The two semi-finals didn’t turn out how we expected with both matches being a lot more one-sided than anticipated. Mike “shroud” Grzesiek’s performance was the biggest surprise across the two series. Perceived, quite fairly, as Cloud9’s usual weak link, shroud stepped up on Overpass to carry Cloud9 to a 2-0 victory. It has been a good event for the Canadian, who also shone on both maps Cloud9 beat NiP on in their quarter final.
As such, this will be the first grand final at an ESL One where all the players are from the Americas. It will be a battle of north versus south as Brazil will go up against the USA (plus shroud) which was certainly not what the odds reflected prior to the tournament. The match will be a best-of-five and whilst it’s not what the CounterStrike purists would have hoped for, it promises to be an interesting encounter.
Who do our CS:GO betting analysts think will be the ESL One Cologne champion and get the first victory out of the four required to win the million dollar Intel Grand Slam?
Cloud9 (63/20, 4.15 Marathonbet) vs SK Gaming (8/25, 1.32 Betway Esports)
As we mentioned yesterday, Cloud9 are usually willing to leave Nuke in the map pool against other teams who do not play it. They should take the gamble of doing so here because SK have never played the map with João “felps” Vasconcellos and as SK go in as favourites, there is less incentive for them to take the risk of playing a map neither team knows. This is what happened at the ESL Pro Series Season 5 Finals and will give Cloud9 the choice of which of the other six maps to avoid.
SK Gaming’s level of performance during the tournament has been better than Cloud9’s. They are more consistent, have more star power, and simply are a class above. Aside from Nuke, the first thing to consider is where Cloud9 have a chance of winning maps.
Cloud9’s strongest maps generally are Train, Mirage and Cache. Prior to yesterday’s win over Na’Vi, they were considered very weak on Overpass. Cobblestone is clearly not a map they are confident on, and whilst they are not incompetent on Inferno, it isn’t a map they have shown a level of form anywhere near SK on.
SK have shown enough flaws on Cache for it to be left in the map pool but they should come out ahead in a close match. Their style does not lend itself to huge victories but their T-side is comprehensive. Fernando “fer” Alvarenga’s aggressive style is well suited to Cache and whilst João “felps” Vasconcellos struggled in opening duels against FaZe, losing ten and only winning one, they still came out ahead. Eight of these deaths were on the T-half which they won 9-6, and six of them came in mid with the other two on B. FaZe played with an unpredictable style to attempt to gain mid control and Cloud9 are unlikely to be able to do the same. Cloud9 would have been expected to show more in their two losses to NiP if they are to be taken as a serious threat to SK on Cache. C9 are unlikely to rack up enough rounds on CT to win Cache.
Inferno was favoured against FaZe over Mirage by SK yesterday if a third map was to be required, which it was not. Meanwhile, Cloud9 came out ahead in a close game against Natus Vincere on Mirage, despite Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham being dominated by Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács. Skadoodle avoided taking any opening duels and SK can exploit this. Particularly on the T-side, he had no impact. 55% of Cloud9’s opening encounters were by Jake ‘Stewie2K’ Yip and he did come out on top in the majority, and it was in these rounds Cloud9 shone. He seized control of mid on terrorist leading to his team racking up ten rounds. The battle between Stewie2K and Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo in mid will determine the outcome of this game. Stewie should be able to keep the AWP out of FalleN’s hands for a significant portion of the game to give his team a chance and this could go either way. SK have been improving on the map and it is a staple for Cloud9, but SK should still edge it. We highlighted yesterday that controlling CT mid would be the key for Cloud9, and this was Na’Vi’s downfall. They never made any serious attempt to control mid and did not exploit their opponent’s most obvious weakness. SK will not make the same mistake.
SK are a top tier Train team and it is Cloud9’s favourite map, so this lends itself to being the closest encounter. The two teams have played each other on it twice in recent months, and both maps were won by Cloud9. It is their best chance of a win here and they could do so, but it will be tough. They are a solid all round side and if they are able to shut down Fernando “fer” Alvarenga’s pushes they will come out ahead. However, that is easier said than done and fer has been the thorn in the side of many a terrorist execution on Train.
Cloud9’s problem is that they are incredible unlikely to be able to win two of the remaining maps. Inferno, Overpass and Cobble are all maps where SK has a clear edge and there is little in the form book to suggest that will change. Cloud9 could pick up a map, or maybe two, but SK will be your ESL One Cologne champions. On balance, backing SK -1.5 maps is the best betting opportunity at 4/5 (1.80) with tournament sponsor Betway Esports.
ESL One CSGO Betting Tips:
SK Gaming -1.5 maps versus Cloud9 with Betway Esports at 4/5 (1.80)