FaZe Clan are on a mission. Sure, they are competing at the $300,000 ESL One Cologne 2018 tournament July 3-8, but they will also have their eyes on a much more lucrative prize: the $1,000,000 bonus on offer for the first team to win four Intel Grand Slam events.
What is the Intel Grand Slam?
The Intel Grand Slam is organised by ESL and DreamHack Masters. Alongside Intel, those organizations have pledged that the first CS:GO team to win four tournaments out of 10 successive ESL or DreamHack premier events will receive a bonus prize of $1,000,000.
The ESL One Cologne 2018 event will commemorate the start of the Intel Grand Slam. The series’ first tournament was ESL One Cologne 2017. Since then, 10 tournaments have passed with the winning teams as follows:
- ESL One Cologne 2017 – SK Gaming
- DreamHack Masters Malmo 2017 – G2 Esports
- ESL One New York 2017 – FaZe Clan
- Intel Extreme Masters XII Oakland – Ninjas in Pyjamas
- ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals – SK Gaming
- Intel Extreme Masters XII World Championship – Fnatic
- DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018 – Astralis
- Intel Extreme Masters XIII Sydney – FaZe Clan
- ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals – Astralis
- ESL One Belo Horizonte 2018 – FaZe Clan
A winning team has 10 tournaments after its first victory to claim the aforementioned prize. As you can see, FaZe Clan’s first victory came in the third tournament, and they have played in eight tournaments in total, winning three. This means they have two left to try and secure the lucrative victory.
However, in a move designed to encourage highly competitive play, if FaZe Clan were to reach the final of either of the two forthcoming tournaments but then lose to their opponent, their opponent would earn themselves a “spoiling bonus” of $100,000 for stopping FaZe Clan in their attempt to land the top prize.
Indeed, if Astralis were to stop FaZe Clan in the ESL One Cologne 2018 final, for example, not only would they claim a $100,000 spoiling bonus, but they would also earn a third victory in five tournaments themselves. Then, they would have five forthcoming chances at that same giant prize.
How is the ESL One Cologne 2018 shaping up?
Next week’s tournament is the fifth time the event takes place Germany. Once again, the Lanxess-Arena will host the event. A total of 16 teams will participate, 11 of which have earned spots via direct invitation. Then, five qualified by virtue of winning one of the five available qualifier spots.
- Direct Invitation – Astralis, BIG, Cloud9, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, MIBR (formerly SK Gaming), mousesports, Natus Vincere and Ninjas in Pyjamas
- Qualifiers – ENCE eSports, North, Gambit Esports, Renegades, B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape.
The tournament will start with two groups of eight teams. The teams will play a double-elimination format (GSL) in the group stage.
A total of three teams from each group will qualify for the playoffs. The winner of the Upper Bracket in each group will earn a seeded spot into the semifinals, while the losing team of the Upper Bracket Final, plus the winner of the Lower Bracket, will enter the playoffs at the quarterfinal stage.
The playoffs then progress over a best-of-three format until the Grand Final, which is a best-of-five encounter.
What do the bookies think?
You can get odds on which team will win the ESL One Cologne 2018 at Betway, which offers the following prices:
- Astralis – 5/4 favourites
- FaZe Clan – 5/1
- Natus Vincere – 13/2
- Team Liquid, mousesports – 9/1
- MIBR – 11/1
- Fnatic – 12/1
- Team North – 14/1
- Cloud9 – 18/1
- Ninjas in Pyjamas – 20/1
- G2 Esports – 22/1
- Gambit Esports, Renegades – 54/1
- BIG – 74/1
- ENCE – 100/1
- BOOTd[s] – 150/1
For those unfamiliar with the MIBR team, this is the new name of the former SK Gaming roster. They have new team sponsors and will be known going forward under the new name. 11/1 is about right for this once all-conquering team. A combination of poor form and the emergence of Astralis and FaZe Clan have hampered their progress during 2018.
It is worth noting, however, that the former SK Gaming team have won the two previous ESL One Cologne events.
After sitting out ESL One Belo Horizonte 2018, Astralis return to action in Cologne and are the hot favourites to win the event. This follows a couple of outstanding victories at the DreamHack Masters Marseille in April and the ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals in Dallas in May.
FaZe Clan are the second favourites with the bookmakers. They will have Olofmeister back in the fold in Germany. They have certainly been the most consistent team over the last year, racking up three runners-up finishes alongside their three tournament wins. The question is, will the added incentive of that bonus money be a help or a hindrance?
It should be close, but I think being close to home helps Astralis. They’re based in Denmark and don’t have too far to travel for this tournament.
If FaZe Clan can’t quite land that $1,000,000 prize in Cologne, they’ll have one more opportunity do so: at the DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018 (Aug. 29 to Sept. 2).
Editorial credit: Sergio Monti Photography / Shutterstock.com