With Astralis’ shock elimination at the ECS Season 7 finals after a long, potentially BLAST-enforced absence, there are only a few people left who still consider their era unbroken, regardless of whether they’ll be capable of bouncing back in the long run. They weren’t beaten in a gruelling duel or superseded by a plucky newcomer: they abdicated in absentia, thinking they are so good they can always just jump back into the circuit, ready to roll at the same pace regardless of how long they stayed away. Hubris – and there’s a good argument to be made that every other CS:GO dominant team lost their crown due to the very same thing.
NiP were considered the runaway favorites for DreamHack Winter 2013, the first major in CS:GO’s history. With their epic 87-0 streak still lingering in the memory, GeT_RiGhT and co. were widely expected to take down the title, unless VeryGames were somehow able to stop them. Once they were eliminated, the path seemed clear to the trophy.
It’s not as often discussed nowadays as it was back then, but the Ninjas greatly disrupted their own preparation by agreeing to film a documentary about themselves at the time, with the crew following them around the Jönköping event. In a way, it signified how differently they were ought to be treated than the rest of the field, and this fact infused the reactions to their loss in the final to Fnatic with a lot of schadenfreude. They remained close to the top but could never quite stick there the way they used to, appearing in five major finals in a row but only managing to win ESL One Cologne 2014 before falling off the face of the earth. That event should have marked Fifflaren’s retirement but he stuck around for a few months longer, and the story of the Ninjas were marked by clinging onto aging stars ever since.
Fnatic’s era is a much weirder one to define, seeing how their early major wins with different lineups weren’t underpinned by domination elsewhere in the circuit. Their six-LAN streak after pronax’s departure is widely considered their golden age, one which was ended in brutal fashion by Astralis at MLG Columbus. After the event, olofmeister revealed the fact that he was playing with a wrist injury at the time. His absence that followed due to the necessary surgery disrupted whatever team chemistry they used to have, and motivation issues coupled with personal differences led to a cataclysmic split with multiple players leaving to join pronax’s GODSENT project. While they ended up re-shuffling after a few months and re-established their former world-conquering side, vowing that they’re ready to roar once again, they never managed to make it happen, only winning two top-tier events since (and none with that specific lineup).
FalleN’s Luminosity/SK side also suffered from the same fate, though their case is perhaps the most-underreported one out of the four. Cast your mind back to how they treated the ELEAGUE major where the roster lock forced them to play the event with felps instead of boltz who already took his place in the lineup by that time. The Brazilians went out of their way to bemoan the event and how they weren’t even training with their old fifth for it, playing some sort of odd long game that never really worked out. In fact, that marked their final semi-final appearance in a top-tier event before everything fell apart, and they have been in limbo ever since. Their reunion party, much like Fnatic’s, also doesn’t seem to inspire much confidence.
And so we get to the Danes once again, their story still being written, they themselves not yet written off but suffering blow after blow at recent events. We will likely never learn the entire truth behind their tournament scheduling decisions or their incestuous relationship with BLAST. The facts are undeniable: they stopped going to top-tier events for months and couldn’t even win the less prestigious ones they did show up to. Now they’ve lost twice to a team outside the top ten on LAN. While it’s widely accepted that gla1ve and co. created an unprecedented CS:GO side, bucking the trend of fallen ex-titans would be their biggest achievement of all.