Thorin’s 10 Best CS:GO Teams Right Now – 20th June, 2023

Thorin 2023-06-20 12:28:49
  This is not a world ranking based on placements and opponents beaten. That's what my old CS:GO ranking was and it served its purpose for many years until HLTV levelled theirs up enough to become a reasonable guide in line with my assessments. This is a 100% biased opinion-and-eye-test-based ranking of the 10 best CS:GO teams as of today. Criticism and discussion is not just tolerated but encouraged.  

10. Cloud9 (Ax1Le, sh1ro, HObbit, buster and nafany) [-4]

(Courtesy: ESL)

This ranking is sure to upset and well it should. Not least Cloud9 themselves. sh1ro and Ax1Le are still monster talents that no only can permanently co-exist but would be welcomed into many of the top five teams tomorrow were they available. The rest of the team isn't horrible but it just lacks inspiration and is prone to collapse. Mentality is an issue with Cloud9 but the roster remains the first stumbling block. Even so, if a tournament starts tomorrow and we enter the entire top 10 into the field who would bet big money against Cloud9 to fail to crack top eight given even odds? Sooner or later something will change in this team and they will show their potential again. I suspect it happens via the transfer market and I hope they have learned their lessons from the ill-advised buster pick-up. ----------------------------------------------------------

9. Astralis (device, BlameF, gla1ve, Altekz and Buzz) [NEW]

(Courtesy: ESL)

This still looks like a meme roster on paper but their results are hard to argue against. device looks so close to reclaiming his spot as one of the world's elite super-star players. BlameF produces like a macro Terran in StarCraft. Beyond that we have gla1ve, who seems a mystery to everyone outside of the team in terms of his calling strength and motivations. Many seem to forget there was a reason he was left in the wilderness for those years of 2014-2015. The new guys look shaky and at least one of them has to go, but at least Xyp9x isn't just a big bag of money weighing the team down anymore. Rumours of a player swap are promising and it does feel as if one good upgrade and device continuing to find his form can put Astralis in the mix to make some play-off runs more often than once-in-a-blue-moon. ----------------------------------------------------------

8. Team Liquid (NAF, YEKINDAR, EliGE, oSee and nitr0) [-1]

(Courtesy: ESL)

Liquid are ever a yo-yo in CS:GO and this line-up continues to bounce up and down like a dancer in a hip-hop video. Look at the line-up, though nitr0 has now departed, and it's not like there is a mystery as to why. YEKINDAR is supposed to be the best talent there but he will annihilate anyone on one half or map and then feed them on the next. NAF is your ever-steady clutch king who has mastered his game and style but to close rounds out requires his team-mates to put him in that position, a la ropz in FaZe. oSee has just never been it as an AWPer and if anything I think has overperformed my expectations while still never coming close to being the world class AWPer I think a Team Liquid line-up should be gunning for. I'm calling degster, w0nderful and SunPayus' phones until they pick up or block my number if I'm nazgul from Team Liquid. EliGE has been on hard times individually but for a team willing to suffer mediocrity in other positions for so many years it seems brutal to remove the lynch-pin of their team for the majority of the last eight years. Perhaps a role swap is the move and he becomes the American valde from OG? nitr0 leaving leaves a lot of question marks around the team, he and daps had a tricky line-up in stronger positions than they probably get credit for, but it's also a big opportunity to make the moves necessary to win. What's stopping Liquid throwing a bunch of zeros on a cheque at Snappi or Aleksib? Fuck it! I might even really apply some pressure and kill two birds with one stone by offering cadiaN a once-in-a-lifetime salary and change of scenery. Miss me with your sentimentality or narratives from an imaginary movie. s1mple didn't board that plane to Brazil but I heard he verbally told them he would. Anyone can be made to at least think about an offer for a little while. Put this line-up in a big tournament today and Cracking top eight would be entirely reasonable. My issue is that I think some of their players deserve to be touching a trophy. ----------------------------------------------------------

7. Virtus.pro (Jame, FL1T, fame, Qikert and n0rb3r7) [NEW]

(Courtesy: ESL)

