Europe’s biggest CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) tournament returns to our screens next month with 16 of the world’s best Counter-Strike teams battling it out at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne. Today at Word of the Nerd, we preview all the action and make some predictions as to who we think will be victorious come the 9th of July.
What is CS:GO?
Abbreviated from Counter Striker: Global Offensive, CS:GO is the fourth game in Valve’s Counter-Strike series, a video game that was originally intended to just be a spin-off from Valve’s other successful series, Halflife. With the advent of Esports, it has been the go-to game for all major gaming championships and its rise in popularity in many ways is surprising, considering the game has now been on the market for over 5 years.
Self-confessed as the world’s biggest Esports network, ESL runs tournaments for the likes of FIFA, DOTA and LOL (as well as CS:GO) with the prize money for its games ranging all the way up to a cool 1 million dollars.
The Front-runners: Can anyone stop SK Gaming?
All eyes will be on veterans of the field SK Gaming, who according to Betway eSports as of 27th June are 14/5 favorites for the ESL title. Formed in 1997, the gaming outfit has made the transition from hobbyist clan to multi-million dollar e-gaming business flawlessly during the 20 years of its existence. Their 5-strong all-Brazil CS:GO team are among the best around and have a strong presence on social media; their captain Gabriel Toledo (aka FalleN) has just shy of 500k followers on Twitter. Despite a bout of poor form which saw them lose out convincingly to G2 at EPL Dallas, the experience inside SK’s ranks still makes them the team to beat in July.
The Dark Horses
Without doubt G2’s performance in Dallas, this month will have sent out a strong message to the rest of the CS:GO community. Hailing from France, G2’s not-so-secret weapon is their team captain Shox, who with a rating of 1.13, is one of the world’s highest ranked CS:GO players. At odds of 6/1 outright, there’s clearly value to be had be backing in the up and coming side, with many pundits sticking their head above the parapet and saying the best is still yet to come from them.
For those who favor unpredictability over clear-cut precision, another team to keep your eye on is rank outsiders TyLoo (150/1). Despite being written off by the ES community before a mouse has even been clicked, their very much front-font attacking style of play could make next month’s ESL a very memorable one indeed.
Whilst the individual ability of TyLoo’s all-Chinese roster cannot be disputed; it’s their lack of tactical experience which usually ends up being their downfall. But should these defects in their game be suitably ironed out, who knows how far they could progress in Cologne next month?
What else to look out for?
Not ones to shy away from competition, Virtus.Pro has a more mainstream sport in mind next week – football. The 8/1 outsiders will take to FC Koln’s stadium on the 10th July to face-off against SK after the two sides have been exchanging friendly banter over whose side have the silkiest skills on the football pitch. Considering SK’s entire roster hail from the soccer-loving nation of Brazil, a trip to see Virtus and themselves in action may be worthwhile with the prospect of Joga Bonito on display. E-Sports attending ESL that have a penchant for soccer can buy tickets from the official match website.
Date: 7-9th July
Prize Money: $1,000,000
Location: LANXESS Arena, Cologne, Germany
Recommended Bet: G2 – Outright (6/1)
Surprise package: G2/TyLoo