20 years of HLTV.org
On the website's 20th anniversary, we take a look back at HLTV.org's evolution from a passion project to a cornerstone of Counter-Strike coverage.
HLTV.org was brought to life on April 11, 2002 by Per "Nomad" Lambæk and Martin "Martin" Rosenbæk, two students that were looking to solve a problem: finding a straightforward way for the growing Counter-Strike fanbase to watch matches between the best teams.
The primary goal was achieved within a year, but HLTV.org continued expanding. Features that have become synonymous with HLTV.org in recent years such as a demo library, player profiles, photo galleries, and statistics were added over time, as the website transitioned from two people's hobby into a global company covering Counter-Strike around the clock.
The 20th anniversary of HLTV.org is a great moment to look back on that development and how the website changed since 2002.
2002: IP address hub
Counter-Strike, the game that started as a mod for Valve's best-selling title Half-Life, was launched as a retail product in September of 2000. The interest in the game and its competitive side grew quickly, but in a time predating high-speed internet connections and video streaming websites such as YouTube and Twitch, the most reliable way to watch a match was by obtaining Half-Life TV IP addresses and using the game client itself.
But finding HLTVs and even knowing when a game was coming up was not easy. To solve that issue, Nomad and Martin started HLTV.org, a website that featured a list of ongoing and upcoming matches with IP addresses users can use to spectate matches. Over time, this feature developed into what are match pages today, which aside from IP addresses (later on links to livestreams) feature information about teams, players, and more.
Alongside that, since its inception, HLTV.org has posted general news about Counter-Strike.
2003: Demo section
In July of 2003, over a year after the website was launched, a demo library was added to HLTV.org to allow fans to rewatch games after they ended. Demos from an ESWC tournament that was won by Johan "vesslan" Ryman's Team9 were the first ones that were added to the section, and to this day over 70,000 demos have been uploaded.
Aside from finding HLTV IPs for top matches, at this time users could book HLTV servers for their own games in order to allow others to spectate them.
2006: Photo galleries
The website had undergone its second visual update by 2006, when the first public photo galleries date back to. It is apparent, though, that both the events and the pictures from 2006 bear little resemblance to those captured at the biggest CS:GO events of today.
The first tournament with a photo gallery was SHG Open 2, a competition in Copenhagen with 64 teams in attendance which was won by Danny "zonic" Sørensen's NoA over Patrik "cArn" Sättermon's fnatic. Fifteen years later, in the same city, Radosław "MAKKU" Makuch captured Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander walking out on the stage of the Royal Arena with thousands of Danish fans cheering him on.
SHG Open 2 featured on-site coverage from HLTV.org's squad that among others featured Marc "Nix0n" Winther Kristensen, an important member of the team that provided photos, videos, and interviews as we started attending more and more LAN events.
It took nearly seven years for HLTV.org to add a stats section, something that is hard to imagine the website without today. The Extreme Masters III Continental Finals (another tournament won by zonic, now in mTw) was the first one to feature stats integration, displaying data for players, teams, and matches.
The same year, HLTV.org launched a YouTube channel. Early videos featured reactions from LAN events and interviews, with in-game highlights and fragmovies becoming more popular over time. Today, HLTV.org's YouTube channel has over 330,000 subscribers and recorded 7 million views in the last year.
2010: Rating 1.0 and Top 20 players
As Counter-Strike 1.6 was reaching its final years, HLTV.org unveiled features that became staple for years to come. Rating 1.0 was introduced in April as a metric that would do a better job at assessing player performance than the K/D ratio, which was the go-to statistic at the time.
That was also the first year to feature an HLTV.org Top 20 players of the year ranking. The selection and the articles were put together by Petar "Tgwri1s" Milovanović, who remains the person in charge of the awards to this day. NAVI star Yegor "markeloff" Markelov was named the player of the year following a brilliant 2010, with Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and Martin "trace" Heldt following to compose the top 3.
The list was announced every year since — except in 2012 when the transition from CS 1.6 to CS:GO happened —, with the reveal of the best player of the year in January becoming a highlight moment in the community.
Find all of the Top 20 rankings here.
