ESL One Cologne Group B preview
Our pre-event coverage for ESL One Cologne 2015 continues with a preview of Group B, in which EnVyUs, FlipSid3 Tactics, Team Kinguin, and Luminosity are particpating.
ESL One Cologne will run from August 20-23 and the first day will unfold with characteristic GSL-style groups. Teams will play the two opening matches and then the winners will play an Upper Bracket match, from there the winner moves into the quarter-finals and the other three teams will be part of the remaining 12 to be reshuffled into new groups.
HLTV.org has already given Group A a comprehensive preview which can be found here.
A full overview of the ESL One Cologne schedule can be found here. Group B will also likely see its first new "Legend" decided by 18:00 on the first day, after which the group reshuffle will occur.
We are now going to take a look at the teams that will be fighting on day one that are in Group B, a group which is in general less static and more chaotic than the Group A with which it shares match times.
Which team will seize the second major of 2015?
Inside the core of teams who have been floated as potential elite level outfits (a list generally comprising EnVyUs, fnatic, TSM, Virtus.pro, Na`Vi, as well as debatable additions such as NiP and Titan), EnVyUs are an easily apparent danger to anyone with two feet in the scene.
Most recently, EnVyUs took part in yet another successive wave of high-level roster changes in the French scene; this time it gave the team the AWPing maestro that is Kenny "kennyS" Schrub as well as reckless entryfragger Dan "apEX" Madesclaire. The team debuted with this roster at IEM Gamescom, where it rode out a somewhat eccentric format to win first place and $45,500 in convincing fashion.
However, we need to head back in time to explore how Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer and his men kicked off the summer season and what factors ultimately led to the original EnVyUs squad feeling the need to partake in a roster shuffle in the first place.
Perhaps the seeds had been sown long before in terms of this roster's instability after all. The team that won DreamHack Winter 2014, MLG X Games Aspen 2015, and a string of events in early spring was suddenly seen failing to make the grand finals of multiple events in April and May.
EnVyUs were a team that we watched slowly crumble this summer
Sometimes it would be an unlucky group tie, as Gfinity Spring Masters 2 showed us; at other times, the "Boys in Blue" were simply being outplayed. June began with Na`Vi dealing a major blow to an nV team looking to defend their StarSeries XII title, with the Russo-Ukrainian-Slovak team defeating EnVyUs in the StarSeries XIII finals.
Regardless of the French team's previous weaknesses when playing against Na`Vi, the nV team jetted off to London the next weekend to play Gfinity Summer Masters where they won a one-sided finale against NiP to win the team's first title in at least two months.
However, the tournament was a perfect storm in a way for EnVyUs, with teams generally underperforming and a weakened NiP in the finals that Richard "shox" Papillon & co. probably knew they could simply out-aim, rather than out-play, to win the title.
Despite the promise of a gaming house as well as rising fandom for EnVyUs, the team were once again shut-out of a large tournament by the dynamism of an up-and-coming team at ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 finals. This time, it was Cloud9 who delivered the fatal blow, and not even once, but twice.
After that event, rumours began to swirl of a heavily partying nV roster seeming dispirited during games and no doubt unmotivated overall. These rumours only intensified when EnVyUs were once again defeated by Cloud9 at ESWC, this time playing a game where the team bought dualies on pistol rounds and made other bizarre choices.
The disintegration of the roster was confirmed by EnVyUs' chief, with the team dropping out of both FACEIT Stage 2 finals and CEVO Season 7 finals in anticipation of roster changes. Eventually the aforementioned swap of Titan and EnVyUs players was completed. Since then, EnVyUs have only been seen at IEM Gamescom, which they won in a comfortable fashion as already stated.
|Dan "apEX" Madesclaire||22||4||17||1.14||1/2 final (Cologne 2014)|
|Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer||23||5||34||1.10||Winner (DH Winter 2014)|
|Kenny "kennyS" Schrub||20||4||14||1.02||1/4 final (DH Winter 2013)|
|Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey||21||5||26||1.02||Winner (DH Winter 2014)|
|Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt||21||5||31||0.98||Winner (DH Winter 2014)|
EnVyUs are up there with Luminosity, a groupmate, as being the youngest team on average at ESL One Cologne, at ~21.8 years of age (EnVyUs actually win by a .04 decimal range). The team have a remarkable portfolio of skill which they can leverage as well, especially after the French shuffle, and a deep spreadsheet of past major experience.
