Top 10 teams of 2019
We went through the numbers of our Global Team Ranking over the course of the year to present the 10 best teams of 2019.
With 2020 around the corner, another year full of CS:GO action is behind us as the scene is taking a much-needed break before getting the circus on the road all over again next season, which means we get the opportunity to look back at the past 12 months and evaluate 2019's best teams.
While last year we made a list of the top 10 organizations, this year we are considering cores of three and more players instead. Most of the top-20 candidates kept their original majority, with just a few exceptions in G2, who created their current three-man core in March with the addition of François "AMANEK" Delaunay, as well as Heroic and Cloud9, both of whom fielded vastly different lineups throughout 2019.
Our top 10 teams of 2019 are:
The list is based on how many points teams earned in our World Ranking without the effects of decay and lineup changes, with total numbers and points gained per tournament weighing towards the standings equally in order to prevent those who attended significantly more or fewer events from gaining an inaccurate advantage.
Dive into the individual teams to find out how they earned their place on the list and what their 2019 was like. At the end of the article, you can find the full top 20 graph depicting distances between the standings.
Note: The achievement breakdown in the team graphics below only takes into account MVP-worthy tournaments
The Danish powerhouse defends the team of the year award from 2018, coming out ahead in a back-and-forth rivalry with Liquid by the smallest of margins thanks to back-to-back Major triumphs and a dominant finish to the year, which saw Astralis hoist three trophies in the last four tournaments they played at and bring their total title count to six.
Having shown in 2018 what dominance looked like in modern CS:GO, Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander's men entered 2019 as still very much the world's best team, continuing their run at No. 1 dating back eight months. The opening event of the year saw the coin flip as the Danish side lost to the then-new Liquid bolstered by Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and coach Eric "adreN" Hoag in the final of iBUYPOWER Masters, but despite the lineup's first-ever series loss in the North American matchup, Astralis went on to win the two following tournaments, the first Major at IEM Katowice and BLAST Pro Series São Paulo, beating their rivals twice at the latter event.
A few weeks after the Brazilian event, the first signs of problems showed during an atrocious day at BLAST Pro Series Miami, and things started to go south as Astralis also lost the grand final of the next BLAST stop in Madrid to ENCE. With results not up to standard, the team came under fire for skipping StarSeries S7, IEM Sydney, and DreamHack Masters Dallas from early April to early June, giving way for Liquid to break their title duck and take over as the No. 1 squad. While the North Americans enjoyed monumental success over the summer, Astralis kept struggling, hitting their lowest point with a group stage exit dealt at the hands of FURIA at ECS S7 Finals before they ended the first part of the season with zero titles in over four months, ranked only third to fourth behind Liquid, Vitality, and at times ENCE.
Reinvigorated from a lengthy break after their last tournament at ESL One Cologne in early July, Nicolai "device" Reedtz & co. took a shaky group stage to warm up at the StarLadder Major but looked in their best shape since March once they reached the playoffs, going on an undefeated run in the bracket to bring home their third consecutive Major trophy. Although no more wins came over the next three events, Astralis claimed the throne again in October thanks to high placings at ESL One New York and DreamHack Masters Malmö, and after temporarily losing the first spot once more to an improved Evil Geniuses team, the Danes were back to winning ways with a whitewash performance at IEM Beijing. The commanding victory in China set the tone for the remainder of the year, as the gla1ve-led squad beat Liquid to two more titles at ECS S8 Finals and BLAST Pro Series Global Final, losing just one series throughout the last four tournaments, to MOUZ in the last-four stage of the ESL Pro League S10 Finals.
With more points earned in total but fewer on average after playing two more tournaments than Astralis, Liquid follow very closely behind their 2018 and late-2019 nemesis on the back of a remarkable first half of the year, during which the North American team made history for their region with seven tournament wins, six of which at back-to-back Big Events, and three more final appearances.
After swapping Epitacio "TACO" de Melo for Stewie2K and Wilton "zews" Prado for adreN, Liquid could not have started the year any better as they brought down their rivals at iBUYPOWER Masters for their first trophy. As the first few months went by, they still had yet to shatter the Big-Event curse that had hung over their heads for the entire previous year, however. Nothing seemed to have changed from 2018 as they went out in the quarter-finals of IEM Katowice as one of the victims of ENCE's miraculous Major run and lost two consecutive BLAST Pro Series finals in São Paulo (to Astralis) and Miami (to FaZe).
