HLTV.org December world ranking
With the final tournaments of 2014 in the books, we have decided to update our official HLTV.org world ranking one more time for the current calendar year.
It's been roughly five months since our previous World Ranking, which was made just in time for ESL One Cologne, the $250,000 major that was held at the end of August.
Since then a total of nine international tournaments, with multiple teams from this list, have taken place, as well as a couple of domestic tournaments where some of them met.
We have listed all the meaningful tournaments these teams have participated in since ESL One Cologne, so you'd have a better idea of why they may be ranked where they are.
Though we have not listed any online results, we have also considered them - especially for the teams barely outside of the top ten, which we will start this ranking with.
Also keep in mind that the statistics we have listed in each team's roster are calculated using only international events, with at least two teams from the list attending, that took place since ESL One Cologne.
Who are the world's best?
Outside: PENTA, mousesports, unu.AiN
PENTA broke through with their 5-8th place finish at DreamHack Winter, though it's important to note the best team they beat was a very weak iBUYPOWER squad. Still, making the playoffs and qualifying for the next major is impressive, and with - "nex" as a stand-in, they did fairly well at Acer A-Split Invitational, where they finished third.
Another team in the same group just outside the top ten is mousesports. With Aleksi "allu" Jalli leading the way the team has immense potential, but also serve as proof that potential alone gets you nowhere. They impressed at Gfinity 3, but it was months ago. They have some solid online results, but currently don't seem to have a set roster, and need Chris "chrisJ" de Jong to step up for them to become a contender.
Finally, the Danes of unu.AiN, a team built by former Western Wolves member Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen, round up this group. They had a poor showing at DreamHack, but took down PENTA twice and mousesports once at Acer A-Split Invitational to finish 2nd after Virtus.pro.
PENTA are on the verge of breaking the top ten
Cloud9 were everyone's favorite North American team in Europe, up until their month long stay here began in late October. They had a long history of performing well in Europe, and had recently taken NiP to their very limit - and beaten both dignitas and Titan - at ESL One Cologne, which was fan favorite Mike "shroud" Grzesiek's European debut, and first tournament with C9.
Since then Cloud9 crashed out of three tournaments in groups - and even before, had lost CEVO Finals to iBUYPOWER. To be fair, they only played one bad half of Counter-Strike at ESWC, but a group stage exit is still a group stage exit. To top it all off, they lost to North American Denial at ESEA Finals, and then wound up losing Spencer "Hiko" Martin, and adding Denial's AWPer Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan in his place. In short, this team is currently a massive questoin mark.
|5-6th||ESEA Invite Season 17 Global Finals||$3,500|
|5-6th||FACEIT League Season 2 Finals||$2,000|
|2nd||CEVO Professional Season 5 Finals||$2,500|
Cloud9 is one of those teams who get judged the most on potential. It's obvious both Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert and shroud could go off at any moment of any match and win some crazy rounds for their team, but the fact is neither does it very often. Cloud9 are four months, and their star player, removed from their last meaningful win against European teams.
Not all hope is lost, as C9 have time and time again proven they know how to do well in Europe, and against top level competition. They were invited to MLG Aspen and will get a chance to debut with ShahZaM there, with four European sides also present. A lot will ride on how they fare in Colorado, as this team may need more changes to succeed.
|Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan||21||1.09|
|Mike "shroud" Grzesiek||20||1.03|
|Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert||24||1.03|
|Kory "SEMPHIS" Friesen||25||1.01|
|Sean "seang@res" Gares||26||0.90|
It would be impossible to rank Cloud9 any higher on this list, and it's possible even tenth is being too generous - they have very little to back up their placing here, especially with Hiko having departed. Still, continuity gets rewarded, and Cloud9 gets to hold the very last placing in our December 2014 world ranking.
Cloud9 lost Hiko after months of struggles
Titan are a huge question mark at this point. Not only does their roster not field five players at this time, they had to miss the most recent major due to their former player Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian getting VAC banned, and we will probably never find out whether he was able to cheat at any of the four events where Titan performed well with him on the team.
Their good results with KQLY, and a reasonable placing with coach Jeremy "ioRek" Vuillermet stand-in at ESEA Finals this month put them above Cloud9, but there's no argument to be made for them to be higher than anyone else on this list. Due to being forced to skip the most recent major, Titan were simply never given a real shot at making the top eight.
|5-6th||ESEA Invite Season 17 Global Finals||$3,500|
|3rd||SLTV StarSeries XI Finals||$4,000|
It'd be unfair to judge Titan entirely on ESEA with ioRek playing, but it would be unfair to ignore the result either. The fact is, currently Titan lack firepower - at least until, if ever, Dan "apEX" Madesclaire shows up in his Cologne form. KQLY being caught cheating unquestionably shook this team, and we won't truly know how they will be in the future until they pick their new fifth and attend some events.
Spoiler alert - Kenny "kennyS" Schrub has by far the highest rating in the events since ESL One Cologne. Unfortunately for him, the rest of his team has not quite lived up to his extremely high - currently the world's best - standards, which combined with KQLY's VAC ban are the reasons Titan are not higher up on this list, though kennyS would clearly deserve it.
|Kenny "kennyS" Schrub||19||1.29|
|Dan "apEX" Madesclaire||21||1.05|
|Mathieu "Maniac" Quiquerez||24||0.89|
|Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans||24||0.83|
|Jeremy "ioRek" Vuillermet *||26||0.81|
Titan can't realistically be ranked above anyone above them, yet it would also be unfair to completely ignore them despite KQLY having cheated in the past, as we have no idea whether or not he cheated in tournament play. Plus, kennyS alone is enough to guarantee this is going to be a team to watch out for in 2015, as soon as they recruit a fifth member and get some practice in.
kennyS has been the world's best in late 2014
iBUYPOWER broke through with a win at ESEA Finals in June, then followed it up with a reasonable performance at Gfinity 3. They failed in Cologne, but then achieved their history's best result by reaching the grand final at FACEIT League Season 2 Finals. They made it out of groups at ESWC as well, but then surprised everyone by removing Sam "DaZeD" Marine and Joshua "steel" Nissan.
So far the moves, which were clearly made with a long time horizon in mind, have not paid off. At DreamHack the team went out in groups, but then with Eric "adreN" Hoag as a stand-in for Derek "desi" Branchen managed to take down Titan - and play Virtus.pro to their limit - at ESEA Finals. However, since then iBUYPOWER removed both desi and Nick "nitr0" Cannella, bringing back DaZeD and currently playing with Hiko as a stand-in.
|3rd||ESEA Invite Season 17 Global Finals||$4,500|
|2nd||FACEIT League Season 2 Finals||$10,000|
|1st||CEVO Professional Season 5 Finals||$5,000|
It doesn't seem like iBUYPOWER really know what they are doing. It's obvious the team lacks in leadership - or this revolving door business would have ended much sooner - and it's unclear whether DaZeD being brought back will solve it. Either way, it's definitely an upgrade, and if Hiko joins full-time, this roster could well become the clear number one team in their region.
However, they are not there yet. Not by a long shot. iBUYPOWER, whether well prepared or not, lost to fairly unknown mouseSpaz team twice, first in the MLG X Games qualifier, and then in G2A.com December Cup. There's a lot of work to be done, but at leas they got through the second MLG qualifier and will have a shot at taking on the European top teams in January.
|Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham||21||1.11|
|Spencer "Hiko" Martin *||24||1.08|
|Braxton "swag" Pierce||18||1.06|
|Sam "DaZeD" Marine||25||1.02|
|Keven "AZK" Lariviere||23||1.01|
If Hiko becomes a permanent fixture in iBUYPOWER, on paper this team will have gotten much stronger since the steel version of it made second at FACEIT Finals. iBP has plenty of potential, and by far the most skilled North American roster, so they are a team to look out for in the future, as they could easily climb up a few places in the coming months.
The revolving doors of iBUYPOWER have not yet stopped spinning
dignitas are the team with the biggest upside potential out of everyone on this list. This is a team that is clearly capable of being a top three team in the world, but they are fresh off of a terrible run of events for three straight months, and a roster change that saw long-time in-game leader Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen removed for the former mousesports member Finn "karrigan" Andersen.
The Danes used to be the definition of consistency, but you wouldn't recognize the team of the past three months to be the same team who always made the semi-finals until then. Something was seriously wrong with this team, and it's possible their roster change could spark enough change that they could finally start realizing some of their untapped potential.
|4th||Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals||$2,700|
|5-6th||FACEIT League Season 2 Finals||$2,000|
dignitas have been knocked out by 3DMAX, iBUYPOWER, Virtus.pro, fnatic and Natus Vincere. That's a long list of teams, three of whom have been clearly superior to them. It'd be easy to judge their new roster based on the convincing online wins over Titan, Virtus.pro and LDLC, but you have to remember this team has always been godly online.