2012: CS:GO stats
The first-ever CS:GO match to be featured on HLTV.org happened in September of 2012, as Swedish superstars NIP demolished Danish mixture PRiME in ESL's Go4CS:GO Cup #6, with GeT_RiGhT dropping a 2.03 Rating. This marked the transition of HLTV.org towards Global Offensive, as the newest edition of the game slowly but surely took over in popularity and CS 1.6 faded into history.
2015: Stats filters and team ranking
At the start of 2015, filters for statistics were finally introduced, allowing users to break down performances in subsets. Specific years, at Majors, and last three months were the initially offered filters, with more of them such as Online/LAN, team ranking, and more added since.
While team rankings existed in multiple different versions across the years, it wasn't until 2015 that a consistent point-based ranking system was implemented on HLTV.org. The ranking, updated weekly based on teams' achievements, recent form, and performance at LANs, quickly became the go-to indicator of the best teams in the world. Markus "pronax" Wallsten's fnatic sat on top of the list for its first edition, on October 1, 2015.
Similarly to the team ranking, HLTV.org named Most Valuable Players across the years, but it wasn't until 2016 that a consistent approach was determined, with the standout players selected for all top events. That is also when HLTV.org started producing physical medals to give out to the MVPs, and retroactively awarded MVPs for events since the start of CS:GO.
Marcelo "coldzera" David claimed three MVPs in 2016, as well as the player of the year award for his outstanding performances with Luminosity and SK. Over 200 MVPs were awarded by HLTV.org in CS:GO, with Nicolai "device" Reedtz and Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev being the most decorated players with 19 prestigious medals each.
2017: Redesign and Rating 2.0
After 10 years, HLTV.org had its first visual overhaul. As was expected, many did not like the change at first, despite the layout remaining quite similar and useful additions such as a mobile-friendly interface, night mode, and a new context navigation menu that allowed for advanced filtering options. The initial reactions subsided soon, and the 2017 redesign remains the basis of the website's look to this day.
Not even a month after the design update, Rating 2.0 was presented to the public. The new formula includes a bigger array of statistics to determine if a player had a good or bad performance, including KAST, ADR, and an updated Impact rating calculation.
2018: HLTV Confirmed
HLTV.org's show started off in 2018 but had a different concept at the time. Confirmed was launched as a 30-minute pre-produced show combining interviews, analysis, and standout news, hosted by Lars "Yossarian" Esmarch. The show pivoted to a live concept with Milan "Striker" Švejda and Zvonimir "Professeur" Burazin for Season 2, added James "BanKs" Banks and Chad "SPUNJ" Burchill for Season 3, and featured guests regularly starting Season 4. The latest seasons featured live shows from big events, with more of them yet to come.
2020: Joining Better Collective
Eighteen years after the website was founded, HLTV.org was acquired by Better Collective, a sports betting media group, in a deal worth up to €34.5m. Key people behind the website's growth and success Per "Nomad" Lambæk, Martin "Martin" Rosenbæk, and Petar "Tgwri1s" Milovanović remained a part of HLTV.org after the sale, shaping the company till this day.
2022: Award show
At the start of 2022, HLTV.org hosted its first Award Show to celebrate the best CS:GO has to offer. The ceremony hosted by Freya "Freya" Spiers in a studio in Copenhagen and watched by nearly 200,000 viewers saw s1mple announced as the best player of 2021, his team Natus Vincere winning the team of the year award, and Casper "cadiaN" Møller picked up the trophy for the highlight of the year.
The work on HLTV.org continues, with interesting novelties coming down the line. Aside from solidifying what we are already known for, we are looking forward to launching a fresh YouTube series, unveiling a new Dust2 site for a passionate CS:GO region, and leveling up the 2022 Award Show to the next level.
There are quite a few things that we still didn't mention in the article, one of them being HLTV.org's integration in the game client, statistical innovations such as Flash Assists, or the contributions of Tomi "lurppis" Kovanen, Luís "MIRAA" Mira, and many hard-working members more who plied their trade on the website since 2002.
HLTV.org wouldn't exist without its users, so we will use this moment to give our thanks to everyone that supported the website over these 20 years and ask you: what are your favorite features, updates, or memories regarding HLTV.org? What would you like to see in the future? We'd love to hear from you in the comments, on the everlasting forum, or on social media with the hashtag #HLTV20.