ESL One Cologne 2016 Group C had Team Liquid, EnVyUs, mousesports, and Virtus.pro battling for two spots in the playoffs. Predicting what was going to happen was a fool’s gambit, because it was all up in the air. Team Liquid’s lineup of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Joshua “jdm64” Marzano, Spencer “Hiko” Martin, Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, and Nick “nitr0” Cannella looked to be a beastly team that shouldn’t have much trouble coming out on top in the group, however, EnVyUs of a year ago would have been a strong contender to put the Americans in the place a year ago, Virtus.pro can always be relied upon to put up a decent performance, while mousesports were always known to be a good middle-of-the-pack team, capable to bring a fight even against the teams above their level.
Team Liquid vs. Team EnVyUs
If you asked me a year or so ago, I would have bet on Team EnVyUs and felt quite happy about it. Now? Not so much because the French team has been on a decline for a while, giving up their position as one of the best teams in the world.
Watching the first five rounds of the match on Train, I was considering taking back anything bad I thought about Team EnVyUs. Thank God that it wasn’t a full-on existential crisis because it would have been too confusing to figure out, keeping in mind that what happened after.
To put it simply, Team Liquid turned on the jets and crushed EnVyUs, giving up only two more rounds in the match, winning 16:7 and moving to the Winner’s Bracket. Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Spencer “Hiko” martin performed exceptionally well during the match, with both of them getting a rating of 1.48, with EliGE also having 106.6 ADR. Watching EliGE was actually like watching art.
Virtus.pro vs. mousesports
The faceoff between the two middle-of-the-pack teams started by mousesports winning the pistol round and 6 more after that, before Virtus.Pro finally managed to get a foothold in the match. Once they did, however, they weren’t about to let their chance go, taking six rounds in a row and almost catching up to their opponents before the German team managed to get a point. Virtus.pro snagged five rounds in a row after, pulling them out ahead. Slowly making their way towards victory making the ultimate best out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Overcoming all obstacles put up by mousesports, Virtus.pro won the map, 16:10.
Team Liquid vs. Virtus.pro
Facing off against Liquid on Cobblestone, Virtus.pro’s Paweł "byali" Bieliński got a quad kill to win his team the pistol round. American’s eco rounds went just as expected, with them losing two more in order to buy on Round 4. That’s when they started fighting, winning a couple before Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas dashed Liquid’s hopes of equalizing the score with a quad kill. Virtus.pro kept the momentum going for a couple of rounds, but then, Liquid woke up from their slumber (or just got to fully buy and took advantage), winning seven in a row and coming out ahead vs. the Polish starts at the end of the first half.
TaZ got three kills in the second pistol round, setting his team up for success just like byali did before. His team followed through up the first gun round of the half, when Team Liquid started pulling ahead once again. After that, the game was extremely close, with a tied score of 12:12 after the 24th round was over. The final stretch of the map was played better by the Polish team, which won 16:12, dropping Liquid down to face the winner of the match between EnVyUs and mousesports.
mousesports vs. EnVyUs
The game on Train started with Team EnVyUs planting the bomb at B. What followed was, frankly, ridiculous. In the smoke, mousesports’ Denis “denis” Howel smoked the bomb with two EnVyUs players around (Timothée “DEVIL” Démolon and Vincent “Happy” Cervoni) and went for a defuse. Trying to stop him, both French players ran into the smoke and tried to knife him, only it didn’t go as expected. DEVIL knifed his teammate Happy when the bomb was already defused, giving the round to mousesports. If that wasn’t enough, denis even managed to kill DEVIL at the last second of the round.
Despite the conventional wisdom that the two following rounds should go to the team which won pistol, EnVyUs had a point on Round 4. Following that, the game was a seesaw, with several rounds going to one team, only for another to catch back up. In the end, mousesports was the team with its legs up in the air, winning the first half by one point. The rest of the game followed in a similar manner. One team won several rounds, the other caught up. It was a seemingly eternal battle of attrition. Until Round 25 started. With the score being equal, the German mousesports team put their foot down and blitzed their French opponents, closing out the game 16:12 in their favor.
Team Liquid vs. mousesports
The final match of Group C was between the North American Team Liquid and German mousesports, in Germany. The only way this would make for a better WW2 reference is if the tournament took place in some seaside French town. Liquid even had a token European refugee in Olaksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. OK, not really, let’s get back to the point, shall we?
Unlike the landings in Normandy, the early game in Cobblestone went smoothly for Team Liquid. They won the first five rounds. The problem was that the Germans rallied after that, dispatching Liquid four times. Then, both teams started a swingy battle for dominance, with Liquid coming out ahead at the half, 9:6.
The second half promised success for Liquid, however, mousesports hadn’t had enough decency to just roll over and die, fighting tooth and nail as real competitors should. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. The Americans prevailed, 16:11, taking the lead in the Bo3 series.
Entering the Arab lands on Mirage, Team Liquid had a bad start after a lost pistol round, however, they quickly found their footing, winning the first gun round. Could it be that USPS lagged in delivering their guns? Could be but the fact of the matter is that once the Americans got their hands on their guns, it went just as well as the start of the Iraq Invasion. Mousesports only picked up three more rounds, losing the game 16:6. At least it’s good that Liquid had a plan to follow once they started winning. That makes them better than their own government. With their lineup, I am quite happy that they made it into the playoffs. We will see how it goes.
Looking at performances on Liquid, Nick “nitr0” Cannella is at the top, with a HLTV rating of 1.37, while Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev share the second place with 1.23. Going by rumours of s1mple’s big-headedness, you would expect him to be leagues above his teammates, wouldn’t you? Oh, well, at least Liquid won.