If karrigan can insert enough change that it can spark Nicolai "device" Reedtz to become a true performer in big matches while improving dignitas' meager terrorist side play, they can easily become a contender - even for event titles. However, karrigan has never been known for his leadership, and frankly there's little evidence to support this being what dignitas needed to break through.
|René "cajunb" Borg||24||1.09|
|Nicolai "device" Reedtz||19||1.07|
|Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen||21||1.03|
|Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth||19||1.00|
|Finn "karrigan" Andersen||24||0.96|
dignitas will get their first chance of 2015 at MLG X Games Aspen, late enough in January that they won't come in fully unprepared. They have a long way to go to regain a top four spot, but at the same time, they have a ridiculous amount of potential they've only tapped online, and in group stages. dignitas may be the most interesting team to watch from this list going into 2015.
device's dignitas have the highest upside potential on this list
Though HellRaisers finished out the year with a disappointing quarter-final loss to NiP - practically the expectation for this team by now - when you distance yourself from their play, and compare their results to the rest of the field in the fall of 2014, it turns out the team led by Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow actually faired fairly well - plus, their roster has stayed consistent.
Similar to Na`Vi, HellRaisers do not attend too many events - it's definitely a strong argument against them, and for them to climb any higher in this ranking they would need to probably start attending more events, and also to start getting some real series wins in playoffs - something that has eluded this team practically since the time they added Emil "kUcheR" Akhundov over a year ago.
|2nd||Game Show League Finals||$5,000|
|3rd||SLTV StarSeries X Finals||$5,000|
By far HellRaisers' best performer has been the Ukrainian youngster Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, who comes in nearly a decade younger than all of his teammates. Just like NiP, HR are a very strong team in comparison to some of the others on this list, and it may suggest some changes in the coming year, with their players getting older and closer to the usual age of retirement - which does, however, continue to be pushed back.
Yegor "markeloff" Markelov needs to start performing better more consistently, as does Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov, if this team wishes to start making some semi-finals and to be a real threat to the teams above them in this ranking. Since ESL One Cologne, HR has scored no meaningful best-of-three series wins. They made it out of groups at ESWC and DreamHack Winter, but beyond that, they haven't done much.
|Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev||17||1.10|
|Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov||26||1.04|
|Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow||25||1.01|
|Yegor "markeloff" Markelov||26||0.96|
|Emil "kUcheR" Akhundov||26||0.95|
HellRaisers looked significantly better at DreamHack - until being dismantled by NiP - thanks to Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy's presence as a coach. It will be interesting to see if he may team up with HR again in the future. HR won't be at MLG, but they could attend ASUS ROG Winter, and will be directly qualified for the next major. They have some stuff to figure out to move up, but it's possible they just might.
HR keep faltering in the playoffs
5. Ninjas in Pyjamas
If this ranking were updated before DreamHack Winter, there's approximately a zero percent chance that NiP could have cracked the top five. Their results had been appalling since ESL One Cologne, the major they won, and would only look five times worse if we included their online resume as well. Put simply, NiP were in no man's land and had no idea how to get out of there.
After Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson stepped down the team recruited Mikail "Maikelele" Bill on a trial basis for the next major, and the move clearly paid off as the Ninjas reinvigorated their play and came within one round of repeating their championship run from Cologne and becoming the first team in CS:GO to win two majors, let alone two majors in a row.
Though NiP are once again in the conversation of teams who may win the next big tournament, it's clear they are nowhere near where they were twelve months ago. Then everyone would have agreed their two stars were top four players in the world, whereas it would be really hard right now to make a case that NiP houses any of the world's best five players. In fact, it's likely fnatic has four players better than anyone in NiP.
