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ESL One Cologne Major Qualifier

ESL One Cologne 2016’s offline qualifier kicks off in a few hours, and we’ll see 16 teams compete for a shot at competing in the latest Major, and the $1 million prize pool that accompanies it.

Only eight teams from the qualifier will progress to the Finals at the Arena in Cologne, Germany, the path there will be a new one for the CS:GO Majors as the qualifier will make use of the Swiss-system.

Swiss System:

The tournament will be held over five stages and all matches are best-of-ones, with the opening matchups being determined by “seeding pools.” Pool 1 is the 9-12 placed teams from MLG Major Championship: Columbus, while Pool 2 is the 13-16 placed teams. Pool 3 is the Regional Minor winners and Pool 4 is the Regional Minor runner-ups. The opening matchups will have Pools 1 and 3 face off, meaning Pools 2 and 4 are the other matchups.

In the Swiss system, after one round of seeded matchups, teams will be divided into two sections based on their win rate, and then play a second round of matches against teams with the same record as them. This format continues until eight teams have three losses, at which point they are eliminated, or three wins, at which point they qualify for the Major.

This format has the added benefit of teams playing more minimum games in comparison to the GSL group stage from previous CS:GO Major qualifiers. In this Swiss format, teams play a minimum of three games, with a max of five. While in the normal ESL-style groups, they play a minimum of two with a max of five.

It doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but that extra minimum game means that teams will have to work that much harder to earn a slot into the Major. Conversely, teams will also have an extra lifeline. Coupled with the aforementioned fact that every team is in a single group, it should make for the most competitive CS:GO Major qualifier to date.

Seeding Pools 1 and 3:

  • mousesports vs. FLuffy Gangsters
  • FaZe Clan vs. Team Dignitas
  • Gambit Gaming vs. OpTic Gaming
  • G2 Esports vs. TyLoo

As these matchups are between the Minor winners and the “best” of the Bottom 8 from Columbus, a good number of these teams are favored to earn a slot to Cologne.

The favorites to come out of this group on team are G2 Esports. G2 are the most dominant looking team of the entire qualifier, thanks to a seemingly unexplainable resurgence in shox and ScreaM, OpTic have been on the rise ever since they picked up their Spanish import mixwell, and mouz are always a scary team to face, thanks in no small part to NiKo, who is considered one of the best players in Europe.

Seeding Pools 2 and 4:

  • FlipSid3 Tactics vs. Renegades
  • Splyce vs. HellRaisers
  • Team EnVyUs vs. Immortals
  • Cloud9 vs. Team Empire

Pools 2 and 4 in theory contain the weaker teams of the qualifier, since it’s the last place teams from the MLG Major and the runner-ups from the Minors. These pools contain some of the more inconsistent mid-tier teams in competitive CS:GO, but there are some outliers that stand above the rest.

The favorites to come out on top of this pool is the second best team in Brasil, old Tempo Storm, now Immortals. Although they have yet to play a game since acquiring their new coach zakk. But in the period without any support staff, after peacemaker’s departure, the squad won the CEVO Season 9 LAN.

HellRaisers have consistently been on the fringes of the top-tier recently, having taken competitive maps against the likes of Natus Vincere and have defeated Virtus.pro and SK Gaming in recent matches. They’ve also qualified for the next season of ESL Pro League.

And finally, Cloud9 continue to be a force in North America, finishing in second place during Esports Championship Series Americas with an 8-1 record, losing only to the Major champions Luminosity Gaming.

The first round matchups are as follows:

  • G2 Esports vs. TyLoo
  • FaZe Clan vs. Team Dignitas
  • Gambit Esports vs. OpTic Gaming
  • Mousesports vs. Binary Dragons
  • Team EnVyUs vs. Tempo Storm
  • Cloud9 vs. Team Empire
  • FlipSid3 Tacitcs vs. Renegades
  • Splyce vs. HellRaisers

The ESL Cologne Major offline qualifiers run from June 9-12 in Katowice, Poland.