The Brazilians take ESL One: Cologne 3:0 over Cloud9
This yearâ€™s iteration of ESL One: Cologne is the last premier tournament before the Krakow Major â€“ and though previous Major winner Astralis is not in the lineup, there are certainly some powerhouse teams looking to prove themselves before the Major even begins.
In a surprising turn of events, the top seed off the Swiss stage was taken by Team Liquid and the new lineup of Ninjas in Pyjamas (which traded long-time player Adam â€œfribergâ€ Friberg for Fredrik â€œREZâ€ Sterner). The 3-1 seed was claimed by Natus Vincere, G2 Esports, and OpTic Gaming, while the last teams to make it through the group stage with a 3-2 score are SK Gaming, Cloud9 and FaZe Clan.
The round of 8â€™s opening match was a battle of the big names, as CIS all-star line-up Naâ€™Vi faced off against French super-team G2 â€“ odds heavily favored the French squad thanks to their recent good results, and the poor recent results in contrast for Naâ€™Vi, but things seem to be picking up for them as they took the matchup 2:0, winning 19:17 on Overpass and a surprising 16:13 win on Nuke â€“ a map they havenâ€™t had success in for months now. This marked the first time Naâ€™Vi has made it to the semifinals since last yearâ€™s EPICENTER, and is definitely a good sign for them in the upcoming Major.
The second match between NiP and Cloud9 went to a full three maps, with Cloud9 taking the first map, Train 16:10, and losing the second map, Cache 16:11. The final map of Cobblestone was somewhat a shut-out in favor of Cloud9 however, taking the series with a convincing 16:6 round score.
The third series saw FaZe Clan versus Team Liquid, a heavily one-sided match-up in favor of FaZe, which saw them take two maps with very little trouble: 16:9 on Overpass, 16:5 on Train.
The final series of the round-of-eight saw OpTic take SK to three maps, winning the first one, Mirage, 16:10. The Brazilians then proceeded to take the series back with a convincing back-to-back win on Cache (16:9) and Cobblestone (16:17) to cement their spot in the semifinals.
The semifinals both saw the same 2:0 score, with Naâ€™Vi losing out to Cloud9 13:16 on Mirage and 14:16 on Overpass, while SK handily took their first map versus FaZe, Overpass, 16:4. FaZe made them work harder for the Grand Finals spot in the second map, which went into overtime, but eventually they also fell to the Brazilians, 16:19 on Cache.
The Grand Final matchup between SK and Cloud9 heavily favored SKâ€™s side, and it showed on the opening map, Cobblestone, which they took 16:9. Cloud9 rallied however, and gave a much better showing on the next two maps, but ultimately fell short, scoring 12:16 on Train and 14:16 on Inferno.
With this win, SK Gaming has taken their sixth championship title since the ELEAGUE Major, and are coming in as favorites into next weekâ€™s Krakow Major alongside the Danish powerhouse of Astralis.