2015 Midyear event catch-up
As midsummer approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, HLTV.org looks back on a hectic 2015 and breaks down events as they occurred and the winners that emerged after closely contested weekends of CS:GO action.
2015 marks one of the busiest years in Counter-Strike history, and is very likely the watershed year of CS:GO. The rise in the number of events is matched in stride with the increasing prize-pools of events, which appear to be only rising for now.
The catch? The year is only halfway done, and yet we have been inundated with events up until now, so much so that it is hard even for us here at HLTV.org to remember exactly who won what, when they won, where it all transpired and even how much.
2015 is looking to be CS:GO's year
Let us therefore take things two months at a time, going over the events that occurred and the specific storylines therein.
The year began fairly quietly, with teams recuperating from the last major of 2014, DreamHack Winter, which the "then-LDLC, now EnVyUs" Frenchmen won.
MLG X Games Aspen 2015 - January 23-25
In the lead-up to the first big international event of 2015, MLG X Games Aspen 2015, there were numerous storylines going forward. The tournament represented MLG's first foray into CS:GO and was to be a test of the organisation's platform to explore its options in the game.
As far as teams go, much speculation focused on North and South American teams for varying reasons. For the Brazilians of KaBuM.TD, it was Brazil's first appearance on the international stage in quite awhile. Cloud9 were to make their first offline appearance with Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan, who had replaced Spencer "Hiko" Martin in mid-December, and Team Liquid (who signed the former Denial squad weeks before) replaced a to-be-banned former-iBUYPOWER squad.
CLG would also make their first offline appearance in CS:GO history, with the former mouseSpaz squad defeating Torqued in a shock upset in the final of the offline qualifier for the event. And it was precisely CLG who first made headlines from the event, defeating LDLC in a now-famous 16-14 thriller on de_dust2.
By the time the dust settled, it was LDLC who would continue with their hold onto the title as a champion team, defeating NiP 2-1 in the grand final. The event stood out because all four European teams finished in the top four, although one of the favourites to make the grand finals, fnatic, struggled over the weekend.
MLG X Games Aspen final standings:
1. LDLC - $25,000
2. NiP - $12,500
3. dignitas - $7,500
4. fnatic - $5,000
After this event, two important name changes took place with organisations taking note of CS:GO's success and picking up two red-hot teams: LDLC were enlisted by EnVyUs and dignitas were enticed by Team SoloMid.
ASUS ROG Winter 2015 - January 30-31
A weekend later, in Finland's cold capital of Helsinki, several of Europe's best gathered to spar over $25,000 at ASUS ROG Winter 2015, with NiP being the only recurrent team from the past week's event.
The event ended with the Ninjas trampling their erstwhile rivals Titan in the final 2-0, and also saw Virtus.pro, a team often considered as a top 4 contender, shocked by PENTA and knocked out of the tournament with no cash in hand.
ASUS ROG Winter final standings:
1. NiP - $12,000
2. Titan - $7,000
3. HellRaisers - $4,000
4. PENTA Sports - $2,000
ClutchCon 2015 - January 30-February 1
The very same weekend, an offline event in North America took place in Denver, Colorado. Noteworthy for the presence of two foreign teams, the Swedes of fnatic and the Brazilians of KaBuM.TD, ClutchCon looked set to test the mettle of North American teams versus international competitors a bit further.
KaBuM.TD continued their upward growth by taking a map off of fnatic at the event which, when coupled with the devastation the Brazilians inflicted on Cloud9 on the same map (de_mirage) at MLG X Games Aspen, made the team feared on mirage in particular.
In the end, fnatic cruised to victory following a 2-0 mauling of Cloud9. The event also entered the record books in terms of delays, clocking in some staggering hours of downtime in between games.
ClutchCon final standings:
1. fnatic - $8,000
2. Cloud9 - $3,000
3-4. Liquid - $1,000
3-4. eLevate - $1,000
5-8. KaBuM.TD - $500
5-8. Torqued - $500
5-8. CLG - $500
5-8. Mythic - $500
Aside from a light stumble in Aspen, fnatic were top dogs of the first two months of 2015
Inferno Online Pantamera Challenge - February 7
The final substantial offline event of the first two months of 2015 looked to do something which no event had yet achieved in the year: bring together all of the tier 1 European teams for a giant brawl, as well as throwing in a few pesky underdog competitors, i.e. Titan and LGB.
