The top eight teams from the MLG Columbus major are automatically invited to ESL One Cologne 2016. The top four teams – SK Gaming (formerly Luminosity Gaming), Natus Vincere, Astralis, Team Liquid – are given the first seeds of each of the four groups. The teams that placed fifth through eighth – Fnatic, Virtus.pro, Counter Logic Gaming, Ninjas in Pyjamas – are given the second seeds in each group.
The groups were decided by a random number generator. First the bottom four teams of the qualifier – G2 Esports, Team EnVyUs, Team Dignitas, Flipsid3 Tactics – were randomly selected to each go into one group as the fourth seeds. The top four teams of the qualifier – Gambit Gaming, OpTic Gaming, mousesports, FaZe Clan – were then randomly selected to be the third seeds. The fifth through eighth sports at the Columbus major were selected to be the second seeds. Finally, the top four teams at the major were selected to be the first seed.
The way that ESL seeded the groups drew some criticism. Group A and Group B individually had three teams in HLTV's top 20 rankings. Group D had SK Gaming (#1), G2 Esports (#2), Fnatic (#3), and FaZe (#17). CS:GO analyst Duncan "Thorin" Shields called for a more effective seeding method.
Teams will be split up into four groups. All group matches are best of 1. The highest seed will play the lowest seed in each group and the second and third seeds will play against each other. The winner of those two matches will play to determine which team moves on to the Playoffs; the loser of that match will play another match against the winner of the two losing teams. The loser of the lower match is eliminated from the tournament. The last two teams will play each other and the winner of that match moves on to the playoffs.
The playoffs bracket consists of eight teams, two from each group. All of these matches are a best of three, single elimination format. Teams advance in the bracket until a winner is decided.
The final four teams from each qualifier are shown below; two from each move on to the main qualifying event. All games are offline.
Like the previous majors, there will be a major qualifier and regional qualifiers. The bottom eight teams from MLG Columbus 2016 received automatic bids to the main qualifier. Two teams each from the Asia, North America, Europe, and CIS Minors will be able to compete in the major qualifier.
Unlike previous qualifiers, this main qualifier will be a sixteen team swiss tournament, where after the Day 1 games, teams will play other teams with the same win-loss record. Every round will consist of one game. In addition, teams will not play the same team twice. Any team with three wins would qualify for the major, and any team with three losses would be eliminated.
First round seeding was determined by the following:Teams that placed 9th at the previous major (mousesports, FaZe Clan, Gambit Gaming, G2 Esports) were first seeds
Teams that placed 13th place at the previous major (Flipsid3 Tactics, Splyce, Team EnVyUs, Cloud9) were second seeds
Teams that placed first in their regional qualifiers (OpTic Gaming, TyLoo, FLuffy Gangsters, Team Dignitas) were third seeds
Teams that were runner-ups in their regional qualifiers (Immortals, Renegades, Team Empire, HellRaisers) were fourth seeds
In the second round, the winners in the first round will face each other in the "high" matches; the losers will face each other in the "low" matches.
In the third round, the winners of the high matches from round two will face each other. The winners of these two matches will qualify for the major. The losers of the high round and the winners of the low round will face each other in the "mid" matches. The losers from the previous low matches will face each other in round three's low matches. The losers of these low matches are eliminated. Twelve teams remain in the Qualifier.
In the fourth round, the losers of the high matches and the winners of the low matches will face each other in round four's high matches. The winners of the high matches qualify for the major. The losers of the mid matches and the winners of the low matches will face each other in the low matches of round four. The losers of these matches are eliminated from the Qualifier. Six teams remain.
In the last round, the remaining teams will face off. The winners of these matches will qualify for the major and the losing teams will be eliminated.
Stage Hosts Paul "ReDeYe" Chaloner
Alex "Machine" Richardson
Mitch "Uber" Leslie
Analysts Duncan "Thorin" Shields
Jason "moses" O'Toole
Janko "YNk" Paunović
Commentators Anders Blume
Auguste "Semmler" Massonnat
Henry "HenryG" Greer
Matthew "Sadokist" Trivett
Daniel "ddk" Kapadia
Lauren "Pansy" Scott
John "BLU" Mullen
Prior to the tournament, changes took place.
Counter Logic Gaming and Jacob "FugLy" Medina mutually part ways with each other. FugLy was replaced with CLG's coach, Faruk "pita" Pita.
Astralis and Team Dignitas trade René "cajunb" Borg and Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye. While cajunb was allowed to play with his new team at the major, Kjaerbye could not since he played with Team Dignitas at the qualifying event. Astralis used Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander as a substitute.
Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming trade Kenneth "koosta" Suen and Joshua "jdm64" Marzano, respectively.
Midway through the major, Peter "dupreeh" Rothmann of Astralis had to drop out of the tournament due to an appendix infection. Astralis's coach Danny "zonic" Sørensen took his spot for the rest of the tournament.
