Link to part one in case you missed it.
Day 3 – Saturday – Semifinals
A chilled morning
Since the semifinals didn’t start until four o clock local time we slept in till our hearts were content. We left to go out for breakfast at about ten – we’d had enough of cereal bars and waffles already – and went to a place called Back Werk which for you Brits is pretty much identical to Greggs except here they have more on offer.
For the remainder of the afternoon, we went back into town to return a t-shirt Lewis bought that was too small and got Subway, which while the menu was in English is quite an awkward thing to order in a foreign country because of the number of questions you get asked.
Game of the tournament
The first semifinal was Natus Vincere vs Cloud9 which was undoubtedly the best series for us, particularly the second map on Overpass. The last five rounds or so were hectic and it felt as if the entire arena was just waiting for Cloud9 to win it. The fact that it went right down to the wire made the ending even better. I’m a sucker for the underdog story so it was thrilling to see C9 make it to the finals.
After the SK/FaZe series, we headed back to the hotel to chill out and have a few drinks. When we reached the lobby of the hotel we saw s1mple lounging in the reception area and with some newly built confidence, I decided to approach him. I’m a big fan of s1mple simply because of his outrageous playstyle and his outlandish attitude which kind of reminds me of myself sometimes. However, because of this reason I was anxious to ask as I thought he might be contentious, but surprisingly he was willing to. I would even go as far as saying that he seemed happy to but we’ll never know, after all, it is s1mple.
Not much else to say about semi-final day as we spent most of our time at the arena. I did forget to mention that I got a picture with MrTweeday which I was particularly pleased about since his old NiP frag movies were one of the reasons that I became really passionate about the esports side of CSGO and NiP as well.
Day 4 – Sunday – Grand Final
Sunday started out much the same shower, waffles and head out. If you’re interested in another awkward lift story, this time we got cozy with the Brazilians Lucas, kNg and their coach Zakk from Immortals. We exchanged greetings whilst waiting for the lift, but the whole way down to the lobby they were joking around in Brazilian with us having no idea what they were saying. The two of us were more interested in the black and brown Yeezys Lucas had on. We felt like we were hanging since we had our Ultraboosts on. Again the grand final didn’t start till later on in the day so we had a walk around Cologne to try and get some nice pictures.
On our walk around we found the signing area, where fans can obviously meet the players and take pictures or have things signed. You’ve probably been wondering why we had never been before but we didn’t feel the need to since anything like that we could have done at our hotel. The queues were quite long, we were in the area an hour before FaZe Clan were due in and the line was already a hundred people thick. If you have the time I don’t think an hour is too long to wait, I’ve waited longer to see concerts so if having your mouse pad signed or getting a picture with your idol would make your trip I would definitely say it’s worth your time.
A short time later was the grand final. We had our nachos and our cheeseburgers and we were ready to go. The series was opened with a performance of the theme for the event Fly Away by TheFatRat on stage. It was expected but I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. A prop I have for ESL is that they put on a good show all weekend long whether it was entertaining us with fan interviews or the opening ceremony or the various booths around the venue. They certainly made it a lot more enjoyable than just watching CS on a huge screen. Regardless of whether you are a fan of electronic music you have to appreciate the lights show that was put on, mesmerizing was the only way I can describe it.
As for the actual grand final itself, it depends on entirely what you define as entertaining Counter-Strike as to whether you enjoyed it or not. SK Gaming put on a clinic and you could see some of the adaptations they’d made to catch the Americans off guard. It was a shame C9 couldn’t pick one map up for the crowd. The stadium was a beautiful sea of blue and white with a few fishes of other jerseys swimming around. At least they gave us a couple of amazing plays to cheer for, the Autimatic deagle round on Train, in particular, had me jumping out of my seat. At the end of the day, SK deserved to win and the crowd recognized that and cheered many congratulations as they picked the trophy up.
Day 5 – Monday
Time to Leave
The realization that I no longer had to plan my days around watching the best Counter-Strike on one of the most alluring stages was depressing. I actually felt as if there was a piece of my heart missing. It might only have been five days but it was some of the best five of my life. Walking around Cologne for the final time, you could tell that the event was all said and done. The streets were desolate once again, you could tell because you could actually step foot in the Subway near the Lanxess. There were next to no people walking around in mousesports or Cloud9 jerseys or people with ESL lanyards. I wanted to hear the crowd roar. Just one last time.
The trek home was tiresome. Our flight was delayed, meaning that we missed our train. It took us seven hours to get from Manchester to Hull which would usually take two hours. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world though. I discovered esports when it had just started to walk, now I’m watching it run and I believe that it’s only going to get stronger. All I ask is that you give it a chance, be part of it.
You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Credit to Affen mit Waffen’s YouTube for allowing the use of his recording of FatRat’s performance.