Welcome to the first installment of Esports Edition’s CS:GO Power Rankings. It’s a wonderful time to be a Counter-Strike fan, and the top of the pro scene has never been more competitive. With a resurgent Virtus.Pro entering 2017 firing on all cylinders, the road to the top is filled with fierce competition and only the strongest teams can survive.
For these power rankings, I’ll take into consideration the past two months of play for each team. I will only consider offline events for the purposes of this article. Online events and matches will have no bearing on a team’s rank. However, inactivity, whether it be from failing to qualify or deciding not to attend events will have an impact on standing. These rankings do have a heavy recency bias, but the two month window ensures that these rankings don’t just mirror the results of the most recent large event.
With a loss in the finals of the ELEAGUE Major and a victory at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, VP are sitting comfortably at number one. It’s worth noting that their loss at the ELEAGUE Major was razor thin, as VP and Astralis duked it out for a full thirty rounds on the final two maps of the series. However, Virtus.pro would get their revenge on Astralis in the semis at DH Las Vegas, moving on to beat the new SK Gaming roster in the finals. As a chaotic period of roster shuffles comes to a close in CS:GO’s professional scene, the longest standing lineup remains at the top.
Victory at the ELEAGUE major marked the end to the Danish team’s historic choking issues at majors. Coming off a hot streak at the end of last year, Astralis have begun 2017 with similar success. Due in part to the the diminished fragging of in-game leader gla1ve at DreamHack Las Vegas, Astralis didn’t look as impressive at the event, but the team still managed a respectable semifinal finish. With a Major victory and a semifinal finish in Vegas, Astralis are the undeniable number two team in the world right now. SK Gaming are hot on their tails, but claiming the title at the ELEAGUE Major has given Astralis the edge–for now.
3. SK Gaming
After months of using a stand-in, SK have finally confirmed their lineup, signing João “felps” Vasconcellos to replace Lincoln “fnx” Lau. SK Gaming’s teamplay and sheer star power helped them cruise their way to a semifinal placing at the ELEAGUE Major, even with a stand-in on the roster. With felps at DH Vegas, SK had an easy journey to the finals and were only bested by the Polish plow and current number one team, Virtus.pro.
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There were questions about how SK would perform following the addition of felps, but FalleN seems to have managed just fine, with felps playing an instrumental role in helping SK make their first final since IEM Oakland in November. After a brief period of uncertainty following a season of unquestionable dominance, the Brazilian powerhouse of SK Gaming is, once again, on the rise.
After a quarterfinal run at the major, North lost RUBINO and re-signed aizy. The roster move resulted in a semifinal run for North at DH Vegas, but it’s important to note that their performance at the event wasn’t because of the return of their old star. In fact, North’s impressive performance in Vegas can be attributed to MSL more than any other player–the in-game leader, often criticized for poor in-game performance, fragged hard enough to propel North to their best finish since their victory at EPICENTER 2016 in October. It remains to be seen if MSL can maintain this form and whether or not the team can reintegrate aizy, but based off of what we’ve seen, North are the clear pick for the number four spot in our CS:GO power rankings.
5. Natus Vincere
After a disappointing 2016, Navi showed up at the ELEAGUE Major looking far more dangerous. Despite sweeping the Swiss format, Na’Vi had the misfortune of facing a terrifying Astralis in the quarterfinals. Despite their quarterfinal loss against the Danes, Navi were still a force to be reckoned with, and made it to another quarterfinal at DH Vegas, where they lost to the new SK Gaming. Natus Vincere still have issues and don’t seem to have the strategic side of their gameplay worked out completely, but, as always, Na’Vi can pose a serious threat to other top teams.
6. Gambit Gaming
Gambit claiming the number six spot may come as a surprise, but their results at the past two events were also surprising. Back-to-back quarterfinal finishes at the ELEAGUE Major and DH Vegas help make a case for Gambit being more than a one-hit wonder. AdreN’s fragging has kept up over the past two events and the experienced leadership of Zeus have turned Gambit into an undesirable opponent. They may be temporarily overachieving, but their position in these rankings is deserved.
After the recent undoing of the Swedish shuffle and a lackluster group stage exit at DH Vegas, Fnatic’s semifinal finish at the major is the only thing keeping them at the seven spot. Even their run at the Major is less impressive than it perhaps should be due to the strength of their opponents. Expectations were high after the return of flusha and JW, especially due to the improved form of certain players over the past month. Unfortunately, the talent failed to deliver at the level it has in the past for this five man lineup. Fnatic have some kinks to work out before they can be world-beaters once again, but it’s definitely within the realm of possibility.
8. FaZe Clan
After a quarterfinal exit at the major, FaZe lost aizy and brought back jkaem for DH Vegas. Some will view their group stage exit at DH Vegas as a throwaway, as we all know NiKo will be joining FaZe, but for a power ranking, their weakened performance must be taken into consideration. The team’s performance at the Major suffers can’t be dismissed outright, but Fnatic went further, pushing FaZe to the eighth slot. FaZe’s future is bright, but ther