After only one day of action in Stockholm, the final results helped prove two theories correct: fnatic were still the best team in the world and one could never really discount Titan as a contender for the gold medal. Despite their strong resistance however, the French-Belgian-Swiss team were ultimately defeated by fnatic 2-0 in the grand final.
The event was noteworthy for NiP's weak performance and it was to be the last time that team AWPer Mikail "Maikelele" Bill would be seen playing for NiP at an offline event.
Inferno Online Pantamera final standings:
1. fnatic - $16,927
2. Titan - $5,883
3. EnVyUs - $2,545
4. Virtus.pro - $1,131
5. NiP - $1,131
6. LGB - $1,131
The CS:GO world was afforded a brief respite, however it was only a matter of time as the first (and so far only) major of the year, ESL One Katowice 2015, quickly approached.
ESL One Katowice 2015 - March 12-15
The first major of the year saw a couple storylines developing as the tech crew began to set up the venue and prepare for the event. Those who had been intensely speculating on NiP's mysterious fifth player were informed the Ninjas would attend the major with Finn Aleksi "allu" Jalli.
In terms of debuts, FlipSid3 would see Yegor "markeloff" Markelov's former dAT team playing with new banners, KaBuM.TD were picked up by the organisation Keyd Stars and were also partially crowdfunded in their major attendance, PENTA went into the event with new member Tobias "Troubley" Tabbert and Vox Eminor returned to Poland after a Cinderella-esque qualifier run the month before.
Keyd Stars made their new organisation proud and achieved a playoff finish, which simultaneously secured their spot in the next (so far unannounced) major. Despite problems in the coming weeks after Katowice, PENTA also kept German dreams alive, destroying Titan and LGB and advancing to the playoffs for the second straight major in a row.
Na`Vi, TSM, Virtus.pro and EnVyUs also all achieved playoff berths although each team fell short of the grand final; the fall was perhaps hardest for the Poles of Virtus.pro, who were playing with the memory of their dream run the year before looming overhead.
In a grand final where both teams were looking to become the first double major champions, fnatic triumphed over NiP 2-1 and took home glory and $100,000.
ESL One Katowice final standings:
1. fnatic - $100,000
2. NiP - $50,000
3-4. Virtus.pro - $22,000
3-4. EnVyUs - $22,000
5-8. PENTA Sports - $10,000
5-8. Keyd Stars - $10,000
5-8. Na`Vi - $10,000
5-8. TSM - $10,000
9-12. Vox Eminor - $2,000
9-12. LGB - $2,000
9-12. CLG - $2,000
9-12. Cloud9 - $2,000
13-16. FlipSid3 - $2,000
13-16. Titan - $2,000
13-16. HellRaisers - $2,000
13-16. 3DMAX - $2,000
Gfinity Spring Masters I - March 20-22
Gfinity's first event of the year, the Spring Masters I, saw eight teams gather in London the weekend after ESL One Katowice with vested interests in some of the $50,000 prize pot on offer.
Alongside EnVyUs, NiP, Virtus.pro and Cloud9 (who extended their stay in Europe for the event), the four other teams were Swedish Property and Orbit (the latter replacing Titan due to an unfortunate family tragedy), Polish Gamers2 and British Infused.
The semi-finalists were predictably the first four teams mentioned and the end result saw EnVyUs clock in another first place finish while NiP continued a second-placing streak (not the last of the year as well). Virtus.pro struggled after a strong major run, although they did attend with stand-in Michał "MICHU" Müller in place of star Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski, and Cloud9 were overall underwhelming.
Gfinity Spring Masters I final standings:
1. EnVyUs - $25,000
2. NiP - $15,000
3. Virtus.pro - $7,000
4. Cloud9 - $3,000
SLTV StarSeries XII - March 27-29
With Virtus.pro already in the process of a legendary six-straight-weekend event attendance record, the last weekend of March saw Kiev, Ukraine host six of CS:GO's best (with fnatic notably absent) in the SLTV StarSeries XII finals.
Although most teams were playing with their already well defined lineups, it was Na`Vi who appeared a little different than before, after the team snatched talent Egor "flamie" Vasilyev from HellRaisers. Despite their last place finish, Na`Vi gave indications of putting up a fight against all the teams it faced, a promising outlook for the home team.
