While Gamereactor Esports were on vacation, the ESL One Cologne Counter-Strike Major played out, with the finals happening last night.
The Brazilian team SK Gaming (known as Luminosity Gaming until just a few weeks ago) ended up winning the whole thing. They crushed the North American Team Liquid 2-0 in what was frankly an underwhelming final series. The NA team only scored 13 rounds across the two maps, an all-time low for a Major finals.
Still, Liquid has become the first NA team to ever reach a Major final, so a good effort by them. All bets are off as to how they'll perform in the near future, as the team's Ukranian superstar S1mple is off the roster after this tournament.
With the SK Gaming line-up winning both ESL One Cologne and the previous Major, MLG Columbus, there's no doubt that the Brazilian team is currently the best in the world. Adding to that status is the fact that the team only lost a single map throughout the tournament, in their 2-1 semifinal against Polish side Virtus.Pro.
And Virtus.Pro's performance in Cologne is worth highlighting. Much has been said of their performance this year, where they've struggled online and put up weak-to-respectable performances in LAN tournaments. But in Cologne, the team was back to their old, strong form, showing just how forceful they can be at Majors. Team captain TaZ also deserves credit for once again showing himself to be a great ambassador for fair play and sportsmanship in Counter-Strike.
He did so particularly after VP beat the Danish side Astralis 2-0 in the quarter-finals. Astralis had a nightmare tournament by all counts. The team wasn't able to use their recently acquired rifler Kjaerbye due to roster lock rules, and had to play with another player, Gla1ve, as a stand-in. Their initial group games went fairly well, but then disaster struck: rifler and entry-fragger dupreeh came down with an appendix infection that need surgery. Thus team coach Zonic had to step in once again, like he had done in the Eleague weeks prior. Despite playing with two stand-ins, Astralis miraculously beat fellow Danish team Dignitas in the deciding group game and made it to the quarter finals. And so their Legends-status remains intact, and the team will automatically qualify for the next Major, whenever that happens.
Ninjas in Pyjamas, on the other hand, lost their Legends status. The team had a hard time in groups, losing to Na'Vi and FlipSid3 Tactics. This is the first time NiP hasn't finished in the top 8 of a CS:GO Major. They'll have to make it through the qualifiers to attend the next one.
FlipSid3, on the other hand, made it to the top 8 and thus receive Legends status, auto-qualifying them for the next Major. The same goes for the Russian/Kazakhstanian team Gambit Gaming.
If you didn't catch the games live, you can find VODs on YouTube.