But it didn't take long for Nick "nitr0" Cannella's team to finally break through that barrier, as they took full advantage of a missing Astralis at IEM Sydney to kickstart a historic run by getting their hands on their first big trophy. Over the course of the next two-and-a-half months, the opening success turned into six consecutive big titles from the Australian event, DreamHack Masters Dallas, ESL Pro League S9 Finals, ESL One Cologne, BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles, and IEM Chicago — with a runner-up finish at cs_summit 4 in between — during which Liquid went 24-0 in series, claimed an uncontested Intel Grand Slam victory, and became a clear No. 1 team.
After the player break in August, something went wrong in the North American squad and their dominant streak came to an end. Liquid ran into Astralis in the playoffs of the StarLadder Major and of ESL One New York and couldn't repeat their triumph from the EPL Finals against the Danes either time. Things went from bad to worse when they traveled across the Atlantic immediately after the New York tournament and suffered their first group stage elimination of the year at DreamHack Masters Malmö, courtesy of Grayhound, followed by another early exit at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen. As the year was coming to a close, Liquid were back in title contention, but they were stopped by Astralis at the last hurdle on two more occasions, falling short to their nemesis at the ECS S8 Finals and the BLAST Pro Series Global Final.
Vitality finish their first full year in an admirable third place, edging out Evil Geniuses' core by a hair after earning fewer points in total but more per tournament than the North American side due to an extra notable title at the end of 2019, overall consistency, and strong showings at some of the best-contested tournaments of the year, such as ESL One Cologne and DreamHack Masters Malmö.
The Frenchmen started the year in 21st place in the rankings as a very fresh team who had just replaced Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer with former LDLC member Alex "ALEX" McMeekin after their first few months together. They quickly rose up the ladder, placing second at the Europe Minor and making it to IEM Katowice, where they advanced to the New Legends Stage and narrowly missed out on a playoff appearance with a 2-3 record. Two months later, after their first big-event playoffs at StarSeries i-League Season 7 and a small victory at Charleroi Esports, Vitality showed world-class form for the first time at cs_summit 4, beating Liquid to their first notable trophy. Achieving another first in the form of a Big-Event win at ECS S7 Finals shortly afterward, ALEX's squad established themselves as a top-five team and kept contending for high placings as they finished second to nitr0's side at ESL One Cologne and 3rd-4th at IEM Chicago with another loss to the dominant North Americans.
A busy end to the first season turned into the player break, followed by preparation for the second Major in Berlin, where Vitality improved on their IEM Katowice finish with a run to the quarter-finals. The German event proved to be their last with Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt as internal problems resulted in one of the original members getting booted and replaced by Richard "shox" Papillon. The French team hit immediate success with a runner-up finish at DreamHack Masters Malmö despite little practice with their new player, but the honeymoon period quickly ended and ALEX's couldn't contest titles at the following StarSeries and IEM events, while also missing out on a spot in the Pro League Finals.
Getting plenty of preparation under their belts thanks to a bittersweet month-long break from traveling, Vitality ventured to Russia to finish 2019 on a high note with their third notable title from EPICENTER, gaining a slight edge over the NRG and Evil Geniuses core to ensure a place as the year's third-best team.
4. NRG / Evil Geniuses
NRG's and Evil Geniuses' core of Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte, Ethan "Ethan" Arnold, and Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov comes in just shy of a top-three finish in fourth place. Their year was full of deep runs, highlighted by a short-lived peak at No. 1 towards the end, after the current EG lineup, featuring Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz and Tarik "tarik" Celik, had broken the semi-final curse with big triumphs at ESL One New York and StarSeries i-League Season 8.
Still playing with Damian "daps" Steele and Jacob "FugLy" Medina at the time, NRG kicked off their 2019 campaign with an Americas Minor victory ahead of IEM Katowice. In Poland, the North American squad started out well with an undefeated run in the opening stage, but three close losses in the New Legends stage saw them go out in 15th-16th place, which marked the last appearance of that roster as FugLy made way for tarik in March. The change seemed to stabilize NRG, but their semi-final curse was in full force during the first few months with the new member, as they went out in the top-four stage of five out of the next six tournaments.