AWP genius kennyS will be playing his fifth major with a fifth different lineup, as he is often on the less generous end of roster changes in general. His three previous appearances (in various Titan and Clan-Mystik lineups) saw group stage exits, with the 20-year-old only making playoffs on Recursive way back during DreamHack 2013. kennyS was unable to attend DreamHack Winter 2014 due to the VAC Ban of then-teammate Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian.
All eyes on kennyS, yet again
22-year-old apEX, who possibly defines what it means to be a brash entryfragger and re-peeker more so than any other player, has also played 4 majors, including ESL One Cologne 2014 where he was the highest rated player of the event with a 1.38 rating, a career best.
Teammates NBK-, kioShiMa, and Happy are all DreamHack Winter 2014 champions, with attendances of every major to date as well (to varying degrees of success). Happy is also the only French player to make the playoffs of all 5 majors.
FlipSid3 Tactics, one of the trio of Russian-speaking powerhouse teams on the scene, have had a strange year.
Many still remember the pubstomp that was FlipSid3's ESL One Katowice run, where the team were forced to use Vadim "DavCost" Vasilyev in place of the ESL-banned Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev. Without their hard carry, FlipSid3 were annihilated in two matches with 16-2 scores, once by Na`Vi and once by Vox Eminor (now Renegades).
The team entered summer off of a disappointing DreamHack Open Tours group stage exit, where they were twice defeated by dignitas. Unfortunately for FlipSid3, the exact same pattern repeated itself a month later at DreamHack Open Summer, where it was Titan's turn to hand the CIS-team double defeats in the group stage.
FlipSid3 finally found its mark at the SLTV StarSeries XIII finals, where the team stunned EnVyUs 16-14 on a de_inferno comeback mainly due to s1mple's extraordinary fragging abilities. The team actually finished the group stage of the tournament in Kiev with the best record, going 4-1 in games.
FlipSid3's inherent flaws (lack of firepower, over-rotates) eventually caught up with the team in the semi-finals of SLTV XIII as Na`Vi swept aside their regional rivals with ease. FlipSid3 then travelled to Slovenia in the hopes of winning the Gaming Paradise qualifier, however another red-hot team took them down in the grand final, and it was a Nikola "NiKo" Kovač-powered Kinguin lineup that did it this time around.
Was the semifinals run at ESWC 2015 a one-off for FlipSid3?
The bedeviled team had two more events under their belt, the first being ESWC 2015 in Montreal. For whatever reason, the event was a catalyst for many teams' internal breakdowns and unravelings, and such was the case for FlipSid3 as well.
The team were forced to use Spencer "Hiko" Martin as a stand-in due to Georgi "WorldEdit" Yaskin's visa issues, a choice which oddly benefitted them as it was Hiko's experience combined with the solid support-based play of Vladyslav "bondik" Nechyporchuk and Yegor "markeloff" Markelov that gave the team the discipline and focus it needed to humiliate NiP in the quarter-finals.
FlipSid3 then came up against rivals Na`Vi yet again and were yet again demolished, perhaps even more so than at the SLTV XIII finals. Anyone who was at the Société des Arts Technologiques building in Montreal could tell you that s1mple's rage from that game was visibly apparent, with the player loudly complaining into his mic and refusing to talk to several teammates afterward.
