Not every top CS:GO team goes all the way. Here are some of the best examples of who had all the resources and talent in the world, but were ultimately held back from establishing their own era in the Counter-Strike history books.
Under the leadership of Finn “karrigan“ Andersen, the EU org would rise to second in the HLTV world rankings in 2019, winning several high profile and lucrative S-Tier events along the way while unearthing some of the world’s most exciting players.
Under karrigan, the side boasted a unique blend of experience from the org’s IGL and near eight-year veteran Chris “chrisJ” de Jong, as well as the immensely talented prodigy players Robin “ropz” Kool, David “frozen” Čerňanský and star AWPer Özgür ‘woxic’ Eker to provide the talismanic firepower all the finest sides require.
In many ways, mousesports marks the pinnacle point in karrigan’s acclaimed career within CS:GO as an IGL. Bringing together and nurturing a side that he inherited down at 51st in the world rankings, karrigan’s analytical and self-sacrificing style of leadership on technical maps such as Train proved to be the vital factor in bringing the best out of his talented roster, and the side would sweep to the CS:GO Asia Championships 2019, cs_summit 5 and ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals triumphs throughout the second half of 2019.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and introduction of CS:GO’s online era hit most international rosters within the game harder than most, but for a side such as mousesports, who were arguably just hitting their peak and eager to cram in as many matches and events as possible, really saw their momentum brought to a crashing halt. They finished as runners-up at ESL Pro League Season 11 EU in April 2020, but the lack of the roaring crowds to feed off and chemistry generated from being so close to each other in a LAN environment soon saw them drop out of the top placements, eventually leading to the departures of woxic first and then ChrisJ following a murky run of form.
It was beginning to feel that mousesports under karrigan had run its course and, after a drawn-out transfer saga and a period where the Danish IGL looked less and less motivated in the team, he would opt for a return to FaZe Clan after the expiration of his contract.
FaZe Clan (2018)
FaZe Clan have always been an org known for cultivating together some of the most star-studded international names from across the globe, however the lineup the team amassed in 2018 was undoubtedly the most glittering of these. Led by karrigan once again as IGL, the side boasted the talents of star AWPer Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács, rising star Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, veteran rifler Håvard “rain” Nygaard and three-time Major winner Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson, the team came together in late August 2017, and by the close of October that year they had climbed to the summit of the HLTV world ranking with wins at ESL One New York and ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017.
The side was also one of the few teams capable of securing consistent wins over the dominant force of Astralis at the time, with karrigan’s inside knowledge of his former team on show with each encounter.
The side were all set to become the next great powerhouse in CS:GO’s history, with the upcoming ELEAGUE Boston Major in January 2018 representing the final hurdle left to clear. The side entered at the New Challengers Stage, where they went 3-1, before going 3-0 against Fnatic, Vega Squadron and SK Gaming in the New Legends Stage. Wins against mousesports and Na’Vi set up a grand final against Cloud9, and all expectations for the match pointed to a FaZe Clan win.
However, what followed was one of the nerve-shredding and memorable finals in CS history, with FaZe literally one round away from the win on Inferno, but ultimately being denied in overtime. What should have been the crowning moment of the FaZe Clan era turned out to be the point in which all of their progress came to a crushing end. Whilst the side would maintain their number one spot for a time, 2018 was marred by a gradual decline in the side’s prestige, culminating in karrigan’s eventual removal from the org at the end of the year.
To say that expectations were high amongst CS fans when the first Made in Brazil (MIBR) lineup was revealed in June 2018 would be a serious understatement. Not only did the org boast the talents of back-to-back Major winning MVP Marcelo “coldzera” David and Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, one of the most acclaimed IGLs in the history of CS:GO, but they inherited a core from SK Gaming that had ended 2017 as the number one ranked side.
As if that wasn’t enough star quality, the org then decided to acquire 2018 Boston Major winners Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip and tournament MVP Tarik “tarik” Celik, as well as the highly respected analyst Janko “YNk” Paunović as a coach.
Throughout MIBR’s 2018 NA experiment from July to December, the org would never drop below eighth in the world rankings and were in fact riding their most successful period in their entire history for any core as they remained rooted in fourth for eight straight weeks before Stewie2k’s departure, showcasing that there might have been a fair bit of life left in the experiment after all.
Had it not been for the greatest side in all of CS:GO history, MIBR would have almost certainly romped to more S-Tier titles during 2018; however, given the three years or so or consistent decline the org has endured since ditching the NA experiment, even fourth in the world rankings looks to be a serious achievement in retrospect.
As an org, Fnatic have had some era-defining highs and some gut-wrenching lows over the years, none more so than where their troubles find them in the current meta. But whilst the past year has been a shocker for the Swedes and their fans to digest, the real tragedy is the fact that they were well on their way to establishing a new era after bringing the band back together.
The current core led by Maikil “Golden” Kunda Selim had only been pulled out of the dirt a month or so before winning DreamHack Masters Malmö in October 2019, before embarking on a run of five top-four finishes in their next events together, including a runners-up position at ESL Pro League Season 10. They didn’t drop below sixth place in the world rankings from October 2019 to August 2020, boasted both Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson and Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin in the HLTV top 20 players two years in a row, and finally reached the number one spot after their ESL Pro League Season 11 triumph at the start of the online era.
Fnatic are a side that relies on the roar of the crowd and chemistry that comes from the LAN environment to unleash their daring, often jaw-dropping, styles of play which has impacted them in the year or so since their last triumph. But whilst they might find themselves outside of the top thirty for the first time since September 2019 now, the true tragedy for the org again remains the fact that, had the ESL One: Rio Major gone ahead in the spring of 2020 as planned, Fnatic almost certainly would have been amongst the favorites for a deep run at the event.