAN was StarLadder Kiev three months ago. The level of this team is entirely dependent on getting two of these three players going at once: s1mple, GuardiaN and flamie. I also think beating G2 is the farthest this team can go at the Major. If they meet up with one of the big three: AST, SK or FaZe, I think they lose.

G2: They are the fourth best team in the world, a potential dark horse that could make the finals and possible win it if they get the right matchup (I think SK is their best hope of taking it). They have good skill across the board, and that alone should get them past the group stages. The inherent problem I have with G2 is similar to Na`Vi. Instead of losing to all three of the big ones, they only lose to two (AST and FaZe). But like Na’Vi, they can lose to any of the other teams I have getting to playoffs.

SK: Winning ESL Cologne and ECS has confirmed SK’s spot as the best team in the world. So I have them winning the entire thing, but there are two potential problems I can see. First, if the draw is off and they run into G2 early in the playoffs. While I still think they can beat G2, that should be favored to G2. Secondly, this team has a tough time getting started, and while this is fine as long as you get out of groups, we have other very strong teams here who have slow starts as well (FaZe and AST), so if two of the three teams run into each other at the end of Swiss, that could be lights out.

Cloud9: They just made it to ESL Cologne finals. I do not have them getting to playoffs of the Major. The reason is because the supporting cast of the team had the tournament of their lives at Cologne (Skadoodle, shroud and n0thing). Even assuming you get the same output, everyone will be on notice and won’t underestimate C9. They’ve also shown themselves to be a real threat on Mirage and Train, so teams won’t let them play anywhere near there.

FaZe: I think the series against SK was critical for FaZe to win at Cologne, as going into the Major, SK will have the mental edge against this team. This is more important than usual because SK keeps winning their series against FaZe by dragging it into the last rounds of a map and then clutching them out with hero plays. I still think FaZe has what it takes to win, but I have to favor SK. Similarly to SK, I think they have some issues getting through Swiss system cleanly, though, to be fair, everyone does.

Fnatic: I have Fnatic barely making the playoffs. They are right on the bubble for me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t make it. The team has the skill across the board, but they lack a clear superstar player. But unlike say, Gambit, Fnatic does not have the tactical mind and structure to get through it anyway. If you deny them duels, they find it hard to finish a T-round and this usually ends up in a very late hit where they sometimes time out themselves anyway.

North: This is another team I have barely making the playoffs. The essential problem I have with North is I think they lose to anyone they meet in the playoffs, so the most they can hope for is a quarterfinal finish. If they do make it farther, it’ll be because they went into a time machine and found 2016 magisk.

Mouz: This team has a lot of great attributes going for them. First, Spidii is gone. Secondly, they have a superstar player in oskar and for my money I think he is closing in on top 10 player in the world status. The talent across the board is good besides denis. The map pool is wide and they can play well on most of them. I think they get to the playoffs (assuming they don’t get shit draws in Swiss again), and then if they don’t get one of the top three, they have a chance to get to semis.

Here are the other teams going to the Major and my predictions/reasoning for them:

Astralis: I think this team at lowest gets playoffs (if they get a shit draw like SK or FaZe first round), but a better place to put them on average is top4-2 and a chance to win the entire thing. I think missing Cologne was a mistake in retrospect as even winning the Major won’t tear away the title of world’s strongest team from SK. I think Astralis has the second best chance of all of the teams to beat SK in a best-of-three.

VP: I’ve written time and time again about how VP can make it out randomly, but at this point the slump is so bad I don’t think historical precedent counts anymore. If they make it out of this slump, this will be such a big revival that the only person I could compare it to was JulyZerg or MMA.

GMB: I think this team still has a lot of strong points, but the problem is AdreN is no longer playing at a superstar level. Even without that, they should still have enough to make it through the playoffs. If GMB wants to get further than playoffs, you’ll be asking for some luck in AdreN showing up and in a miracle for Dosia to randomly be MVP level. Quarterfinals are the furthest I see this team going, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get eliminated.

BIG/IMT: Along with C9, these are the two teams I think could potentially upset enough teams in the Swiss format to take a spot in the playoffs. Between the two, I’d bet on BIG. IMT is too emotional and at this level of play, I don’t think you get much more from the highs of emotion play-wise, but the lows are much worse because it’s a Major.

Penta/F3: I think these two teams will have good games, but don’t expect much beyond that. Between the two, I guess I’d bet on F3 to go farther because of Blad3, but I don’t think he has enough talent on his team to make it through this.

Vega: I think they’re going 0-3.


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