The second Valve-sponsored Major event, ESL One Cologne 2016, began on July 5th. Sixteen teams started on Tuesday, hopeful to be seen as the Major Champions at the end of the week. After four days of competition, only eight of them are left. The four teams from Group A, while ambitious in some cases, weren’t what you would call favorites to win the whole event, with many pundits calling this group easy and weak. Nevertheless, to make it into a Major, you have to be at least somewhat good.
Astralis vs. Dignitas
The tournament itself and the battles in Group A started with a best of one match between Astralis and Team Dignitas, in a faceoff between two big name teams from Denmark. Astralis were given much better odds to win by analysts. Their predictions were looking to come true in an overwhelming manner after the first five rounds of the game were over, however, Dignitas buckled up and started coming back, managing to come within a point or two on the scoreboard. Despite that, Astralis managed to hold on to the game, ending it in in an amazing quad kill by dupreeh.
The match was dominated by Nicolai “device” Reedtz on Astralis, with a HLTV rating of 1.45 and Dignitas’ Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke with 1.38, though the highlight play of the game should go to Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen for his amazing quad kill in the last round.
After the win, Astralis moved on to wait for their opponent from the Gambit Gaming vs. Counter Logic Gaming match, while Dignitas moved to the Loser’s bracket, where they faced elimination in case they got defeated.
Gambit Gaming vs. Counter Logic Gaming
The second match of Group A Round One took place on Dust2, with American Counter Logic Gaming facing the might of Russian Gambit Gaming. CLG was thought to be an underdog before the match started, with most experts being vary of the recent trade between CLG and Team Liquid, which saw CLG’s AWPer Josh “jdm64” Marzano moving to TL for TL’s Kenneth “koosta” Suen. It was up to koosta to show whether he could perform in an AWP-centric team.
The beginning of the match went quite badly for CLG, with Gambit winning seven rounds to CLG’s one, until koosta put his big boy pants on and aced the whole Russian team with his AWP. Following that, CLG was rejuvenated, winning five more rounds and making it an even game, 7:7. Gambit stopped the American’s advance, however, winning the last rounds of the first half and making it 8:7 in their favor before the second pistol. The rest of the match was pretty close. CLG managed to keep the comeback dream alive, even though Gambit were ahead. Unfortunately, they couldn’t manage to get enough momentum to make it happen, resulting in a 16:13 win by Gambit.
The best performer in the match by far was CLG’s James “hazed” Cobb with HLTV rating of 1.65, while Gambit was led by Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev with a rating of 1.26.
Following this match, the Russians went on to face Astralis, while CLG had to contend against Dignitas for survival. At this point, the broadcast was moved to Group B, which will be covered in a future article.
Astralis vs. Gambit Gaming
The day’s battles in Group A started with the Winner’s Match between Astralis and Gambit Gaming. By all measures, astralis was thought to be a strong favorite to win the match and ensure their spot in the playoffs, however, if they thought that Gambit would give up easily, they were very wrong, for the Russians didn’t even consider the possibility of losing. To drive that point home, they won the first five rounds of the first half. Astralis managed to come back a little bit; nevertheless, Gambit had a comfortable lead before the second pistol round, 9:6. In the second half of the game, the Danish team totally floundered, not even putting up a fight and losing the match, 16:6.
The Russians surprised everyone by being the first team to secure a spot in the playoffs, while their opponents were moved into an elimination match, where they will have to fight for survival against the winners of Team Dignitas vs. Counter Logic Gaming on Day Three.
Looking at ratings, when the whole Astralis team underperformed, with their best player, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander, having a 0.96 rating when their worst performer Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth had 0.55, three of Gambit’s players, Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubaev, Rustem “mou” Telepov, and Mihail “Dosia” Stolyarov stepped up in a massive way when compared to their opponents, with all three having ratings above 1.
Team Dignitas vs. Counter Logic Gaming
I don’t know what kind of vitamins Ruben “RUBINO” Villarroel had before this match, but I want some. I really, really want some. With 32 kills to 7 deaths, Rubino dominated the CLG team, getting a 3.01 HLTV rating as a result. The rest of his teammates did well too, however, ratings in blowouts are always inflated. Don’t get me wrong, this WAS a blowout, with the score of 16:1 on Cobblestone. The closest thing I could think of to the massacre that befell the Counter Logic Gaming team, is the viral video where Oprah Winfrey gives everyone in her studio audience cars. You get a car, you get a car, everyone gets a car. Only this time, it’s Cajunb, you get a quad kill, k0nfig, you get a quad kill, RUB… ef it, EVERYONE gets a quad kill. That game was a ridiculous blowout.
Okay, let’s calm down. Team Dignitas moves on to face Astralis on Day Three in a decider match, while CLG… is out, which isn’t surprising at all, in my opinion. They were one of the weakest teams in the tournament, after all, probably followed by OpTic Gaming and maybe Flipsid3.
Astralis vs. Team Dignitas
While Astralis was already bleeding before the ESL One Cologne 2016 Major with their loss of Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye due to roster lock rules, the team was hit once again before Day Three started, when Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen went to the hospital, complaining of severe stomach pains. He was diagnosed with appendicitis, with surgery to be performed as soon as possible. In light of their misfortune, the player was to be replaced by Astralis’ coach, Danny “zonic” Sorensen.
With such a huge hit in strength, it was quite unlikely that the Danish superstars would be able to defeat their opponents, Dignitas. The first map of the Bo3 was Cobblestone. Dignitas got an early advantage, only to see Astralis come back in a big way, gatherin a comfortable lead in the middle of the game. Not to be outdone, Dignitas ripped the lead of out Astralis’ hands. With a playoff spot as the ultimate prize, however, Astralis weren’t about to give up that easily, getting the game to overtime. Dignitas got the better start to the extra rounds, picking up two points in a row. On the following round, gla1ve clutched the round with his teeth at the last second, however, his team’s comeback hopes were dashed, with Dignitas coming out ahead in the nailbiter. 1:0 Dignitas.
The second map of the series was Cache. Once again, Dignitas started strongly out of the gates, picking up five points before getting stopped in their tracks by karrigan’s AWP. Following that, Astralis took over the momentum of the match and weren’t about to give it up, only giving away one more point before the end of the first half. Dignitas weren’t about to roll over and die, however. They started the second half successfully, coming equalising the score and staying within several points of their opponents. It all came to a head on Round 30, with the score of 15:14 in Astralis favor. With the axe called overtime hanging above their heads, Astralis managed to win the clutch round, making it 1:1 in the series.
As a welcome surprise for Astralis fans, the team actually managed to get a commanding lead in their first half on Mirage, 13:2. Of course, Dignitas wasn’t about to give up. They played their hearts out, trying to come back into the game, managing to pick up 8 points in response to Astralis’ 2. Despite their best efforts, however, Astralis did win the match, clinching their spot in the playoffs. The wounded animal is still in the game.