Today marks the beginning of the ESL One Cologne 2018 Counter Strike Major. Last years winners, SK Gaming will be represented under a new name, MiBR (Made In Brazil). The red hoot favourites to win the event are without a doubt – Astralis, and, the odds reflect this. With some questionable sides at this event, lets break down the opening games of day.
Astralis v Team Ence
Astralis, easily are the favourites to win ESL One Cologne, and, in all likelihood, they will walk away winners. Their first test comes against finish side, Ence. Aleksib, the former Havu Gaming member has recently started to perform at the level needed at for Ence, and, Aerial will need to be at his best for Ence to stand a chance here. With Xypx9. Dupreeh, Device and Magisk on the lurk, there isn’t really much too look forward to if you are one the Ence roster tonight. What we have seen from Astralis in their opening rounds at tournaments is that they like to drag their first game out to warm up – the line is at -6.5, and, it isn’t advised to bet on this match, as with Astralis and their first Bo1 game, they have often dragged them out for a bit of early practice. Expect to see the same here.
Ninjas In Pyjamas v Cloud 9
Both are organsiations in free fall. NiP have struggled to be consistent for the last 12 months now, and, even adding a good young talent in Lekr0, they still haven’t really put a good foot forward in regards to preparation for this event. The certainly won’t be an NiP magic at this event. For Cloud 9, they are in a similar boat, bringing Skadoodle back out of retirement didn’t change much, adding Mousesports castaway Styko won’t change things, and the continued lack of input from Automatic isn’t helping them at all. All in all, this game reads as two teams that are going to struggle against one another, and at the event overall. With that said, NiP hold a big edge in pistol rounds due to the Denis factor. Apart from that, it really is anyone’s game.
Best Bet – Match Total OVER 26.5 Rounds @ $2.00/+100 on Unibet
Natus Vincere v G2 eSports
G2 are still struggling to find themselves after all the recent roster changes and player sales, basically rebuilding the old roster that use to win things has been what G2 has been working on, bringing back Shox, KennyS and adding coach Smithzz. Still, no consistency and are struggling just about everywhere, this boot camp they said that they went on, won’t change much as their first opponent is Na’Vi, who are coming of a big win in the Asian Championships. Expecting the momentum of Na’Vi to keep rolling here and they handle business against a struggling G2 side.
Best Bet – Natus Vincere -3.5 round handicap @ $1.72/-139 on Unibet
Mousesports v Gambit
Mousesports finally did what we have been calling for them to do now for over six months, and, that is to cut the weak link that was Styko. Unfortunately, they added Snax from a very underwhelming Virtus.Pro roster. Snax may have been one of the games best two years ago – but, has really left something to be desired this year, but, that could have something to do with the expectation of losing as a Virtus.Pro member. Mousesports did above what was expected with a stand-in at the ESL One Belo Horizonte event, and, are expected to perform even better considering that get their best player Oskar back for this event and lose their worst in Styko. Gambit, haven’t been overly iompressive, have won games here and there, but, the addition of MiR from Vega Squadron has really helped them in the fragging department. On a one for one skill matching, Mousesports are better than Gambit, but, new player in, and, communication issues to be expected, this game could finish at 16-11 or 16-12.
Best Bet – Match Total OVER 26.5 rounds @ $2.25/+125 on Unibet
FaZe Clan v B.O.O.T[d]s
FaZe are not going to mess around here, they start off with one of the easier opponents in the entire competition, the round line reflects this, and irrespective of what the map rotation lands on, FaZe should beat the Asian qualifiers by more than 9 rounds. The line is set at -7.5 which is more than achievable for FaZe, but, just in case they lose a pistol being overconfident, it will be safer to take the match total under market. Not really much information needed here, FaZe are that much better than their opponent here.
Best Bet – Match Total UNDER 26.5 @ $1.65/-154 on Unibet
Renegades v MiBR
MiBR formerly known as SK Gaming, have a winnable matchup here agains the Australian side who have really fallen off the wagon since their coach left due to a falling out with jkaem. The leadership hasn’t been their for the Boys, and, they find themselves against a re-branded and hungry MiBR first up. Unless this map falls on Inferno or Train, Renegades will ultimately struggle in getting this win – or even covering as they team play and communication just hasn’t been there. With that said, MiBR haven’t been overly good either, and were only able to get a surprise win on home soil because the crowd was telling them where opponents were hiding. They won’t have that edge in Cologne, but, must beat beatable teams to be taken seriously. Renegades are beatable.
Best Bet – MiBR -4.5 handicap @ $1.85/-118 on Unibet
BIG v Team Liquid
Another replay of the Belo Horizonte beatdown that Team Liquid dished out is to be expected again here. BIG may be the home side here, being the German representatives, but, on a one for one skill level, team strategy level and communication level, Team Liquid are far superior. A -4.5 handicap is a soft line because BIG are the home side, that won’t mean much though, as the North American top seed will be able to get the job done here against BIG, for the third time in less than a month.
Best Bet – Team Liquid -4.5 handicap @ $1.95/-105 on Unibet
Fnatic v North
The most difficult match on the opening round of games to try and predict. If the map falls on an open brawler like Mirage or Overpass – Fnatic hold the edge 60-40, any other map, it really is a true 50-50 set up. North are their own worst enemy 90% of the time, executing poorly and missing shots that could win rounds, where Fnatic just try to take too many one on one duals expecting to come out superior. Both sides like to throw away team members with un-necessary peeking and aggression, which is why it is difficult to see a winner here. One thing that looks like though, is both sides reaching 11 wins – unless of course, it is one of the two previously mentioned maps.
Best Bet – Match Total OVER 26.5 rounds @ $2.00/+100 on Unibet