Regardless, with s1mple effectively off the squad, the team still managed to qualify for ESL One Cologne in surprising fashion at the European qualifier a few weeks later, which included a revenge overtime defeat of dignitas to secure the major slot.
|Yegor "markeloff" Markelov||27||5||20||0.90||1/4 final (3x)|
|Vadim "DavCost" Vasilyev||19||1||2||0.77||Group stage (Kat 2015)|
|Vladyslav "bondik" Nechyporchuk||22||2||4||0.67||Group stage (2x)|
|Georgi "WorldEdit" Yaskin||23||2||4||0.56||Group stage (2x)|
|Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy||28||2||4||0.47||Group stage (2x)|
markeloff, a Na`Vi veteran and 1.6 AWP extraordinaire, has a very strange major performance record. He has played every single major to date and yet he is now the only player to have done so who has never made it past the quarter-finals.
A few other players to have never made it past the quarter-finals of a major and who had played 5 majors to date (but who will not attend ESL One Cologne 2015) happen to include markeloff's former HellRaisers' teammates Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow, Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov, and Emil "kUcheR" Akhundov.
Teammates bondik, WorldEdit, and B1ad3 were also present at the ESL One Katowice 2015 stomp, and these three also attended ESL One Cologne 2014 last year as dAT team, where they easily lost to Virtus.pro and iBUYPOWER, 7-16 and 6-16 respectively.
14:00 EnVyUs vs. FlipSid3 Tactics
On one hand, FlipSid3 can take solace in the fact that the last time they faced EnVyUs, they pulled off the previously mentioned 16-14 comeback upset against the Frenchmen.
However, in other recent match-ups (which can be seen here in the head-to-head results), EnVyUs have soundly defeated the Ukrainian-Russian team. These matches include two complete maulings in the online portion of the ESL ESEA Pro League: 16-2 and 16-4.
No-one would deny that FlipSid3 have been playing quite well recently—the team almost seem to be enjoying some kind of honeymoon period after throwing off the burden that was s1mple when the star was on tilt. But to assume that they can upset a newly empowered EnVyUs in this opener is a fool's errand and certainly not worth betting one's Asiimovs over.
"Hype" is a word that can do a lot of damage despite its positive overtones: it is both ambiguous and overblown, one of those words that people who work in Public Relations departments keep up on a sticky note on the office wall.
The Team Kinguin "hype" was destined to run with this international, talent-heavy team from its inception to their original offline appearances this summer, and it has equally affected how we spectators perceieve a team where so many players emotionally resonate with various members of the community.
Since they were signed to Kinguin in May, the core of this team have represented outcasts from the various corners of European Counter-Strike.
And whether it's the misfortunate Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom, whose insane headshot talent has been barred from seeing fulltime play due to unforseeable circumstances, or Mikail "Maikelele" Bill, whose swift rise and fall in NiP gained the Swedish player an army of feisty supporters, Kinguin are not a team made up of the faint-hearted, especially when considering the expectations placed upon this team.
Even Portuguese Ricardo "fox" Pacheco, who despite the assertions made by his legion of vociferous fans, heads into this major with not much big-stage experience and a lot to prove to the scene.
Kinguin have been burdened with the expectations of a community
The team made their LAN debut at the DreamHack Open Summer BYOC, which they won and thus advanced into the main tournament. The team then lost to Na`Vi 9-16 and to dignitas 14-16 in the group stage, thus exiting and yet some claimed the performance was decent considering it was a bit of a dry run for the team.
A very bizarre series of sicknesses plagued the team during their bootcamp in Warsaw, Poland ahead of the Gaming Paradise qualifier, the worst of which forced Swede Alexander "SKYTTEN" Carlsson to go to the hospital. The team enlisted Bosnian hotshot NiKo as a stand-in and went on to win the in-house qualifier over FlipSid3.
SKYTTEN's sickness and the positive effects of a frag-heavy stand-in: these factors seem almost fatalistic in the way in which they played out and yet they somehow convinced Kinguin of the need for change within the team. Sure enough, it was soon announced that the support player SKYTTEN was on his way out and that the team had brought LGB eSports star Dennis "dennis" Edman out of his hibernation to play for the team.
The team caught a lucky break in replacing an imploding EnVyUs at FACEIT Stage 2 finals in Valencia, where, after a 7-16 loss to Cloud9, the European mix team went up against Virtus.pro where following two closely contested maps, Kinguin pulled off its most spectacular result to date: a 16-0 thrashing of the Poles on de_cache to advance to the Group A decider match.
