September Team Ranking: Copenhagen Flames break into top 20, Vitality rise to third
Our Global Team Ranking has been updated for September, with ESL Pro League and IEM Fall having the most impact.
A few important events have taken place since we last brought you a monthly ranking update, most notably the playoffs of ESL Pro League Season 14 and IEM Fall. With the latter yet to finish there is still ground to be gained and lost, but more than enough has happened this month to see some major shifts in the top 30.
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 Monday, October 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 September 7.
Copenhagen Flames shock and awe at IEM Fall
A fantastic month of Counter-Strike from yet another impressive Danish lineup secured this month's record leap in the rankings for Copenhagen Flames. Ever since the squad came together in May of this year it has been a steady ascent, without much exposure to tier one. That all changed at the end of September.
They kicked off the month with a loss to Virtus.pro at Pinnacle Fall, an understandable result for a team with precious little experience against tier-one opposition. The Danes did not let the experience quell them, and what followed was nine series wins out of 10, securing top-four at Funspark ULTI Regionals and a 3-0 record in the Elisa Invitation Fall. In the midst of this intense schedule they secured an all important spot at IEM Fall by besting Fiend in a tight series. This would prove to be a vital victory.
Coming into IEM Fall at the end of the month, Copenhagen Flames were clearly in good form, but were not considered a favourite to get out of a group containing the likes of world #4 G2 and top-20 stalwarts MOUZ and BIG. Surely a relatively new team, made up of leftovers from the previous MAD Lions roster plus some young Danish talent, could do very little damage amongst such a strong field.
All expectations were blown out of the water, with Copenhagen Flames tearing through their group with five straight wins, including limiting MOUZ and BIG to single digits in convincing victories. Off the back of some stellar performances from Jakob "jabbi" Nygaard and Nico "nicoodoz" Tamjidi, both of whom are currently amongst the top 10 rated players at the event, the Danes wildly surpassed all expectations, and only got better as the group stage went on.
With a coveted spot at the Major on the line when playoffs for IEM Fall EU kick off October 7, all eyes will be on the underdogs to see if their run through the best-of-one groups was a fluke, or if we have yet another Danish team that will take up long term residence in the world top-20.
Vitality rise towards the top once again
The Frenchmen came into this month with a solid albeit unspectacular progression through the ESL Pro League group stages behind them, and a very winnable first round playoff draw against Complexity on the horizon. Would Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut continue the resurgent form he was beginning to show, and would the team continue to fine-tune the balance between the rest of the squad?
The boys in yellow set about answering both of those questions emphatically with an incredible run through the playoffs, getting better and better as they did so; a solid 2-1 victory over Complexity was followed by an even more impressive 2-0 against world #2 Gambit, and then they comfortably brushed aside OG, who had only dropped a single map thus far, 2-0 in their semi-final.
Their biggest test came in the final where they faced the best team and best player in the world, Natus Vincere and Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, in a best-of-five grand final. They took the CIS squad all the way, eventually succumbing 2-3 and settling for second place. The team looked in excellent shape, with ZywOo the second highest rated player at the event and the rest of the team contributing impact frags and clutches to supplement the AWPers carry performances.
Their BLAST Premier Fall Groups performance was a professional one, not quite hitting the peaks of some of their performances at ESL Pro League, in particular the grand final, but never looking in doubt of taking first place in the group. A win over Liquid and two over Astralis amounted to a pleasing performance especially considering Jayson "Kyojin" Nguyen Van, the newcomer who has at times struggled, found himself topping the scoreboards in the final series against the Danes.
In such form it is unsurprising that Vitality have seen the biggest jump in the top 10, and their comfortable qualification from their IEM Fall group even less surprising. Having secured their Major berth with this result, the French squad's eyes will be set firmly on the IEM Fall EU trophy and beyond on a strong finish at the Major itself. In their current form, it might be risky to bet against them.
ENCE transcend tier 2
ENCE spent much of the first half of the year toiling away in tier two, with their share of successes mixed in with some failures. Of particular concern was their consistent struggle to qualify for tier-one events.
ESL Pro League was one tier-one event they did qualify for, and they set about taking that opportunity with both hands. After a successful group stage campaign, they comfortably took down a dangerous looking forZe in the first round of playoffs, the whole team posting solid individual performances and AWPer Olek "hades" Miskiewicz in particular seeming to be in menacing form. A tough quarter-final draw against Natus Vincere saw their run end earlier than it might have otherwise, but it was a successful foray into tier one for the European squad.
Roll on IEM Fall, and a tough group draw greeted them; they were placed in a group with Vitality who had just placed top-two at EPL, and an OG squad who were on a red-hot run of form themselves. Throw in some strong tier-two opposition in the form of Dignitas and MAD Lions, and it seemed a tough ask for Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer and co.
ENCE rose to the occasion with aplomb, posting four wins in their group including a comfortable 16-8 victory over Vitality. Their only loss came at the hands of OG, and it took the them several overtimes to crack ENCE. In fact, when you examine ENCE's current form, they have only lost two series since the last edition of these rankings, and that was against world #1 Natus Vincere and world #10 OG.
ENCE have put themselves in a prime position to be able to qualify for the Major, a huge achievement for a team who had no RMR points at all coming into IEM Fall. Just like Copenhagen Flames, eyes will be glued to ENCE to see if they can continue to grow their stature, and turn themselves from underdog into a consistent top-10 team.
Movistar Riders debut in top 30
The Spaniards find themselves nestled inside the top 30 this month largely off the back of their gutsy performance at IEM Fall, coming back from 0-2 in the group. They did so by grinding out three close map wins, showing resiliency and determination to best Complexity, SINNERS and Endpoint to clinch tiebreakers.
They carried their momentum into the tiebreakers themselves, crushing both SINNERS and more impressively Heroic to clinch a playoff spot that looked almost impossible after their first two games. It has been a team effort for Movistar Riders, with three of their players sitting at a 1.12-1.15 rating, the fact that they are relying on their team structure making the story even more compelling.
The Spanish squad will now battle it out for a chance to attend the Major in Stockholm, and already have a solid chance after having secured a playoff berth. They may have their work cut out for them against Ninjas in Pyjamas especially considering Nicolai "device" Reedtz's current form, but with the heart and grit that Movistar Riders have shown, it would be foolish to write them off.
1WIN and Lyngby Vikings make big gains
Both of these teams secured impressive victories in tier-two events this month, earning themselves jumps in the rankings to break into the top 30.
1WIN did so courtesy of their victory at Malta Vibes Knockout Series, taking some impressive scalps in the form of Entropiq and SINNERS on their way to the trophy. They secured the trophy with victory over the latter in the grand final, with star player Denis "deko" Zhukov putting up a commanding 1.44 rating, miles ahead of his closest teammate.
As for Lyngby Vikings, first place at Funspark ULTI Regionals was more than enough to secure themselves a top 30 placing. They took this event home in spectacular fashion, winning five straight series 2-0 against mostly higher ranked opposition. They did so without a single player inside the top 10 highest rated players at the event, a testament to their teamwork and playbook.