Looking back at 2016

2017 is around the corner, which means it's time for us to take a look back at 2016's biggest news, some of the most interesting lineup changes and significant updates which affected the scene.

In 2016 we saw more tournaments take place and more prizemoney distributed than ever before, as new organizers entered the scene to get a piece of the pie and the longer standing parties had to up their game to battle the fierce competition.

Similarly, the top teams had to face much tougher opponents as the year progressed; the elite tier was continuously expanding and new threats emerged, each able to take better opposition on paper to their limit.

Throughout the year Valve came up with several updates and news that affected the remainder of 2016 and more, such as the coaching limitations or hammering down on skin betting.

Read on to find out what the biggest moments of 2016 were as we go down the list in chronological order:

THREAT joins NiP as coach (January 1st)

Last year ended with NiP presenting their new lineup, the addition of Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi to the roster that had lost Aleksi "allu" Jalli in December. It turned out the news had not finished with New Year's Eve, as the Swedes added Björn "THREAT" Pers for the coaching position at the very beginning of 2016.

The veteran took the reins as the newly appointed in-game leader and turned NiP's famously loose playstyle into a heavily tactical approach, completely reinvigorating the team who had only changed a single player in the active lineup.

It took the Swedish giants a couple of months before the hardcore changes came to fruition, but they did at DreamHack Masters Malmö, NiP's first of three titles in 2016.


THREAT reinvigorated NiP with a heavily tactical approach

Valve: "Match-fixing bans are permanent" (January 5th)

At the beginning of 2015, Valve and nearly every other organizer banned Joshua "steel" Nissan's and Sam "DaZeD" Marine's iBUYPOWER lineup and added several other players to the list later on, such as Robin "GMX" Stahmer's Epsilon.

After a year of questions surrounding the players' futures, such as whether they'd be unbanned at any point, Valve put out a statement saying all match-fixing bans are permanent and everyone caught match-fixing from then on would receive permanent bans as well.

Liquid attempt to tame the Ukrainian beast s1mple (January 12th)

After being relieved of his duties in FlipSid3, Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev spent the second half of 2015 going from team to team waiting for a new opportunity. That came in Liquid, who decided to take on the challenge of taming the Ukrainian beast.

s1mple's tenure there ended fairly abruptly after some of the players were unhappy with his behavior and the Ukrainian star got homesick, but not before he helped the North Americans take a semi-finals finish at MLG Columbus.

He and the team improved on that result with the region's best placing at a Major, a second place at ESL One Cologne, after Liquid temporarily brought him back.

CyberZen attend SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals #CSGO2ASIA (January 13th)

The SL i-League StarSeries Season 1 Finals was the first international event attended by an Asian team, Bin "Savage" Liu's CyberZen, who went on to take G2 (who transferred to FaZe shortly afterwards) to a close best-of-three.

Their biggest local rivals TYLOO got their chance at DreamHack Masters Malmö in April and brought a playoffs finish back home, eliminating Liquid and Luminosity in groups.

Valve quadruple Major prizemoney to $1,000,000 (February 24th)

Since 2013 when DreamHack Winter was announced as the first Major, all seven Major tournaments in the next two years featured a $250,000 prizepool. As other organizers matched that amount and some even surpassed it, the community was calling for an increase and Valve obliged.

MLG Columbus was the first Major with $1,000,000 on the line and Valve promised that same amount would become the standard for Majors to come, including July's ESL One Cologne and next year's ELEAGUE Major.

fnatic's winning streak comes to an end (April 1st)

At the beginning of 2016, fnatic had already been on a streak of three titles in a row, FACEIT Stage 3 Finals, Fragbite Masters Season 5 and ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals.

With three more tournaments under their belt, the Swedes extended the streak to six before they headed into this year's first of two Majors, MLG Columbus. However, Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer was unable to bring his A game due to an injury and fnatic finished 5th-8th after a loss to Astralis.

That era's best player in the world then took a break and didn't come back until three months after, but the Swedes had never become the same dominant force since and eventually broke up the lineup in half after ELEAGUE Season 1 playoffs.


fnatic's winning streak stopped at six, with IEM Katowice being their last title

Luminosity triumph at 2016's first Major, MLG Columbus (April 3rd)

Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo's Luminosity began showing improvement at the end of 2015, miraculously finishing second at FACEIT League Stage 3 Finals only days after the change from Lucas "steel" Lopes and Ricardo "boltz" Prass to Lincoln "fnx" Lau and Epitacio "TACO" de Melo.

