Hello HLTV! Lightning here with another blog. Today I’ll be continuing this short series looking at the teams who could claim to be the third best of all time. This part will continue along the CS:GO timeline, featuring more great teams and players and offering my judgement on them.
Natus Vincere 2015-16
Roster: Zeus, Edward, GuardiaN, flamie, seized
Dates: 17th March 2015 (flamie joins; starix becomes coach) – 4th August 2016 (s1mple replaces Zeus)
Major record: Four appearances
ESL One Cologne 2015: Quarter-finals
Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca 2015: Final
MLG Columbus 2016: Final
ESL One Cologne 2016: Quarter-finals
Other notable tournaments won: Starladder Starseries XIII, ESWC 2015, IEM San Jose, Dreamhack Leipzig 2016
Playstyle: Slow, methodical, map control style; very much the philosophy of Zeus and starix
Storyline: One of the most dominant orgs in the latter era of 1.6, NaVi had an inauspicious start in CS:GO. It wasn’t until 2015, when young talent flamie joined and 1.6 legend starix became coach and then latterly the IGL, that the team really took off, reaching the #2 spot in the world. If Cluj came too early in their evolution as a team, then Columbus was snatched away by GuardiaN’s injury, and their hand was forced into a roster move by Ukrainian wild child s1mple dominating the org he idolised in the Cologne playoffs.
Star man: GuardiaN became the best AWPer in the world after kennys’ decline, and routinely opened up the game on both sides of the map. How cruel that injury should affect both him and his team so badly.
What counts against them? Failure to win a major or $250k+ tournament, although had GuardiaN been fully fit then Columbus was certainly there for the taking. They also never beat either Fnatic lineup of their era in a Bo3 series.
Valid claim? No. It’s the lack of a big tournament win that’s the real killer here. They are the only lineup to reach consecutive CS:GO major finals without a title to their name, a record I’m sure they’re not proud of.
Roster: kennys, apEX, kioShiMa, NBK, Happy
Dates: 20th July 2015 (second French Shuffle) – 8th March 2016 (DEVIL replaces kioShiMa)
Major record: 2 appearances
ESL One Cologne 2015: Final
Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca 2015: Winners
Other notable tournaments won: IEM Gamescom 2015, Gfinity Champion of Champions, Gameshow Global eSports Cup Season 1
Playstyle: Loose in the extreme
Storyline: Unlike the first French shuffle, there was no doubt which team should be the best this time round. Recruiting star AWPer kennys and highly skilled entry fragger apEX seemed a slam dunk for success, and they stormed to a major final on only their second LAN together. A stirring Fnatic comeback on the first map knocked the stuffing out of them that day, but their hot form carried through to Cluj, where they beat Fnatic, G2 and NaVi in the playoffs to lift the trophy. Unfortunately this was the beginning of the end for this team’s success. Their performance at Katowice 2016 was worryingly bad, and by the time they reached MLG Columbus a roster change had been made, and “the problem” benched.
Star man: Though kennys had fallen off from his insane peak level of early 2015, he was still a very good AWPer during their successful run, and their best rated player in the Cluj triumph.
What counts against them? How quickly they burnt out after their first six tournaments. Whether it was a lack of motivation, or a failure to change either their tactical approach or their map pool, is open to debate, but to go from first place at Cluj to last place at Columbus (with a different player) was unacceptable for a roster of this much talent.
Valid claim? No. Good teams win, but great teams continue to win, and this team couldn’t do that.
Fnatic 2015-16, 17-present
Roster: olofmeister, dennis, krimz, flusha, JW
Dates: 12th November 2015 (dennis replaces pronax) – 15th August 2016 (1st Godsent trade)
4th February 2017 (2nd Godsent trade) – present
Major record: Two appearances
MLG Columbus 2016: Quarter-finals
ESL One Cologne 2016: Semi-finals
Other notable tournaments won: FACEIT Stage 3, ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2, Starladder Starseries XIV, IEM Katowice 2016
Playstyle: Very loose. “YOLO” is almost an understatement.
Storyline: pronax left the team post-Cluj due to disagreements over their playstyle. In came dennis, former teammate of olofmeister and krimz in LGB, and they won six international LANs in a row off the bat, leaving analysts scratching their heads as to the secret of their success. Olof’s injury just prior to Columbus killed their prospects when they came in as favourites, and internal quarrels, along with no further trophies, led to the first Godsent trade after ELEAGUE Season One. After the ELEAGUE Major, the band got back together, just without the instant success they saw last time, and are currently fighting to restore both their former status and the Fnatic fear factor.
Star man: olofmeister regained his status as the best player in the world during their crazy LAN run, and remained their key playmaker despite all the skill around him.
What counts against them? Failure to win a major, although Columbus saw circumstances beyond their control and they fell victim to the Team Liquid fairy tale in Cologne. I’m not counting their results since reforming against them, as in my opinion they can’t tarnish their legacy an awful lot; they can only fail to add to it. There wasn’t much tactical depth to the team during their successes, which is something they are working to improve now; you need your brain on the days when your aim isn’t on fire.
Valid claim? Not for me. They may have been the most skilled roster to ever play CS:GO, and maybe the most feared, but the game is about more than headshots.
This concludes part two of this series. If you enjoyed this blog or have any thoughts, questions or opinions, feel free to comment below; I’ll be reading! If you would be interested in seeing some content in video form on YouTube in the future, you can also let me know. The final part will follow soon, where hopefully we can offer some form of answer to the original question.