A few months before the major, SK Gaming and Luminosity Gaming were in a contract dispute, in which the Luminosity owner accused SK Gaming of attempting to poach his players, but SK Gaming said the Luminosity players, coach, and manager all signed a contract with SK Gaming before they joined Luminosity Gaming. After weeks of conflict, both sides agreed to the contract. Thus, the roster of Luminosity was acquired by SK Gaming prior to the major.
The HLTV.org July 4, 2016 rankings of teams in the major is displayed below. The ranking was the final one released before the ESL One Cologne 2016. It included all tournaments up to ECS Season 1 Finals, in which G2 Esports defeated Luminosity Gaming (now SK Gaming).
†Change since June 27, 2016 ranking
The four groups were announced on ESL's social media accounts on June 12, 2016.
ESL One: Cologne 2016 began with the two Danish teams – Astralis and Team Dignitas – facing off. The players of Astralis have obtained Legends status ever since the first major whereas the players of Dignitas seem to always go out in the group stage. This would also be the first major in which Dignitas would not be playing with Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye since he joined and in which Astralis would not be playing with René "cajunb" Borg, as the two teams traded players. However, since Kjaerbye qualified for the major with Dignitas, he was not allowed to play with Astralis, so the team brought in Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander. Astralis jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Dignitas put a round on the scoreboard. Dignitas would bring the score to 6-2 before going on a 5-2 run, to keep the score at 8-7 in Astralis's favor. Dignitas took 10-8 lead after winning the pistol and anti-economy rounds. Astralis then won three in a row and then Astralis captain Finn "karrigan" Andersen won a 1 vs 2 clutch to extend Astralis's slim lead. Astralis took a 14-11 lead before Dignitas fought back with another round, but Astralis, including Peter "dupreeh" Rothmann's four kills to end the game. Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz lead the server with 27 kills while Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke had 25 kills for Dignitas. Astralis then faced off against the winner of Counter Logic Gaming and Gambit Gaming.
The next match found the American team Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and Gambit Gaming from Russia. CLG obtained Legend status for the first time in the organization's history, but that was before the trade of star player Josh "jdm64" Marzano to Team Liquid. CLG acquired Kenneth "koosta" Suen in the trade. Gambit Gaming defeated OpTic Gaming, Team EnVyUs, and G2 Esports, all teams in the major, in order to reach the majors. Gambit started strong, winning the first three rounds before CLG earned a round of its own. Gambit extended its lead to 7-1 before CLG went on a 6-0 run, tying the score at 7-7 until Gambit won the 15th and last round of the half, giving the Russian team a slight 8-7 advantage before switching sides. CLG won the pistol round, but Gambit answered back by winning an economy round. Gambit took a 15-10 lead, one round away from upsetting CLG, into the 26th round, but CLG did not back down and won three in a row, forcing Gambit to save on the 29th round. However, Rustem "mou" Tlepov of Gambit got three big kills despite Gambit not having a lot of valuable weapons and closed the game at a 16-13 win. James "hazed" Cobb of CLG went huge for his team with 30 kills and Faruk "Pita" Pita, the coach of CLG who was standing in for the team, had 21 kills, but Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev's 25 kills and Ivan "spaze" Obrezhan's 24 proved to be too much for CLG. CLG goes on the face Team Dignitas and Gambit goes on to face Astralis.
In the winner's match, Gambit pulled off a huge upset on one of Astralis's best maps in Dust II. The score was 5-5 until Gambit went on a 4-1 winning streak to close the half at 9-6. The Russian and Kazakh team would not let Astralis get another round on the board, winning in convincing fashion, 16-6. gla1ve was the best player for Astralis with 17 kills, but AdreN, mou, and Mikhail "Dosia" Stolyarov had 24, 18, and 20 kills, respectively, for Gambit. The win gave Gambit its first ever Legends status and sent Astralis to the loser's match.
CLG vs Dignitas was one of the fastest matches in major history. Dignitas jumped to a 7-0 lead, lead by Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel before CLG even took a round. However, that one round would be the only round CLG would get, as Dignitas made quick work of CLG, eliminating the former Legends from the tournament. RUBINO had 32 kills while the rest of Dignitas had less than half of RUBINO's kills. No CLG player had over ten kills and the poor performance cost CLG.
The two Danish teams meet again, this time in the loser's best of three matchup. Dignitas were coming off strong off of a convincing win over CLG while Astralis were upset by Gambit. In addition, dupreeh was forced out of the tournament due to a stomach infection, so the Astralis coach Danny "zonic" Sørensen had to step in for the remainder of the tournament. The first game on Cobblestone, Dignitas's best map, required the game to go to overtime, as the teams were tied 15-15 at the end of regulation. Dignitas pulled off the win in a close game, 19-16, now just one win away from obtaining Legend status and kicking Astralis down from the Legends spots. In the first half of the second map, Astralis took a convincing 13-2 lead at the half and Dignitas seemed lost. However, Dignitas made an effort fo fight back. Astralis were stuck at 13 rounds while Dignitas pulled it back to a 13-8 game and then 14-10, making it only a 4-round game. However, Astralis closed out the last two rounds to prevent the comeback and tie the series at 1-1. The third map came to Cache. Dignitas won the pistol and anti-economy rounds, but zonic went big for this team and bring the score to a 9-6 halftime lead for Astralis. The teams went back and forth in the second half. In the 23 round, Dignitas had a must win round with Astralis leading 12-10. cajunb and k0nfig won the round for Dignitas and an important round since losing the round meant Astralis were very likely to go to 14-10 lead. Astralis did make it 15-11, putting Astralis just one round away from victory. All seemed likely for Dignitas after winning three in a row, but Astralis closed it out in regulation, winning 16-14 and retaining its Legends status. Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth was the star throughout the three maps with a total of 83 kills.