With multiple more great results at their first three events of 2016, the Brazilians looked to improve on their two quarter-finals finishes at the previous two Majors. Defeating Virtus.pro, Liquid and finally Natus Vincere in the playoffs, the Major title went to a non-European team for the first time.

Ex6TenZ departs the top-tier scene (April 9th)

Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans had been part of various iterations of the original VeryGames roster since the beginning of CS:GO in the second half of 2012 and long before in CS:S.

After nearly four years of leading his team in CS:GO and making several lineup changes, he ended up on the chopping block himself, as he was replaced by Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro on G2 who then went on their solid run in summer.

The Belgian attempted to invigorate LDLC, but so far he has been unable to come back into the top-tier scene and is looking to take advantage of a possible third episode of the French shuffle.


Ex6tenZ has been trying to push LDLC to a new level since his departure from G2

Nuke replaces Inferno in the Active Duty map pool (April 22nd)

At the time, Inferno had been part of the Active Duty map pool from the beginning of CS:GO, while new maps (Cache, Cobblestone, Overpass) emerged and others received a revamp (Mirage, Train, Nuke).

In April it was Inferno that went back to Valve's workshop to undergo massive changes and instead a new version of Nuke returned to competitive play, shortly before the Minor Championships prior to ESL One Cologne began.

Mid-October, the reworked Inferno dubbed "Infernew" entered the Reserves map pool, though Valve have not yet revealed their plans for its comeback into the Active Duty list.

ESL announce WESA federation (May 13th)

May saw ESL announcing the World Esports Association (WESA), founded by six European and two North American organizations, which was introduced as a federation that would aim to regulate, standardize and professionalize the competitive scene.

So far WESA has only sanctioned ESL events, most importantly the ESL Pro League, and has been fairly quiet since the announcement, apart from the unveiling of their Player Council.

SK, Team X disqualified from ELEAGUE (July 6th)

On July 6th, ELEAGUE made one the most controversial decisions in the history of CS:GO, disqualifying SK and X from ELEAGUE Season 1 following the Brazilians' transfer from Luminosity to the German organization.

The shocking ruling revealed ELEAGUE spots are held by organizations as opposed to the teams, as the league's commissioner Min-Sik Ko stated that neither SK or Luminosity could field the roster they submitted at the start of the season.

SK become the second team to win back-to-back Majors (July 10th)

Before ESL One Cologne 2016, fnatic had been the only team to win back-to-back Majors (ESL One Katowice 2015 and ESL One Cologne 2015).

With their victory at the second and last Major this year, SK earned their place among the Swedish giants as the second team to have won two Majors back-to-back.


SK joined fnatic's 2015 lineup in the back-to-back Major winners club

Valve hammer down on skin betting (July 20th)

With a cease and desist letter sent out to some of the biggest skin betting sites, including CSGOLounge, Valve aimed to put an end to the popular gambling with their digital items.

Most of the listed companies ceased operations completely or at least stopped the usage of Valve's Steam platform for their purposes, as commercial use of the services was against the Steam Subscriber Agreement, Valve's legal counsel explained in the letter.

The first official off-season begins (August 1st)

In the first half of 2016, the top teams agreed to create CS:GO's first official off-season, a two-week break from all events, including online competitions.

Most of the teams used the timeout for holidays, but more importantly, some decided to make changes to their rosters. At the end of July and throughout August, eight of the most prominent teams announced their new lineups, including Dignitas, Natus Vincere, fnatic, GODSENT, FaZe, Cloud9, mousesports and OpTic.

Until the end of the year, four of the aforementioned eight teams (plus NiP, who had Mikail "Maikelele" Bill standing in for an extended period of time) came out victorious at some of the biggest events of the year, with their new players proving to be pivotal in their success: Natus Vincere and s1mple, Dignitas and Emil "Magisk" Reif, Cloud9 and Timothy "autimatic" Ta, and OpTic and Tarik "tarik" Celik.

Valve limit coach communication, bring timeout changes (August 17th)

Right after the off-season came to an end on August 15th, Valve introduced a new ruling concerning coaches, especially in-game leading coaches, to the Valve-affiliated events.

