ESL One Cologne, the self-proclaimed 'cathedral of Counter-Strike, rarely disappoints, and 2018 certainly did not with a slew of upsets and engrossing matches.
CS:GO at the highest level was on display from the international field, but it was the Europeans who faired best overall, with both North and South American teams largely having a tournament to forget.
Made in Brazil (formerly SK Gaming) had another poor showing, as did Cloud9, Team Liquid and Renegades.
And what MiBR, Team Liquid and Renegades all had in common is that they were victims in BIG's shocking run to the grand final, as a raucous home crowd cheered them on.
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Na'Vi took on tournament favorites Astralis in the first semi-final, and after a close match come out on top by preventing an Astralis comeback on map three Inferno, securing Na'Vi's spot in the grand final.
FaZe Clan faced BIG in the other semi-final, and in the 'biggest' of BIG's upsets were humbled by a 1-2 defeat, despite FaZe taking the first map.
With the Grand Final set between the two lesser expected teams from the semi's, an unpredictable match awaited to decide the 2018 champions.
The Grand Final didn't disappoint, with BIG remaining to look a real force, with Smooya's fearless and aggressive playstyle balanced with the leadership of Faith "gob b" Dayik.
Na'Vi narrowly took the first map, but BIG didn't go down without a fight immediately bouncing back to tie it up.
But unsurprisingly, s1mple stole the show in the end, as Na'Vi closed the series out 3-1 with a more convincing win on Inferno, granting them the championship and firmly vindicating s1mple as the game's best player.
ESL One Cologne 2018 Final Placements
|13th-16th||Ninjas in Pyjamas||$5,000|