3 burning questions heading into ESL One Cologne 2020

Nick Johnson • August 9, 22:18

ESL One Cologne kicks off on August 16 and it’s fans’ first chance to see how the majority of top CSGO teams stack up in real competition.

While fans have gotten a taste of the new-look Team Liquid In DreamHack Open 2020, other top teams haven’t made an appearance since the player break. Some teams, such as FaZe Clan and Astralis, will see their first matches in ESL One Cologne, with these matches setting the stage for the rest of the year. Running through the standing questions is important for getting a read on where teams are, and where they might be heading.

Will Liquid’s coaching change catapult the NA team back to the top in Cologne?

With Team Liquid’s appointment of Jason “moses” O’Toole to the head coach position, fans are wondering if Liquid can improve on a formula that hasn’t looked to be especially effective. Janko “YNk” Paunović left the analyst desk to coach MIBR before quickly joining FaZe Clan. Neither team was better off with his addition, but that’s not all on YNk’s shoulders. With five players in the server, a head coach is only as good their players’ ability to follow them. 

The real question here is whether the Team Liquid roster will gel any better with moses than it did with former head coach Eric “adreN” Hoag, the man who led Team Liquid to an Intel Grand Slam win in just 63 days. It’s interesting to guess why both Nick “nitr0” Cannella’s benching and the brand new coaching change weren’t announced in tandem, but ESL One Cologne will be the first big test for a retooled Team Liquid.

Is FaZe’s Kjaerbye addition before ESL One Cologne the right move?

FaZe is still rumored to have signed Marcus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye after his summer departure from North as a replacement for Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras. While the 16-year-old CSGO prospect impressed during his summer with FaZe, the team is at least entertaining the idea of adding a different player as a permanent solution.

It’s unclear what FaZe expects Kjaerbye to bring to the team. FaZe has never lacked for firepower, with its current inconsistency stemming from the lack of an experienced in-game leader. Unless the Dane secretly possesses that skill set, he doesn’t feel like the missing piece to FaZe’s puzzle.

If Kjaerbye officially joins the team, it feels like a move to add another star player to FaZe’s roster rather than to build a dynasty. It will be interesting to see if FaZe knows something about the former Astralis player that nobody else does.

When will fans see the return of g1aive and xyp9x to Astralis?

Astralis fans have had a rough go of it this summer, losing both Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander and Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth to the mental rigors of constant CSGO competition.

According to reports, both are currently listed on Astralis’ substitute sheet. But that doesn’t mean much, especially with gla1ve himself saying that he won’t be playing at ESL’s most anticipated tournament of the year. It’s looking more and more likely that both players won’t return until ESL Pro League Season 12, meaning recent additions Patrick “es3tag” Hansen and Lucas “⁠Bubzkji⁠” Andersen will have to carry the load for Astralis through ESL One Cologne. Statistics show that site partners Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz have fared reasonably well with the changes, but Emil “Magisk” Reif’s numbers have been impacted by their loss.

ESL One Cologne is not a Regional Ranking tournament, so placement here won’t impact a team’s standing in the current CSGO major race. But the tournament does award ESL Pro Tour points, which are just as important in the scheme of Counter-Strike competition in 2020. Just because a team can afford to lose points here and there doesn’t mean a team is invincible from getting knocked out of contention for the Pro Tour finals. This applies to everyone, even Astralis.

ESL One Cologne starts on August 16 across all four regions, after being moved in January. Fans can check out the complete list of Cologne’s groups and early-round matchups by clicking the image below.

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