These last six years Counter-Strike fans are enjoying the big ESL One event in Cologne, Germany. Cologne is called the Cathedral of Counter-Strike, and for good reason. But there is more than a mere Counter-Strike – tournament on the menu. MSI invited us to take a look for ourselves.
This weekend was an ideal time to be in Cologne. It was sunny with a cool breeze. It also was the last weekend of Cologne Pride, which brought another 500.000 brightly coloured visitors to town. The city was packed and gridlocked for cars, but luckily Lanxess Arena is well situated for the local public transport.
All partners of ESL had booths around the Arena with goodie hunts, matches and a lot of different games.
A chance to meet the players: every fans dream. Take a look at the session for the German team mousesports, with the only Dutchman to participate in the tournament: Chris “chrisJ” de Jong.
Hall of Fame
The Warcraft III and StarCraft II esporter Jang “Moon” Jae Ho has a long and distinguished career. To honour him he has been added to the esports Hall of Fame. Sadly Moon couldn’t pick up his prize in person.
In a big tent fans could buy merchandise of ESL and the teams.
Asphalt 9: Legends and Guns of Boom
Asphalt 9: Legends
This year there were also tournaments for the mobile games Guns of Boom and Asphalt 9: Legends. Visitors could enter the Asphalt 9: Legends on site and that proved to be very popular.
Guns of Boom
It was a lot harder to compete in the Guns of Boom tournament, aptly named “Gods of Boom”. Those teams had to fight this entire season to get to the big stage in Cologne. The final featured Lazarus vs Impact Gaming. This was the same final we saw during the Texas Pro Series last month. Impact Gaming beat Lazarus then, so Lazarus could be feeling some spite. Lazarus is by the way the winner of Season 1, which should warn any team against feeling overconfident.
Both teams keep eachother in their sights. With the score at 2 -2, Impact Gaming increased their pressure and Lazarus slowly started to fade. Impact Gaming was relentless and blasted their way to their third consecutive tournament victory. Impact Gaming gets the trophy, the tremendous honour and $50.000,-. Lazarus licks his wounds with a check for $20.000,-.
Just like the previous three editions Lanxess Arena was completely sold out. Every day 15,000 visitors were amazed by ridiculous reflexes, poor peeking and exploding bombs.
Astralis vs Team Vitality
The first semi-final was between the Danish Astralis and the French Team Vitality. The French took the first map Dust II comfortably with 16 – 8.
Astralis started to play better and almost grabbed the victory on Inferno. Vitality managed to pull out an overtime with pure grit. After a nerve wrecking 20 minutes and two overtimes Astralis did manage to pull ahead. Vitality got defeated 19 – 22.
Such long periods of tension wear players out. Astralis seemed to suffer the most from fatigue, or maybe Vitality felt robbed in the previous game. Whatever the cause maybe, Vitality took Overpass with 16 – 9 and sails through to the final.
Team Liquid vs NaVi
The American Team Liquid (with Dutch co – owner Victor “Nazgul” Goossens) faces Natus Vincere (NaVi) in the second semi-final. Team Liquid is on fire and already won three major tournaments the past two months.
Team Liquid doesn’t make any big mistakes and wins both maps with 16 – 12.
Final: Team Liquid vs Team Vitality
The main event of the weekend got a lot more tense by a potential Intel Grand Slam. When a team wins four events by ESL of DreamHack within a stretch of ten, they get a bonus of $ 1,000,000! Team Liquid already won three events on the trot, making the trophy at ESL One Cologne a nice payday.
On the other hand: if Team Vitality managed to break the win streak of Team Liquid, they receive a spoils bonus of $ 100,000. A nice incentive, if any extra motivation was needed.
Team Liquid claims Overpass: 16 – 6.
Team Vitality didn’t come to Cologne to endure a beating. They want to prove their worth, especially to their fans. The majority of the crowd in Lanxess Arena was rooting for them and it seemed to help. They do need an overtime, but they manage to win Dust II. Team Liquid faces a 17 – 19 defeat.
The gloves come off. Team Liquid does it and win their fourth consecutive event. For all their trouble they receive the trophy, $ 125,000 and the Intel Grand Slam of $ 1,000,000! The previous winner of the Intel Grand Slam was Astralis who needed seven tries in 263 days to win four titles. Team Liquid managed to win four titles in just 63 days. The esporters Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip, Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, Keith “NAF” Markovic and Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella netted a comely total of $ 1,575,000 in prize money with this effort. Senior Vice President of Product at ESL, Ulrich Schulze, said “The manner in which Liquid did it will likely never be topped.”
Watch the final here: