Once again, the city of Cologne hosts the best teams in counterstrike for a chance to show the world who is boss.
As in other years, the line-up of teams going into the tournament is impeccable and it promises to be an incredible show.
This weekend of counterstrike will come down to a few amazing plays, epic clutches and standout performances from the stars of CS:GO.
So, the question is who are the favourites?
Here are the big three and the challengers:
The Big Three
Astralis is a team that is in top form, winning the last three tournaments they have shown up for and placing well since the start of the year.
Not a surprise then to see them be the favoured team coming into this tournament as there are few teams that are playing at their level in the pro scene right now.
Yet despite their no.1 ranking, there are teams hot on their heels.
Na’vi have looked very good of late with simple playing some incredible CS.
The team is coming off a great win at the CS:GO Asia championship against a good looking Virtus pro and the EnVyUs team on a bit of a hot streak.
This tournament will be defined by the difference that someone can bring to the big games and simple has looked amazing against all opponents so far.
If this team can keep the form they have had, I see very few teams posing a real threat.
Faze is another team that has put up consistently good finishes throughout the year.
With some big wins and narrow loses, they are looking set to make a splash against top tier opponents.
Faze is also another team fresh of a recent win at ESL one Belo Horizonte 2018.
This team is fresh and if niko can keep the form he had, they will prove a serious threat to any team they come up against.
MIBR formerly sk gaming, this team started the year as the highest rated team in CS:GO, yet after a drop-in performance the team swapped out TACO for Stewie2k.
Since then, the team has seen an upturn in results since march and this would be the perfect time for them to make a resurgence on the CS:GO scene.
Players like fallen and Coldzera have shown themselves to be phenomenal but that addition of Stewie2k and the time spent together could be a recipe for a major success.
This team I feel is the true sleeper of the tournament.
Liquid has had a positive start to 2018, climbing the ranks to bring them into the top 5 discussion and they seem to show a great deal of confidence playing the team that are below them now in ranking.
The addition of taco has also elevated their play but they still seem to really struggle against the other teams that are considered top tier as they have failed to take a series off any of the teams above them on this list since February.
Yet despite that, the team has real talent and it only takes one player to have an incredible game to win a series against the top teams.
Astralis ($2.25), FaZe Clan ($7.00), Natus Vincere ($8.00), MIBR ($12.00), Team Liquid ($12.00), mousesports ($12.00), Fnatic ($13.00), North ($15.00), Cloud9 ($21.00), G2 Esports ($21.00), Ninjas in Pyjamas ($31.00), Gambit Esports ($51.00), Renegades ($51.00), BIG ($67.00), ENCA eSports ($101.00), B.O.O.T-dreamScape ($201.00)
This tournament is going to be decided by the big plays that a team or player can make and picking a favourite is hard but I would give it to NA’VI with the incredible form simple has been in.
I would also keep an eye on MIBR as they could be a re-emerging as a rank 1 team.
Winner: NA’VI (8.00)
Outside bet: MIBR (12.00)
– by Joshua Osborne