If the best team in the world doesn’t attend a big tournament for three months, does it make a sound?
That’s the big question as we head into the summer of 2019, a brand new state of play in the eternal power struggle in the CS:GO circuit. Despite the well-established top two, the chaos below them and the newfound oddities of the tournament scene makes it surprisingly difficult to ascertain the true strength levels of the different sides. Astralis haven’t played in an offline best-of-three playoff match since the major apart from their BLAST Pro outings while the tournament wins of Na’Vi and Liquid were both somewhat devalued by the absence of the other two. It seemed like we’re having towards a historic and memorable cross-Atlantic rivalry this year with the Danes and the North Americans both lapping the competition – instead, their scattershot attendance rate makes it increasingly hard to establish a hierarchy. The two titans haven’t met at a serious LAN event in 2019, with a bunch of BLAST parties and the messy iBUYPOWER final their only showdowns so far this year.
The situation is even worse beyond the podium. Na’Vi remain consistently inconsistent with s1mple’s insane potential continuously hindered by the individual abilities of Zeus and Edward. Fnatic just entered the top five after two runner-up finishes at prestigious LAN events. Putting those results into perspective, they haven’t beaten anyone from the HLTV top five either at the StarSeries Season 7 finals or IEM Sydney, which indicates that their new position has just as much to do with the regression of other sides as with their own improvement.
Next up are NiP in sixth place, which is insane if you consider the fact that they’ve only won three best-of-three series against top ten sides on LAN for over a year now, two of which came over North and the last against an underperforming Renegades at Sydney. FaZe and MiBR are slowly slipping, still in flux and unwilling to commit to permanent roster moves. The current top ten is rounded out by NRG and Renegades, two more teams with high potential but inconsistent performances, the latter also damaged by the long-term loss of Gratisfaction for their upcoming events. Meanwhile, neither Vitality nor mousesports are the finished article in #11 and #12.
So, if the teams are so all over the place, wouldn’t it be nice to have a few top-tier LAN events to settle some scores and shine a light on all this? Well, that’s not really happening due to the much-discussed effects of the BLAST Pro circuit. Say what you will about the brewing controversy over RFRSH’s dubious practices, the fact that there are essentially no top-tier events with Astralis, Liquid and Na’Vi in attendance at the same time nowadays is a massive loss to the community.
Best – or worst – of all, there’s no end in sight to this. The BLAST circuit is slated to expand next year and recent reports seem to indicate that a spike in salaries and buyout clauses makes big roster moves less likely going forward. If you got bored of the same team winning event after event, this might be a more fun period of competitive CS:GO for you. Just don’t mistake excitement for clarity.