Group B started with last major's runner up, Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) against Flipsid3 Tactics, which beat Renegades, Immortals, and HellRaisers in the major qualifier. Na'Vi took easy care of Flipsid3, despite Flipsid3 leader Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy having 25 kills. Na'Vi took a 13-2 lead into the half. Flipsid3 fought back with five rounds but it was too little and too late as Na'Vi closed it out 16-7. The rest of Blad3's team underperformed while Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács had 21 kills and Denis "seized" Kostin for Na'Vi.
The Swedish legends Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP), former major winners, started its tournament run against OpTic Gaming from Canada. OpTic defeated FLuffy Gangsters, Flipdi3, and HellRaisers to reach the major. Like in the other group B match, NiP made quick work of OpTic. NiP rushed to an 11-4 halftime score and then closed out the next five rounds giving NiP a dominant victory over the Canadian team. Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi had 23 kills for NiP and Counter-Strike legend Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg had 22 kills. Will "RUSH" Wierzba from the United States was the only player on OpTic to reach double figures in kills with 11 and star AWPer Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas from Spain struggled with just 9 kills.
Na'Vi was the favorite to win the group, but it needed to get past NiP first. Cobblestone is a map both teams are comfortable and solid on, so a tight match was expected. NiP had an 8-3 lead Na'Vi crawled its way back to make the score 9-6 in NiP's favor at halftime. However, the second half was all Na'Vi. NiP won the pistol round, but Na'Vi came back to tie the game at 10-10 and then took an 11-10 lead. NiP then won two rounds to take the lead right back but that's all the rounds NiP would get in the game. Na'Vi won the final 5 rounds to move on to the playoffs. Egor "flamie" Vasilyev and sezied topped the scoreboard for Na'Vi and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and f0rest did well for NiP.
The loser's match paired OpTic and Flipsid3, both suffering from blowout losses. This game, however, was not a blowout. Flipsid3 won the pistol and following rounds but OpTic went on to earn five of its own, putting the score at 5-4. OpTic extended its lead to 8-5 and then 9-6 to close the half. OpTic again went on to extend its lead, this time to 12-8. Flipsid3, however, would prevail and only let OpTic get one more round after that and won the map 16-13. While invisible against NiP, mixwell stepped up huge with 32 kills but he was countered by Flipsid3's AWPer Georgi "WorldEdit" Yaskin. Flipsid3 also had help form Blad3's 21 kills and the veteran Yegor "markeloff" Markelov 's 18.
NiP were heavy favorites to make it out of groups, as four of its players were one time major champions and four time runner-ups. In addition, they have made it out of groups in every major they've played in. Flipsid3, despite being at every major since DreamHack Winter 2014, have never made it out of groups, placing 13th consistently. GeT_RiGhT and NiP in game leader Richard "Xizt" Landström had to show up for the first map for NiP to counter Flipsid3's Jan "wayLander" Rahkonen and WorldEdit. NiP seemed poised to take it cleanly but Flipsid3 made it difficult and took it the distance before falling. The next map was not close as WorldEdit and waylander went big again with more than 20 kills each, while only pyth and Adam "friberg" Friberg were the only NiP members to have over 10 kills. With the set tied 1 to 1, Mirage was a must win map for both teams. WorldEdit was relatively quiet, but markeloff, waylander, and Oleksandr "Shara" Hordieiev all had over 20 kills to defeat the Swedish dynasty. It is the first team to ever knock out NiP out of the group stage and Flipsid3 obtained a Legend status and the biggest upset in the tournament.
After suffering a heartbroken best of three loss to Luminosity Gaming (now SK Gaming) at MLG Columbus 2016 in the semifinals, Team Liquid is back at another major hoping to obtain another Legend status. Its opponent was Team EnVyUs, which, ever since winning DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 and placed second at ESL One: Cologne 2015, has been in a big time slump. The French team defeated Immortals, Splyce, and Cloud9 in the major qualifier. Team EnVyUs brought the halftime score to a respectable 6-9 score despite being on the more favored side, but not taking the lead into the half seemed to be costly since Liquid went on a 7-1 run to close out the map. Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer seemed to be the only ones who showed up against Liquid, but they were hard countered by jdm64, Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski, and Spencer "Hiko" Martin, all of whom had at least 20 kills.