In the end however, both EnvyUs and NiP continued their grand finals rivalry, with the Frenchmen once again reigning triumphant after winning 2-0.
StarSeries XII final standings:
1. EnVyUs - $18,000
2. NiP - $9,000
3. TSM - $5,000
4. Titan - $3,000
5. Virtus.pro - $1,500
6. Na`Vi - $1,500
EnVyUs led the way in tournament wins in March
Copenhagen Games 2015 - April 2-4
April showers bring May flowers, so they say, and there was indeed something in the air which made April's events bring a shake-up to the order of first place finishes that fnatic and nV had been looking to previously monopolise.
Although the two potent competitors mentioned above were missing from Copenhagen Games, the event is noteworthy because it saw VP finally pick up a win from a so-far terrible 2015, following a string of disappointing results. Defeating TSM on their home turf was a tall task and the Polish team rose to it with a 2-0 victory over the Danes.
The event is also famous for fielding an enormous roster of teams, however the final standings will be kept here to the top sixteen in the interest of brevity.
Copenhagen Games final standings:
1. Virtus.pro - €14,000
2. TSM - €6,000
3. dignitas - €2,500
4. FlipSid3 - €1,000
5-6. LGB - €750
5-6. Gamers2 - €750
7-8. 3DMAX - €500
7-8. Copenhagen Wolves - €500
9-12. Reason Gaming
13-16. Space Soldiers
13-16. Playing Ducks
Insomnia 54 - April 4-5
Occurring in the same time frame as Copenhagen Games, Insomnia 54 is noteworthy because it saw Jonathan "MusambaN1" Torrent's x6tence fly to the United Kingdom and defeat both their Iberian rivals k1ck and the UK's best to win the grand final.
i54 final standings:
1. x6tence - £5,000 (~$7,450)
2. fm-eSports -£2,000 (~$3,000)
3. k1ck - £1,200 (~$1,800)
4. Infused -£600 (~$900)
5-6. Rasta -£300 (~$450)
5-6. TLR -£300 (~$450)
7-8. MALIK -£300 (~$450)
7-8. XENEX -£300 (~$450)
Gamers Assembly 2015 - April 5-6
Another offline event part of the whole shebang that was the first weekend of April, Gamers Assembly saw Titan cement their supremacy over other French teams, with only EnVyUs missing from the brawl. The Bulgarians of GPlay also looked to clock in offline event hours after a string of compelling online performances.
Gamers Assembly final standings:
1. Titan - $10,000
2. LDLC White - $5,000
3. GPlay - $2,200
4. beGenius - $1,100
5-8. iGamerz - $425
5-8. subliminaL - $425
5-8. LDLC Blue - $425
5-8. We Got Game - $425
ESL Pro League Winter Finals 2014/2015 - April 10-12
Another weekend, another final. This time, some of Europe's best (with fnatic and NiP absent) congregated in Cologne, Germany for the ESL Pro League finals.
Some teams such as Virtus.pro and TSM were characteristically underwhelming—although the latter played with stand-in Casper "cadiaN" Møller in the place of Nicolai "device" Reedtz—while event favourites EnVyUs were upset in the semi-finals by a resurgent Na`Vi. The Russo-Ukrainian-Slovakian team carried this energy forward to a strongly fought victory over a fearsome Titan squad in the grand final. Na`Vi picked up their first gold medal of 2015 as a result.
ESL Pro League final standings:
1. Na`Vi - $15,000
2. Titan - $7,000
3-4. EnVyUs - $3,000
3-4. TSM - $3,000
5.8. dignitas - $1,000
5.8. 3DMAX- $1,000
5.8. Virtus.pro - $1,000
5.8. Copenhagen Wolves - $1,000
Na`Vi finally made it work in Cologne
CEVO-P Season 6 LAN Finals - April 13-15
Noteworthy only as a test of America's best teams and as a preview of how North American teams would fare at the upcoming ESEA Season 18 finals, the CEVO-P Season 6 finals saw CLG take the crown and establish dominance over its regional rivals.
The event was also a 2015 offline debut for eLevate (playing with stand-ins Hiko and Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham), Nihilum (a newly entered organisation to CS:GO) and Luminosity (a new organisation in its own right).
