Earlier this year, an important statistic came to light about the state of top tier CS:GO. Starting with ECS Season 1, there had been seven straight premier tournaments, each with a different winner. While Ninjas in Pyjamas broke that streak with their win at IEM Oakland, this era of uncertainty has continued. I recently wrote an article about the high level of parity in CSGO and how the next major belongs to anyone. The mantle of best team in the world still seems to be up in the air. Over the last nine $250k+ tournaments, we’ve had eight different winners.
Possible False Idols
NiP snapped the streak of unique tournament winners, but they still don’t look like the best in the world. They won at StarSeries Season 2 and IEM Oakland. However, their wins were nearly two and a half months apart and with two different lineups. They had Mikail “Maikelele” Bill for one win and Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi for the other. NiP seem to get hot when they make a roster move but then cool off afterward.
Dignitas were ready to enter the ranks of the Counter-Strike elite after their win at EPICENTER. Their group stage exit at EPL Season 4 seemed like a hiccup as they dominated their group at ELEAGUE afterwards. They were seen as the heavy favorites going into DreamHack Winter, but bombed out in the group stage. They also went out in the quarterfinals of ELEAGUE–again, as the favorites–and look shaky. That being said, Dignitas have attended many consecutive events and perhaps need a break from their grueling schedule.
Most experts had Virtus.pro as their number one ranked team going into the ELEAGUE bracket stage despite their inactivity. They had won ELEAGUE Season 1 and DreamHack Bucharest and finished second at ESL One: New York and EPICENTER. They backed out of Oakland and failed to qualify for the EPL Season 4 finals. They still have problems online as they failed to qualify for the ECS S2 finals coming up. They also exited ELEAGUE Season 2 during the quarters in a disappointing fashion. Perhaps attending more events could have helped them keep their form.
SK Gaming dominated the early part of the year but haven’t won anything since ESL One: Cologne. They have made the semifinals or finals of every tournament since then but failed to snatch a single title. Rumors were swirling about internal troubles, and the team have removed Lincoln “fnx” Lau from their active lineup.
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Challengers or Pretenders
North American CSGO is at its highest point ever. Optic Gaming just won ELEAGUE Season 2 as a heavy underdog and Cloud9 recently won EPL Season 4. After almost a decade without any premier tournament wins for NA, we have two in two months. Despite these wins, Optic and C9 still remain big question marks. Outside of these victories, there have been times where they each look very inconsistent and they rely a bit too much on standout play from their stars. OpTic have been trending upwards since the addition of Tarik “tarik” Celik and their system does seem to be working but they need more consistency to prove it.
Natus Vincere did win ESL One: New York, but the team have been a disaster ever since. They have massive fragging potential but their tactical system does not work. There is no balance on the team, and the team still loses despite the addition of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev.
Astralis and FaZe Clan look dangerous, especially in the wake of their recent roster moves. Both teams got new in-game leaders and have benefited greatly from it. Astralis and FaZe both got to the semis at Oakland and made deep runs at ELEAGUE. Astralis even made the final. These are two teams to look out for going forward.