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our story

In the year 1248, the citizens of Cologne set the first stone for what would one day become one of Europe’s most admired cathedrals. Little by little, and over the course of centuries, the Dom achieved its current beauty and towering presence. In the same spirit of the city where ESL was born, we set out to build an epic gaming community step by step. From a small online league at the turn of the millennium, to our packed stadium events across the world, we have achieved our goal.
In this time, we too have managed to build our own cathedral. Just across the river from one of Europe’s most revered structures, we put together some of the most passionate fans in gaming, the best professional CS:GO players on Earth and an unrivalled technical display in global esports to build it. Since the summer of 2015, the Lanxess Arena has been the home of our flagship event, the one everyone wants to attend, the one everyone wants to win. The Cathedral of Counter-Strike invites the faithfull once again. Will you answer the call?

ready for some feels?

check out our recaps from the last 5 years!

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In 2018, we delivered an esports spectacle for the ages. While all eyes were on Astralis and FaZe Clan coming into the tournament, it was German underdogs BIG Clan and Natus Vincere who stole the show. Both of them had to fight their way into the playoffs from the lower bracket only to face the big favorites in the semi-finals. With the whole crowd behind their back, BIG delivered one of the biggest upsets of the year downing FaZe, while Na’Vi defied the odds winning against Astralis. The Lanxess Arena shook for the Grand Final, but the Ukrainian organization managed to take the title in convincing fashion despite their rivals enjoying a vocal home field advantage.


The fourth rendition of ESL One Cologne in 2017 was the biggest one yet. An unbelievable 15.000 fans came to watch their favorites play, and with all the world’s best teams in attendance, the only question was: can the Lanxess Arena take the heat? SK Gaming, FaZe Clan and G2 Esports entered the tournament as the favorites. The French side had to bid goodbye after a loss to Na’Vi in the quarters. SK and FaZe had a rendezvous in the semis, and once again, karrigan had to yield to FalleN, a match-up the Danish mastermind just cannot win. But the tournament wasn’t over yet. SK still had to face their North American rivals from Cloud9. A quick 3-0 for the Brazilians sealed the deal, and SK are our first two-time ESL One Cologne champs. And the Lanxess still stands – let’s test her again in 2018!
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By the time ESL One Cologne 2016 rolled around, SK Gaming were already ranked the number one team in the world. After their victory at the MLG Columbus Major four months earlier, FalleN, fer, coldzera, TACO and fnx had the opportunity to become the second team with back-to-back major titles - and right from the get-go their hunger to succeed was palpable. SK secured their spot in the playoffs with easy wins against G2 and FaZe. Flipsid3 in the quarters and Virtus.Pro in the semis proved no match for the bloodthirsty Brazilians either. It all came down to the first all-NA major final in CS:GO, SK vs. Team Liquid and it wasn’t even close. 14.000 gathered in the Lanxess Arena to watch SK wipe the floor with Liquid on both maps. Back-to-back Major champs achievement unlocked!


Losing to the Ninjas in Pyjamas one year earlier sparked a fire within Fnatic’s five, because when olofmeister, pronax, flusha, JW and KRiMZ came to ESL One Cologne 2015, they were the undisputed rulers of the CS:GO universe - and they ruled with a vengeance. Having already won the year’s first major in Katowice, pronax and his boys came to Cologne as the clear-cut favorites. Who could stop them? All hope rested with Team EnVyUs. kennyS & Co. were the only ones who, at times, made Fnatic look mortal. Both sides fought their way through the bracket with ease. EnVy dispatched of Na’Vi and TSM, while Fnatic took care of Luminosity and Virtus.Pro to set us up with the dream final. 12.000 fans in the Lanxess Arena, and over a million on stream watched live as the two giants clashed. But in the end, Fnatic proved too strong. Back-to-back major champions, three major titles in total – Fnatic left their mark in CS:GO history with their victory at ESL One Cologne 2015.

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After having dominated the first two years of CS:GO, the Ninjas in Pyjamas’ air of invincibility slowly started to fade. Even before ESL One Cologne 2014 started, a sense of urgency seemed to surround the five Swedish legends. A major title, which had already eluded them twice before by a whisker, was needed to cement their legacy as CS:GO’s greatest. But, other teams were catching up to the Swedish giants and, unlike the previous two majors, NiP weren’t the favorites coming into the tournament. Maybe that’s what freed them, what allowed them to summon their long-lost, infamous NiP magic, because those four days in July of 2014 were exactly that – magical. The Ninjas played two extremely tight BO3s against Cloud9 and Team LDLC to reach the finals, where they faced Fnatic, the team they already succumbed to in their first major final. But not this time. This time, f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, Fifflaren, friberg and Xizt came out ahead in another breath-taking series. 
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