ESL has announced the first two teams invited to it's ESL One Cologne event and they are some big ones. No. 2 Virtus.pro will be joined by No. 4 SK Gaming in Germany for the event. SK won the event last year but it's been Virtus.pro that has been looking the better team as of late.
ESL One Cologne will feature sixteen teams competing at the LANXESS Arena from July 7 to 9. Ten teams will receive direct invitations while four will earn their way through qualifiers with details not yet announced.
SK has fallen from its place on top of the scene and the WWG CSGO Team Rankings, resulting in the removal of Lincoln "fnx" Lau for Joao "felps" Vasconcellos. Results have been overall positive outside of a surprising group stage exit at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice. Another surprising team to be eliminated early from that event was Virtus.pro. Virtus.pro has held a trophy much more recently, however, winning DreamHack Masters Las Vegas following a second place finish at the ELEAGUE Major to open up 2017.
ESL on SK Gaming:
"Reigning ESL One Cologne champions have yet to win a tournament since their victory at LANXESS Arena last year. The team has been struggling to get back on the very top, taking 3rd/4th place at events like ESL One New York or EPICENTER, and 2nd place at IEM Oakland and DreamHack Las Vegas. Their most recent LAN performance at IEM World Championship Katowice ended with the team last in their group and did not make it to the playoffs. Nevertheless, a team like SK Gaming should never be underestimated and we look forward to the Brazilians putting up a great fight and proving once again that they are worthy of the ESL One trophy."
ESL on Virtus.pro:
"The long-standing legends of the Polish Plow will once again take their stand and fight for the ESL One championship and trophy which they haven't lifted since ESL Major Series One Katowice 2014. The team made it to the semifinals at ESL One Cologne last year, losing to SK Gaming 1-2. Since then, they took victories at ELEAGUE Season 1, DreamHack Bucharest and DreamHack Las Vegas, as well as 2nd place at ESL One new York and the ELEAGUE Major. At IEM World Championship Katowice, the team did not make it out of the group stage. We cannot wait to see what Virtus.pro will show us this time at ESL One Cologne 2017 - will the Plow be unstoppable?"