A string of powerful performances from the German lineup catapulted BIG to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s number one world ranking for the first time in the team’s history. The squad, comprised of Johannes “tabsen” Wodarz, Tizian “tiziaN” Feldbusch, Florian “syrsoN” Rische, Ismailcan “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş, and Nils “k1to” Gruhne, has jumped a staggering 46 spots in the world rankings since January, surpassing such powerhouse teams as Natus Vincere, Team Liquid, and Astralis in its rise to the top.
BIG has quietly put together a balanced roster that looks like it could compete with just about any team in CSGO, and they’ve done it all without raising the alarms of opposing sides and their fans. Over the past three months, BIG has put together some eye-popping statistics, especially if fans take a look at its map record. BIG is currently winning 80% of its games played on Dust 2, with its lowest win rate still coming in at 50% on Inferno. Inferno is an outlier in what has become an incredibly dangerous online team since the start of summer.
It’s a stunning shift in CSGO’s competitive landscape. While teams like Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s Na`Vi reigned supreme at the beginning of 2020, the majority of top teams have struggled during CSGO’s transition back into an online format. BIG has clearly benefited from the switch in format. With LAN tournaments out of the question for now, rosters that had previously struggled on LAN have started to thrive.
It’s not just BIG, either. Evil Geniuses have also seen success recently, moving from the 12th spot in the rankings in June to a top-five ranking after their dominant win at CS Summit 6 North America. EG’s Tarik “tarik” Celek has said publically that the team would love to continue to play online, even though EG had previously found some success at live events as well. Along with the team’s comfort level in playing from home, EG’s addition of Wilton “zews” Prado to its coaching role has certainly helped in enabling EG’s players to pull off solid strategic plays and executes that it had at times lacked before.
There’s something to be said for playing in the comfort of a player’s own home or training facility, and BIG and EG are two of the teams that have made the most out of it. But some of the world’s top teams haven’t been able to replicate that success.
Some names that fans have associated with the top of professional CSGO haven’t lived up to their reputations during CSGO’s move back to online play.
Astralis has dealt with more than just poor play this summer. With two stand-ins, the Danish team that practically lived in CSGO’s number one spot has fallen to 10th since the end of May. Internal conflicts, as well as a potentially larger conflict of interest between Astralis and spinoff tournament organizer BLAST Entertainment, have tainted what was the most dominant team in Counter-Strike history mere months ago.
Fans still don’t know when in-game leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander or rifler Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth will return to active duty, and with little public communication from Astralis after several reports of internal turmoil, things don’t seem to be getting any better at the premier Danish side.
Natus Vincere fell three spots from number one to number four after a string of disappointing performances that followed the CIS powerhouse’s solid and consistent play at IEM Katowice 2020. Na`Vi looks a long way off from the team that demolished everyone in their path in Poland, and it doesn’t seem as though it will get markedly better any time soon.
With the exception of s1mple, underperformances from the entire roster have dragged Na`Vi into a hole they’ll have trouble getting out of if the online season continues much longer. While they’re currently sitting at the top of the CIS Regional Major Ranking leaderboards for ESL One Rio, one or two more early exits mean Na`Vi might be dead on arrival.
In North America, Team Liquid has also failed to live up to expectations. After its Intel Grand Slam win in 2019, Liquid has struggled to maintain its peak performance. When TL is at the top of its game, the side can easily crush less skilled teams and is without question a top-five team in the world. But this summer has shown that Liquid’s mental fortitude has suffered without the energy of a live audience. With emotional players like Jake “Stewie2k” Yip at the helm, Liquid’s fate is now tied directly to its momentum. And right now, that momentum is carrying it in the wrong direction.
Teams have officially started CSGO’s yearly player break, meaning that July will be a slow time for professional Counter-Strike. That said, there are still tournaments going on in smaller regions, giving fans the opportunity to watch some lesser-known teams duke it out.
If BIG can pull off a journey to the very top, there’s no reason not to think that the next top-ten CSGO team could emerge from the shadows of the game’s biggest names.