As the developers felt the coaches had too much of an impact on the game and thus considered them a sixth player rather than supportive staff, they decided to limit coach communication to only the warmup, the short breaks between halves, and four new 30-second tactical timeouts which the teams could use whenever they wanted.

Various organizers joined in and copied the rule into their ruleset, including ESL whose ESL One New York showcased those changes for the first time.


Teams with in-game leading coaches were affected the most

PEA formed, another big league enters the fray (September 8th)

In September, a second association called the Professional Esports Association (PEA) was revealed, operated by seven North American organizations, TSM, Cloud9, Liquid, CLG, Immortals, NRG and compLexity.

Alongside the association itself, PEA unveiled their $1 million league starting in 2017 in which the organizations would share the profits and decision-making with their players.

NiP miss out on a Major for the first time (December 18th)

After FlipSid3 eliminated NiP in ESL One Cologne groups, the Swedes had to qualify for the next Major for the very first time.

In their attempt to make the tenth Major through the Main Qualifier, NiP fell short to HellRaisers in overtime and lost to OpTic. With a 1-2 record, two wins in a row away from qualifying for ELEAGUE's Major, NiP faced huge underdogs Vega Squadron and found themselves without a spot at a Major for the first time in three years in a shocking manner, a 16-2 thrashing on Cache.

Players protest against PEA exclusivity (December 22nd)

To end the year on a rather dramatic note, 25 players (all members of Cloud9, CLG, Liquid, Immortals and TSM) joined forces with Scott "SirScoots" Smith to protest against PEA and their organizations' owners, who were preventing their teams from playing in the ESL Pro League.

The back-and-forth between the involved parties as well as WESA, who were approached by PEA with demands to discontinue ESL Pro League in North America, led to PEA giving the affected teams a choice between their league and the ESL Pro League.