Like Team Liquid, Virtus.pro (VP) lost to SK Gaming at MLG Columbus, but in the quarterfinals as VP came close to pulling off two comebacks against the Brazilians but ultimately fell. Meanwhile, under the leadership of the young Bosnian Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, mousesports consistently make it to the majors but seem to always fall in the group stages. Virtus.pro started on the more favored side on Train, but mousesports would start strong with a 7-0 lead, but VP showed that all the experience accumulated throughout the years any comeback is possible and went on to win 6 in a row. The half ended with a mousesports 8-7 lead. mousesports would struggle onwards, only garnering two rounds in the second half and VP closed out the map with a 9-2 run. Chris "chrisJ" De Jong of mousesports had 20 kills but that was no match against VP's Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski who had 28 kills. VP went on to win 16-10 and face off against Liquid.
VP started off strong against Liquid with a 6-2 lead, but Liquid went on a 7-round streak and closed the half at 9-6, shutting down VP in the closing rounds. VP answered back with the pistol and anti-economy rounds to tie the score at 9-9. Liquid soon regained the lead at 12-11 but would not get another round after that and VP claimed the first seed of the group 16-12. Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella had 27 kills and 24 kills, respectively, but their teammates struggled, especially Hiko with just 11 kills Snax and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas had 23 kills and VP captain Filip "NEO" Kubski had 20 to overwhelm Liquid in the last few rounds.
mousesports started strong against EnVyUs, but the French team took the lead 7-5. mousesports would win the following three rounds behind the performance of Timo "Spiidi" Richter and an 8-7 lead. EnVyUs would regain the lead at 12-9 but its players would fail to show up for the next six rounds and mousesports took advantage of that and closed the map against the former world champions, 16-12. Spiidi and chrisJ showed up for the German team with 21 kills a piece while NiKo was at the bottom of the scoreboard for mousesports with 17 kills. kennyS showed up for his team once again with 22 kills but the rest of his team did not.
Liquid started off with a 5-1 lead but mousesports closed the gap to 5-5 on Cobblestone. Liquid would go on a 4-1 streak to close the half in Liquid's favor at 9-6. mousesports made the game close throughout the game, but Liquid eventually pulled off a close 16-11 victory behind nitr0's 29 kill performance. NiKo had an impressive 24 kills, but had countered him. In the second map, Liquid blew mousesports out of the water. While Hiko struggled throughout the series, his teammates backed him up. mousesports seemed like it could not get anything going and Liquid took a convincing 11-4 halftime lead. mousesports would try to fight back but only managed to get two second half rounds to Liquid's five. ELiGE and s1mple had at least 20 kills each, with nitr0 close by with 19. Spiidi proved that he was the best mousesports player in the group stage, but his team did not pull through and was eliminated from the tournament. Liquid keep its Legends spot.
Also known as the "Group of Death," Group D featured four world class teams in one group, including the top three teams in the world. The matchup of the number 1, number 2, and number 3 teams all in the same group received criticism when a team of a lesser caliber such as Gambit could make it to the playoffs and a top three team would not.
SK Gaming was the defending world champions from MLG Columbus, when its players were signed with Luminosity Gaming. On the other hand, G2 Esports was the hottest team coming into the major. These two teams met very recently prior to the major. At ESL Pro League Season 3, Luminosity squeaked past G2 in a tense five game series, with Luminosity winning in game five in overtime. At ECS Season 1, G2 dominated Luminosity 2-0. Now under the SK banner, the Brazilians started against the French on Cobblestone. SK started off strong by winning the pistol but G2 kept it very close and later took an 8-6 lead. SK took the last round of the half after poor play from G2. SK won the second half pistol round and the following rounds and from there would never look back as G2 could only pile on another three rounds and SK stormed G2 to win the map 16-11. The best player of 2016 Marcelo "coldzera" David had 26 kills and SK captain Gabriel "FalleN" Toldeo had 20. Cédric "RpK" Guipouy was the only G2 player to have a positive kill to death differential at 21 to 17.
The next map was FaZe Clan vs Fnatic. Fnatic started off very strong, pulling a 7-3 lead going into the 11th round. However, after some adjustments, FaZe went on to win five in a row to bring the score to its advantage at 8-7. FaZe would go up 11-7 before Fnatic won two rounds of its own. FaZe won four rounds to make it 15-11, and putting the clan on the verge of victory. Fnatic's experience showed off and brought it to 15-14 and FaZe did not have enough money for Ricardo "fox" Pacheco to be on the AWP. However, FaZe did manage to pull the round off to win a close 16-14 game. Philip "aizy" Aistrup had 23 kills and Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad had 22 while Fnatic's Freddy "KRiMZ" Johansson had 21 kills.
In SK vs FaZe, SK dominated. SK rolled through the first half with a 12-3 lead then closed the game out 16-6 to move on to the playoffs and secure another legends status. coldzera once again showed up with 25 kills and Epitácio "TACO" de Melo had 21 kills. Håvard "rain" Nygaard for FaZe had 14 kills but that was not enough for the multinational team.
