By winning the recent ESL One Cologne 2019 event, Team Liquid have ensured their world #1 rank and secured the Intel Grand Slam after a stunning victory in the all-European Grand Finale where TL took down a fierce Team Vitality 3 – 1. This secured TL with the top prize of $1million for taking down the Intel Grand Slam, the first team to do so in just five events but also secured them the top prize at the ESL One Cologne 2019, of $125,000.

Our prediction here at Esportsnow was right. Before the outset of the ESL One Cologne 2019, Team Liquid were seen as heavy favourites, having previously won the Intel Extreme Masters XIV Sydney, DreamHack Masters Dallas, and ESL Pro League Season 9 and giving them the opportunity to make history; by becoming the first pro CS:GO team to win the Intel Grand Slam in only five events. This means that since the 2019 IEM Katowice Major, Team Liquid have reached a total of 8 major finals at tournaments, winning 4 of them, including the ESL One Cologne 2019.

Team Liquid had an easy time of it in Group A picking up wins against MVP PK in their first group stage game, followed by a 2 – 1 win in the second round against Na’Vi. This left them facing an energetic NRG team, against whom the World Champs picked up a simple 2 – 0 win. This meant NRG finished as runners up in their group, with Na’Vi successfully making it out of the lower round bracket after victories against FURIA and Mousesports.

In Group B, Astralis were eventual group winners after picking up victories against BIG, Fnatic and NiP. This left NiP as runners up in Group B, and surprisingly Team Vitality made their way through the lower round bracket after a surprising initial loss against NiP. ENCE were Team Vitality’s first victim in the first round of the lower bracket round, Fnatic also picked up a loss against the eventual finalists who went on to beat Heroic and make their way to the playoff rounds in this year’s ESL One Cologne 2019.

This left NiP facing off against Na’Vi and NRG facing off against Team Vitality in the initial quarterfinal games and Team Liquid and Astralis getting a first-round-bye for winning their groups. Both Na’Vi and Vitality picked up 2 – 0 wins respectively, leading to a TL vs Na’Vi and Astralis vs Vitality semi-final match up. TL took down Na’Vi in short time, with a 2 – 0 win. Contrarily in the other semi-final match up Astralis gave Team Vitality a much closer run in, the game finishing 2 – 1 in the end, setting up a massive Team Liquid vs Team Vitality Grand Finale match up.

In the Grand Finale, Team Liquid dominated Overpass winning convincingly 16 – 6. Dust 2 was the second map of the round, and Vitality showed much better form forcing TL into overtime and eventually picking up a massive victory (thanks to some clutch play from Mathieu ‘Zyw0o’ Herbaut) tying off the series. Vitality started off the third map, Inferno, strongly but Team Liquid were immovable objects, showing why they are currently the world no.1 CS:GO pro team. The picked up a 16 – 10 win and gave them a lot of momentum leading into the 4th map Mirage. This was ultimately the last round of this year’s ESL One Cologne 2019 and finished 16 – 8 securing Team Liquid both the ESL One Cologne 2019 title and the Intel Grand Slam as well.

For their efforts Team Vitality earned themselves both the top prize of $125,000 for winning this year’s ESL One Cologne event but also a whopping $1million top prize for being crowned Intel Grand Slam victors as well. 2019 has definitely turned out to be the year of Team Liquid who seem to be leaving the competition in their dust. Will they be able to maintain this form for the rest of 2019 or will teams like Astralis and G2 (who were noticeably missing from this event) be able to keep up? Only time will tell.
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