As the year (and the decade) draws to a close, it’s worth looking back at the most impactful moments of 2019 in Counter-Strike. From insane individual performances to teams and orgs smashing records, it’s been another memorable year of competition. Here’s our top ten:
They went out with a whimper, not with a bang, and the only solace to be taken stems from their dramatic resurgence at the end of the year. It does not change the fact that the Swedes couldn’t carry the torch any longer, leaving no CS org with a flawless streak of Major appearances in Global Offensive.
It was the beginning of the ENCE story and the low point of Liquid: a memorable clash in the quarter-finals of the first Major of the year which denied us the big-ticket grand final but set up so many narratives for the rest of the year.
Famously, the owner of FURIA promised to get a tattoo if they managed to beat the best team in the world, and the fact that they’ve managed to do so not once but twice at ECS Season 7 served as the confirmation of the Danes’ slump. No team managed to roar back after losing the motivation to keep up the grind, and it was a realistic possibility that Astralis would be the next top side to succumb to hubris. Of course, that wasn’t how it ended up in the end, but if you want to distill the BLASTralis controversy into a single series, this is the one to look at.
It’s amazing what a little bit of confidence can do to you: the re-jigged ex-NRG lineup immediately roared to victory at ESL One New York, perhaps peaking then and there and still looking to find their mojo against their fellow title contenders.
(This was, of course, before the atrocious rebranding where EG went down the wedgelord route for reasons beyond our understanding.)
It wouldn’t make sense to pick out just one highlight from the incredible year the young Frenchman’s had on his way to greatness, easily making the leap to the top tier of CS:GO. It’s a Cinderella story in more ways than one, coupled with the resurgence of French Counter-Strike as a whole. Let’s go with recency bias – and the fact he got a monster 1.53 tournament rating – and watch an uncharacteristic clutch from the EPICENTER 2019 grand final, where he absolutely destroyed the competition:
Let’s face it: there was no guarantee this mousesports side would make it to the very top. There was no denying karrigan’s excellence and the raw promise, but it seemed possible they’d remain too inconsistent to break the glass ceiling. Well, they gave a resounding response to doubters at the tail end of the year with back-to-back-to-back tournament wins followed by a runner-up finish at EPICENTER, including what’s perhaps the greatest underdog run in the history of CS:GO at ESL Pro League Season 10. Odense, Astralis, home crowd, history, down for the count? None of it mattered as call after call went right for mouz on the decider, upsetting gla1ve and co. as they went on to achieve a memorable victory. Beating FaZe must have felt great, but there’s no doubt this was all the sweeter.
Still, it’s the all-Danish side who made it to the history books, the first org to win four majors in total and three on the trot. Katowice was the most dominant showing we’ve ever seen on that kind of stage, and Berlin was a demonstration of incredible resilience. In both cases, we were served disappointing grand finals as neither ENCE nor AVANGAR could muster a credible challenge – not that it takes away anything from the ruthlessness of the Danes who did show up when it mattered the most.
In the context of the whole year, Liquid’s surge may feel like a blip on the red radar of Astralis, but their streak of LAN series wins coupled with their incredibly fast Grand Slam win deserves plaudits. Though it was Cologne where they secured the million dollars, we picked their win over ENCE in Chicago for this one, which was perhaps the single most dominant showing against another top contender we’ve seen in a grand final to date. 16-2, 16-3, 16-14: if you don’t like best-of-five grand finals, you got exactly what you wanted with this one.
The Danes are no strangers to complete dominance, and their flawless win over MIBR in the group stage of the FACEIT Major will live long in the memory as well, but doing the same on the big stage in the semis is a very different accomplishment. (Poor coldzera.)
An ace clutch when it mattered the most. Pure art.
With half a dozen realistic title contenders going into the new year which promises a tournament schedule more packed then ever, we’re looking at a fantastic 2020. The countdown has begun…
Photo credit: HLTV