With that being said, NiP were always a team who relied on good teamplay and communication, with the individual skills of Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund simply putting them over the top. If Maikelele grows as a player and one of the old stars continues shining, they can keep competing for titles for 2015 - but it's obvious they are no longer going to be the dominant force in Counter-Strike they once were.
|Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg||26||1.11|
|Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund||24||1.11|
|Mikail "Maikelele" Bill||23||1.07|
|Richard "Xizt" Landström||23||0.93|
|Adam "friberg" Friberg||23||0.93|
NiP are the hardest team to rank currently, because they showcased so much potential and ability at DreamHack, but because their results for the three months prior to that were practically non-existant at best, and negative in reality. If they now continue placing top three at more events, they will quickly jump up there - but for now, they will have to finish the year in fifth place.
NiP finish out 2014 strong with Maikelele
4. Natus Vincere
Na`Vi have not attended a lot of international events. If we were to discard events practically on their homesoil, in the ex-CIS countries, they'd only have two events to their names in the past four months. However, just those two events alone could be enough to put them here, or at the very least in the top five. That's how good they've been when it mattered.
Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko's team made the grand final of two SLTV StarSeries Finals events, falling short to fnatic and LDLC, respectively. They won GameShow League Finals over HellRaisers, and fell short at ESWC and DreamHack Winter, but only against LDLC - and then Virtus.pro in a less than meaningful third place decider. That's a strong resume.
|2nd||SLTV StarSeries XI Finals||$7,000|
|1st||GameShow League Finals||$12,000|
|2nd||SLTV StarSeries X Finals||$7,000|
Na`Vi's inactivity, which includes skipping over the second MLG Aspen qualifier, may suggest something may be brewing inside the team - especially considering their management's comments. It wouldn't surprise me if a change was made in the off-season, but at the same time this team is good enough that it really does not warrant any changes, looking from the outside in at least.
By far their strongest performer has been the Slovakian AWP star Lars "guardiaN" Wickler, with Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev coming in second. After seemingly breaking through in the second quarter of 2014, Denis "seized" Kostin finishes the year disappointingly, whereas the other two lifetime Na`Vi members, who are getting dangerously old, have had their moments but overall do not break the bank in terms of fragging anymore.
|Lars "guardiaN" Wickler||23||1.13|
|Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev||26||1.04|
|Denis "seized" Kostin||20||0.99|
|Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko||27||0.94|
|Sergey "starix" Ischuk||26||0.92|
Na`Vi are clearly one of the top four teams in the world, based on results this fall. It could be argued that NiP is currently stronger than Na`Vi, and it may even be true - but the Ninjas lack results to back that up. At the same time, Na`Vi has no place above LDLC or fnatic, but could in the future prove stronger than Virtus.pro, as they've been very neck and neck. For now, they will have to do with fourth.
Na`Vi are a top four team in the world
Virtus.pro failed to make the semi-finals at the previous major, but have since then been the model of consistency as they've made the final four in each of the seven tournaments they have attended, including the most recent major, DreamHack Winter. Though the loss to NiP in Jönköping was disappointing, generally the Poles have only gone out against one of the two teams ranked above them here.
Two of Virtus's early exits, namely GameShow League finals and Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals, came with a stand-in. If we discard those two results, we've got semi-final losses to fnatic at FACEIT Finals and ESWC - where Filip "NEO" Kubski's team then defeated Na`Vi for third place - and a grand final loss to the Swedes at ESEA Finals earlier this month.
|1st||Acer A-Split Invitational||$5,000|
|2nd||ESEA Invite Season 17 Global Finals||$6,000|
|3rd||Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals||$5,400|
|3-4th||FACEIT League Season 2 Finals||$5,000|
|3rd||GameShow League Finals||$3,000|
Judging the Poles' individual performances, it's obvious that Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski's level of play has dropped significantly since the early months of 2014 when he was making a strong case for being one of the top five, or even top three, players in the entire world. Lately clearly the team's best player has been Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski, who has also taken over the reigns and started calling.
Virtus were unable to qualify for MLG Aspen in the first qualifier, and opted to attend Acer A-Split Invitational instead of taking part in the second one. They will be missing out on the first big tournament of 2015, but may still attend ASUS ROG to get some action early on. Virtus recently renewed the Counter-Strike team's contracts for two years, so despite the team getting older, odds are they won't be going anywhere, anytime soon.
|Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski||21||1.10|
|Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski||26||1.03|
|Paweł "byali" Bieliński||20||1.00|
|Filip "NEO" Kubski||27||0.98|
|Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas||28||0.92|
For Virtus.pro to rank higher, they would have to start defeating LDLC or fnatic. They also must not allow NiP to sneak up from behind. The Poles are a very consistent team and can be expected to make a deep run at any tournament they attend, but to start winning again, they likely need pashaBiceps to return to his incredible level of play from earlier this year.
