Hello HLTV! Lightning here with another blog. Today I’ll be finishing this short series looking at the teams who could claim to be the third best of all time. This part will take us right up to the present day of CS, including the rosters who won the last three majors between them.
Roster: FalleN, coldzera, fer, fnx, TACO
Dates: 23rd November 2015 (fnx and TACO replace boltz and steel) – 5th December 2016 (fnx benched, fox stands in)
Major record: Two appearances
MLG Columbus 2016: Winners
ESL One Cologne 2016: Winners
Other notable tournaments won: ESL Pro League Season 3
Playstyle: Very tactical early on; gradually became looser over time
Storyline: FalleN’s teams, across various orgs, had reached the playoffs of all three majors in 2015, but this lineup started out with a 16-0 Dust2 humbling by Fnatic on their LAN debut, FACEIT Stage 3. They ended up reaching the final of that tournament (again losing to Fnatic), and ground their way up the world rankings to #3 coming into MLG Columbus. They took advantage of Fnatic’s early exit and GuardiaN’s injury to snatch the title, and repeated at Cologne to become back-to-back major champions, just like Fnatic 2015. However, the silverware ended there despite consistent top 4 placings, and internal problems led to fnx’s benching and eventual departure.
Star man: coldzera became Brazil’s answer to dev1ce during this team’s rise to the top of the world, boasting incredibly consistent numbers and ability across all weapons.
What counts against them? If they were so good, why did they only win three titles? They are arguably fortunate that two of their three wins were majors, and coming at a time when Fnatic and NaVi, who would almost always beat them on LAN, were stricken by injuries to their star players and the loss of form that followed. Their failure to claim a title after Cologne despite their sheer number of top four finishes puts a question mark on whether they were a truly great team or if they took advantage of the situation they found themselves in.
Valid claim? Yes and no. Back-to-back majors is an almost unique achievement, but they didn’t fill the trophy cabinet when they had no clear and consistent rival; many unfancied teams upset them at the business end of a big tournament in the second half of 2016, such as VP, C9, NiP and Astralis. They do get points for dominating Train (17 win streak on LAN from May – November) like few teams have dominated any map in the history of CS:GO.
Roster: dev1ce, dupreeh, Xyp9x, Kjaerbye, gla1ve
Dates: 24th October 2016 (gla1ve replaces Karrigan) – present
Major record: One appearance
ELEAGUE Major 2017: Winners
Other notable tournaments won: ECS Season 2, IEM Katowice 2017
Playstyle: Fundamental, default-based CS
Storyline: One of CS:GO’s first player-owned orgs formed with the roster who represented TSM in 2015. They were established in the word’s top five but had a history of choking in big tournaments. Failure to claim a big title, even after Kjaerbye’s arrival, led to the team kicking IGL Karrigan for gla1ve, a player who’d been in the wilderness for some time until he stood in for the Danes at ESL One Cologne earlier in the year. Promising showings at IEM Oakland and ELEAGUE Season Two preceded this core’s first $250k+ international win at ECS, and they then defeated VP in the ELEAGUE major final to finally claim a big one, and the undisputed world number one status.
Star man: dev1ce had always been this core’s best player, and has transitioned from being an all-star hybrid to a top AWPer, as well as mostly getting beyond his old mental issues.
What counts against them? I’m minded to say that time counts against them, but several teams mentioned in this series have had similar levels of success over a similar period (6-7 months), and have also become successful soon after a roster change. This team’s strengths are such that they’re unlikely to fall off the wagon like 2015 EnVyUs did after winning Cluj, so even if they lose the world #1 spot they will remain competitive at majors and big LANs, similar to SK last year; they’ve made top 4 at all 8 LAN outings so far. Playing Cobble at IEM Sydney shows they’re at least considering working on their map pool, as it’s been this core’s perma ban for a very long time. Perhaps time counts against them in another way; it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate just how good a team is until things are seen in retrospect.
Valid claim? I’m leaning towards a yes. Give them more time though, and perhaps one day they could even be considered the best team of all time. They’re maybe not the most exciting team to watch, and I can understand why some in the community see them as arrogant, but you can’t deny their strengths.
Virtus Pro (and other orgs) 2013-present
Roster: Neo, TaZ, pashaBiceps, Snax, byali
Dates: 8th October 2013 (Snax, byali join Universal Soldiers along with the remaining Golden 5 players) – present
Major record: Ten appearances
Dreamhack Winter 2013: Groups
EMS One Katowice 2014: Winners
ESL One Cologne 2014: Quarter-finals
Dreamhack Winter 2014: Semi-finals
ESL One Katowice 2015: Semi-finals
ESL One Cologne 2015: Semi-finals
Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca 2015: Quarter-finals
MLG Columbus 2016: Quarter-finals
ESL One Cologne 2016: Semi-finals
ELEAGUE Major 2017: Final
Other notable tournaments won: Gfinity G3 2014, Copenhagen Games 2015, ESEA Season 18, ESL ESEA Pro League Invitational, Starladder i-League Invitational #1, ELEAGUE Season One, Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas
Playstyle: Aggressive on both sides of the map. Beware the Virtus Plow.
Storyline: CS:GO’s longest standing full roster formed when three of Poland’s legendary Golden Five from 1.6 (Neo, TaZ, pasha) joined up with young talents Snax and byali. They claimed a major title at Katowice 2014, defeating NiP in dominant fashion in front of their adoring home crowd. Through good times and bad they have always been respected by rival teams for their ability to rise to the occasion on LAN, and are one of the most loved teams by fans in probably the whole of CS history. Their most recent big title came in Vegas this year, when they gained revenge on Astralis for the ELEAGUE Major final and notched another win in their long-running rivalry with SK, although they have hit a slump since.
Star man: Snax, hybrid AWPer and clutch king, is always capable of plays that most players couldn’t even imagine, such as his pistol clutch against NaVi in New York last year.
What counts against them? Inconsistency. They’ve had several slumps to go with their peaks, as we’re seeing right now post-Vegas, and have never had a dominant “era” like some of the teams in this series. You may think they should have won more majors during their tenure as a team, although nine consecutive playoff finishes is remarkable, and they have lost to the eventual winners on five of those occasions.
Valid claim? I think so. A team this long-standing and successful, as well as one so iconic for their playstyle and fan appeal, can be considered an all-time great team, even if they never had an “era.”
To conclude, I’ve looked at nine different teams over this three-part series who could be considered the third best team of all time. Some teams’ claims didn’t stack up in my eyes, but others are valid contenders for this position in CS:GO history. Which of these nine teams edges the others is up to you, but if asked for my opinion I would go for LDLC/EnVyUs 2014-15 as the third best team of all time. Who knows which organisations and rosters will be part of the “best team of all time” debate in future. If you enjoyed this series 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.