G2 Esports vs Fnatic pitted the second and third best teams in the world. Fnatic took the pistol round from the red hot G2 and jumped to a 3-0 lead. G2 took the lead at 6-4 before Fnatic made it a tie game at 6 all. The game would still be tied, now at 7-7, and Fnatic would close the half with a round win. Fnatic made it a 4-round game at 11-7 before G2 got its first round of the second half. The score was tied again at 11-11 before Fnatic started running away with the game. At 15-11 in favor of Fnatic, G2 could only manage to pull off two more rounds before falling, and the number two team was out of the tournament.
Fnatic made sure it didn't get upset by FaZe again; in addition, FaZe is well known for being lackluster in best of three series. On Cache, FaZe made it close and even took an 8-7 lead into the second half. However, Fnatic played smart and limited FaZe to one round on terrorist half, giving game one to Fnatic, 16-9. On the second map, Fnatic steamrolled over FaZe in the first half 11-4. FaZe made it a little interesting in the second half but could only get three rounds on the board, giving Fnatic a 16-7 victory. Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey had 34 kills over the two maps, but Robin "flusha" Rönnquist outshined him with 43 kills of his own; Jesper "JW" Wecksell had 40 kills as well. jkaem failed to show up with just 22 kills
The first game of the playoffs in the Lanxess Arena pitted Virtus.pro and Astralis against each other.
Virtus.pro defeated mousesports and Team Liquid without too much trouble as the experience Poles faced off against the crippled Danes of Astralis, which was playing with two stand-ins with gla1ve and coach zonic. Astralis defeated Dignitas in a total of four maps to move on to the playoffs but not before being upset by Gambit Gaming,
Virtus.pro is known as the team that comes alive at the major; in three of the ten majors, the team that beat Virtus.pro in the playoffs went on to win the grand finals, thus known as the gatekeepers to the title. Astralis has had a history of falling short of the grand finals, despite making the playoffs at all nine majors.
The first map was Ovepass, a map that Astralis in game leader karrigan feels comfortable on. Virtus.pro started on the more favored side and the players showed it. Astralis won the pistol round, but Virtus.pro didn't let another round on the board as it won the second round. VP would then go on an 8-0 rampage before Astralis got two rounds on the board. That's all the Danish team would get in the first half as VP closed the half with a demanding 12-3 lead. However, Astralis would also show that the counter-terrorist side on Overpass is more advantageous. gla1ve started strong with three massive kills in the pistol round and Astralis would win seven rounds in a row to make the score 12-10. Astralis took the lead at 14-13 and VP finally won its second round of the half to make it 14-14. Astralis had a chance to close the map and complete the comeback after winning the 29th round and with VP lacking utility, it seemed likely. However, the Polish team prevailed to send the game to overtime. VP won all three rounds of the first half of overtime; with an 18-15 lead, VP was one round away from stopping the comeback from Astralis. However, Astralis won its first two rounds of the second half of overtime and were poised to take the game into double overtime. Astralis had all the weapons and utility it needed to win while VP only had one powerful gun, the AWP on Snax. dev1ce gets the first kill on byali but TaZ found three kills with a pistol and Snax got another one, leaving karrigan in a 1 vs 3 situation, which he failed to clutch, giving the first map to VP. Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski went big for VP with 33 kills and TaZ had 27 kills. dev1ce showed that he was the star of Astralis with 32 kills and even with gla1ve's 29 kills and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth's 28 kills, Astralis did not pull through in a chance to upset VP.
On Train, it was the Danes that jumped to a massive halftime lead. VP had an early 3-2 lead, but Astralis came back with an 8-4 advantage and then took the last three rounds of the half, giving Astralis an 11-4 lead. More troubled loomed for VP as Astralis took a 14-5 lead and was two rounds away from evening up the series. This is when Virtus.pro became the revitalized "Virtus Plow" As it won 6 rounds in a row before Astralis could put up the 15th round. VP then went on to win the next four rounds of regulation then won four straight rounds in overtime to move on to the semifinals. NEO, TaZ, and pashaBiceps al went big with more than 20 kills. dev1ce's effort of 36 kills proved to be not enough as VP stood its ground.
SK Gaming flawlessly escaped the group of death after defeating G2 Esports and FaZe Clan, while avoiding Fnatic. Flipsid3 lost to Na'Vi as expected but defeated OpTic and massively upset NiP to make the playoffs.
SK Gaming won the last major and looked to reclaim the title as the best team in the world and have made top 8 at every major since ESL One: Katowice 2015 when it was the obscure Keyd Stars. Flipsid3 has not been so lucky but finally made it out of the group stage after years of frustration.
SK Gaming's players were originally known for their Mirage play when they were still on the rise, thus making it an ideal map pick. SK Gaming immediately jumped to a strong lead and never looked back. The score ended up being a 12-3 halftime advantage for SK. Flipsid3 tried to mount a comeback by posting four rounds in the second half, but SK got four rounds of its own to easily take the first map 16-7. While markeloff lead Flipsid3 with 21 kills, Lincoln "fnx" Lau and TACO each had 25 kills for SK. Three of Flipsid3's players had less than ten kills.
