8 July 2018
The Cathedral of Counter-Strike. That’s what ESL call Cologne’s LANXESS Arena. Rather than just being a bit of clever marketing on ESL’s part, it truly has become the crown jewel in the CS:GO competitive calendar.
It may no longer be a Valve Major, but it is the year’s most prestigious and revered event. To get to the LANXESS, the 16 teams would need to battle their way through the 2018’s rather brutal group stages.
To call Cologne stacked would be doing a disservice to just how competitive the field looked prior to the tournament. With nine of the top world’s top ten teams according to the HLTV rankings, this was going to be a fight to the death.
While some of those knocked out were expected, the group stages delivered a few surprises and plenty of heartbreak for more fancied teams.
Singapore’s B.O.O.T-d[S] weren’t expected to do much and didn’t. Former Major-winners Gambit went out early as well, as most predicted. North lasted longer in the tournament than most would have thought, but eventually went out to MIBR after a close three map series.
Cloud9 with Styko subbing in failed to make a positive impression, but finished ahead of supposedly better teams in 9th-12th.
Renegades’ 9th-12th is probably in line with their current level.
North America’s best hope finished a frankly dismal 13th-16th after capitulating to BIG, 7-16. Liquid’s 0-2 loss to North in the Group B decider match would have been unthinkable a month ago.
Lately, the cracks have started to show and this only served to confirm their recent decline.
The recent roster shuffle between fnatic and the Ninjas hasn’t seemed to have helped them much. They got destroyed by a depleted Cloud9 in the opening match, before being stomped by the unheralded ENCE.
NiP failed to reach double digits in either match, their worst display for quite some time.
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