ESL One Cologne 2016 Group D had people wincing as soon as it was announced. G2 Esports, Fnatic, SK Gaming, and FaZe Clan were placed there, making it the strongest group in the whole tournament. Three of the four teams in this group wouldn’t have surprised too many people if they played in the finals, with SK being the reigning Major champions, Fnatic having multiple Major titles under their belt, and G2 Esports coming out ahead against SK Gaming in ECS Season 1 Finals. With two spots in the playoffs, however, one of these powerhouse teams would have a bitter pill to swallow. Which one would it be? That’s the most interesting question in the Group stage of the tournament.
SK Gaming vs. G2 Esports
Having lost to the French G2 Esports in ECS Finals a short while ago, SK Gaming were looking forwards to having a rematch. Already burned once, they took their opponents seriously, coming right out the gates, winning the first pistol round. G2 didn’t just roll over, however, going toe to toe against the Brazilian team, staying within one or two rounds for the first half, finally taking a lead while playing as Terrorists on Cobblestone. SK didn’t fall asleep, however, winning the last round of the first half and nipping at G2’s heels, with the score of 7:8.
The second pistol was won by SK. The Brazilians didn’t completely take over the game on the back of it, however, as the final rounds of the match played out, the MLG Columbus champions gained a more considerable lead of 15:11, closing out the game in short order and moving to the Winner’s Bracket to await their next opponent from the match between FaZe Clan and Fnatic.
FaZe Clan vs. Fnatic
Before the game, nobody could have predicted what would happen on Dust2 in this match. Fnatic were the overwhelming favorites, proving it to be true in the early game, after winning the pistol round and choking out FaZe Clan. The first sign of trouble was in Round 6, when aizy killed three Fnatic players at A as CT. Hell, the last shot was especially great, because aizy jumped up above the edge of a box and promptly slaughtered his opponent. Needless to say, FaZe won that round. That win gave some breathing room for FaZe, allowing them to pick up points there and there, finally catching up to the Swedes after winning Round 14 and taking a one point lead into the second half.
The second half started with a pistol round win by FaZe Clan. Similarly to the first half, FaZe proceeded to dominate the game until the first gun round, where olofmeister’s troops had a chance to fight their opponents on even footing. They didn’t disappoint, winning the round. Despite their occasional gun round success, however, Fnatic couldn’t mount a full comeback, because FaZe managed to keep them at arm’s length. The swiftest kick in the balls was when FaZe got the match point by exploding the bomb, when fox sniped the only Fnatic member still standing, JW, taking away his AWP and making Fnatic play an eco round with the win on the line. Miraculously, Fnatic managed to stay in the game, winning their 12th point, however, they still didn’t have enough money for a full buy, getting an M4A4 on olof, M4A1-S on dennis, an SSG 08 on flusha, AWP on JW, and a FAMAS on KRiMZ. Despite their suboptimal weapons, Fnatic managed to win, in part because of JW getting a triple kill with his Scout. Getting a full buy, Fnatic won the next round, making it 15:14, with an OT looming in the distance. It was not to be, however. As the only Fnatic alive against three FaZe terrorists, JW had to make something happen at B with his AWP. Unfortunately, he got sussed out and killed, allowing FaZe to add this huge upset to their resume.
SK Gaming vs. FaZe Clan
Having defeated Fnatic the day before, FaZe Clan were running on a high prior to their face-off against the reigning Major champions, SK Gaming. If they keep the dream alive and defeat SK, they will go straight to the playoffs, dispatching two of the heavy favorites of the group. If they lose, however, they will have to fight for a playoff spot in a Bo3 series against the winner of the match between Fnatic and G2 Esports.
From the first minute on the server, SK proved they meant business, winning the pistol round, not allowing any eco round shenanigans to happen and winning several gun rounds after that. In fact, FaZe got their first point on Round 7. FaZe’s comeback attempt met an immovable wall, however, when SK dismantled their team next round, making it 7-1. Next round, aizy managed to get one over FalleN in a 1v1, even though it was mostly for naught because SK Gaming won the first half 12:3.
FaZe Clan managed to win the second pistol round. Even if it was a bit chaotic, a win's a win. FaZe won the anti-eco, however, SK brought the thunder in Round 18, managing to win with 4 P250s and a Glock vs. an M4A4, 2 UMP-45s, and 2 MP9s. FaZe did manage to pick up one more point after that, but SK Gaming said choo choo and kept their freight train rolling, flattening FaZe Clan on Cobblestone, 16:6.
Fnatic vs. G2 Esports
In any other group, both G2 and Fnatic would have been forerunners to win the group, yet they stood with their backs against the wall of defeat in Group D. While G2 falling to the best team in the world is understandable, Fnatic put themselves in this unenviable situation through their own fail against FaZe. No matter how the teams got there, the fact of the matter was that they had to win to have a chance at making it into the playoffs of ESL One Cologne 2016.
Fnatic started in full throttle, winning the first pistol. Four rounds later, the score was Fnatic 3:1 G2, when ScreaM went off, killing three Fnatics before finally being brought down. His teammates took revenge, ripping victory out of Fnatic’s hands, repeating the performance in the next round too. In later rounds, G2 built up on their success, managing to get up to 6 points against Fnatic’s 3. The Swedes weren’t to be outdone, though. They clawed their way back into the game, managing to win the first half by 1 point, 8:7.
In a repeat performance from the first half, Fnatic won the pistol round once again in the second, slowly building a lead. G2 weren’t to be rolled over, though. Little by little, they evened out the score after 22 rounds, 11:11. Fnatic didn’t lose their heads, winning the round after that, while JW managed to spray down 4 Frenchmen with his stolen AK-47, leaving G2’s shox to contend with KRiMZ, olofmeister, dennis, and flusha. Needless to say, shox was toast. Fnatic used the momentum to bring the game to match point. G2 tried to come back, getting two wins in a row, but Fnatic only needed one more point to win the game. Predictably, they got it and moved on to try and take revenge of FaZe Clan, which slapped them in the face in Round 1 of Group D.
Fnatic vs. FaZe Clan
With the stunning upset and the hard game against G2 Esports still fresh on their minds, Fnatic meant business. Despite that, FaZe smacked Fnatic with a wet towel in the beginning of the match on Cache, winning the first 7 rounds. Fnatic got their first point on Round 8, going on a 7:1 run, to lose it 7:8, which presented an entirely different story from what looked to be happening at the start of the match.
With the looming disaster averted for now, Fnatic got their guns in order and started a systematic demolition of their opponents with a victory on the second pistol round. In the second half, FaZe Clan managed to win 1 round to Fnatic’s 9. This loss must have been painful and demoralising to the FaZe players. Crushing your opponents early only to have them come back and do the same to you later must be very hard to deal with.
The second map, Mirage, had CT-sided Fnatic win the first pistol round with four members alive. They didn’t keep the streak going for long, however, as FaZe managed to win the first gun round. Fnatic weren’t discouraged, winning 5 straight rounds after that. FaZe did get three more points there and there in the first half, however, Fnatic’s lead was very convincing at the half, 11:4.
The second pistol round came to a Western-style face off at A, with Fnatic’s bomb ticking down and jkaem waiting for olofmeister to come from CT spawn. Despite walking into FaZe player’s crosshairs, olof got the kill, winning the round for his team. All in all, the second half was a close affair, ending with 5 points for Fnatic to FaZe’s 4, but that was nowhere near close enough to keep their playoffs dream alive for FaZe after getting demolished so thoroughly in the first half. The final score was Fnatic 16:7 FaZe Clan.