Unable to take the next step, the team opted for their second change of the year as stanislaw took daps' place at the end of June. It took a few tournaments for improvement to show, with NRG ending the first half of the year with a 5th-6th placing in Cologne and another semi-final exit at BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles, but the transformation started paying dividends after the off-season. Having qualified for the second Major through the Minor system again, Brehze & co. showed up in great form in Berlin as the only ones to beat the eventual champions, Astralis (in the New Legends Stage), en route to their most prestigious deep run until that point. And the best was yet to come.
After making a surprise transfer to Evil Geniuses at the end of September, stanislaw's side finally broke the curse with style and struck gold at ESL One New York with back-to-back wins against Astralis, who had eliminated them in the StarLadder Major semi-finals. The consistency from the first half of 2019 clearly subsided because EG's busy schedule saw them bomb out in last place of DreamHack Masters Malmö just three days after New York and suffer two more bottom-half eliminations in China, but their peak form certainly improved as they also brought home another trophy in the meantime, from StarSeries i-League Season 8. At the last tournaments of the year, Evil Geniuses looked out of gas, all the while creating a new rivalry with MOUZ as one of the frequent casualties of Finn "karrigan" Andersen's team's success, but still made it to the playoffs each time at ECS S8 Finals, ESL Pro League S10 Finals, and EPICENTER, ending 2019 as a top-five team.
With a rollercoaster of a year behind them, fnatic's trio of Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson, Jesper "JW" Wecksell, and Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin round out the top five due to back-to-back grand final appearances with Richard "Xizt" Landström and Simon "twist" Eliasson in the first half of the year and an impressive return to form in the second half alongside Maikil "Golden" Selim and Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, with whom they won DreamHack Masters Malmö and played in two more big finals.
The first three months were a tough time for the Swedes. After going out in 3rd-4th place at iBUYPOWER Masters, they bombed out of the New Challengers Stage of IEM Katowice to put the organization outside of the top-16 stage of a Major for the first time in history. To make matters worse, results didn't improve at the WESG World Finals, where fnatic lost maps to Windigo and Movistar Riders in the groups and got eliminated in the semi-finals by AGO.
A surprising spike came between April and May, at StarSeries i-League Season 7 and at IEM Sydney, where JW's men made it to back-to-back grand finals. The impressive feat turned out to be only a temporary boost in form, however, as fnatic went into the player break dejected after three consecutive group stage exits from DreamHack Masters Dallas, ESL Pro League S9 Finals, and ESL One Cologne, followed by the biggest blow of all — a failure to qualify for the StarLadder Major with a fourth place at the Europe Minor.
The terrible results caused fnatic to rethink the roster. Although the original plan was to bring in at least one young player as Xizt and twist were removed from the starting lineup, they ended up siding with former teammates in flusha, who returned to the scene after a six-month break, and Golden. The fact that the Swedes recycled previous members once again was met with much criticism, but the new lineup was an instant success. Their first showing together at the home DreamHack Masters Malmö tournament turned to gold and they looked to be back in great shape, winning situations against all odds in true fnatic fashion, and this time that form never went away as the Swedish giants reached two more title deciders at StarSeries i-League Season 8 and ESL Pro League S10 Finals, as well as the semi-finals at the ECS S8 Finals.
Despite only coming together in mid-March, MOUZ finish 2019 just short of a top-five placing through consistent top-half showings throughout the year and more importantly on the back of their meteoric rise in the last month, when they picked up an ESL Pro League S10 title and two more smaller trophies — one without Özgür "woxic" Eker — and played in another big-event grand final.
With just Chris "chrisJ" de Jong and Robin "ropz" Kool remaining from the original lineup that disbanded at the beginning of the year, MOUZ' journey started after the IEM Katowice Major, when karrigan, woxic, and David "frozen" Čerňanský joined the duo to create a new roster under the German organization. Their first months were promising, with qualification for the first Pro League Finals of the year, a playoffs finish at IEM Sydney, and the first small triumph at DreamHack Open Tours putting them within the top-15 in May.
The European squad stayed within touching distance from the top-10 for the next few months, finally reaching the 10th place in July with a top-four finish in Montpellier and top-eight at ESL One Cologne, followed by a Europe Minor victory just before the player break. Returning for the StarLadder Major, MOUZ suffered their first bottom-half exit, racing through the opening stage undefeated before falling short 2-3 in the second stage following a double-overtime battle to Liquid at the end. The team peaked in seventh place in the ranking with another playoffs finish at DreamHack Masters Malmö, where they took down Evil Geniuses for the first time, but went on to slip out of the top 10 due to their second early elimination of the year at StarSeries i-League Season 8 in October.
