We took a look back and analyzed the players' performances at ESL One Cologne to present our eight Exceptionally Valuable Players (EVPs) of the $300,000 tournament, which came to a close on Sunday with Natus Vincere lifting the trophy.
ESL One Cologne saw Natus Vincere clinch their third title in a row — their first this year at a tournament with all top-five teams in attendance — after defeating fnatic, Astralis, and BIG in the playoffs to secure second place in the ranking and edge closer to the No. 1 spot.
Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev starred yet again and earned the highest accolade as the $300,000 event's Most Valuable Player, averaging tournament-leading statistics such as a 1.37 rating and 0.90 kills per round after an incredibly consistent showing over the 17 maps Na`Vi played throughout the German tournament.
It is now time to look further and present our EVP picks of ESL One Cologne. There were eight players who earned the award, of whom one hails from the winning team, two from the runners-up, BIG, two from each of the semi-finalists, FaZe and Astralis, and one from G2 as the quarter-finalists. The full list looks as follows:
HLTV.org's EVP picks (by order)
Denis "electronic" Sharipov
Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz
Johannes "nex" Maget
Håvard "rain" Nygaard
Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen
Nicolai "device" Reedtz
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač
Kenny "kennyS" Schrub
Even though the groups were all about s1mple, who dominated with six Player of the Map awards in the team's six wins, electronic still had plenty of impact on Na`Vi's run through the lower bracket, especially against ENCE, where his performance on Mirage helped the team prevent an early elimination.
However, in the playoffs, the Russian star kept up with his superstar teammate and even surpassed him in some ways, averaging a tournament-highest 1.34 playoffs rating after powering Na`Vi to their Train win versus fnatic, on Overpass against Astralis, and on Inferno, the last map of the grand final, against BIG.
Though unlikely to ever catch up with s1mple, electronic was almost as valuable in Na`Vi's title-winning campaign in Cologne, as he put in a 1.40 rating in their wins, as well as an overall 1.31 rating (third highest), 90.9 ADR (third most), and eight clutches (second most, tied with s1mple) — including a 1v4 on Dust2 in the grand final and a 1v3 on the same map versus ENCE.
Even though he was a little inconsistent, the 23-year-old led the way for BIG in the groups with peaks in the opening match against Liquid, as well as in the overtime win on the deciding map of the lower bracket semi-final versus Renegades, Inferno, and on Cache against MIBR.
tabseN proceeded to put in a decisive performance in another overtime win, on Cache versus G2 in the quarter-finals, and continued with fantastic play in the semis up against FaZe (1.29 rating) and in the grand final (1.18 rating), shining in the role of the team's secondary AWPer, which BIG utilized very often on the CT side.
Overall, tabseN finished the tournament with the fifth-most ADR (88.2) as well as the fourth-most clutches (7), but his contribution to BIG's run is best explained by a 1.27 rating in the team's wins as well as a 1.28 impact rating.
In groups, the German made the difference in two out of five maps BIG won; in the 16-12 victory on Train versus Renegades and in their double-overtime triumph over MIBR on the deciding map, Inferno, which propelled BIG to the playoffs.
There, nex played a big part in the aforementioned Cache win over G2, in another overtime battle, and led the way for BIG versus FaZe in semis with a 1.38 rating and 97.4 ADR in the series. Though he dropped off in the grand final as a whole, his 1.78 rating on Dust2 gave BIG the only map they won in the best-of-five series.
rain comes in as the biggest contributor to FaZe's semi-final finish in Cologne with a consistent showing overall and three huge peaks in the groups, one of which was against BOOT-d[S] in the opening match and two against fnatic in the match for first place and a spot in the top four.
Interestingly, the Norwegian was never the main man behind FaZe's individual wins, but the aforementioned peaks, in which he worked in tandem with one of his teammates, and consistency put him at the top, as he led the European mixture with a 1.55 rating in their wins alongside a 1.42 impact rating overall. Otherwise, rain was the fourth-highest rated player of the tournament (1.29), dealt the most damage out of all players (93.4), and scored the second-most assists (0.19).
As usual, most of Astralis' players took turns making the most impact in their matches, but dupreeh was perhaps the most consistent of them all, as he put in 1.30+ ratings in four out of five of their wins in the group stage, where the Danes earned a direct ticket to the semi-finals. He also played well in the semi-final against Natus Vincere, averaging a 1.15 rating throughout the series despite entering the best-of-three with a below-average performance on Overpass.
dupreeh's best map and his only Player of the Map award came on Dust2 against G2 in the match for first place, where he made the difference with a 1.48 rating in an overtime victory. He mostly stood out with pure fragging ability (0.83 kills per round, fourth most), but he was generally good in most regards throughout the event.
Like dupreeh, device recorded 1.30+ ratings in four out of five wins in groups, with most of his contribution coming from Group A's upper bracket semi-final series versus Cloud9, in which he put in a 1.62 rating and earned two Player of the Map awards.
device added one more PotM to his tally in the playoffs, in the only map Astralis won over Natus Vincere in the semi-finals, Nuke. Across the whole tournament, device averaged the fifth-highest rating (1.27), was among the hardest players to kill with the fewest deaths per round (0.54) and made most of his contribution on the CT side, where he averaged a 1.48 rating.
NiKo earns yet another EVP mention following a solid tournament across the board, with nine out of nine maps above a 1.00 rating, including an especially high peak in the opener against BOOT-d[S]. The Bosnian also made his impact known on the first map of the semi-final against BIG on Dust2, where he helped FaZe come out on top of the overtime battle with key plays on the CT side and a 1.28 rating.
Like rain's, much of NiKo's contribution was on the defensive side overall, as he averaged a 1.41 rating as CT, and he was also one of the most successful players in opening duels (67.5%) while being one of the hardest to kill with only 0.57 deaths per round (second fewest). Apart from his match-to-match consistency, he was also one of the most consistent contributors round-to-round with the fourth-highest KAST (75.5%).
kennyS rounds out the Exceptionally Valuable Players as the only quarter-finalist to make the list. The AWPer was by far G2's best player at ESL One Cologne, as he hit numerous huge peaks, in their group stage win against mousesports (a staggering 1.46 rating in the three-map series) as well as in the quarter-finals versus BIG (1.63 rating in an overtime loss on Cache).
Even though the Frenchman was quite up-and-down, he finished the tournament with the fourth-most ADR (88.7), the third-most kills per round (0.84), as well as the most AWP kills per round (0.47), mainly thanks to his contributions on the CT side where he put in a 1.39 rating (1.07 on the T side).