One of the biggest and most historic CS:GO events is around the corner. ESL One Cologne 2019 will start on July 2nd and it is going to be the strongest event in 2019 apart from the Major. The main question is – can Team Liquid win Intel Grand Slam?
The historical importance of ESL One Cologne
Although ESL One Cologne 2019 will not be a Major this year, many teams considered it to be equally important because of its rich history. This is going to be the sixth edition of ESL One Cologne and half of those were Major events. The first three ESL One Cologne tournaments (2014, 2015, 2016) were all Majors. Cologne has been a home of many legendary duels and a place where two different eras were created.
Thanks to its prestige and history, ESL One Cologne always attract the best teams in the world. ESL One Cologne 2019 is no exception. Only two Top 15 teams will not attend this event, and it makes ESL One Cologne 2019 the strongest event in 2019 so far. The most asked question these days is – can Team Liquid win the Intel Grand Slam?
What is the Intel Grand Slam?
When a team wins an ESL or DreamHack Masters event, they have to win 3 out of the following 9 events to be rewarded the Intel Grand Slam abd get a prize of $1,000,000.
Only one title away from Intel Grand Slam
If Team Liquid manages to win the Intel Grand Slam, it’s going to be the second time that some team managed to accomplish that. However, if Liquid win ESL Cologne, they’ll claim Intel Grand Slam much faster than Astralis did last year. Whereas Astralis used the last opportunity to win the needed four titles, Liquid would win the fourth title after just five IGS events. It would definitely be remembered as a historical achievement.
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) June 27, 2019
Notice that Liquid already clinched titles at IEM Sydney, DH Masters Dallas, and EPL Season 9 Finals. On the other side, Astralis won the first event of Intel Grand Slam Season 2, IEM Katowice. At these events, those two teams faced each other only at the last event, EPL Season 9 Finals. Team Liquid outlasted Astralis in the intense matchup and eventually lifted the trophy. If Team Liquid manages to repeat this accomplishment in Cologne, they will take $125,000 + $1,000,000 home. This would make Stewie2k a Top 10 earning CS:GO player, and it will help other Liquid’s player to climb up on this ladder.
But, let’s see if Team Liquid can win Intel Grand Slam and which teams we should pay attention to.
Group A – can other teams challenge Liquid?
The only team in Group A that is outside Top 15 is MVP PK. The draw wasn’t so good for them as they are going to face Team Liquid in the first round. The North American team shouldn’t have problems to overcome MVP PK. However, already in the following round, nitr0 and co. will be challenged by Top Tier team. If they beat MVP PK, which is very likely to happen, EPL Season 9 champions will face the winner of the match between mousesports and NaVi.
— Monster Gaming (@MonsterGaming) June 23, 2019
Liquid already defeated mousesports at EPL Finals. We should pay more attention to NaVi. The Russian giants haven’t played an official LAN event for more than a month. The last big event they attended was StarSeries Season 7 that they won at the beginning of April. On top of that, we still couldn’t see their new player Boobml4 in action. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how NaVi is going to perform and if Boombl4 will change NaVi’s gameplan.
On the other side of the bracket in Group B, there are many contenders for the Group A Upper Bracket Final. Fans are definitely excited the most about FURIA Esports. The Brazilians had some surprisingly good showings recently, but it’s questionable if they can keep performing at the highest level. Their aggressive game is interesting to watch, but it’s hard to be consistent with that kind of playstyle.
FURIA will meet NRG Esports in the first round. Stanislaw will finally get a chance to play in NRG’s jersey and we will see how he will change NRG’s game as In-Game Leader. The winner of this match will meet the winner of the duel between FaZe Clan and Renegades. If Renegades don’t manage to record some good result at ESL One Cologne 2019, they will likely drop out of Top 15 teams.
Group B – Can Astralis step up and get back on track?
The biggest obstacle on Team Liquid’s path to winning Intel Grand Slam will most likely be Astralis. Despite the weak form of Danes, Astralis seems to be the only team who can seriously challenge Liquid in Best-of-3 games. Even though they lost their last match against Liquid, the Danes were very close to winning that duel. In order to stop Team Liquid from winning Intel Grand Slam, Astralis has to top their group first.
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Group B appears to be slightly less strong than Group A, and three-time Major champions should exploit that. In the first round, they are going to meet BIG. The Danish squad is supposed to win that match relatively easily. Afterward, they will meet a winner of the duel between MiBR and Fnatic. Brazilian squad made a roster change recently as they replaced felps by LUCAS1 and we will see how it’s going to affect their game.
On the other side of the Group B Upper Bracket, we will most likely see a meeting between Team Vitality and ENCE. Both of these made a breakthrough this year, and it would be interesting to see them play each other in the second round. If they want to reach the second round, they need to best NiP and Heroic in the first round.
ESL One Cologne 2019 is not only an opportunity for Liquid to win Intel Grand Slam. It is also a chance for Astralis to get closer to this big prize as well. This is going to be their last event before the following Major. Hence, this is their last chance to regain confidence that they apparently lost in the last few months.