I still don't really know what the appeal of n0rb3r7 is but apparently he works in this team because the Virtus.pro that won ESL Challenger Katowice looked like the team that won the major and was once one of the hardest teams in the world to put away. FL1T and fame are top talents only overshone by the sheer amount of talents coming out of that region right now and Jame is still an AWPer who can compete at the top level and an IGL who deserves consideration with the best. This kind of placing is where a line-up like this should be. When the top tier is healthy I think they are a strong dark horse, with under-rated fire-power, who can test any elite team but shouldn't be taking podium places with regularity. If they can figure out a final roster swap they could well be one piece away from the top but finding that piece is a challenge many in the CIS region are undertaking right now. They also must retain their talents. I think of what someone like FL1T might look like on Cloud9 and it is a tantalising prospect. Welcome back, Jame. You jerked us around for months but finally gave us a satisfying release again. ----------------------------------------------------------

6. Natus Vincere (s1mple, b1t, Perfecto, electronic and npl) [-1]

(Courtesy: BLAST)

It's a testament to the return of s1mple's fire-power and electronic's fragging as an IGL that Na'Vi still hang around in tournaments and reach those semi-finals where their fans can again dream they'll go all the way. As harshly criticised as B1ad3 has been, and if npl was his idea it's hard to argue against, he still has a team without an experienced world class IGL and a fielding a drowning rookie getting big wins over top ranked teams and going deep. The team clearly needs some major surgery and that goes for everyone aside from s1mple, being as there aren't attitude transplants available right now. electronic as an in-game leader seems like a return to the days of Na'Vi playing too slow and without the coordination and ability to read the defense needed to be this generation's Astralis. b1t is far from the star of 2021 and clearly has lost himself in his current roles. npl is an empty seat waiting to be filled by someone worthy of playing alongside these names and not seemingly ensuring the Na'Vi org gets cheap semi-finals without paying five players well for them. ----------------------------------------------------------

5. G2 Esports (NiKo, m0NESY, huNter-, jks and HooXi) [-2]

(Courtesy: BLAST)

HooXi drinks daily from the posioned chalice of having the most skilled line-up in the game, though karrigan might disagree. As such he is expected, justifiably so, to win trophies or at a minimum go deep in every single tournament. Considering the talents he has and the resources G2 can offer I think that's a fair tightrope to be asked to walk. His issue is that he falls as often as he makes it over the other side alive. The players of G2 can carry their own share of the blame, though I'd question quite how much. m0NESY is still young and inexperienced and many take for granted he played his first big tier one LAN 16 months ago. Look at his progression and it's clear he will one day be among the elite snipers to ever play this game. That day isn't today, though. Then we have the ever enigmatic NiKo. Even still, he will show the best rifle skills you can even conceive of one day or one map and then immediately struggle or seem frustrated tomorrow or moments later. Better men than HooXi have tried and failed to integrate NiKo's transcendent talents into a dynasty racking up the biggest tier one trophies with regularity. Does NiKo even know what kind of in-game leader, coach and style he needs? I'm unconvinced. huNter- and jks are soldiers and do their best with what they have most of the time. There is only position that seems to make any sense to consider a change at inside of the server. I will say, though, that were I G2 I might reconsider making my analyst for a bunch of frag-out trophy lifts my head coach under the circumstances of having a monster roster like this with impossibly high expectations. I would be looking to bring in a big name who can build his vision with and around NiKo and m0NESY's talents. For G2 the time is always now. ----------------------------------------------------------

4. ENCE (NertZ, SunPayus, dycha, Maden and NertZ) [+4]

That IEM Dallas win, particularly the epic slaying of FaZe, was a great incentive to believe in this side but I need to see that it is who they are going forwards. Nobody watched it, so many will be surprised to now learn that they didn't win ESL Challenger Katowice, losing a close final but, over the entire tournament, three out of four maps against Virtus.pro in total. That's why I still hold out on ENCE a bit. They still seem to have some crumble factor that I prefer in my cookies rather than my elite sides - shoutout to the triple chocolate Heroic boys all the same. Snappi has the calling to get it done and reminds me of MSL at his peak. NertZ has the breakout potential to become one of the world's best but also disappears for key maps. SunPayus is reliably good but not s1mple or ZywOo tier. dycha and Maden I have no complaints about. ENCE has the pieces but do they have the cojones? This game is kill or be killed; there are no "nice try" outcomes. ----------------------------------------------------------

3. FaZe Clan (ropz, Twistzz, broky, rain and karrigan) [+1]

(Courtesy: BLAST)

