Danish CS is one hell of a drug, as Anders used to say, but we have decriminalized its use a long time ago, with the country’s proud players leading the charge across elite-level competitions for many years. The small nation’s crop of in-game leaders is especially impressive, so much so that they almost locked out the entire playoffs bracket for themselves in Dallas.
With some surprising tournament results, and a few spicy interview quotes, even someone like Snappi can enter the conversation. This is a special time in Counter-Strike, an open and messy rating list and the impending arrival of CS2. How to compare these notable leaders at such a complicated time?
For better or for worse, I came up with four criteria to discuss the matter: the IGLs’ current form, meaning tournament accomplishments and tactical innovations, their legacy, referring to their past results and peaks, fragging, which is self-explanatory, and the slightly nebulous CS2 factor, trying to pinpoint their potential of making the grand leap forward to the new engine as an active player and team leader. These should cover most of the bases.
Here's the breakdown, in order of HLTV ranking appearance at the time of writing:
CS2 factor: 5/5
From an individual perspective, cadiaN’s long grind back to the top is commendable, and he’s carved out quite a niche for himself as a comedian and heel. Yet, his times on the comms at tournaments like the latest ESL Pro League season show that he’s a thoughtful and mature leader – one who still struggles to navigate his teams through knockout brackets.
Heroic’s LAN playoffs pedigree is still sorely lacking and some will never be able to look past the squad’s adjacence to HUNDEN. Still, cadiaN’s squad is now a regular contender at every significant offline event, capping off the season in fine fashion at the BLAST Spring Finals, and his individual form shows no signs of slowing down, and at the age of 27, he is actually one of the younger Danish in-game leaders at the elite level to head into CS2, suggesting there should be more to come from him.
CS2 factor: 3/5
Grand Slam complete, Major conquered, a legacy well secured. Just how much is left in the tank for one of the most cerebral and versatile in-game leaders in Counter-Strike history?
The last few months have been a gauntlet for all high-level pro CS players, with event after event after event coming down the pipeline. Say what you will about experience, but this is bound to have a larger negative impact on players on the older side, and it was a bit of a brainfuck for me to realize that he’s the exact same age as Snappi.
There can be no denying that FaZe have been mostly playing 4v5 since the player break has ended, and the results have shown that karrigan’s tactics can’t make up for this fragging deficiency anymore, with just the one tournament win since Cologne. However, he has reinvented himself time and time again, and the fact that he’s won prestigious titles across so many years on so many different teams and metagames lends credence to the argument that he may very well be the best IGL we have seen in the Global Offensive era overall.
Which brings us to…
CS2 factor: 2/5
Oh, gla1ve. He and zonic put together the greatest CS:GO team of all time, one that could only be defeated by their own management in the end. Nothing has been the same ever since, and gla1ve’s fall from grace has been distinctly FalleN-like, with even less to show in terms of innovation or highlights since the legendary Astralis squad has fallen apart.
Now, with dev1ce back on the roster, there are even fewer excuses, and not even qualifying for the Major with a still-outstanding Tom Cruise lookalike has to be seen as a significant failure of leadership. Even if he wasn’t able to count on any semblance of roster stability – and lest we forget, he is now surrounded by multiple proven cheaters from the coaching side – can we really envision a gla1ve renaissance in late 2023 and beyond, on a brand-new engine, dealing with the rigors of parenthood along the way? Not for me, Clive.
CS2 factor: 2/5
The new-look ENCE squad has been eye-opening even before their tournament win in Dallas, but there can be no denying their lack of consistency, especially in light of their disappointing performance at the final CS:GO Major. The real question here is whether the taste of victory will light a fire under the veteran leader, one bright enough to last into Counter-Strike 2. For what it’s worth, it’s not like the 33-year-old’s fragging output has significantly declined or anything: that’s the benefit of having suck a low baseline, barely crossing the 1.0 barrier on HLTV even as far back as 2017.
Age-wise, I was first inclined to mark his CS2 factor as a big fat zero, but ENCE stand to greatly benefit by Valve’s reported aim to open up the circuit and clamp down on the semi-franchised competitions of ESL and BLAST.
CS2 factor: 3/5
I’m pretty sure we will only be able to properly judge HooXi’s G2 tenure after his next in-game leading attempt somewhere else. It feels like an unmanageable squad with no long-term strategy or cohesive planning, picking up a system-heavy IGL in Aleksib who wasn’t meshing with XTQZZZ from the beginning, then jettisoning both of them for HooXi, a player with limited fragging output and no pedigree when it comes to managing and motivating high-maintenance players, then chucking out 40% of the roster shortly thereafter. Clearly, he hasn’t done well enough in his CS:GO matches, but it feels like everyone is set up to fail at G2, players included.
Still, with poor fragging output, limited accomplishments, visibly low motivation at Dallas and poor individual form, you could make a credible argument that he’s the Danish IGL with the lowest stock heading into the CS2 era.