Biggest rivalries of 2016
As top teams have returned from vacations to get back to work after the off season, we have picked out four biggest continued as well as new rivalries we've seen unfold during the first seven months of 2016 - what were they and how did they develop?
The two weeks long off season is officially behind us, as some teams are coming back from their well-deserved vacations to kick off the remaining four-and-a-half months of 2016.
We decided to find the four biggest rivalries we've seen so far in 2016, ongoing or on hold, to see what we can look forward to in the coming weeks and months in offline competitions.
The following four rivalries have been picked out according to the number of matches and maps played against each other offline. Apart from the most played match-up of 2016, the core of Liquid versus the current SK lineup, which we'll also talk about here, these are the four match-ups we've seen the most of so far this year.
Let's delve into the rivalries to find out when they started, how they developed throughout 2016 and whether we can expect them to continue in the next few months.
|Na`Vi||0-2||Luminosity||Grand final||MLG Columbus|
|Na`Vi||11-16||Luminosity||Group stage||IEM Katowice|
|Na`Vi||2-0||Luminosity||Grand final||DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig|
|Na`Vi||0-2||Luminosity||Group stage||SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals|
|Na`Vi||2-1||Luminosity||Group stage||ESL ESEA Pro League S2 Finals|
|Na`Vi||2-0||Luminosity||Group stage||ESL ESEA Pro League S2 Finals|
The rivalry between the CIS giants and the Brazilian prodigy had started in October 2015, when the cores met for the very first time in the quarter-finals of DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca.
Even then, when they were still a team who hadn't realized their full potential yet, Luminosity showed they can compete with the best and gave Natus Vincere a run for their money on two nail-biting maps. A month later they repeated that feat in another quarter-final series at IEM San José, giving the community even more proof that they're here to stay.
The Brazilians weren't satisfied with the lineup and swapped Ricardo "boltz" Prass and Lucas "steel" Lopes for TACO and fnx in early December. But they still weren't able to get a lockdown on the match-up just yet, losing twice more in the group stage of ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals very much at the hands of flamie.
FalleN and company finally defeated Natus Vincere for the first time in the group stage of SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals when 2016 rolled around, though GuardiaN's team still surpassed them in the long run, making it to second place while Luminosity fell short to fnatic in semi-finals.
Na`Vi and Luminosity brought us a mouth-watering rivalry in late 2015 and early 2016
Na`Vi seemed to have regained control at Leipzig, winning the grand final in yet another extremely close series, but it wasn't quite the case. By the time IEM Katowice rolled around, fnx and TACO had adjusted to the playstyle and the team as a whole improved, which projected into a group stage win in Poland, as well as a semi-final triumph two days afterwards.
Interestingly enough the last time the two teams have met offline was at MLG Columbus, at a point where GuardiaN was having serious issues with his injury, and LG extended the winning streak over his team to five maps in a row, and more importantly grabbed their first Major title.
The rivalry has seemingly come to a close, at least for the time being, but while it lasted it was likely the closest rivalry we've ever seen in CS:GO. The same exact lineups of Na`Vi and Luminosity played 407 rounds over 14 maps in the seven times they met, which equals roughly 29 rounds per map.
Sergey "starix" Ischuk's squad have reacted to their drop as of late by adding sheer skill into the lineup in the form of Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev. We could be looking at a new contender for number one, so it's quite possible the rivalry will re-emerge.
|fnatic||16-13||Astralis||Group stage||ESL Barcelona Invitational|
|fnatic||16-14||Astralis||Group stage||ESL Barcelona Invitational|
|fnatic||2-1||?||Group stage||SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals|
Another rivalry that has seen its last match at MLG Columbus is one we've witnessed on and off over the last year and a half, ever since TSM took over the world from April to July in 2015 and brought fnatic down multiple times in the process.
This year it only lasted about three months, during which the two rosters encountered each other five times on at least two maps every month. At the time cajunb had still been part of Astralis, who have since swapped him for Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye but to no avail.
They met already at StarSeries XIV Finals, the first offline event of 2016, in a scary group also including EnVyUs and ex-Titan. The former topped the group, which meant fnatic and Astralis fought it out in a match-up for second and third seed, both of whom would advance to quarter-finals. fnatic ended up on top, though Questionmark took Mirage off them.
fnatic met Astralis in all three title runs at the start of the year
Still during fnatic's world domination, the two met in what was regarded the grand final of the unusual ESL Expo Barcelona Invitational format. The Danes found themselves leading late into both maps but couldn't close out either as they conceded the Spanish title to a JW-powered fnatic.
The Swedes would go on to dominate not only the match-up at IEM Katowice in yet another big match, the semi-finals, but also the entire event, as the Polish $250,000 tournament was their sixth title in a row and coincidentally their last.
While fnatic had the upper hand most of the time, Astralis (or Questionmark, as they were called before they created the player-owned organization) never went out without a fight. In the last encounter, at the first Major of 2016, device and company returned the favor, though unfortunately for the Danish powerhouse there will always be an asterisk next to that W, as olofmeister went on to take a long break to deal with his injury.
|fnatic||16-13||G2||Group stage||ESL One Cologne|
|fnatic||0-2||G2||Semi-finals||ECS Season 1 Finals|
|fnatic||1-2||G2||Semi-finals||ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals|
|fnatic||16-8||G2||Group stage||ESL Barcelona Invitational|
|fnatic||16-7||G2||Group stage||ESL Barcelona Invitational|
|fnatic||2-1||ex-Titan||Group stage||SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals|
Since the G2 have left their former home in Titan and entered the year, they've taken part in two rivalries, one of which spanned over a solid share of the year — with fnatic.