Despite Na`Vi winning that match 2-1 to advance to the semis, Kinguin had shown that they were a force to be reckoned with. The final cherry on the cake for this team's summer run till now was Kinguin's offline qualification for ESL One Cologne via the European qualifier.
|Dennis "dennis" Edman||24||2||14||1.13||1/2 final (Katowice 2014)|
|Håvard "rain" Nygaard||20||2||5||1.11||Group stage (2x)|
|Mikail "Maikelele" Bill||24||2||17||1.05||Final (DH Winter 2014)|
|Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||21||3||15||0.96||1/2 final (DH Winter 2013)|
|Ricardo "fox" Pacheco||28||-||-||-||-|
One point of interest before we dig into the players' major stats is Kinguin's coaching issues. The team moved from having ex-player SKYTTEN call to then-coach Danniél "dalito" Morales lead the team as IGL, only to be shortly removed from the team due to the controversy of a previous VAC ban. Latest reports link former Nihilum coach Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninić with the duties of coaching and leading the outfit.
Three of Kinguin's players have the distinction of making it to the semifinals of a major, with Swede Maikelele even making it to a final with NiP at DreamHack Winter 2014. Norwegian rain has also attended two majors, with two group stage exits (once with London Conspiracy and once in a LGB lineup).
Portuguese player fox is the oldest rookie to the event at 28 years and 309 days of age, with no previous major experience, as well as the third oldest player at the event overall behind Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas of Virtus.pro and Iain "SnypeR" Turner of Immunity. However, the record for oldest rookie to a major is held by Joona "natu" Leppänen, who was well over 29 years of age at ESL One Katowice 2015.
Luminosity, more famously known in 2015 as Keyd Stars (and in the earliest months as KaBuM.TD), rose to prominence this year through their qualification for MLG X Games Aspen via the Brazilian qualifier.
The team then began to accrue a reputation as a fearsome tactics oriented lineup, particularly on de_mirage, where the Brazilians crushed Cloud9 16-4 at MLG X Games Aspen and also defeated fnatic 16-7 in the same month at ClutchCon.
The team found community help in being crowdfunded to the Katowice qualifier in February, and delivered with a successful qualification over dignitas. The Brazilians retooled as Keyd Stars and made it out of groups at Katowice, as well as defeating semifinalists Virtus.pro on de_overpass in overtime despite losing the series overall.
Officially branded as "Legends," which meant an automatic qualification for the next major, Keyd Stars continued on their rise by moving to the Los Angeles area in order to play in the North American division of the ESL ESEA Pro League. The team managed to qualify for the offline finals, as well as winning pricey online tournaments along the way.
Luminosity faced an identity crisis after ESWC
Then, as the saying goes, the buck stops here. The first match in Cologne for the Pro League finals saw Keyd Stars take down TSM 16-12, a result which actually knocked the Danes out of the tournament entirely considering the afterward pairing against fnatic.
Going out in 5-6th place was likely unsavory for the Brazilian team, especially since North American rivals CLG and Cloud9 finished in higher placings and Keyd Stars had once been billed as the cream of the crop in North America.
The team then flew to ESWC where an early group stage take-out by FlipSid3 and Cloud9 meant the end of the road for the Brazilians. In his interview with HLTV.org, a tired-looking Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo mentioned a return to Brazil and rumours swirled regarding roster changes.
