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"This major will probably be the most competitive to date": Joe Miller and Deman share their ESL One Cologne 2015 predictions

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The biggest CS:GO tournament in the world, ESL One Cologne, is inching closer and closer, and the teams are getting ready to battle it out for the championship title and their cut of the US$250,000 prize pool. With the team lineup incredibly stacked across the board, it’s extremely difficult to predict the outcome of the tournament, so we asked Joe Miller and Leigh “Deman” Smith to share their views on the upcoming Valve major.

Joe Miller

“I’m massively excited for ESL One to start - this major promises to be one of the best to date! The new ‘redraw’ system in the group stages means that the initial group draws will be somewhat countered as we go through the first stage.

With that said, the obvious candidate for picking up the title is Fnatic. They are without a doubt the strongest team on paper currently, with TSM slowing down the pace and EnVyUs making roster changes. I do however think that the time between Intel Extreme Masters gamescom and ESL One Cologne will be the biggest sign as to whether TSM can step it up again and compete with Fnatic.

Speaking of Intel Extreme Masters, the new-look EnVyUs had their first outing as the new lineup and looked absolutely on fire throughout the event. They managed to beat arguably the second best team in the world - TSM - three maps in a row to win the event despite only having a couple of weeks to train the new lineup. They have been bootcamping at the ESL studios since Intel Extreme Masters  and are bound to make a splash come the event itself.

The great thing about the event is the number of teams on the fringe that could come in and beat all three of the teams that I mentioned above. Na’Vi, Cloud9, Mousesports, Virtus.pro, Kinguin - these are just a few names that could pull off upsets.

The eyes of every CS:GO fan will be on Cologne come Thursday, and I for one cant wait to see who comes up big and who flops out in the group stage.”

Leigh “Deman” Smith

“This major will probably be the most competitive to date - you’ve got so many teams who have won tournaments throughout 2015 attending that it’s very hard to predict a clear favourite. Add to that the new group redrawing that’s happening at the end of day one and it throws in a very unpredictable factor.

So you need to look at the obvious choice: Fnatic. They are the only team to hold two majors and look to be the favorite to make it three - but this will be their toughest test yet. They’ve struggled to beat out TSM in best of three’s over the last few months and it’s quite possible they could meet before the finals once again.

Speaking of which, TSM would have been a clear choice. However, their recent struggles at both APM and Intel Extreme Masters have shown cracks in their armor. Their performance has clearly dropped a little since their exams last month, which opens up possibilities for the newly formed EnVyUs, who looked unbeatable at Intel Extreme Masters last week.

We also can’t forget NiP, who’ve been in every major final to date, not to mention the ever-present Virtus.pro and Na’Vi as well as the rise in performance from Cloud9. This really is going to be one of the toughest majors yet. Everyone has been bootcamping and preparing for weeks - it’s going to be awesome to watch.”

What are your predictions for ESL One Cologne? You can test your knowledge of the scene by participating in ESL Fantasy - assemble your perfect roster and win prizes here!

ESL One Cologne is nearly sold out so be sure to grab a ticket and join us at the LANXESS Arena for the biggest CS:GO tournament the world has seen. If you can’t make it, check out the Esports in Cinemas project, which is making it possible to watch the ESL One Cologne finals in the comfort of your local movie theater.

To stay up to date with everything ESL One Cologne, follow @ESLCS on Twitter and visit the event’s official website for all the important information.