Now one of CS:GO's most iconic events, ESL One: Cologne is back once again for a fifth time. On July 3, Sixteen teams will gather at the Lanxess-Arena for a share of the $300,000 prize pool. And it isn't just money at stake: a win at this tournament also counts towards the Intel Grand Slam, which will award the winning team the princely sum of $1 million.
The direct invites are Astralis, BIG, Cloud9, FaZe, Fnatic, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, Mouseports, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas and SK Gaming. Joining them are the two European qualifiers, Gambit Esports and North; the North American qualifiers, Renegades; the Asian qualifiers, B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape; and the GG.Bet Majestic qualifiers, ENCE eSports.
When it comes to picking favourites, its hard to see past Danish outfit Astralis, who have been unstoppable in recent months. Dev1ce, in particular, has been astounding as of late, averaging over 1.2 on HLTV's rating system in the team's last 6 events (five of which Astralis won).
Of course, you can never entirely rule FaZe out of proceedings. They've been playing second fiddle to Astralis as of late, but that won't be a trend they're particularly happy about. They defeated Astralis 3-0 in the finals of IEM Sydney back in June: a performance that could provide inspiration going into this event. They are still without key player Olofmeister, however, and so will be hoping that stand-in Cromen can finally come up big.
The sixteen teams will be divided into two eight man groups, which will play out in the GSL format. The initial group games will be best-of-one, with all following games best-of-three. The top three teams from each group move on to the playoffs, where they will compete in a single elimination bracket, with the seeds in the semi-finals going to the top two teams in each group. Quarterfinals and semifinals will both be best-of-three; for the grand finals, the format shifts to best-of-five.
The group draws have not yet taken place. When they have, we'll make all the information easily available on this page.
Group Stage: July 3rd - 5th
Playoffs: July 6th - 8th
How to watch
ESL will stream the entire event on their YouTube channel. Stay tuned for updates on how GINX will be covering the event.