The five most shocking roster moves in CSGO history

Josse Van Dessel • April 6, 11:06

These are the five most shocking roster moves that have happened in the history of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

CSGO’s pro scene is in a state of constant transformation. Teams are always looking to add the missing piece that could bring them greater success. This leads to many shocking roster moves that might not make sense at first glance. These are the five roster moves that left the fans wondering why they happened, and why the teams involved thought it was a good idea. 

NiKo departs from FaZe Clan

In the three years he spent on the roster, Nikola “NiKo” Kovac had become the personification of FaZe Clan. He was the star player and the in-game leader. FaZe Clan even listened to his input regarding roster moves. 

Building a team around Niko brought the team relative success. FaZe Clan won several big tournaments with NiKo in the lineup, but never managed to win the major. Despite being given a big role in the team, NiKo decided to abandon the project.

In September 2020, FaZe Clan announced that it made an agreement with G2 Esports for a release clause on NiKo’s contract. The transfer fee G2 paid was reportedly the highest ever paid for a CSGO player. An analysis from Esports Transfer estimated that G2 would have paid around $2.5 million. 

kjaerbye joins North 

In 2018, Astralis was not the absolute powerhouse it is today. The Danes had won a major in 2017 but were struggling to regain their form. These struggles were exacerbated by Nikolai “dev1ce” Reedtz’s health problems.

One of the star players on that roster was Markus “kjaerbye” Kjaerbye. The 19-year-old rifler was named MVP in Astralis’ successful campaign at the ELEAGUE Major Atlanta in 2017. But kjaerbye felt like he should be the undisputed star of a roster rather than sharing the spotlight with his teammates.

After a disappointing run at the ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018, kjaerbye jumped ship to Danish rivals North. His former teammates were only given notice of his departure hours before the official announcement.

Stewie2K and tarik abandon Cloud9

At the start of 2018, Cloud9 was on top of the world. The squad had just won the ELEAGUE Major Boston in one of the biggest upsets in CSGO history. They brought a major trophy to the North American region.

But the squad did not manage to follow up on its breakout victory. Only two months after lifting the major trophy, Jake “Stewie2K” Yip left the squad in favor of joining the Brazillian roster of SK Gaming

He was joined on the lineup by Tarik “tarik” Celik only a few months later, as the major-winning Cloud9 lineup completely imploded. Stewie2K and tarik only won a single trophy while playing on the Brazillian team, the ZOTAC Cup Masters, before moving back to American lineups in the fall of that year.

G2 win the third french shuffle

In the past, the French scene had a reputation of recycling the same players in different iterations of lineups. These roster shuffles were often initiated after a personal conflict between players made a given roster dysfunctional. 

Fans were mostly disappointed with the roster moves because the very best French players rarely ended up playing together. This all changed in 2017 when G2 Esports assembled a French dream team, with Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and Richard “shox” Papillon finally playing on the same lineup. 

The team never managed to fulfill its potential. At the start of the next year, fans were treated to yet another French shuffle.

Godsent become major contenders

In 2016, Fnatic was considered to have the best Swedish CSGO roster. The team enjoyed a six-event winning streak that culminated with a win at IEM Katowice 2016. A wrist injury for Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer slowed down Fnatic’s momentum, but the roster was still strong. 

But to everyone’s surprise, the roster was decimated as three of Fnatic’s players moved to Godsent. Jesper “JW” Wecksell, Robin “flusha” Ronnquist, and Freddy “KRiMZ” Johansen joined the newly-created organization to play with former in-game leader Markus “pronax” Walsten. 

Godsent not only acquired Fnatic’s players, but its major spot as well. Valve doesn’t assign these spots to an organization, but rather to a core of three players. As the Fnatic core had reached the semifinal at the previous major, Godsent had obtained a spot in the Legends stage at the next major. But with KRIMZ returning to Fnatic only two months after leaving, Godsent lost the spot before the next major started.

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