Team Liquid were crowned champions at the ESL One Cologne 2019 CS:GO tournament, and here are my biggest takeaways from everything that took place over the course of the five-day event.
The Liquid Era
With a victory at ESL One Cologne, the Team Liquid era has officially started. They are the second team to win the Intel Grand Slam and did it in the shortest time frame possible, something that will probably never happen again. The addition of Stewie2k has added a level of flair and audacity that the rest of the more reserved players lack, in and out of the server. Overall, they appear complete and ready for any team in the world that wants to challenge them moving forward. I don’t see their motivation or dominance stopping at the Major, they will be the team to beat there.
Stewie isn’t the only thing that has propelled them to the next level though, the addition of adreN as coach has been just as pivotal. His work to help prepare the team and expand their map pool has been nothing short of incredible and keeps nitr0 confident as an in-game leader. Naturally, the contribution of adreN has been overlooked like many coaches are due to how little input they have during matches but the players appreciate him thoroughly.
Imagine a world in which Liquid stayed with their original decision to skip attending this event…
A fractured MiBR
A report via HLTV surfaced on the day of the Finals about coldzera requesting his own benching so that he can pursue other opportunities. I can confirm that report, as I had my own similar one in the works before heading to bed the night prior. The situation is complex at the moment because MiBR losing their best player would be a huge blow. On top of that, coldzera will have a hard time getting someone to pay his buyout. The players are just over a year into their three-year long contracts, which I assume means he’ll have to pay a large percentage of it to get himself free.
His desire to play with NiKo is well documented and that is absolutely an option if the aforementioned issues can be sorted. In fact, that is probably the only option outside of staying with MiBR. As I write this, nothing has transpired officially so the situation is still ongoing. I believe that MiBR will do their best to retain him, even if it means replacing additional players following the Berlin Major.
Should coldzera leave the team, they’d have tremendous shoes to fill on the roster. He and Fallen have had their differences in the past, so it was only a matter of time before the two split if their poor performances continued.
I was vocal about them needing to make two changes before rebounding performance wise and this might be how it happens. It’s unclear just exactly who they would target if coldzera does leave, but it’s only a matter of time before I’ll know more.
The Return of French CS
Seeing G2 Esports and Vitality finishing second place in their most recent respective tournaments is an incredible transformation for French Counter-Strike. The sheer level of talent they possess meant it was only a matter of time before one of the two teams found success.
It just so happens that they both have, with Vitality looking the most dangerous. While their reliance on ZywOo can be worrying, I’m hopeful that the rest of the team can improve individually and meet him halfway so-to-speak. I found their team play very impressive, especially their flashes on most maps.
ENCE regress to the mean
This ENCE lineup finishing last place at ESL One: Cologne is their worst placing as a group and they have come down to earth since the IEM Katowice Major. I didn’t watch their matches very closely but losing a best-of one and then losing to the eventual runner-up team in Vitality is somewhat excusable. I don’t think it’s the end of the world but I do feel they’ll have their work cut out for them to remain a top five team.
I’m curious if sunny waiting in the distance will have an effect on them mentally, especially those who would be candidates for being replaced. If a player or two wanted him to join right after they finished second place at the Major, they definitely want him to join now. Time will tell on this one.
Natus Vincere show promise
The new-look Na’Vi didn’t look tremendously different to the previous lineup with Edward in my opinion. I will say though, the moral of the team appeared better. They seem to value Boombl4’s willingness to play his role and how much more communicative he is in the server.
Overall, I expect them to improve as a lineup but focusing too much on their Liquid rivalry could leave them vulnerable to lineups like Mousesports, NRG, Astralis, and Vitality. If they can pair a unique map pool with s1mple’s brilliance, they’ll be dangerous as ever when we get to Berlin.