We, humans, are very weird creatures. We can get used to the most absurd of environments and situations, from the best to the worst. We adapt and anything eventually becomes normal and common-place. After quite a few esport events and tournaments, that’s my general feeling when going to a new one. For ESL One Cologne, on the other hand, the hype was real.
CS:GO in Cologne is an event that has always had a strong reputation. People still remember fondly the previous editions for not only the incredible games but the overall atmosphere and pure enjoyment that comes from the crowd; it is just a blast to be there. That was, at least, what I was hearing about it during the month before the event. And it was all true.
We arrived the day before playoffs started, to get all set for the next day and also get to know the city a bit. And there's nothing better for that than a cold Kölsh beer while watching the sunset by the cathedral.
Next morning, however, was all business inside the "Cathedral of Counter-Strike", a nickname the organizers embraced fully. We were there to not just whose name would be engraved on the humongous ESL trophy next, but to capture the aura of the venue and — as always — conduct interviews with the best players in the world.
Before the event, I was told that one of the interesting aspects of Cologne was the neutral crowd that simply enjoys the purity of the game, indifferent of any of the teams playing it. So much for that! The appearance of BIG threw that straight out of the window and the mostly-German fans had a clear favourite from start to finish. The intense happiness after the game against FaZe Clan was a beautiful thing to see. Even the players seemed baffled they had pulled it off and went right to the crowd to give them some deserved attention.
The convenient geographical location of the city made it so that fans from all over the world had come to meet their favorite teams. Jerseys of NaVi, Astralis, G2, and MiBR were all over the place, with quite a few Virtus.pro ones too, even if the team was not present.
Besides the teams, the stage also welcomed an older Counter-Strike legend: Kyle “ksharp” Miller, who went to the city to accept his Hall of Fame nomination and represent the incredible distance the scene has went through since its 1.6 days.
Back to the games, the miracle run of BIG was only accentuated by NaVi's win over Astralis, making for a grand final I’m sure absolutely no one was expecting. Going into the tournament, the status quo would dictate that FaZe Clan would meet the Danish wonders by the end, but that was crushed by the home-crowd effect and the incredible performances of not only Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostylev and Denis "electronic" Sharipov, but also Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko, who was playing out of his mind on stage.
The NaVi momentum was actually too big even for the home-crowd power pushing BIG forward, and the Germans managed to only take one map in the best-of-5 series.
It was really refreshing being constantly surrounded by so much excitement and happiness, and now I finally understand what ESL One Cologne is all about. I can’t wait to come back!
Still, there are more events on our itinerary, so follow us on Social Media and bookmark our website to be updated on everything esports.
Also, we already have a bunch of interviews out, with more coming out every day for the next few weeks.