CLG.CS is once again off to Germany for ESL One Cologne 2015 which is taking place at the Lanxess Arena. The team was recently just in Cologne for IEM Gamescom less than two weeks ago, and this time around they are back for a $250,000 major. It’s been a bumpy road for the team, but at this point with Cutler taking over the role of in-game leader and FNS now supporting, CLG are hitting their stride.

CLG qualified through the offline North American qualifier defeating Team Liquid 2-0, seeding CLG into Group A for ESL One Cologne.

  1.   Ninjas In Pyjamas
  2.   Team SoloMid
  3.   Renegades
  4.   Counter Logic Gaming

The first match of the day will be a Bo1: CLG versus Ninjas in Pyjamas. NiP have been fairly quiet in terms of competition recently, but have been putting in the hours towards this major and have reportedly been strong in scrims by Fnatic. Although it's a Bo1 which generally favours CLG, this will be no easy walkover for CLG. Last time they met in Katowice 2015, NiP took CLG down convincingly on Mirage 16-7, CLG’s arguable best map. In this match-up anything can happen, and map vetoes will be key in this match especially for CLG who in comparison to NiP, have a weaker map pool.

The group stages will be difficult for CLG, but for the past two months the team has been boot camping at the CLG house preparing for this major, and more specifically these two match-ups: NiP and potentially TSM or Renegades. Renegades upset CLG at ESWC 2015, which was an unexpected result, both for viewers and the players themselves. It is unlikely the same upset could happen at this tournament, now that Cutler has more experience calling for the team. ESWC 2015 was the first tournament Cutler began calling for them. TSM is also considered a top three team in the world. TSM, who are often times inconsistent, will be bringing everything they have for a major. They are definitely the hardest team in this group and will be the team to beat.

“Truthfully, every team at the major can beat anyone on a good day. Just depends on how much time they put into that specific match up.”                     – FNS, interview prior to ESL One Cologne

Although CLG had a disappointing finishing at IEM Gamescom, it gave the team an idea what needed to be fixed for ESL One Cologne that at the time was only weeks away. Eco rounds have been one of CLG's weaker points, as well as over or under communicating throughout rounds. Having concise strategies during freeze time has also been a weak spot for the team. Calling during freeze time allows the team to focus on the early round shots and footsteps, instead of over communicating during what should have been called during freeze time.

The past months of constant tournaments have evolved the team into a force to be reckoned with. ESL One Cologne is the ultimate test for CLG and will come into the major with the experience to win.

Read more about ESL One Cologne:

FNS' interview with HLTV

ESL One Cologne Standings

Reddit's ESL One Cologne Megathread

[Photo credits to ESL's Helena Kristiansson]