Nuke was a different story. Flipsid3 won the pistol round and took a 3-0 lead. SK did win the fourth round, but Flipsid3 answered right back to a 6-1 lead, despite SK starting on the much favored side. SK didn't let Flipsid3 get another round in the first half and won 8 rounds in a row to take a 9-6 lead into the half. SK eventually took 12-6 lead after winning the pistol and anti-economy rounds but the Ukrainian squad won three of its own to make a 12-9 game. Flipsid3 closed the gap at 13-12. With the score tied at 14-14, SK finally got the coveted 15th round, but Flipsid3 won the last round to send the game to overtime. SK struggled in the last few rounds of regulation, but turned it up in overtime as it won all three rounds of the first overtime. Flipsid3 looked to answer back by winning the first two rounds of the second half of overtime and brought SK down to none of the ideal weapons – two pistols, an SSG (which is a much weaker AWP), a UMP, and a shotgun (only deals damage from very close distances) – and barely any grenades into the last round of overtime. FalleN got the first kill with the SSG onto WorldEdit and then coldzera killed wayLander with the UMP before being traded by Oleksandr "Shara" Hordieiev. fnx finds Blad3 and FalleN gets his second kill of the round onto markeloff, then fnx picks up a gun and gets Shara as he's planting the bomb. SK earns another semifinals trip. coldzera and fnx each had 27 kills and Fernando "fer" Alvarenga had 26 for SK. WorldEdit had 31 kills and wayLander had 28 kills, but Shara struggled with only 15 kills.
Na'Vi easily won its group past Flipsid3 and NiP to reach the playoffs once again. Team Liquid, after being the first North American team since Cloud9 at ESL One Cologne 2014 to make the playoffs, is in the playoffs once again, this time facing a tougher opponent than it did at MLG Columbus against CLG.
Na'Vi were very close to winning its first major earlier in the year against SK Gaming (then Luminosity Gaming) but lost 0-2. Meanwhile, Team Liquid lost to the same Luminosity Gaming in the semifinals after taking convincing six and nine rounds leads and was one round away in each map from taking the games away from the Brazilian team. However, against both teams, Luminosity prevailed and eventually won its first major title.
Na'Vi has proven itself to be one of the three best Train teams (along with SK and VP) but the match started out as a struggle initially. The teams traded rounds back and forth until it reached 4-4 when Liquid started a three-round win streak before Na'Vi put up another round. Liquid then took the last three rounds of the half to make the score 10-5. However, once the team switched sides, the story was all Na'Vi. Na'Vi limited Liquid to just one round in the second half and the CIS team ran away with the win, 16-11. nitr0 had 21 kills and jdm64 had 20 kills, but it could not match up to flamie's 26 kills, Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev's 21 kills, and Na'Vi's captain Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko's 20 kills. Hiko once again struggled with just 10 kills.
Na'Vi took an early 2-0 lead but Liquid answered with three rounds. It was a back and forth affair between the two teams and eventually ended up 8-7 in Na'Vi's favor. This potentially spelled disaster for Na'Vi as Nuke is an extremely counter-terrorist sided map and Liquid proved why. Liquid held Na'Vi to just four rounds in the second half and came away with nine rounds of its own to take the second map 16-12 and tie the series up at one. Hiko finally came alive for Liquid with 23 kills and s1mple, who would go on to join Na'Vi after the major, had 24 kills. Edward had 31 kills for Na'Vi but that was not enough against Liquid.
Cobblestone was one of the more lopsided maps there was at the major. Na'Vi were huge favorites to win against Liquid and 88% of Valve's "Pick'Em" predictions chose Na'Vi to win. Liquid started off with a 5-0 lead before Na'Vi would get on the board. The 4 round deficit for Na'Vi soon turned into a 9-round deficit as Liquid went on a streak. The score soon became 10-2 but Liquid would pick up two more rounds. In the 15th round, Na'Vi were limited but turned the situation into a 2 vs 4 and then a 1 vs 3 against s1mple. s1mple isolated Edward, then Zeus, then seized to pull off the clutch with just 1 health point left. Liquid then pulled off an unconventional pistol round to put Na'Vi on the brink. Na'Vi, however, won the economy round, setting back Liquid. Na'Vi pulled it back to 14-5 but Liquid put up a 15th round on the board. Na'Vi was not quite out yet as GuardiaN won a 1 vs 2 situation against Hiko and nitr0, putting Liquid's economy in ruins. Liquid only had pistols and an SSG. Edward got rid of jdm64 but Hiko traded him right back. flamie then shot down ELiGE but Hiko again traded. nitr0 then came in with a surprise flank, killing Zeus and flamie, leaving just GuardiaN to win a 1 vs 3. nitr0 would kill the Slovakian AWPer and Liquid upset Na'Vi 16-6. s1mple went big for his team with 28 kills and nitr0 had 20. Edward had 18 kills for Na'Vi. GuardiaN had only three kills in the first half on his best personal map; although he did get 7 more kills, it seemed too little and too late.
Fnatic, the only team to win three majors, are back in the playoffs for the ninth straight major. Gambit was the surprise team in the playoffs, after defeating a shaky CLG and upsetting Astralis in the group stages.
