Whilst the PGL Major stickers were released last night, CSGO Betting’s focus firmly remained on ESL One Cologne. Some teams have certainly been saving strategies for the Major, but there is no doubt that Saturday’s semi-finals will be taken seriously. All four teams who remain in the competition will also be in action in Krakow, but with $100,000 for first place and ESL One considered a significant event in its own right, it’s unlikely they will be holding much back. Our CS:GO betting analysts bring you their ESL One Cologne betting tips for both of the semi-finals.
Na’Vi (7/10, 1.70 Marathonbet) vs Cloud9 (29/20, 2.45 Unikrn)
Na’Vi’s preferences in terms of their map pool is very clear. They perma ban Cache and dislike playing Inferno. Na’Vi’s coach, Andrey “Andi” Prokhorov, states that he feels their best maps are Train and Overpass, and this has been reflected in their picks over the previous few months.
Nuke is a quasi-perma ban for Cloud9. They will leave it in the pool to aid their overall chances against other teams who also perma ban it, but Na’Vi is not one of those teams. As such, the initial bans will reflect those of their Swiss-stage match: Cloud9 will remove Nuke and Na’Vi will remove Cache.
Further to this, Cloud9 have a strong tendency to ban their opponent’s better maps and pick against their weaknesses, rather than rely on their own strengths. To a lesser degree, Na’Vi is similar. As such, Na’Vi will certainly pick Overpass, which is a weaker map for Cloud9 and one of their best. Na’Vi will win this map. They are strong on Overpass, as shown by their victory over G2. The reason they play it infrequently is because it is usually banned against them, whereas Cloud9 do not play it because they choose not to. There is nothing to suggest that Cloud9 can show a better level of performance than they did when the two teams met on Train, whilst Na’Vi should retain that level of co-ordination. Overpass could be a whitewash.
Cloud9’s map choice is up for debate. Whilst Train is possibly their best map, picking it would be short sighted, given it is also one of Na’Vi’s favourites. Neither team will want to play Inferno, which means Train is a very possible third map. Na’Vi would rather play Train again than Cobblestone or Mirage, and would likely gamble that Cloud9 would ban Inferno if that remains as a possible third map pick. Thus, Train is likely to be played as the decider. It felt like Cloud9 played at their peak when losing in the sixth overtime the other day, whilst Denis “seized” Kostin was poor for Na’Vi. It feels like Na’Vi’s star players are more likely to repeat their performance than Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham. Cloud9 did not utilise their sniper successfully in opening duels, with Skadoodle getting only two opening kills from his five opening duels. On the other hand, Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács took 17 opening engagements and came out on top in 11 of them – a 65% success rate.
Cloud9 should probably pick Cobble. Whilst it is not a map they have particularly favoured, they convincingly beat NiP on Cobble, and the ninjas have displayed some potential during ESL One Cologne. NiP are not a team we have rated anywhere near how the bookies perceive them for quite some time, but their wins over Mousesports, G2 and Cloud9 suggest there may be hope for them yet. Na’Vi will have been practising the map for the Major but it feels like one where they would be more likely save their strats. Cloud9 would be favoured on Cobble, but it could go either way.
It is a similar case on Mirage. It is probably Na’Vi’s third best map, however they are not at a level where they can beat the top teams in the world on it. They destroyed Cloud9 on it back in March at IEM Katowice but the 16-6 scoreline there is unlikely to be replicated. C9 have demonstrated better form on it since but as analyst Tomi “lurpiss” Kovanen stated on Twitter, it will come down to whether Cloud9 are able to control mid on the CT side.
Given Na’Vi’s slightly higher level of individual skill and undoubted higher peak when their star players are on form, the 7/10 (1.70) to win the series seems generous.
FaZe (33/25, 2.32 Marathonbet) vs SK Gaming (7/10, 1.70 Unikrn)
Arguably, this match should be the final. These two teams have displayed the best level of CS:GO in recent months though they have both been slightly off the boil at ESL One. Two maps which will definitely not be played are obvious: FaZe will remove Cobblestone, their perma ban. SK will remove Nuke, their perma ban.
These two teams have played against each other twice at the ECS Season 3 Finals two weeks ago, and also met in the IEM Sydney final in May. SK have come out on top every time.
In each of the three series, Train has been played, and each time SK took the win: 16-12, 16-8, and 19-17 were the scorelines. FaZe beat Liquid but lost to OpTic on it at this event so it seems to favour SK, despite it being FaZe’s selection in Sydney.
Cache has previously favoured SK – they picked and won it 16-7 at IEM Sydney before FaZe made it their second ban in their other two fixtures. However, it has not been a good SK map since. They lost to Space Soldiers on it in the first round of this tournament, before beating OpTic and North on it. Not only does this give FaZe plenty of recent demos to study, but SK have also lost to Renegades, Cloud9, G2 and Immortals. They have beaten some of those sides on the same map since, but their form on Cache can be described as inconsistent. FaZe, who used to avoid the map, can play it. They have lost to G2 and GODSENT, but beat mousesports.
On paper, Mirage looks like the opposite. It would have been the fifth map but was not played in Sydney and was removed by FaZe in the ECS groups, before SK picked it in the ECS Final but lost it 16-11. SK lost to OpTic on it at this event but previously beat Fnatic and Virtus Pro on it. Again, this gives FaZe plenty of demos to work with, whilst SK will have none. However, it does feel that SK have improved on the map since the teams last met, whereas it feels like FaZe have been avoiding it. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo will be key here. Whilst SK destroyed Fnatic, and won half their opening duels when being defeated by OpTic, FalleN carried them through their game against Virtus Pro. Excluding FalleN’s opening duels, SK lost ten and only won six, but their primary AWPer took 8 picks whilst only dying once. He locked down A site on SK’s 12-3 CT half, with five frags there to go with one from mid window against an A-execute. FalleN also created the opening on two of the four terrorist rounds that SK won.
FaZe have picked Inferno twice, winning it 16-13 at IEM Sydney then losing it 17-19 at ECS. Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey is possibly the best player in the world at playing A pit and this control could be crucial. SK’s strength is in their CT control of banana.
Overpass was taken 16-11 by SK in Sydney before they removed it in both encounters since. In that time, they’ve lost to Immortals, Astralis, G2 and Fnatic. In comparison, FaZe have beaten G2 twice, Team Dignitas, OpTic, Cloud9, Fnatic and Team Liquid. That suggests it was a bad day for FaZe down under and that SK are not confident they can replicate that performance.
It feels as if SK might walk into a trap in the veto phase here. FaZe will likely pick Inferno, or possibly Overpass. SK are unlikely to pick Train, even though they should win it, but might go for Cache despite their poor form on it. Mirage feels like it could go either way and as such, FaZe are value at 33/25 (2.32) to win the series. It could go either way, but the odds should be tighter.