CEVO S6 final standings:
1. CLG - $5,861
2. eLevate - $2,930
3. Nihilum - $1,758
4. Luminosity - $1,172
ESEA Invite Season 18 Global Finals - April 17-19
If the CEVO finals were supposed to be a preview for how North America would play against European rivals at the ESEA Season 18 finals, then the actual result saw North American dreams incinerated to Europe's scorched-earth policy assault.
Perhaps not many were prepared for the sadistic dismantlement and evisceration of North America that fnatic, Virtus.pro, Titan and mousesports undertook and enacted to the fullest degree possible, with North American teams not picking up a single map against European teams at the event. The results of these ESEA finals in Dallas were certainly a direct catalyst for the tumultuous "NA Shuffle" which changed the landscape of nearly every North American team in the coming weeks.
In the end however, the Poles of Virtus.pro stunned fnatic in the grand final and took home $70,000, the largest first place prize-pool this year has seen outside of the Katowice major.
ESEA S18 final standings:
1. Virtus.pro - $70,000
2. fnatic - $25,000
3. Titan - $15,000
4. mousesports - $10,000
5-6. CLG - $7,000
5-6. Nihilum - $7,000
7-8. Cloud9 - $5,000
7-8. Luminosity - $5,000
CIS LAN Championship - April 17-19
Only worth a brief mention, and occurring in the same weekend as the ESEA finals, the CIS Championship saw FlipSid3 defeat regional rivals HellRaisers and, bar Na`Vi's presence, establish themselves as one of the premier Eastern European teams.
CIS Championship final standings:
1. FlipSid3 - $5,000
2. HellRaisers - $3,000
3. ACES - $2,000
4. TEAMSWAGYOLO - $1,000
5-6. GGWP - $500
5-6. USSR - $500
7-8. WEPLAY - $500
7-8. PiTER - $500
CCS Kick-off Season Finals - April 24-26
The last event of a jam packed April brought a lot of the top contenders together in Bucharest, Romania to re-assess the current nature of the top echelon of CS:GO (Virtus.pro managed to finally take a weekend's rest although not by their own choosing as they failed to qualify).
The final result of the CCS Kick-off Season finals clarified the status of current CS:GO. NiP and EnVyUs, both virile competitors in their own right, continued their downward slide from previous form. The Frenchmen suffered slightly more and only managed to take a single map at the event.
fnatic proved they were still able contenders, however it was the Danes of TSM who finally had their breakout moment of 2015 and chose to do so in extravagant fashion, winning the best-of-five grand final 3-1 over the Swedish fnatic. More than ever, it was becoming apparent that the dualistic nature of the "fnatic versus EnVyUs" storyline at most events was making way for a more vigorous and open competitive scene.
CCS Kick-off final standings:
1. TSM $40,000
2. fnatic $20,000
3. NiP - $10,000
4. EnVyUs - $5,000
FACEIT League 2015 Stage 1 Finals - May 1-3
Eight teams flew in to London at the beginning of May and it was once again anyone's guess as to who could walk away with the top spot. The event marked further disappointment for North American contenders eLevate and Team Liquid and also saw the Australians of Immunity raise some eyebrows with their strong play.
In the end, able-bodied fnatic and Virtus.pro were left behind as semi-final losers and NiP took a chance at first place against TSM. The Danes kept up their impressive form however with a closely fought 2-1 victory over NiP.
As previously mentioned, FACEIT chose not to reveal the final prize purse distribution for the event, although there were a few hints given by the winning team.
FACEIT Stage 1 final standings:
7-8. Team Liquid
TSM finally brought the choke under control in late spring
DreamHack Open Tours 2015 - May 9-10
With the winter-spring season almost at its conclusion, the next weekend moved the stage to central France. HellRaisers would notably debut with their Kazakh player Rustem "mou" Telepov while FlipSid3 managed to find an event to attend with their hotshot Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev.
In the end, these two teams, along with an impressive dignitas lineup and a struggling Titan, had to move aside as the two giants of CS:GO met in the grand final. EnVyUs and fnatic finally had a chance to settle the score in a grand final and it was the Frenchmen who blinked first, losing 1-2 to the Swedes.
