(Courtesy: BLAST)This 10th spot would have belonged to FNATIC and then the real OG line-up would have been in ninth, but nexa temporarily stepping back from active play makes OG too chaotic to predict and rely upon until they have shown something with their IGL-less line-up. The beneficiaries of OG's roster change are NiP. They boast a pretty fresh line-up themselves with k0nfig replacing hampus, who has also stepped away temporarily. There are plenty of flaws to point at with NiP. The headtr1ck experiment has still far from yielded the kind of big results they might have been hoping for if they'd imagined they'd signed the next m0NESY - a prospect headtr1ck looks a million miles from right now. k0nfig still needs to be bedded into the team but has a small sample size of games with them. Brollan has also struggled to be the star NiP signed him to be. With all of that said I think Aleksib is one of the best IGLs in the game and will work magic with this NiP line-up in the coming months to the extent I'm willing to put them 10th on my list over established names like MOUZ, Spirit and FURIA. NiP has a higher ceiling than all of them and I expect k0nfig to click into position and begin producing from ProLeague on. Spicy start to my list, eh?
(Courtesy: ESL)FNATIC are a line-up out of place. They are nowhere near the heights of the great Swedish line-ups of yesteryear. They don't even represent a specific region outside of the now massively nebulous "Europe". I look at their line-up and see zero star players or names that should be making a top 20 players of the year list. Their IGL is a rookie at the role and still learning the ropes. Nothing about this team suggests they should be top 10 until you watch them play. FNATIC are the gate-keepers of top 10 status. If you're below the top 10 or in the bottom part they are going to beat you or push you hard. If you're one of the contenders you will beat FNATIC, but they might still catch you out on a cheeky overpass or nuke. That they are able to contend with teams with better stars and fragging power overall is a testament to the job mezii has done and he is arguably a top two player in the team despite his role. It's hard for me to imagine this team ever going to the semi-finals stage of a big LAN and I certainly cannot imagine them winning a meaningful tournament in any context, but it's even harder to leave them out of this top 10 and they have earned this spot.
(Courtesy: ESL)On results Cloud9 cannot touch a top 10 right now. Their player strength and the eye test are another matter entirely, though. Cloud9 have some of the most dangerous players in CS:GO, with arguably the best one-two punch of stars in Ax1Le-sh1ro of any team over the last six months. Those two players deliver, win or lose, and C9 are in with a puncher's chance against absolutely any team. As a cohesive unit the team has had its hard times over the last few months and their roster move of interz out and buster in has yet to take them to any new level of performance. Still, they are hard to beat, hit with enormous impact when they are on their game and can and have beaten the best teams in the world. The floor remains their issue and hence why so much scrutiny is now rightly placed on nafany and buster, where previously their stars going missing in big tournaments was considered the biggest concern.
(Courtesy: ESL)Outsiders are the world champions and their win was legit in terms of the opponents they faced to take that title, but outside of that context they are one of the weakest world champions CS:GO has ever seen. Had they doubled down on the major-winning line-up I would have foreseen months of underwhelming quarter-finals placings and a lot of close-but-no-cigar losses against contender level teams. The KaiR0N- move changes everything. Not only is he someone a few teams were rumoured to be considering, but he has shown immediate impact when inserted into the squad. The end result of this move, assuming it can hold at this kind of performance level, is that Outsiders become one of the most skill-stacked teams in the game. That's night and day from how the AVANGAR and Virtus.pro line-ups of previous years would have been characterised. Jame's gimmicky calling and playing style remains difficult for even the best teams to play against and now he has the fire-power to really grab the scene's attention. Outsiders are a team with serious potential and watching FL1T and fame develop into bonafide star riflers is a pleasure, even if the team's overall style comes off as perverse for many casual fans.
