Prior to the teams’ arrival at CSGO’s premier spectacle in the LANXESS Arena, the ESL One Cologne group stages served up plenty of surprises and a healthy dose of drama. As usual, it didn’t fail to deliver on its billing. The 2018 playoffs were another superb entry into its illustrious history.
Natus Vincere 2-0 Fnatic
The Ukrainians of Na’Vi were not really troubled in this series. With s1mple, electronic and flamie all putting up strong individual performances, the result was never in doubt. The recently shuffled Fnatic lineup put in a valiant effort, but it wasn’t near enough.
16-12 on Overpass and 16-10 on Train confirmed Na’Vi’s Semi-Final spot.
BIG 2-0 G2 Esports
The clash of two teams nobody expected to make it out of groups. For fans of tactical Counter-Strike, this series had a lot to look forward to.
It started off with a thrilling overtime victory for BIG on Cache, 19-17. Gob b’s team managed to edge out Ex6TenZ’s through a superior CT-side in overtime. Dust II however had an entirely different complexion, with all of Smooya, tabseN and nex for BIG putting on monster performances to completely steamroll the French side 16-1 and extend their tournament life.
Astralis 1-2 Natus Vincere
The world’s number one team looked a lock for the final. No analyst predicted a Na’Vi victory, despite s1mple’s incendiary individual performances.
The tactically astute and teamplay-centric Astralis surely had this one in the bag. However, Na’Vi in game leader Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko and his cohorts clearly had other ideas.
Overpass was extremely closely-contested, with it finally going 13-16 to Na’Vi after what many considered a suicidal map pick by the Ukrainians.
Nuke was an entirely different affair as Astralis destroyed them 16-6.
Then, for the first time since 2014, Zeus got over 30 kills in regular time to help push his team over the edge on Inferno. This time around s1mple had help from electronic and his in game leader. Na’Vi overcame Astralis and shocked the CS:GO world with their 13-16 victory to book their place in the final.
FaZe Clan 1-2 BIG
Another certain victory for a more fancied team in FaZe. Another logic-defying victory for the underdog.
FaZe had to work hard for the map win on the opener, finally taking Mirage 19-17 in overtime.
From there, surely the world’s most star-laden team would kick into a higher gear and decimate the Germans? Instead, BIG had to dig deep and managed to steal away train 13-16.
Then, the home side delivered another momentous result thanks to a 16-6 Inferno victory, courtesy of another impregnable CT-side spearheaded by the performance of nex’s life.
The fairytale came true as the fan favourites qualified for the final, with FaZe left reeling and surely wondering how they bow out of the tournament in such a way.
Natus Vincere 3-1 BIG
With all of the upsets occuring in the rest of the tournament, could the final deliver yet another? Could Berlin International Gaming counter the best player in the world in s1mple and overcome Na’Vi’s sheer firepower with gob b’s tactical prowess? The arena was buzzing with anticipation. The buildup was spectacular. While we weren’t quite treated to a classic final, it certainly gave us plenty of emotion and excitement.
Overpass was Na’Vi’s with relative ease, taking it 16-10. Dust II is fast becoming the home map of BIG, with them emphatically returning the favour there for a 16-11 scoreline.
From then on, Na’Vi completely stifled BIG for the remainder of the best of five. Train was taken 16-10 and Inferno was a 16-8 blowout. Na’Vi dashed the dreams of the home fans, but their ESL One Cologne victory was still well-received.
Finally s1mple had help in a big match, as electronic actually outfragged him and has looked every bit a star player in his own right. Flamie also had a good series to help the team win the biggest tournament outside of the Majors.
As is seemingly traditional, s1mple won the MVP award. Na’Vi look to no longer be s1mple dragging an underperforming team to good results single-handedly. They are now a team to be feared on the world stage.