Just when it looked like the team had plateaued outside of title contention, karrigan's men went on a spree in the last month of play. Faced with some measly odds at the brink of elimination against TYLOO and Astralis, mouz won the CS:GO Asia Championships and the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, and added a third consecutive title at cs_summit 5, with Niels Christian "NaToSaphiX" Sillassen filling in for woxic and coach Allan "Rejin" Petersen playing in karrigan's place on the last two maps of the grand final. In the meantime, they started a one-sided rivalry against EG, beating them in four series, including two at EPICENTER, where the European side were denied a fourth successive trophy with a loss to Vitality in the final.
ENCE make it to seventh place with an outstanding resumé of the original lineup featuring Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen, which won BLAST Pro Series Madrid, made it to a Major grand final, and appeared in two more big-event title deciders before the current version dropped off in the late stages of 2019 after changing the in-game leader for Miikka "suNny" Kemppi.
After having worked their way up to international recognition throughout 2018, the Finns started 2019 as a borderline top-10 team that was yet to show their best. We would soon see what that looked like after ENCE won the Europe Minor in January to qualify for IEM Katowice, setting up the Cinderella-like story for the Polish Major, where Aleksib & co. came back from a 0-2 start to the New Legends stage to go all the way to the grand final, beating teams like Liquid and Natus Vincere along the way before ultimately falling to the biggest challenge, Astralis.
ENCE shot up to the top five following the surprising achievement and managed to hold on to their place there for the rest of the original lineup's existence. Missing out on another grand final appearance by a hair as they tied Liquid in a deciding match, the Finns went on to place third in São Paulo, but they immediately made up for it with their first big-event triumph at their next BLAST stop in Madrid in May, taking down Astralis in a rematch from the Major. Over the next two months, Aleksi "allu" Jalli & co. didn't bring home any more international titles due to Vitality and Liquid standing in their path but remained an elite force, placing second at DreamHack Masters Dallas and IEM Chicago, with only a measly ESL One Cologne showing tainting their resumé.
When they returned from the off-season, it was announced that suNny would replace Aleksib after the StarLadder Major, with allu set to take over the reins, and the original lineup closed a fantastic chapter with a top-eight placing in Berlin. It soon became clear that the new roster was a far cry from the previous, as the new ENCE suffered a hard fall, struggling for deep runs with consecutive group stage exits in Moscow, New York, and Malmö shortly after the Major. Even with a month at home, the Finnish side couldn't improve their results, ending their first four events together without a single series victory against top-20 opponents. Only in late November did allu's team manage to get some consolation in the form of a runner-up finish at CS:GO Asia Championships, but still ended the year with a rather disappointing semi-final exit at Champions Cup Finals, where they were the second-highest ranked team.
8. Natus Vincere
Na`Vi's three-man core, Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, Denis "electroNic" Sharipov, and Egor "flamie" Vasilyev, place eighth following ups and downs throughout 2019, highlighted by some good moments such as their sole win at StarSeries i-League Season 7 early in the year with Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev and Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko, and deep runs at some of the most competitive events, like the first Major, ESL One Cologne, and DreamHack Masters Malmö across the three versions of the team.
While Natus Vincere were still fielding the lineup that had been standing since late 2017, an underwhelming second place at a rather poorly-contested GG.BET ICE Challenge served only as warmup for the first Major of the year, where the then Ukrainian team placed in the top four and became one of the victims of ENCE's astounding run. Things kept going well as Na`Vi followed the Major with their first and only title of 2019 at StarSeries i-League Season 7 in China, but soon they were left with a sour taste in their mouths when they hit a rut from April to May, placing in the bottom half at the BLAST stops in Miami and Madrid, and failing to qualify for the first ESL Pro League Finals of the year.
That marked the end of Edward's second spell with Na`Vi. The team welcomed Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov just as they had a chance to get good practice with him for over a month leading up to ESL One Cologne in early July, and the decision seemed to pay off as they put up another top-four finish before going into the off-season, only losing to Liquid in two close series. In late August, the new lineup returned to Germany for the StarLadder Major and kept their Legends status as they reached the playoffs, and three days later Zeus revealed his plans to retire after the following event, BLAST Pro Series Moscow.