You can follow HLTV.org's Milan "Striker" Švejda on Twitter

Brazil Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo
Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
957
KPR:
0.62
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.12
France Robin 'GMX' Stahmer
Robin 'GMX' Stahmer
Age:
26
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
239
KPR:
0.65
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.15
Sweden Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
895
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.14
United States Timothy 'autimatic' Ta
Timothy 'autimatic' Ta
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
958
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
Sweden Björn 'THREAT' Pers
Björn 'THREAT' Pers
Age:
31
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.80
Maps played:
50
KPR:
0.53
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
Brazil Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
489
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.16
United States Sam 'DaZeD' Marine
Sam 'DaZeD' Marine
Age:
29
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
170
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.19
China Bin 'Savage' Liu
Bin 'Savage' Liu
Age:
30
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
789
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.13
France Alexandre 'bodyy' Pianaro
Alexandre 'bodyy' Pianaro
Age:
22
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.96
Maps played:
762
KPR:
0.65
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
Finland Aleksi 'allu' Jalli
Aleksi 'allu' Jalli
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1371
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.11
Ukraine Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Age:
21
Rating 1.0:
1.23
Maps played:
1035
KPR:
0.85
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.11
Denmark Emil 'Magisk' Reif
Emil 'Magisk' Reif
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.11
Maps played:
934
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.15
United States Tarik 'tarik' Celik
Tarik 'tarik' Celik
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
1139
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Canada Joshua 'steel' Nissan
Joshua 'steel' Nissan
Age:
29
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
406
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.15
Brazil Lucas 'steel' Lopes
Lucas 'steel' Lopes
Age:
25
Rating 1.0:
0.98
Maps played:
911
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.13
Brazil Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1119
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.60
APR:
0.11
Sweden Jacob 'pyth' Mourujärvi
Jacob 'pyth' Mourujärvi
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
732
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.13
Sweden Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1289
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.13
Brazil Ricardo 'boltz' Prass
Ricardo 'boltz' Prass
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
937
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.17
Belgium Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
Age:
29
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
1393
KPR:
0.62
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.15
#1
 | 
Finland kAlluYT 
2016 was a decent year for CS, I especially enjoyed the rivalry between G2 and Luminosity
2016-12-31 19:19
nice edit you wrote "1" then edited it
2016-12-31 19:18
#21
 | 
Finland kAlluYT 
I don't know what you are talking about Kappa You are probably just salty because you were only third
2016-12-31 19:22
TRIGGERED HAHAHH
2016-12-31 19:49
#55
 | 
Finland kAlluYT 
I am triggered?
2016-12-31 21:18
Do you mean Na'Vi?
2016-12-31 20:04
#59
 | 
Germany uRaguuu 
Do you mean mouz?
2016-12-31 22:09
#66
Ex6TenZ | 
Finland qBeY 
Do you mean VP?
2016-12-31 22:56
#73
s0mmer | 
Germany sommerr 
Do you mean tyloo?
2017-01-01 02:34
NEWFAG, BEST RIVALRY IS LG VS NaVi without BOT S1MPLE
2016-12-31 21:28
#75
 | 
Croatia mds818 
more like Luminosity rivalry,pretty much every top tier team was big rival with them.
2017-01-01 03:56
ESL PRO S3 Final - LG vs G2 - was one of the best game so far in 2016
2017-01-01 12:16
#83
 | 
Croatia mds818 
never forget fnatic vs vp cologne 2015
2017-01-01 12:20
looking back at 2016 :D but yeah, everyone has different preferences
2017-01-01 12:28
#85
 | 
Croatia mds818 
idk i didnt have really anything special in 2016,the year was just on the level of wtf...there's not real number 1 team if you'd ask me
2017-01-01 12:29
#81
NiKo | 
Bangladesh XalYWero 
agree, their series are by far the most fun to watch
2017-01-01 10:42
#88
 | 
Brazil mexicowss 
more like na'vi x lg
2017-01-01 13:27
#2
ayaya | 
Ireland skend 
znajder will be top1 in 60 days. get over it.
2016-12-31 19:18
#29
 | 
Finland NUCL3AR 
ezaf4faze
2016-12-31 19:31
Slemmy will be top 1 for the entirety of 2017
2017-01-01 02:49
WP
2016-12-31 19:18
navi is good but simple is better
2016-12-31 19:18
Good to read
2016-12-31 19:17
Fuck 2016 worst year of CS
2016-12-31 19:18
agreed
2017-01-01 00:42
#16
 | 
France StickyRice 
Thanks HLTV.
2016-12-31 19:18
#17
f0rest | 
Portugal Sabymby 
nice
2016-12-31 19:18
#20
 | 
Armenia cGev 
Rip
2016-12-31 19:19
