ESL One Cologne 2020 Europe Review

ESL One Cologne 2020 Europe Review

Written by 

Fabio Schlosser Vila


3rd Sep 2020 18:00

The European division of ESL One Cologne was the last to finish and certainly featured the most surprising outcome. It wasn’t Astralis who took the trophy home, nor was it G2 Esports or Team Vitality. Last Sunday, Heroic won the Grand Finals.

But to understand how that happened, we need to go all the way back to the Group Stage. While we saw teams like mousesports, Natus Vincere, BIG, fnatic, and FaZe Clan exit early on, the players of OG, Complexity, Sprout, Heroic, and NiP took centre stage. Most of them were not expected to make it this far. Astralis, G2 Esports, and Team Vitality were the only favourites who made it through.

In the playoffs, Heroic made it pretty clear that they wanted to make a dash for the trophy. In a quick 2-0, they took down Complexity. With G2 Esports next, the analysts had counted them out already. The Danes had lost to G2 during the Group Stage and with Nemanja "nexa" Isaković playing God-like, how could Heroic possibly get past them?

On Vertigo, the teams delivered an intense and close match, which Heroic eventually won 25-23. As G2 struck back with an overtime victory of their own, the playing field was levelled again for the third map. On Mirage, however, Heroic suddenly delivered a decisive 16-7 blow to the Frenchmen. René “TeSeS” Madsen and Martin “stavn” Lund led the charge for the Danes. 

This was finally the point at which fans and analysts alike started believing in the ultimate upset victory. In the Grand Finals, they had to go up against Team Vitality. With Mathieu “ZywOo” on board, they would have to defeat none other than the best player in the world. With each and every match, the hurdles grew taller. But when would they finally become insurmountable for the Danes?

At ESL One Cologne, at least, no challenge was too difficult for them. On Mirage, they took Vitality out 16-7. When the Frenchmen got onto a sizable 13-8 lead on Inferno, Heroic adjusted their strategy to run away with the remainder of the rounds. After this comeback, G2 were deflated and unable to put up a real challenge on Nuke. In just three games, Heroic had won ESL One Cologne and solidified themselves as a top team. Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen and stavn got 1.28 and 1.44 ratings for their Grand Finals appearances, respectively. This blowout victory, along with all the overtime victories, made this event an incredible journey for Heroic, certainly one for the books. They will surely have made some new fans with their performance. Just a day after the event, however, the mood had already turned on them. 


You might have heard the news that there was a bug in CS:GO that allowed coaches to jump into a free camera perspective. That way, they could watch the enemy players set up and also observe their economy, seemingly undetected. Obviously, this was an incredibly dangerous exploit. Fortunately, through the work of a dedicated ESL referee, Michal Slowinski, these cases have been uncovered. He was able to determine when and how competitors used this bug. We also need to clarify that most coaches who encountered this immediately notified the admins during their matches and helped sort it out. 

Unfortunately, some didn’t feel the need to report this. A few coaches used this to gain an unfair (and per league rules, illegal) advantage over their opponents. Two major examples are Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia from MIBR and Hard Legion’s Aleksandr "MechanoGun" Bogatiryev, the latter using this exploit in more than 20 rounds. Perhaps most famous, however, is Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen. The Heroic coach used this exploit during DreamHack Masters Spring and at the HomeSweetHome Cup 5. In all three cases, the people in question have been suspended or removed from the roster entirely. 

With regards to ESL One Cologne 2020, however, fans and players can breathe easy. The bug was already fixed for the event and did not occur, so Heroic’s victory at the event is legitimate. Still, this incident casts a shadow over their recent tournament streak and takes away quite a lot of glory from the Danish team. 


The next ESL Pro League season is already in full force. All the top teams are in attendance again and will be looking to climb the #1 spot in this month of online competition. Heroic will now have to prove their worth without a coach. HUNDEN, without cheating, was already an influential part of the team. This was most evident during the ESL One Cologne Grand Finals and without him, the players have one less support pillar to rest on. Heroic have already lost their opening match against ENCE, so the future doesn’t bode well for them.

Meanwhile, FaZe Clan and Astralis will receive valuable time to finally work their new players into the roster. Their performances during Cologne were shaky, which is understandable given the circumstances. Additionally, the online factor still plays into all of this. We know that, historically speaking, online matches are not the best way to gage a team’s capabilities. This is why teams like mousesports, who have had a rough few months, should not have their heads hanging low. At ESL Pro League, they have already secured their first win with Aurimas "Bymas" Pipiras on board. 

So many teams have made crucial changes and adjustments to their rosters - before and after ESL One Cologne. The Heroic era seems to have found its end already. Can they hold onto their top spot or will they be overtaken by the rest of Europe once again?

Images via DreamHack

Fabio Schlosser Vila was a freelance contributor to GGRecon.

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