It wasn't quite the career finale one would dream of as Na`Vi bombed out in last place in Russia, and with just two weeks to go before their next stop in Malmö, the organization announced the return of Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács. In Sweden, the new lineup once again impressed early on with a convincing run to the semi-finals, where they got eliminated by the then new Vitality, but in two more weeks they exited StarSeries i-League Season 8 in last place again, conceding series to two fresher rosters, G2 and Heroic. It was hard to tell where this new version belonged and it wouldn't become much clearer in the last two months, either, as Natus Vincere yo-yoed from a shaky BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen group stage to a respectable 3rd-4th place at ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, featuring a win over Evil Geniuses, to another early exit at EPICENTER.
A turbulent 2019 sees FaZe's Håvard "rain" Nygaard, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, and Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer take ninth place. The team once dubbed "super" struggled for consistency both in terms of the lineup and in results across all three of their versions but at times hit some considerable highs, coming away with three titles from the ELEAGUE Invitational and BLAST Pro Series stops in Miami and Copenhagen.
Having just benched karrigan in late 2018, the team was looking for a replacement as the calendar turned and temporarily opted for Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev. After a quick adjustment period at iBUYPOWER Masters, the smallest title of the three followed in Atlanta, and FaZe went on to keep Legends status at IEM Katowice, falling short to Na`Vi in the quarter-finals. Although originally meant to stay only until the Polish event, the former Gambit player kept his place on the team for two more months, during which the European mixture lacked stability but still managed to claim one more title after coming back from an ominous first day at BLAST Pro Series Miami.
After an issue-riddled showing at IEM Sydney, where FaZe played with Janko "YNk" Paunović instead of NiKo and also briefly with Karlo "USTILO" Pivac, AdreN's time with the team came to an end as they found in Filip "NEO" Kubski a new player to take over in-game leadership duties from the Bosnian. The Pole only lasted four months, however, as the team's turbulent nature remained, although this time it yielded no titles, with a grand final appearance at BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles being followed by a speedy elimination from the StarLadder Major, costing the team their Legends status.
The core came to the decision that just one change wouldn't cut it and GuardiaN was shown the exit door alongside NEO, as FaZe looked to make space for Marcelo "coldzera" David and Helvijs "broky" Saukants. With the new duo, the team showcased a solid peak at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen with another title-winning run but still fluctuated, ending 2019 with low placings at ESL Pro League S10 Finals and at the BLAST Pro Series Global Final.
10. Renegades / 100 Thieves
The former Renegades and current 100 Thieves' lineup closes out the top 10 following a promising first few months and a great recovery from a poor middle-of-the-year period, which helped them make it to the list over Ninjas in Pyjamas by the skin of their teeth thanks to a deep run at the StarLadder Major and a grand final showing at IEM Beijing.
The Australians came through the Asia Minor for the umpteenth time to reach the IEM Katowice Major. After never making it past the top-24 stage, this time the team not only managed to secure a place in the second stage with a flawless record but also clinched Legends status for the first time as one of the few teams to beat ENCE — twice — before a loss to MIBR in the quarter-finals sent them home. A semi-final finish at StarSeries in Shanghai followed as the Aussie side fell short to the eventual champions, Natus Vincere, but that's where their luck ran out.
Visa issues prevented Sean "Gratisfaction" Kaiwai from entering the United States for the following couple of months and Renegades were left in an awkward position, where they couldn't consistently play with their full lineup. A horrible period ensued, as Aaron "AZR" Ward & co. were eliminated in the group stage of three consecutive events, and things didn't improve even after they finally had some time with the AWPer, ending the first portion of the season with three last-place exits in a row.
Aleksandar "kassad" Trifunović's charges finally managed to recover after the player break, even improving on their results from the first Major of 2019 with a run to the semi-finals in spite of a 0-2 start to the New Legends Stage in Berlin. With a top-four finish at the next event, StarSeries i-League Season 8, the Australians were indeed back in solid form, which they further reinforced after transferring to 100 Thieves with their first big-event grand final appearance at IEM Beijing. The ESL Pro League S10 Finals marked the end of the season for the Australians, who managed just a top-eight finish following defeats to Evil Geniuses and fnatic, showing that they still have some way to go to be considered an elite side.
That concludes our detailed breakdown of 2019's top 10 teams, which in many cases was a close race, with Ninjas in Pyjamas even falling just short of a place on the list despite building a good case for themselves over the course of the year. To illustrate just how close some of the placings were and how the teams below the top 10 did, we have made a graphic showing the full top-20 standings: