The final guard: Five legacy Major players left standing
We delve into some of the history and most iconic moments from the five players that have been at every Major.
Seven years of CS:GO Majors. Fifteen events in history where players have fought fervently to crown themselves as champions of the biggest tournament in the circuit, to reach glory and eternally etch their names in the history books of Counter-Strike.
And only six players are left with the honor of having played at every single one.
Heading into PGL Major Stockholm, now-retired and former NAVI in-game leader Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko is about to fall off that already short list of legacy players, leaving us with just five names who will continue to carry the mantle. As we prepare for the start of the first Major in over two years, we took a look back at some of the most memorable moments in history from the quintet of players and briefly recollected their journey so far.
shox - in search of a second crown
Among the five players on this list, Richard "shox" Papillon is the sole member to have just one Major title to his name.
Despite VeryGames entering the first Major, DreamHack Winter 2013, as the team to beat having come out on top over the other best team in the world Ninjas in Pyjamas in their previous four meetings, shox's side fell to their Swedish rivals in the semi-finals — with fnatic going on to claim victory in the grand final on home soil.
EMS One Katowice 2014 ended in heartbreak for shox as Titan were eliminated in the group stage of the tournament, missing out on the chance to play in front of the first arena audience for a Major. ESL One Cologne later in the same year marked shox's return to playoffs, but a Major title continued to elude him, until the formation of a new LDLC lineup in September 2014.
With that roster, it was at DreamHack Winter 2014 in Jönköping where shox finally claimed his crown. After a controversial start to the playoffs, which saw fnatic forfeit against LDLC in the quarter-finals after a rematch was ordered following the use of the 'Olofboost,' shox would go on to beat NAVI before battling past NIP in a three-map series.
Since those glory days though, appearances at the Major have been marred by early exits for shox's teams, with the player managing just two playoff appearances in the last 11 events — one at ESL One Katowice 2015 and one at ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018. Those early group stage exits have forced shox to requalify via the Challengers Stage (previously the Main Qualifier) on nine occasions, each time putting him at arms distance from fighting for another Major title but also in danger of ending his streak of appearances.
With the coronavirus pandemic putting a halt to Valve-sponsored events, the 29-year-old has yet to even play on Counter-Strike's biggest stage alongside Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, missing out on a period where the Frenchmen was considered the best player in the world. With Vitality's results looking up though, PGL Major Stockholm represents shox's best opportunity in well over four years to finally claim his second title, although the current form of Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev begs to differ. At the very least, with a Legends Stage start, shox has guaranteed that his streak of Major appearances will continue for another six months — the same of which can't be said for a particular pair of Danes.
device, dupreeh, & Xyp9x - fifth time's the charm, but on separate sides
The future of the Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth pairing may be up in the air as Astralis have yet to finalize a complete roster heading into 2022, with only the latter player confirmed to be remaining on board out of the long-standing duo. However, one would be remise to count out Astralis from the Major at any point, especially given their track record.
Together with Nicolai "device" Reedtz, dupreeh and Xyp9x have made the playoffs of all but one Major — ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018. Their run began at DreamHack Winter 2013, when the team played under CPH Wolves with Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen, and continued into their evolution heading into Dignitas and later TSM with Finn "karrigan" Andersen.
Despite seemingly always finding success, there remained one constant for the team at the time. The task of making it to the grand finals of a Major seemed all but impossible. Despite their consistent playoff appearances at Majors, the roster struggled to surpass their initial matches in the bracket stage, crumbling just shy of the grand finals. And thus, the perception of TSM's semi-final curse was born.
After moving to Astralis, the team continued to stumble at the final hurdle, and so it was roster changes that came their way. In what has become a well-told story given the era that would go on to be established, the addition of Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander would break the curse for the core of dupreeh, device, and Xyp9x, with 18-year-old Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye powering the team to their first Major title at ELEAGUE Atlanta 2017.
A subsequent 3rd-4th finish at PGL Major Krakow gave way to the core's first time exiting a tournament outside of the top eight when they were sent packing from ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018 in 12-14th. The lacklustre showing was followed by the sudden and surprising exit of Kjaerbye from the team's roster, but his replacement, Emil "Magisk" Reif, was who really turned the tides for the team. Starting from the Challengers Stage of the FACEIT Major, Astralis would go on to take the title in dominant fashion, and added to their run with wins at IEM Katowice 2019 and StarLadder Major Berlin.
Now, the illustrious trio are separated, entering their first Major apart. While device is at the very least assured of continuing his streak of consecutive Major appearances given Ninjas in Pyjamas's status as Legends, both dupreeh and Xyp9x will need to fight through the qualification stage for the second time in their history to guarantee their streak — and with gla1ve back at the helm and Magisk hungry to prove device wrong for his departure, a match-up between the two teams is a tantalizing prospect.
olofmeister - legends never die
With a name that used to strike fear into the hearts of his opponents, Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer remains a legend to this day, having only missed the playoffs of a Major on a single occasion at StarLadder Berlin. Despite making way for the new guard of players and shifting roles, the 29-year-old Swede has left a lasting legacy in Majors, famous for some of it's most iconic moments in early history.
Playing with Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson from the onset, olofmeister made appearances in the playoffs of DreamHack Winter 2013 and EMS One Katowice 2014 as a part of LGB, even beating fnatic in a domestic match-up at the latter event.
It was a move to that very organization mere months later that would mark the formation of the historic fnatic lineup, and not long until olofmeister would gain the infamous label of "boostmeister" following the controversy of DreamHack Winter 2014, his second Major with fnatic. A second nickname was soon to follow — "Tec-9meister".
With dominant performances at ESL One Cologne 2015 and ESL One Katowice 2015, olofmeister powered fnatic to two Major titles, becoming the first team in CS:GO to win them back-to-back. It was such a strong year for the Swede that he would go on to be crowned the best player of 2015, but it wasn't to last.
After falling to Envy in the playoffs of DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, the Major that the Frenchmen would go on to win, Counter-Strike entered an extremely competitive era, and that very same fnatic roster that dominated struggled to replicate their performances of old as teams developed strategically.
Still though, olofmeister remained a consistent presence at Majors, continuing to make playoff appearances without fail. The move to FaZe prompted olofmeister's return to the podium as the team ended as the runner-up to Cloud9 at ELEAGUE Major Boston, but ever since, Major results have been trending downhill for the Swedish giant.
5-8th finishes at FACEIT London and IEM Katowice 2019 gave way to a group stage exit at StarLadder Berlin, the first time olofmeister ever failed to make the playoffs of a Major. Much like dupreeh and Xyp9x, the 29-year-old could also face the prospect of having his streak of consecutive Major appearances ended should FaZe fail to advance from the New Challengers stage of PGL Stockholm, but one thing is for certain: after this long, olofmeister isn't going down without a fight.