Fnatic, ever since the departure of former in game leader Markus "pronax" Wallsten has not won a major tournament and since the wrist surgery of star player Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer has not won any big tournament. Gambit rose from obscurity to becoming one of the best CIS teams.
This series was simply two wide open games. On Train, Gambit started strong with a 3-0 lead, but would only get one more round in the half after that. The Swedish team pounced on the Russian team and earned an 11-4 score heading into the second half. Fnatic then limited Gambit to one round in the second half to take the first map 16-5. AdreN and spaze, two players who showed up big in the group stage, were quiet with just 12 kills each. KRiMZ had 23 kills and olofmeister had 19 kills to easily defeat Gambit .
The second map was won by Fnatic in an even larger margin. Gambit only won three rounds in the first half and zero in the second half. Fnatic cleaned up Gambit to win the game 16-3 on one of its best maps. Once again, AdreN and spaze were quiet with only 10 kills and the former fourth best player in the world Mikhail "Dosia" Stolyarov only had 7 kills. olofmeister had 22 kills, flusha had 19 kills, and JW had 17 kills. Fnatic easily moved on to the semifinals.
SK Gaming and Virtus.pro face in a rematch of the MLG Columbus quarterfinals, in which SK won 2-1.
The first time these two teams met was in ESL One: Katowice 2015, when SK was part of the small organization Keyd Stars. Only FalleN and fer were part of the original lineup as the team brought in coldzera later and then TACO and fnx. Keyd Stars miraculously took a map off of VP, but eventually fell as VP beat the Brazilians in dominating fashion.
SK started strong with a 3-0 lead but VP tied to score right back. VP took a 6-3 lead but SK this time tied to score right back to 6-6. VP would then win the last three rounds to take a 9-6 lead into the end of the half. SK won the pistol round and the next to rounds as the pattern of three rounds continues and tied the score at 9-9. SK finally broke the pattern by taking an 11-9 lead. VP would tie the score at 11-11 and took a 14-11 lead. SK would get on the board again with a 12th round win in the 26th round. The score was tied up once again at 14-14. SK convincingly won the 29th round and was one round away from taking the first map. In the 30th round, VP stormed the A bombsite but the situation turned into TaZ and NEO against coldzera and TACO. TaZ goes down after the bomb is planted but NEO wins the 1 vs 2 situation to put the game into overtime. The first round of overtime became a 1 vs 3 situation for coldzera. He takes down Paweł "byali" Bieliński early then TaZ, putting himself in a 1 vs 1 situation against Snax. Snax, however, put coldzera down, giving the first round to VP. coldzera went out for revenge as he got an ace – all five kills – in the round. VP then take the last round of the half. However, the two teams traded rounds and VP was still up 18-17 going into the last round. SK was down a man and then two when TACO went down but fer got two quick kills to make it a 2 vs 2 situation. pashaBiceps finds fer and coldzera was on his own. coldzera found pashaBiceps but NEO crept up and got the game winning kill. TaZ had 31 kills and NEO had 24 while coldzera had 30 kills and fer and FalleN had 25 kills.
Map 2 was less exciting as VP were destroyed on Nuke. SK took a 12-3 lead into the half and then went 4-2 in the second half to close out the map easily. pashaBiceps and byali had 14 kills each but that was not enough as all of SK had more kills than both, with coldzera and TACO leading the way with 20 and 19 kills, respectively.
Map 3 came to Mirage, a map both teams are internationally known for. SK took the first three rounds, but VP tied the score back at 3. VP went on to win another 4 rounds before SK would post another round on the board. SK would close the gap at 7-5 and then 8-6, but VP took a three-round lead into the half by winning the last round. SK won the pistol and another two rounds to tie the score at 9-9. SK finally took the lead for the first time since round five and extended it to 12-9 before VP made it 12-10. SK made it 14-10, but VP fought back with two more rounds to make it 14-12. During this time, the AWP coldzera was carrying proved to be vital as he or his teammates had saved it in the prior rounds and avoided death. This would come into play in crucial moments. In round 27, SK required a half buy, meaning the players bought a limited number of weapons and utility rather than buying fully, in order to save money for the following round. On the other side, VP was fully equipped. TACO started things off with a shotgun kill onto byali. NEO then sprayed down TACO and fnx. coldzera then got an AWP kill onto TaZ and FalleN hit a jump shot with the SSG onto Snax. During all this, pashaBiceps sneaked his way all the way around to flank coldzera and FalleN and killed them both. fer had killed NEO in the meantime with the UMP. However, pashaBiceps ran right into fer and was killed, and SK survived to 15. In round 28, VP had three pistols, a Galil (less powerful AK-47), and an AK-47 but had all the utility it needed and SK had everything it needed. FalleN then pushed through VP's smoke and killed byali while fer killed TaZ. FalleN was traded by pashaBiceps. The duo of fer and fnx shut down NEO and pashaBiceps before fer was taken down by Snax. TACO then closed things and SK came away with the win. TaZ had 22 kills for VP but FalleN and coldzera had 22 for SK and fer had 21 to counter TaZ's performance.
Both Legends at the last major as well, both teams will try to make the grand finals, with Liquid trying to be the first ever North American team to reach the milestone.
Fnatic came into the game with 83% predicting that the Swedish team would be in the grand finals against SK.
Liquid chose Cobblestone for the first map. Fnatic took an early convincing lead, but Liquid came back to a 10-2 run to make the score 10-5, still possible for Fnatic. In the pistol round, arguably the world's best pistol player, Dennis "dennis" Edman completely shut down Team Liquid and the gap closed to two rounds. Despite s1mple's best efforts in the following round, Liquid nearly lost the round, but ELiGE clutched the 1 vs 2 situation. Fnatic did not let that round play to the mind and tied the game at 11-11. Fnatic then took a 13-11 lead, but Liquid won the next two rounds to tie the game. With Liquid up 15-13, olofmeister was in a 1 vs 2 situation with everyone on low health. nitr0 took down olofmeister to clinch the game for Liquid. s1mple had 24 kills and nitr0 had 20 kills. dennis had 25 kills and KRiMZ had 22 kills. JW struggled with just 13 kills.
Fnatic took an early lead but Liquid tied the game right back at 3-3. Fnatic would only get to 4 rounds by the end of the half and Liquid easily took an 11-4 lead. In round number 14, s1mple had a historic CSGO moment that is now idolized by graffiti in the place where it took place. In a 1 vs 2 situation against KRiMZ and dennis, s1mple was trying to clutch the round. He went up to a place called "heaven", in which a scaffolding is at an elevated level. s1mple dropped down and kill dennis right in front of him with a no scope and then no scoped KRiMZ across the B bombsite. It was seen as impressive since no scoping and jumping causes the aim to be very inaccurate, but s1mple made it happen. In the second half, Fnatic won 7 in a row to tie the game at 11 and then took the lead at 13-11. After a timeout, Liquid brought it back to 13-13. Liquid brought the game to 15-13 in its favor. KRiMZ was left in a 1 vs 4 in the final round of the game and died to nitr0 and Liquid became the first North American team to reach the grand finals. s1mple had 31 kills for Liquid and ELiGe had 27. For Fnatic, KRiMZ had 23 kills and JW had 21 while flusha had an uncharacteristically bad game at 13 kills.
Team Liquid upset Natus Vincere and Fnatic with the odds stacked against the team, with fans predicting that Liquid had less than a twenty percent chance of winning either set. Liquid proved them wrong and became the first North American major finalist.
SK Gaming came off of a hard fought battle against the Polish team of Virtus.pro after losing the first map. SK still remained heavy favorites to win the tournament, with 70% of Pick'Em predictions going in favor of SK.
The first map went to Train, one of SK's best maps. SK won the first three rounds but Liquid answered back with a round of its own. On a limited buy, SK managed to pull out a fourth round, resetting Liquid's economy. In the sixth round, coldzera planted with bomb with about five seconds left and was in a 1 vs 2 situation. He picks off Hiko with his pistol then switches to the AWP and picked off jdm64. The score was 6-3 in favor of SK when Liquid found itself in a favorable 3 vs 1 against TACO. However, nitr0 and s1mple went down early and then TACO reacted quickly to Hiko's spray and killed him with ten seconds left to win the round. Liquid would go on a 4-1 run after TACO's clutch to make the score a close 8-7 game. In the second half, SK proved that it had the best counter-terrorist side on Train of all teams. SK went on an 8-0 run in the second half, not allowing Liquid to get a single round, and took the game 16-7. TACO had 24 kills for his team and coldzera had 23. ELiGE had 18 kills for Liquid but s1mple only had 10 kills, not making an impact in the game.
Cobblestone was played by Liquid four out of the nine maps and won three of those games, losing only to Virtus.pro. Liquid won the first two rounds but SK won a round in which it barely spent any money. The score was tied 4-4 after round 8. SK went on to win five rounds in a row to go up 9-4. However, jdm64 temporarily stopped SK from getting a 10th round as he got an ace in the round. SK did pick up a tenth round, but jdm64's ace prevented the Brazilians from going up 11-4. SK started with winning the first three rounds but Liquid got an important 6th round. However, that's all the rounds Liquid would get as SK would win the next three rounds to win 16-6 and its second consecutive major, a feat that only Fnatic had achieved prior to the major. coldzera had 21 kills and FalleN had 20 kills to lead the way for SK. While nitr0 did well with 18 kills, ELiGE and s1mple only had 11 kills each and Hiko only had 10 kills.
With SK winning another major, it is in now sole possession of second place in terms of major wins. Fnatic still leads the way with three majors. Virtus.pro, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team EnVyUs, and Team LDLC.com have one each.
The HLTV.org July 11, 2016 rankings of teams in the major is displayed below. The ranking was the first one released after the ESL One Cologne 2016.
†Change since July 4, 2016 ranking
The showmatch was played before the final set between Team Liquid and SK Gaming. Teams each consisted of one player from the tournament, one pro female player, two casters, and a spectator from the audience.