Virtus are number three in the world
Three months after the French reshuffle, it's safe to say LDLC came out on top when the scene split into three teams. One upset loss to iBUYPOWER aside, they've made the grand final in each of the events they've attended since then, and what's more, they won the one that mattered the most - DreamHack Winter, the most recent Counter-Strike major.
LDLC have shown incredible consistency, and only lost series to Titan, iBUYPOWER and fnatic since the team was put together. With KQLY being VAC banned and iBUYPOWER overhauling their roster since, it's easy to see why Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer's team are clearly the world's second best team, despite still having some issues of their own.
|2nd||Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals||$10,800|
|3-4th||FACEIT League Season 2 Finals||$5,000|
|1st||SLTV StarSeries XI Finals||$13,000|
LDLC still haven't fully figured out their team, it seems like, as the team still lacks clear roles and you can see, at times, three or even four different players picking up AWPs in a given series. That's hardly the most consistent way to play, and though it makes them unpredictable, it also makes it hard for them to stay consistent. It hasn't hurt them yet, but that doesn't mean teams won't slowly catch on.
Their in-game leader and the official HLTV.org DreamHack Winter MVP Happy has been their best player, overtaking Richard "shox" Papillon as the biggest star in this team, but basically the entire team has contributed, with no one too far behind. LDLC is strong across the board, and they continue getting strong performances from different players at different times.
|Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer||23||1.11|
|Richard "shox" Papillon||22||1.09|
|Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey||20||1.08|
|Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt||20||1.04|
|Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux||25||1.02|
Had LDLC taken down fnatic on de_overpass at DreamHack Winter, and ESEA Finals wouldn't have taken place, maybe a case could be made for LDLC to be number one. However, they will remain number two in the world until they take down fnatic, again, in a best-of-three series, and prove they have truly overcome their demons. It could happen at MLG Aspen, or it may never come. Future will tell.
DreamHack Winter champs come in number two
fnatic have been the world's best team, clearly, since winning FACEIT League Season 2 Finals over LDLC. The team has only three series since ESL One Cologne; a semi-final versus Titan at DreamHack Stockholm, the infamous quarter-final - which they wound up forfeiting in the end - versus LDLC at DreamHack Winter, and an early series against Virtus.pro at ESEA Finals. That's a resume damn near as strong as NiP's legendary 87-0 run.
Realistically it's hard to see anyone challenging fnatic anytime soon either, that's how dominant they've looked. Markus "pronax" Wallsten's defensive leadership has worked wonders for fnatic, who are the best counter-terrorist team in a very counter-terrorist favored meta-game. Plus, four of their players have so much skill that they usually manage enough rounds as terrorists.
|1st||ESEA Invite Season 17 Global Finals||$20,000|
|1st||Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals||$21,600|
|1st||FACEIT League Season 2 Finals||$20,000|
|1st||SLTV StarSeries X Finals||$14,000|
It's unclear whether Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg and Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson's cryptic tweets were simply fnatic's attempt to make the cheating allegations die down, but if so, they seem to have worked. It doesn't seem like fnatic are about to make any changes to their team, which is good - you don't break a winning team up.
The most impressive factor in fnatic's success may be how young the entire team is. Their statistically three best players are 19-21 years old, which proves they still have plenty of time to grow into better players. KRIMZ especially has leaped since joining the Black and Orange, and there's a strong case to be made for fnatic being the world's most skilled team.
|Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson||20||1.19|
|Robin "flusha" Rönnquist||21||1.18|
|Jesper "JW" Wecksell||19||1.17|
|Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer||22||1.12|
|Markus "pronax" Wallsten||23||0.93|
There really is no argument to be made for anyone but fnatic to be the world's best, when judged on months of results. Though LDLC may be better right now, and we don't know how good NiP will become with Maikelele, over the past three to four months no one else has come close. fnatic's late 2014 was as dominant as almost any stretch of play by any team in Counter-Strike history.
fnatic finish 2014 as world's number one
Next update to this ranking will likely come in early February, when the next events - namely MLG X Games Aspen and ASUS ROG Winter 2015 - are in the books. Until then, only roster changes can affect the status quo.