never look back, have no regrets #truealfa
2016-12-31 19:21
#24
 | 
Serbia ZAG0R 
2017 will be beter ;)
2016-12-31 19:22
Was a pretty ok year tbh.
2016-12-31 19:24
#26
kNgV- | 
Brazil vicTHOR 
BR year... it was EZ ^_^
2016-12-31 19:26
#27
 | 
Europe jesh 
boring year 2015 was the best year in csgo so far
2016-12-31 19:26
confirmed
2017-01-04 22:50
2017 ez 4 SK
2016-12-31 19:27
Lmao
2016-12-31 19:56
#57
 | 
Chile Cristoff 
EZ
2016-12-31 21:34
#30
 | 
Lithuania SuperSanic 
:)
2016-12-31 19:32
wrong steel as usual HLTV
2016-12-31 19:32
#32
 | 
Bulgaria kr9ptonn 
fnatic's winning streak comes to an end (April 1st) :(
2016-12-31 19:35
:(
2016-12-31 19:42
#34
 | 
Bulgaria kr9ptonn 
but it was april 1st, maybe it was a joke LUL
2016-12-31 19:43
LUL
2016-12-31 19:43
#39
 | 
Switzerland DavenCSGO 
WTF LOL
2016-12-31 19:48
#36
 | 
Brazil CHEMyyy 
Valve hammer down on skin betting (July 20th) LOOOL
2016-12-31 19:46
2014 Best year of csgo
2016-12-31 19:48
you tagged the wrong steel
2016-12-31 19:50
Any1 knows what happened with Phantomlord after he got caught scamming people?
2016-12-31 20:01
#48
 | 
Brazil Collee 
he just vanished, his gf posted a few(very few) pics/videos with him after that, but that's all, he's hiding and didn't say anything about the whole drama
2016-12-31 20:15
I want to add 1 thing for us casuals. I still time to time do solo queue in MM and Russians still worst teammates in MM pugs, have yet to meet some decent guys with "normal" behavior. Latest today and my year endend as it started with Russia's with 150 ping warping around yelling in Putin language.
2016-12-31 20:10
#46
 | 
Brazil Collee 
tl;dr NA teams will never reach the top No starix igling, no zeus = rip Na'Vi RIP fnatic CS 2004 ~ april 2016 f0rest needs a better team LG/SK top 1 2016 Astralis top 1 in the last ~2 months of the year
2016-12-31 20:13
#94
 | 
Europe wai7ing 
Valve pls stop the coaching rule you made NaVi bad Frenchies pls do a 3rd swap with kennys + shox duo Swedes pls do a better swap so we can have top 1 team again (flusha and f0rest need better teams) Edit: omg Denmark becomes another big CS country with 2 tier1 teams (except Sweden)
2017-01-03 02:17
#49
 | 
Estonia elariBAY 
"The Belgian attempted to invigorate LDLC, but so far he has been unable to come back into the top-tier scene." Did someone rly expected that LDLC gonna be tier1 team? Ex6TenZ has already got maximum of this roster.
2016-12-31 20:17
I think LDLC can be a solid top 15 team - they have already proven to be a top 3 tier 3 team next to Kinguin and Godsent. Godsent is the highest ranked team they've played and they've won majority of thier encounters. They will 100% qualify for Pro League next week in Burbank.
2016-12-31 22:54
1.Valve limit coach communication hard rekt all teams what play 6vs5 2.NiP miss out on a Major for the first time lul no nip on major 4Head 3.SK, Team X disqualified from ELEAGUE uncle sam always gonna help american if they nead help 4.Valve hammer down on skin betting somehow day after less ppl watching CS tournamnets 5.Valve quadruple Major prizemoney to $1,000,000 1mln ehhh dota2 has 3-4 3mln majors +20mln international still better than 250k trash tournaments like was before honorable Snax 3x years at row in TOP5 player rank this makign him overall best player in history of CS:GO and most consitent with impresive form
2016-12-31 20:28
cs had more prize money than dota2 this year.
2017-01-01 01:21
what about NA being top 1 finally?
2016-12-31 20:41
That's the wrong Steel in the match-fixing section. :)
2016-12-31 20:48
Cheating becomes normalized.
2016-12-31 21:13
#62
Europe bueR 
++ the year cs go went full bananas.
2016-12-31 22:43
#58
 | 
Sweden MasturB 
ex6 forever in our hearts
2016-12-31 22:03
#61
Jadzz | 
Europe Jadzz 
You forgot one "Fox joins SK"
2016-12-31 22:42
#63
Europe bueR 
2016 was the year of at least half the teams having at least 1 aimlocker. I wouldn't be surprised at this point that the team owners themselves are aware of- and even provides the mouselefting.-
2016-12-31 22:45
It's sad if you believe that and still invest time into the scene.
2017-01-01 13:07
#90
Europe bueR 
I watch in my free time, often while playing or doing something else. I'm really 'invested' only in a few teams and that doesn't take up any valuable time either.
2017-01-01 17:11
Well if you think all of the top teams have cheaters than why wouldn't the team that you like also cheat lol.
2017-01-02 03:28
#93
Europe bueR 
did I say the team I like doesn't cheat? can you pull more retarded bullshit from your arse?
2017-01-02 19:22
Ah so you support cheaters, that's healthy for the scene.
2017-01-03 04:15
#65
 | 
Greece her-1g 
Not q bad but not a good year either. Most of the top team were at least mediocre nio, fnatic, godsent, virtus, astralis...only sk played xonsistwntly good through out the year
2016-12-31 22:54
xonsistwntly
2017-01-01 00:04
#87
 | 
Greece her-1g 
Blame the mobile keyboard
2017-01-01 13:26
ikr
2017-01-01 14:22
No "Zeus parts ways with Na'Vi"? Oh
2017-01-01 01:01
ence didnt become top10 :(
2017-01-01 02:16
#76
 | 
India nicebaitm8 
wtf ence always top 1 in our hearts or top 0 if possible #newyearnewENCE
2017-01-01 04:59
Epsilon
2017-01-01 05:29
Nice read. Been a big year for CS.
2017-01-01 10:04
lol wtf
2017-01-02 09:00
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