It's the FaZe way to entertain, to bring their fans to the point of despair and then to prevail with epic comebacks that leave you needing a break and a cool glass of water to recover. So it goes with their tournament runs right now too. Who cares what their group stage performance looks like if they make it to the playoffs? There you can sense there are a lot of teams don't want to have to face the FaZe roulette wheel of star talents and inspired mid-round calls. If this team can take down another trophy or more consistently establish their map pool the time is ripe for ropz to even make a run for best player in the world. Instead of rescuing FaZe from elimination his clutch prowess—the best in the game right now—could be putting them over the line to titles and another dynasty. Can he do what NiKo could not with FaZe? Concerns about karrigan's fragging aside, the name I'm most concerned about remains Twistzz. He looks lost and frustrated in some games and his flashes of greatness are fewer and less frequent than they once were. The player break will seemingly decide much about his status as a star talent in this game. FaZe are the gamers of CS:GO, to borrow from American sports terminology. They will always be there for the real fights and they won't be put away easily. Let up on them and they will punish you. The question for the next few months is whether they'll be atop the podium again without a roster move. I think it can happen, but do they? ----------------------------------------------------------

2. Heroic (stavn, TeSeS, sjuush, jabbi and cadiaN) [-1]

(Courtesy: ESL)

Despite winning another tier one trophy, Heroic feel as if they have become less reliable these last few months. Previously only the best and most star-studded rosters could take them down and, while they may have contributed with their fleeting mental fortitude, their losses in finals and semi-finals had a logic to them. Giving up the ghost against sides like GamerLegion and MOUZ has been a shock to the system and it doesn't surprise me they've pivoted to memeing as if those losses don't happen or winning a BLAST banana cup makes up for blowing another chance to win the world championship of Counter-Strike — the last in this iteration of the game, no less! Put this team in a group stage or quarter-final game and they are the best team in the game. They have a deep map pool, so the opponent is never safe even on their own pick. Their T side that looks like a great NFL offense: working the defense, probing for weakness and ruthlessly adapting to any flaws presented. Utility usage and opportunistic application of set pieces has them catching even the other elite teams off guard. Their closeout at BLAST on inferno T side against Vitality showed why this is a team criticised so much for not having more trophies this year. That kind of play and team-play is what every elite team aspires to showcase. Alas, too many of their big names have floundered in the big series and seen the other side lift the trophy. That hurdle, reminiscent of TSM 2015, remains their final frontier and it is far from conquered. The best team to watch and learn from, but without the super-star to steal them a series or the balls to withstand opposition runs Heroic will have to settle for watching other teams win the title and see their own would-be dynasty exist only in the theoretical realm. ----------------------------------------------------------

1. Team Vitality (ZywOo, Spinx, Magisk, JACKZ [stand-in] and apEX) [+1]

(Courtesy: BLAST)

This is not the Vitality line-up that won ESL ProLeague last year and then floundered, even though the players remain identical. Adjustment of roles and key players stepping into those new responsibilities has unleashed one of the best teams of the last few years. The question now becomes how they capitalise on it following the player break and the eventual transition into CS2. In ZywOo they have the best player in the world and a player who, now he no longer has to hard carry every game, is showing us a versatility worthy of comparisons to Messi in football. He has had his stumbles in finals but show me a super-star who is a lock to carry a final right now and I'll show you someone lying about the current crop at the top. ZywOo can rifle, entry and apparently now does make calls for his own plays. Spinx is one of the best players in the world; you don't need to put "rifler" in there in place of "player". He has found the timing on when to lurk and when to aggressively take duels and that laser headshot aim is now tearing up the best teams and players in the game. He was a real prospect breaking out in ENCE, but with this team around him he can join the heritage of players like NiKo and ropz as a star. Magisk is ever reliable and engaged with a team in a way he hasn't been since the great Astralis line-ups and even the oft-shaky dupreeh has hit a new stride of form and been a contributer in big games and series. apEX will always be a lightning rod of criticism, not least since he is leading a "super-team" of talents and boasts the best individual player in the game among their ranks. He has the temperament for it, though, and just as he could handle running into a site 10 times only to be baited, hung out to dry or instantly executed, so he can ride the wave that is the ups and downs of being an IGL at the very top. Vitality are a very hard team to beat right now, have showcased one of the deepest map pools in the game and have the stars and mettle to win the biggest tournaments in Counter-Strike. What more could you want from a world number one? ---------------------------------------------------------- I will return to update my 10 best CS:GO teams in the world at a later date.

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