Just imagine what kind of an insane era of Counter-Strike we could be seeing right now if the tournament circuit was similar to what it was like in 2015 or 2016. Astralis and Team Liquid would clash LAN after LAN, pushing each other to progressively higher heights across a wide variety of locales and formats. It’s astonishing to think that Liquid can realistically overtake the Danes in the HLTV rankings despite a 4-14 record against them on LAN since the beginning of 2018, simply because the world’s current number one skips so many meaningful events. Just imagine what kind of a rivalry we could be seeing if they weren’t kept apart like Romeo and Juliet were until the eventual tragic ending to their tale.
Astralis and Liquid occupied a top three slot since the FACEIT major, marking one of the longest periods in the modern CS:GO era when two rivals managed to keep up with the pace set by each other and everyone else for such a long period. They’ve met in seven LAN finals since gla1ve and co. began their meteoric rise. They are so far ahead of the pack that this doesn’t even sound like that much of a surprise anymore. This is why it’s so incredibly sad that we’ve not seen them clash at a meaningful event in 2019: three different BLAST Pro kerfuffles were all we’ve got after the messy iBUYPOWER 2019 finals, a match which tantalized us with the prospect of a new chapter in their rivalry. Instead, they avoid each other like the plague.
Looking at Liquipedia’s tournament tier list, Astralis skipped three out of three Premier-tier events since the major while Liquid did the same with two. Of course, WESG is an understandable omission, StarSeries Season 7 not so much. To put things in context, the Danes won three such events in a one-month period at the end of last year (IEM Chicago, the ECS Season 6 finals and the ESL Pro League S8 finals) while also finding the time to thrash the competition at BLAST Pro Lisbon. Four LAN events attended and won in a 40-day spree, going from Chicago to Texas, then Denmark and Portugal – can we stop with the excuses about travelling?
So far, it was mostly the Danes who soured the scene with their odd event choices, but it seems like Liquid is following suit. With rumors flying around that Liquid may end up skipping ESL One Cologne for the corresponding BLAST Pro event, it’s becoming more and more tangible what we lose out on as the big three keep avoiding each other in tournaments with a skill-testing format. This could be one of the greatest periods of Counter-Strike with some of the best-ever competitors fighting for glory – instead, it feels like the overwhelming smell of plastic is slowly overwhelming it all. We all know how the story ended: Romeo and Juliet were kept apart until a tragic misunderstanding led to their demise. It would be a shame if something similar happened to what could be the best-ever rivalry in CS:GO.