DreamHack Open Tours final standings:
1. fnatic - $20,000
2. EnVyUs - $6,000
3-4. HellRaisers - $3,000
3-4. dignitas - $3,000
5-8. FlipSid3 - $2,000
5-8. Titan - $2,000
5-8. Awsomniac $2,000
5-8. LDLC White - $2,000
Gfinity Spring Masters II - May 15-17
We wrap this exhaustive list up with Gfinity's second iteration of their Masters event, which this time brought ten teams to London for a round-robin, best-of-two battle royale.
Two tier one contenders were unable to move past the group stages, and they were both the ones highlighted earlier for their struggles in mid-2015, EnVyUs and NiP. Additionally, both American teams (Cloud9 and Liquid) and Australian teams (Vox Eminor and Immunity) failed to move to the bracket stage, although all four had their promising moments (with Immunity flopping hardest however).
The grand final did see two of the top five in CS:GO however, fnatic and Virtus.pro, competing for the $25,000 first place prize. This time, fnatic exacted revenge on the Poles for their ESEA defeat and earned their gold medals with solid play, not giving VP much space on either map.
Gfinity Spring Masters II final standings:
1. fnatic - $25,000
2. Virtus.pro - $15,000
3-4. Na`Vi - $5,000
3-4. Titan - $5,000
5-10. Vox Eminor
fnatic came back to their winning ways by May's end
A few brief and noteworthy online mentions
Additionally, a few online tournaments have doled out impressive sums of cash to involved competitors and they will be briefly highlighted here.
King of Majors - February 16-17
The King of Majors, hosted by Efrag.net, was a fairly cool concept which brought all four major winners together for an online tournament in the month before ESL One Katowice 2015. The only lineup difference among the teams was that NiP played with Marcus "Delpan" Larsson, as the team was still trying out players before it settled on Finn allu.
King of Majors final standings:
1. fnatic - $13,000
2. Virtus.pro - $2,000
GameShow CS:GO League Season 2 - February 23-Ongoing
The GameShow CS:GO League's second season has been in progress for quite some time, although the league finally hit playoffs in April and is currently waiting on the lower bracket to move forward.
Regardless, with $30,000 on offer, the league has certainly drawn eager and willing competitors.
Final prize breakdown:
1. - $16,000
2. - $8,000
3. - $4,000
4. - $2,000
CS:GO Champions League - March 3-Ongoing
Another ongoing online tournament, another $30,000. This tournament stands out for using the best-of-two format this year before other tournaments chose to do so, for various reasons.
With the GO:CL recently hitting playoffs as well, we can be sure to see this tournament reach its culmination soon.
Counter Pit League - May 21-Ongoing
This best-of-two format tournament, sponsored by Vulcun, ups the ante in terms of prize pools and brings $50,000 to the table, with many of Europe's top teams eagerly competing. Matches have only just begun.
Although the CS:GO scene has earned a well-deserved summer break from events, many giants await for late summer and beyond. The titan of titans if of course the $1 million ESL ESEA Pro League, with group stages approaching the end of play and a final for the first season (and for half of the prize money) slated for early July in Cologne, Germany.
Behemoth tournaments await in late 2015
Other leagues are plying their trade as well, old and new. The Acer Predator Masters, sponsored by Intel, will bring eight teams out of online groups to finals in Germany, this time in the TakeTV Studio in Krefeld. CEVO-P Season 7 and SLTV StarSeries XIII also look to dole out more prize money this summer at their respective offline finals.
Even closer, the Fragbite Masters Season 4 is seeing its online playoffs near conclusion for an offline final in two weekends' time, where four teams will travel to Stockholm to battle over $60,000. The weekend after will see Sweden open its arms yet again for DreamHack Open Summer 2015.
In summary as midsummer approaches
CS:GO has never been more alive, or more crammed full of sponsors eager to dish out money to attract the top teams. As the oversaturation of tournaments loads up schedules of tier one teams, expect to only see a fascinating diversification of teams as underdogs step up and receive large tournament invites of their own. The increase in events can only further benefit the scene in the end.
One of the prominent questions going forward is if NA can win a tournament this year
HLTV.org will never cease to cover events wherever they may occur, but this article has hopefully shed some light on those experiencing vertigo from the first half of the year and all the events that transpired.
As always, you can find upcoming events at our Upcoming Events page under the Coverage Tab. Other events which are looking to schedule eventual offline finals, such as the RGN Pro Series, will be added in due course.
Follow HLTV.org's stich on Twitter