Counter-Strike is a game with a long history and legacy in esports, but as a new decade rolls around we are starting to see a genuine changing of the guard at the top of the world’s premiere first person shooter. Old faces are still around, but they are increasingly found at the sharp end of tier two and three tournaments, while the big prizes are being fought for by kids that often weren’t born when Prince’s 1999 finally became defunct.
Sure, the likes of kennyS and FalleN won events in 2019, but they weren’t the sort of tournaments you used to see them at in past years: the Good Game League and the online bracket of ECS are not exactly the same calibre as a Major final after all. In fairness to him, the legend that is shox did still make a few big finals, but only after he’d attached himself to ZywOo like a parasitic mite sucking the life out of a confused, elderly spider, which is probably part of fitting in to Team Vitality.
This is not to say the old guard are done for – as the success of Fnatic has shown –, but the faces and names that are already making their way onto HLTV’s top 20 for 2019 are new and exciting ones like Ethan and Brollan. No longer is the game led by people who were legends in 1.6 or Source, for now we are seeing a crop of CS:GO gods come through in their own right, and the game is better for it.
On top of all that, it seems likely that HLTV will award their player of the year for 2019 to another young man, born in the eleventh month of the year 2000. The rise and rise of ZywOo is perhaps the most obvious sign that CS:GO is really growing up now and producing stars on a level we didn’t think possible, and there is no reason to think 2020 is going to be any different for fans of Global Offensive.
Everywhere you look, there are new faces to learn about, and the vast majority are obvious improvements. We aren’t just talking about the obvious ones – like Zeus being replaced with a player who can aim and understands basic compassion – but the sort of transfers that were questioned at the time but have worked out nicely. HLTV’s top five teams list is a great place to start looking at the difference a year can make.
Mousesports are a good example of a team that has refreshed, possibly against the advice they were given, and done well for it. The team that gave ropz his big shot have never been shy about putting youngsters in the spotlight, but when Oskar was released a lot of the old heads of the game were quick to come to his defence based on past glories, in much the same way suNny was spoken for when he was cut, but the team ignored the criticism and have done well since adding w0xic and newcomer Frozen to their side.
The same obviously goes for Fnatic, a team blended from youth and experience, but very much reliant on the talent and fragging of Brollan. Evil Geniuses also occupy a top five spot with guys like Brehze, Ethan and CeRq doing much of the heavy lifting, and the likes of ZywOo, broky, Boombl4, Plopski and many more are enjoying spots on top ten teams. Then you get to the talent in the 10-20 range, and it becomes clear this is going to be a crazy year for young chargers.
G2 have the Serbians, who are playing lights out, while ENCE’s best player is a teenager who might not be old enough to wear a top with a gambling sponsor yet. Even the famously Brazilian MIBR core have learned that throwing money at players who won titles elsewhere is no longer the way to go, and we might see a young Argentinian carrying them if all goes well for FalleN and company, which will be a pleasant contrast to the circus Coldzera has joined over in FaZe.
This isn’t to say goodbye to the old guard, as the likes of ChrisJ, karrigan, JW and KRIMZ have shown the value of savvy when combined with pure youthful talent, but to illustrate the fact that CS:GO has been going so long we now have professionals born and bred on Global Offensive like ZywOo that are able to do things nobody previously thought possible. This is obviously great for the esport and should make you excited for 2020 if you’re already a lover of the greatest gun game ever made.
Photo credit: HLTV