2020 has been a strange year for everything, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is no different.
CSGO esports’ annual calendar was emptied last week with the end of the IEM XV Global Challenge. With that, the top-earning teams of 2020 were officially determined. The results are not what most fans might expect.
Fans might raise an eyebrow over seeing MAD Lions and Virtus.pro sitting in the top two spots over more accomplished teams such as Astralis and Natus Vincere. The same goes for Complexity, which has been on a downward trend since the end of the player break in the summer. All three of these surprise teams have seen the majority of their earnings come from one big tournament win, rather than consistently strong performances.
MAD Lions and Virtus.pro can both credit the vast majority of their earnings to their respective victories in FLASHPOINT. The newly formed league hosted two seasons in 2020, with both boasting a $1 million prize pool and $500,000 first-place prizes. On those events alone, MAD Lions and Virtus.pro would have made it into the top 10, but both competed in various events before and after.
Complexity’s numbers aren’t skewed quite as much by a single tournament victory, but more than half the team’s winnings came from the BLAST Premier Spring 2020 European Finals.
Astralis, Natus Vincere, and Vitality are where things start to become less about winning one big event and more about being consistently great. All three have a single big tournament victory worth $200,000 or more. Next to that are strong placements in a variety of other big-name tournaments that combine for a number that compares favorably to those of MAD Lions and Virtus.pro.
From there, teams reached the top 10 through a variety of means. FURIA was the top team in North America for much of the year. MIBR and OG were inconsistent across 2020, but had their totals buoyed by second-place finishes in FLASHPOINT Season 2. BIG didn’t have success in the largest CSGO events, but performed reasonably well and reached the top in a number of mid-sized tournaments.
MAD Lions is headquartered in Madrid, Spain, but its CSGO team is made up entirely of Danish players. The organization also has a League of Legends team with players from across Europe, as well as a franchise in the Overwatch League based in Toronto, Canada.
Virtus.pro’s CSGO team was long exclusively made up of Polish players. That changed in 2019 when the organization dropped its Polish roster after acquiring the Kazakhstani-majority roster of AVANGAR.