It's safe to say in the first few months the Swedes dominated pretty much every match-up, including the one with a (at the time) somewhat stagnant G2 side, who lost all three encounters in January and February.
When bodyy was brought into the lineup at the expense of Ex6TenZ, their first encounter with fnatic was a olofmeister-less one, as wenton stood in for him at ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals. Up to that point the core of G2 has never won against fnatic before on LAN, but in their breakout event they managed just that, defeating their nemesis 2-1 in the semi-finals.
shox and company stood in fnatic's way at three events since May and succeeded twice
The match-up transformed upon the change much like G2 evolved into an elite-level team shortly afterwards. At ECS Season 1 Finals shox and company proved that defeating the Swedes wasn't a one-time thing, as they doubled up on their previous result with a clean 2-0 victory, again in semi-finals.
ScreaM's squad wasn't able to pull through when they needed it most however, at ESL One Cologne within a group that would make other teams squeal in fear, dropping a close affair in the elimination match that would have earned them an agreeable FaZe match-up in the decider.
It's impossible to say which way the match-up will go from now on, as the core of fnatic have become GODSENT, joining two new-old players, and the rivalry will have to start from the scratch.
|Richard "shox" Papillon||Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo|
|Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||Marcelo "coldzera" David|
|Cédric "RpK" Guipouy||vs.||Fernando "fer" Alvarenga|
|Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro||Lincoln "fnx" Lau|
|Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux||Epitacio "TACO" de Melo|
|G2||11-16||SK||Group stage||ESL One Cologne|
|G2||2-0||Luminosity||Grand final||ECS Season 1 Finals|
|G2||2-3||Luminosity||Grand final||ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals|
|G2||16-12||Luminosity||Group stage||ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals|
Perhaps the only rivalry that could continue when offline tier-one tournaments kick off again has up to now been a short-lived one, but nonetheless one of the more exciting match-ups of late.
The cores of these two lineups hadn't met since November — Luminosity still fielded boltz and steel and Titan had Ex6TenZ in their lineup —, when they were part of the same group at CEVO Professional Season 8 Finals and exchanged two series.
While short-lived so far, there's a good chance the G2-SK rivalry will continue
Already in their first encounter with the current lineups, G2 edged Luminosity in the group stage of ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals. They would meet again later on in the grand final of the same tournament and delivered possibly one of the greatest best-of-five series in CS:GO, with the Brazilian side lifting the trophy following five double-digit maps, the final of which went into overtime.
ECS Season 1 Finals saw the same two teams fight their way to the top again, though that time G2 took revenge for Pro League in style — a comfortable two-map affair. Somehow G2's route aligned with SK's and fnatic's again at ESL One Cologne, and as mentioned above, G2 fell short when it was most needed.
It seems for once the storm of lineup changes will avoid the French scene, making G2 and SK possibly two of the elite's few who will stay intact. Considering other top-tier teams will need time to adjust, we might be seeing more of this rivalry soon enough, though unfortunately not at SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 Finals due to SK dropping out.
While not included in the list of rivalries due to Liquid's lineup changing too often throughout the year, the core of Nick "nitr0" Cannella, Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski and Spencer "Hiko" Martin has been part of one of the most played match-ups between the current top-ten teams in the world.
We've seen the Brazilians play different iterations of Liquid seven times in 2016, but the record isn't pretty for the Americans. Perhaps startled by the way they managed to lose MLG Columbus semi-finals at the very beginning (leading 15-9 and 15-6 and eventually losing both maps), Liquid's core have never taken a map off FalleN's quintet.
The best team in the world are holding a 11-0 track record in maps over Hiko and company, with the latest encounter being the clear-cut ESL One Cologne grand final.
As there is still discussion about whether CS:GO is currently over-saturated with events, we can highlight some of the very rare match-ups between top-ten teams in 2016.
Contrary to popular belief, we have not seen too many of the same match-ups played over and over again. As is the case with all four rivalries mentioned above, even the most played match-ups often have longer intervals where the two teams in question avoided each other.
That is also the case with a fair share of combinations of elite-level teams, the most striking of which we decided to list below:
The most peculiar case of all is the combination of 2016's two best teams in the world, fnatic and SK. During fnatic's domination, the two encountered each other at two events, StarSeries XIV Finals and IEM Katowice, with six of the seven maps going the Swedes' way.
After Luminosity took over the world, the two avoided each other at all four events they attended together. You could say G2 had a big hand in the abnormality, as apart from MLG Columbus shox's team was somehow involved in all three remaining cases.
G2 robbed us of multiple battles of 2016's top two teams
At ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals and ECS Season 1 Finals, G2 made it past fnatic to the grand final where the Brazilians awaited them. At ESL One Cologne, fnatic partially robbed us of the match-up themselves due to the initial hiccup versus FaZe, although G2 had a chance to send SK right into fnatic's hands but fell short in the end.
We never got to see how the best team of 2016's first quarter would fare against the best team from April on, and now that the massive change came together we never will.
An even rarer sight was an encounter of currently two top-five teams in the world, the Polish and French number ones.
They've only met at a single event, twice in the group stage of MLG Columbus. One was a famously dominant 16-1 Train performance from the Poles and the other a three-map group decider.
A match-up that is often talked about as a domestic rivalry has really not been any rivalry at all this year, at least when it comes to actual matches played between the two.
Last but not least we have a combination of team cores who haven't played a single offline match against each other this year.
We have to go back to November 2015 to find their last rendezvous, a group stage elimination match during CEVO Professional Season 8 Finals which went Titan's way following a nail-biter worth of three maps.
All past results of the rivalries are linked in the matches table, if you'd like to watch some of the matches back you can do so via the "Rewatch" section in the match page.
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