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Photos of Natus Vincere, who won ESL One Cologne, at the LANXESS Arena in Germany!

Monster Gaming Weekly

Jul 182018

It’s been a relatively quiet past two weeks in the world of esports as games get ready to ramp up for an epic summer. ESL One Cologne was the marquee event, and Natus Vincere once again asserted their dominance.



ESL One Cologne


Continuing a now yearly tradition, the grand mass of Counter-Strike was held in its cathedral during the first week of July. As it always has, the event added to the legend of Counter-Strike with another impressive tournament. Sixteen teams from the very top made the trip to compete for the lion’s share of the $300,000 prize pool, but also for the glory of winning one of the most prestigious non-Major events of the open circuit. This tournament has produced some of the most memorable moments in the game, such as the Fnatic Pause, s1mple’s drop down AWP kills on Cache, and many more. History writes itself in Cologne, and this year was no exception.


The group stage began in a relatively conventional way: most of the favorites won their matches and the underdogs struggled. Eyebrows were raised following Liquid’s loss to the Germans of BIG, as well as G2’s hot start, a 16-14 win against Na’Vi. Soon enough though, the lower brackets would become a minefield for the favorites that tripped in the upper brackets.  The Finnish band of ENCE, led by Allu, would send home both mousesports and the Ninjas in Pyjamas before falling short of the playoffs at the hands of Natus Vincere. On the other end, BIG eliminated Renegades and most notably MIBR in a shocking upset. This was their second premier tournament with this lineup, and already they had secured at least a top 6 finish.


The madness didn’t stop in the playoffs. While Fnatic and Natus Vincere were competing in the first quarterfinals, BIG were taking another scalp in the form of G2 on the other side of the bracket. When Na’Vi accomplished the unthinkable by eliminating Astralis, the best team in the world, BIG matched their feat and even arguably surpassed it as they took down FaZe in a semifinal where they were massive underdogs.


It would be easy to say that Natus Vincere had earned the trophy right after vanquishing Astralis in their semifinal, and that reaching the grand final was enough at that point. The biggest obstacle had been conquered by the CIS side, and whoever they could meet in the grand finals would not be able to stop the slayers of Astralis. However, BIG reached the finals with a feat far more shocking and unexpected, and that meant that nothing could be taken for granted.


Cologne would never look the same after that. Until this year, it had been such a neutral crowd, capable of cheering for pretty much anyone and any team, as they lacked a clear home team to get behind. With BIG climbing to the latter stages of the tournament, this changed instantly. All of a sudden, the finals pitted Na’Vi against a team of six: BIG and the Lanxess Arena crowd. 


Natus Vincere buckled up to face the hometown heroes, and stood firmly as the favorites. Despite the red hot run that UK’s newfound prodigy smooya and his German peers had put up, BIG still needed more than just a boost from the crowd. Na`Vi proved to be impervious to the hostile arena, and they proceeded to deliver blow after blow in a best of five series. Though it looked dangerous at times, s1mple and company always recovered to seal the deal, and the tournament ended in four maps with Na`Vi as champions. The fairy tale was over for BIG. 


After years of frustration and disappointment in Cologne, never able to even touch the trophy, Na’Vi had finally done it, and in style. They thus join a very select group of teams that cemented themselves as legendary squads in the process of winning Cologne: SK and Fnatic. This also accomplished their goal of winning a tournament with all the very best teams in attendance, a goal that had eluded them until now.


Oh, and is it really necessary to mention that s1mple earned yet another MVP?


League of Legends


Rift Rivals


Rivalries are built on the Rift in League of Legends, and Rift Rivals is one of the most anticipated showmatch events on the League calendar. This smaller scale international tournament pits regional rivals against each other in both traditional and for-fun game modes to see which region truly is better. At least bragging rights wise. The NA vs EU tournament boasted both Fnatic and Team Liquid’s LoL teams as NA and EU LCS representatives.


Both teams played exceptionally well considering the current meta-fueled shake ups in gameplay, win conditions, and, in Fnatic’s case, their roster. Rekkles not only sat out the entirety of Rift Rivals but has not played in the EU LCS for almost a month. The current LCS meta has shifted away from ADCs being played in the bot lane and, in Rekkles’ opinion, there is no point in him learning to play mages when his two top laners can already play them so well. For this reason, Fnatic’s starting roster officially shifted to exclude Rekkles from its ranks at his request a few weeks before Rift Rivals began. The shift seems to be working. Fnatic went 4-1 the entire tournament, losing only to the revenge hungry Team Liquid in the group stage.


While Fnatic entered Rift Rivals as the current 3rd place team in the EU LCS, Team Liquid went into the tournament tied for 1st place. For Team Liquid, however, proving themselves to be better than the team Fnatic kicked out of the running at MSI was just as important as winning Rift Rivals for North America. And prove it they did. Despite going 2-2, Team Liquid were the only NA LCS team to successfully vanquish Fnatic the entire tournament. Ultimately, however, an upset defeat at the hands of the then winless Splyce ended Team Liquid’s, and eventually North America’s, run at Rift Rivals 2018.


The tournament started off with a rather bloody, mixed regional team game of ARURF. Though the NA LCS team clinched the first victory of the tournament by winning the ARURF game on their home turf, the EU LCS would go on to win the tournament and take the Rift Rivals trophy back home with them to Berlin.




Lighthouse Madrid


It’s always great to see Smash events in new countries, and Lighthouse offered a glimpse into the Spanish Smash scene. The field mostly included Spanish smashers with a sprinkling of other EU countries, but the event was also graced by Team Liquid’s ChuDat. The Ice Climbers legend showed the crowd the ropes and won the tournament with relative ease.


From his opening match to the grand finals, Chu dropped only 3 rounds, while his wins often included stocks remaining. His biggest competition for the weekend was German Fox player Ice, who managed to take 2 map wins against the Team Liquid player. In the end, ChuDat was just too good, though we hope to see more European representation across the pond at future events.


The local crowd had something to cheer for though, as Spanish players Trif and Overtriforce won the doubles event.