The team shortly parted ways with the Keyd Stars organisation and at the same time bid adieu to Caio "zqkS" Fonseca, the squad's first roster change in the year. To fill zqkS' slot, the team signed up-and-coming talent Marcelo "coldzera" David to fill out the roster ahead of ESL One Cologne 2015.
|Ricardo "boltz" Prass||18||1||6||1.10||1/4 final (Katowice 2015)|
|Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo||24||1||6||0.99||1/4 final (Katowice 2015)|
|Fernando "fer" Alvarenga||23||1||6||0.94||1/4 final (Katowice 2015)|
|Lucas "steel" Lopes||21||1||6||0.93||1/4 final (Katowice 2015)|
|Marcelo "coldzera" David||20||-||-||-||-|
At 18 years, 132 days of age, boltz will be the youngest player at ESL One Cologne 2015, and neatly satisfies the overarching trend of younger players taking on more frag-hungry roles which generally leads to a higher rating if done successfully.
boltz's three Keyd Stars teammates all have the same major experience as well, since Brazil's first major appearance in CS:GO was at ESL One Katowice 2015 which ended in a quarter-finals exit. This result is already more successful than major contenders from other outlying areas such as Australia, South Africa, or India have been able to achieve.
Newest addition coldzera enters the event as a rookie, having joined the team barely a month ago as previously mentioned.
15:25 Kinguin vs. Luminosity
Rounding out the four early group games of Thursday will be this match-up between a European conglomerate team and a Brazilian juggernaught. In this author's humble opinion, it is truly the most variable of the opening group games to predict.
If we go by the most recent offline results, Kinguin certainly have the edge, with a convincing best-of-three defeat of Virtus.pro and maps taken off of Na`Vi, FlipSid3, and dignitas.
Luminosity managed to defeat TSM in the summer and have not won much more (unless one counts defeating Boreal Storm of Canada as a notable achievement).
On the other hand, Luminosity lost a crucial best-of-one to CLG in the ESL ESEA Pro League and have also taken defeats from fnatic, FlipSid3, and Cloud9. Coincidentally, Kinguin have also been soundly beaten by Cloud9, at the FACEIT Stage 2 finals in Valencia.
There is a chance that if both teams are well informed about each others' map strengths ahead of time, and execute the dual map bans allotted in the veto correctly, this game will come down to a battle of the coaches in terms of pacing the game and keeping each team motivated.
It should be admitted though that Kinguin's lineup is more skilled on an individual level and can likely out-aim Luminosity across the board, however the Brazilian lineup is disciplined and functions like a well-oiled machine, providing the neat antithesis to the "PCW style" of Kinguin's play.
16:50 Winner B1 vs. Winner B2
It would be feasible to say that this group delivers on a silver platter the chance for the new EnVyUs roster to become "Legends" once more. Admittedly, the French lineup packs so much firepower that if they advance to the winners match, the should be able to out-peek, out-perform, and out-play either Kinguin or Luminosity.
Kinguin went up against EnVyUs in early June in an online match for StarSeries XIII and lost, although this was with the less impactful SKYTTEN on the team as well as with the point that both games were a little close for comfort for nV.
EnVyUs should carry the group, all things considered
Luminosity have yet to officially match-up against EnVyUs, despite being at several offline tournaments along with the French team. Unless the Brazilians can come up with a hard counter to nV's "push through smokes until you die" tendency, chances remain slim for an early quarter-finals qualification for Luminosity.
If FlipSid3 do the unthinkable and send EnVyUs off to the second group stage to lick their wounds, the team will want Luminosity to have won the second game in the group. FlipSid3 will no doubt still remember the double series losses to Kinguin at the Gaming Paradise qualifier, 1-2 in the upper final and 0-3 in the grand final (with a one map advantage).
There were roster differences in that tournament on both sides of the aisle that do create some statistical dispersion, however it can still be assumed that Kinguin would have the edge over FlipSid3 skill-wise and could easily take the winners match in this case.
Against Luminosity on the other hand, FlipSid3 have the distinction of winning a best-of-one against the Brazilians at ESWC, 16-13 on de_cbble. With the rosters once again different by one player on each team, the victory is nonetheless a reminder that the Ukrainian-Russian outfit can play this team to close games and emerge victorious.
After the winners match, the groups will be reshuffled and all three teams from Group B will head off into the Lower Bracket in four groups of three teams, meaning that further analysis is rendered fruitless.
HLTV.org will continue to release previews for each group of ESL One Cologne 2015 with the histories, match-ups, and major stats of each team explored in depth, so make sure to stay posted to our news page for these previews as they are published.
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