Team Ranking: December 2020
We have updated our Global team ranking for December 2020.
The last month of a year is historically packed with high-tier competition, and December 2020 followed the trend with two tournaments featuring elite teams from Europe and North America: BLAST Premier Fall 2020 Finals and IEM Global Challenge. Finishing second in the first and winning the other earned Astralis the No.1 place in the rankings before the Winter break, while Liquid climbed to the top10 with a high placing in the final event of the year.
Smaller tournaments such as DreamHack Open Winter, European Development Championship, and MIDNITE Nine to Five 7 impacted teams in the lower half of the top 30, with FORZE climbing back to No. 27 and SAW reaching a new high at No.24.
From the top 30 teams that stayed in North America in December, not a single one played a match since the previous monthly update. Evil Geniuses (#17) continue to slip down the rankings due to inactivity and are just a few spots ahead of ex-Chaos (#20), whose future remains unclear, especially after Anthony "vanity" Malaspina decided to move to VALORANT.
In Europe, Sprout are clinging on to a spot in the top 30 following the departures of the Polish duo Paweł "dycha" Dycha and Michał "snatchie" Rudzki, while North are out of the list after their roster overhaul and a year of disappointing results.
Here's a summary of our ranking for new readers:
Our team ranking is based on teams' achievements over the past year (with severe decay in points throughout each month), recent form over the last two months, and performance in recent events in the last 3 months.
Each team is required to have a three-man core in order to retain their points. Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, online results, which previously had a minimal effect, now carry more weight as they are also included in the 'Achievements' and 'Recent Events' sub-categories.
Below is the current top 30 table as of January 4, which goes more in-depth into how the points are distributed — or you can check our special page, where you will be able to find the latest, weekly version of our ranking. You can see the lineup for each team by hovering over their name in the table.
Please note that the +/- gain on this table differs from our weekly rankings page, and it is related to the ranking update of December 7.
Astralis overthrow Vitality to claim No.1 spot
The Danish powerhouse did it again, finishing the year on top of the world for the third consecutive time. With Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth returning to the fold, Astralis won the last event of November, DreamHack Masters Winter, and entered December in strong form.
After a long lower-bracket run, they placed second in the BLAST Premier Fall 2020 Finals, losing the grand final to Vitality, but an impressive tournament win in IEM Global Challenge was enough for the Danes to pull ahead just before the finish line.
An overall solid year for Vitality, especially the second half of it (visualized in our Top 10 teams of the year video), was in the end spoiled by a group stage exit in IEM Global Challenge, in which they were defeated by BIG and Astralis.
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire's team are currently 100 points behind Astralis in the rankings, as the Danes have maxed out in all three sub-categories, but the fight for the first spot will be on shortly. The BLAST Global Finals, starting January 19, will feature the top two teams, as well as world No.3 Natus Vincere, with the potential for a new king to be crowned.
Liquid return to top 10
Two months later, Liquid are back in the top 10 following a second-place finish in IEM Global Challenge. The North Americans were eliminated early in DreamHack Masters Winter Europe, but finished the tournament season on a high note, beating Heroic, FURIA and BIG before losing to Astralis in the grand final.
The IEM Global Challenge turned out to be Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken’s last tournament with Liquid. The Canadian rifler, who struggled to reach the same heights of 2019, when he was named the ninth-best player in the world, announced that he was leaving Liquid after the loss to Astralis, with a report by Rush B Media crediting the North Americans with an interest in Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo.
Should the move be confirmed, we can expect a totally different tactical approach from Liquid in the BLAST Premier Global Finals in two weeks.
sAw reach new peak at No.24
The Portuguese team's slow and steady rise was noticeable for most of 2020, and they managed to hit a new milestone right at the turn of the year. The former Giants trio of Omar "arki" Chakkor, Ricardo "roman" Oliveira, and Christopher "MUTiRiS" Fernandes linked up with Tiago "JUST" Moura and Renato "stadodo" Gonçalves in January and fluctuated around the top100 until May, when things started picking up.
Aside from a ranking dip during the player break, the team made steady progress and collected a few big scalps along the way, ending the year inside the top 30 on the back of a second-placed finish in DreamHack Open December, for which they had to earn a spot through the Iberian qualifier.
MUTiRiS' squad defeated Movistar Riders, Nemiga, and FORZE on their way to the grand final, in which they lost a competitive best-of-five to a red-hot Virtus.pro. While retaining their spot will be hard when Counter-Strike gets back into full swing in January, their current ranking should ensure more invites and make that task somewhat feasible.
North drop out of the top 30
North overhauled their lineup in late November after disappointing results throughout the year, taking the next step in their talent development strategy as they benched two veterans — Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen and Philip "aizy" Aistrup — and brought in new blood, with Kristoffer "Kristou" Aamand being recalled from his loan to AGF, and Rasmus "kreaz" Johansson joining the team on trial. North had notably missed out on Danish talent in the past, but according to their head of esports operations, Graham "messioso" Pitt, that will no longer be the case.
With Kristou and kreaz onboard and Nicklas "gade" Gade as the new in-game leader, the Danish team attended only one tournament in December — DreamHack Masters Winter Europe. They lost to FURIA in the opening round, knocked Nemiga out of the tournament and were eliminated by GODSENT in a close series. It’s too soon to determine whether this lineup will be successful or not, but it will need to pick up results quickly to bring North back to the top 30.
Leonardo Biazzi contributed to this story.
(Disclaimer: HLTV.org and the Astralis Group)