The four teams in Group A of ESL One Cologne 2016 are Astralis, CLG, Gambit Gaming and Team Dignitas. This group is fairly straightforward with one team ( Astralis ) hugely favored to win this group. The second place however is up for grabs with some equal teams in CLG and Dignitas vying for it. Gambit have proven themselves capable of upsetting top tier teams such as Gamers2 and EnVyUs earlier at the offline qualifiers. It will not be surprising if they could replicate their performance in the Major as well.
Sitting comfortably at the top of this group and the Group favorites are the Danish powerhouse in Astralis. The current roster has had quite some time and a lot of matches together. Since the last major, this team has faltered with some really bad performances. They were 16th in ECS Season 1 online stage. This along with the 7th-8th position at ESL Pro League really put them in a bad spot. Following these events however the team has slowly been better.The list of their recent events can be viewed here. However the team made some much needed adjustment, where they swapped CajunB for Kjaerbye on the 19th of May 2016. The new blood in Kjaerbye definitely helped the team regroup and added much needed firepower to the team. They were also able to somewhat improve their map pool. They have been able to play on Cache since the acquisition of Kjaerbye, however their performance has not really improved by a large margin. Astralis have definitely fallen down from their second position in the international csgo scene right now. Their position despite not being one of the best in the world right now ( as they were a few months ago) are the favorites in this group by a large margin.
One of the weakest in the Group is Gambit esports. This team has surprised a lot of teams in the offline qualifiers by defeating top level teams such as EnVyUs and Gamers2 in the offline qualifiers. The roster for this CIS side comprises of some well known local stars in Dosia, Hooch, aDren, Mou, Spaze. Some of these players have played in teams such as Hellraisers in the past. The team comprises of some really good aimers, who outshone their team-mates ( in different teams ) in the past. Gambitś performance at the offline qualifiers surprised many teams and that was peculiarly based on the maps that they got to play.They played 4 maps, and they were Train and Cobblestone. However this team still is quite low skilled as compared to the other teams in this group. Gambit has achiever pretty much what they set out to ( qualify for the majors). The next step would be to qualify to the playoffs, but that does seem to be a long shot for the group.
Dignitas are the second best Danish team. The team lost quite a lot of fragging capability when they swapped Kjaerbye who was in spectacular form for an out of form CajunB. Traditionally the current Dignitas roster always has had problems when they face off against the Astralis roster. The raw aim and skill of this roster falls short while playing against their local seniors. With the new roster, we have been seeing some weird map vetoes from MSL. They have been trying to plays maps such as Dust2 and Nuke. Dust2 as a map is hardly played by Dignitas, however it is one of the best maps for CajunB. At the same time, Dignitas believe that they are really good on Nuke, but the two matches they have played on it have proved otherwise. Traditionally the better maps for Dignitas include Cobblestone, Cache Mirage. However with the new and unique style of vetoing, Dignitas has not been able to impress critics and other teams. Their main opponents in this group would be CLG as well as trying to avoid getting upset by Gambit. They should not be able to win against Astralis, however in order to qualify for the Major Playoffs, they need to secure the top two pot, which basically means a faceoff against CLG / Gambit. This team is touted to be the second best in the group, but their performances in the recent matches have been question-worthy.
Counter Logic Gaming
CLG the North American side also have had a roster change where they swapped one of their best player in JDM for Koosta from Liquid. The North American side has not played a single match since the roster change. We do not know yet how the roster will adjust to their new team-mate. Koosta who was a part of NME earlier, required a lot of set-up from his team-mates in order to make some notable plays. Koosta in Liquid however was hardly able to make an impact which definitely was one of the reasons for him to move out from Liquid to CLG. The North American team of CLG has not played any matches and generally with a roster change a team´s map pool changes significantly. Koosta has shown us greatness with his AWP in the past against local NA teams ( even on LAN). However ever since he has changed teams, he has not been able to replicate the same level of awe and flamboyance. CLG remains the dark horse in this group. They definitely have the capacity to come out in the top two, but at the same time they can also fall flat on their face and come out last in the group. A lot of the standings in the group will depend on how CLG fare against Gambit and Dignitas. They also will be playing with Pita at the Major. Pita will be coaching the NA side for the event of the Major. He has had experience coaching top level CSGO teams such as NIP in the past. His experience will be of much importance at this event.
There are two pre-determined matches for this group on Day 1.
Astralis will be playing against Dignitas on the 5th of July at 11 CEST. Astralis are definitely the favored team by a large margin here. The best maps of Dignitas are the worst maps for Astralis. As such we should expect these maps, Cobblestone and Cache to be banned out by Astralis. Most of the remaining maps are favorable to Astralis. In most of their previous head to Head match-ups, Astralis have come out ahead.
The Prediction : 75%-25% Astralis
The Bet : Medium on Astralis.
CLG and Gambit are matched up against each other in the Group stage of ESL One Cologne 2016 on the 5th of July 2016 at 12:10 CEST. As we have already specified, CLG are the dark horse into this group. CLG as a team are unproven and unknown yet. They have not had any matches with their new roster. Considering how important JDM was the roster, his loss and Koostaś gain ( who is an equally impactful player) will be a huge change for the team. Gambit have proven themselves on LAN earlier, and they definitely have the capability to win against CLG. A low bet on Gambit should make sense here as it is just a feeler bet to understand how Gambit and CLG perform in the first match at the Major.
The prediction : 55%-45% Gambit
The Bet : Low on Gambit.