(Courtesy: BLAST)The story of Na'Vi's 2022 was, of course, told in the shadow of the real world circumstances affecting the home country of the organisation and this appeared to spill over into having an in-game impact on s1mple, the player of the year and the best player in history. By the latter part of the year had arrived s1mple was not even a clear contender for best individual player, nevermind the permanent fixture in that conversation he had been for the previous half a decade. That doomed Na'Vi, as b1t's form in 2022 was a joke contrasted with his rookie season and electronic's move to IGL duties tanked his individual game. That left Na'Vi hoping for s1mple's big game performances, in some sick parody of old Na'Vi line-ups, or hoping Perfecto could pull out enough clutches or the odd fragging display to keep them competitive. Na'Vi's map pool has collapsed, they don't make LAN finals anymore and they have lost to so many other contenders as to remove a lot of the mystique and magic this core seemed to possess at their 2021 peak or even for the first two thirds of 2022. This is a different Na'Vi and rookie npl has struggled mightily thusfar. Despite this litany of issues and limitations, Na'Vi still possess a core of talent who can carry a game against anyone, on a good day, in s1mple, b1t and electronic. Perfecto is still a very reliable and overpowered supportive piece. B1ad3 is a master of his style of Counter-Strike so I trust him to resolve the npl situation one way or another and reformulate Na'Vi's style to allow them better placings when individual form improves. Na'Vi aren't looking like they'll win anything, but you'd still be a fool to count them or s1mple out just yet.
(Courtesy: BLAST)If you're a ZywOo fan then you can celebrate a little that for the first time since 2019 the French prodigy is better than s1mple again. That's dampened by s1mple's individual form tumbling drastically and ZywOo repeatedly having underwhelming elimination series in prestige events where he would have so much to gain from a hard carry performance in even a loss. Vitality are still 'The ZywOo show' in many respects. Luckily for them, he, like s1mple prior to the player break last year, is a star great enough to consistently be able to put the team in position to win big games against anyone. After that comes the not-yet-resolved Spinx problem. He farmed bad teams at BLAST but has yet to prove he can be a consistent star presence in Vitality. Magisk continues to be a solid third star name for the team, but when the second star (Spinx) underdelivers Vitality struggle to beat the best regardless of Magisk's game. Normally I would penalise a team for using a stand-in, but dupreeh had been so weak-willed in the last few months that I think JACKZ might even be a good substitute who will do his job like a soldier and hit the occasional unusually good shot, as JACKZ has always been wont to do. Zonic still has a tough task facing him, but ZywOo remains a strong contender for best individual player in the game and there's enough there otherwise, at least in this weakened era, to have Vitality in the mix with the big boys.
(Courtesy: ESL)By placing and big wins Liquid deserve to be a top three ranked team in CS:GO. I'm not obligated to consider as much for this list, though. Liquid's trouble is that the eye test doesn't check out and their roster is as confused on paper as it is in the server. Yes, Liquid has had some very impressive placings and been arguably the best upset team over the last few months. Many a contender has seen their deep run ended a round early by this NA squad. The way they have accomplished those results, though, was not impressive and there's a good reason they've yet to lift a trophy. In that sense I consider them a poor man's G2. NAF has a consistent game and can be relied upon to win late-round situations, but is not a top 10 star in the game who can hard carry or bend a series to his will. Yet he's probably TL's best player right now. YEKINDAR is the ultimate feast or famine player right now. Either he breaks the game open entirely on T side or he feeds and TL looks significantly less sharp. EliGE struggles with consistency himself, a terrible omen considering he is both the best and most consistent Counter-Strike player to come from the NA region in about 17 or 18 years and has been considered the player most catered to in the org's more recent history. If he continues to be up-and-down like a yo-yo then Liquid will never have a solid centre from which to build trophy-winning campaigns. oSee is an underwhelming AWPer and it's to Liquid's credit they can get the wins they do with his average international performances that make him one of the worst snipers in the top 10 teams. Certainly, Liquid seem a team who has never understood traditional AWPing, but right now oSee's play doesn't warrant overhauling their system. Said system, implemented by nitr0 and daps - despite what an egomaniac from a Baltic country might suggest- has made Liquid predictable but also capable of grinding out wins, something past line-ups were notoriously poor at, against many top teams and even hitting hard early and getting into comfortable positions from which to close. This is not your daddy's Liquid stylistically, even if they also are not at the trophy-raising level of the 2018 and 2019 line-ups. Liquid may continue to impress me, but until it comes with a more stable basis to believe their ceiling extends to number one I'll continue to be sceptical and wait for them to be replaced by another line-up.
(Courtesy: BLAST)A lot of the scrutiny placed upon FaZe is unreasonable, in context, for my money. I can appreciate that they were the best team in the world, routine champions and tracking for an era and/or Grand Slam, so from that perspective they did end 2022 as a failed team and are three events removed from a LAN final. Nevertheless, the eye test still checks out on FaZe as a contender for each event they attend and they are missing out on trophies and deeper finishes by a mere 5% performance level. That same 5% is what used to allow them to edge out, as was the typical route to victory, the other top teams in the first two thirds of last year. As such, FaZe are still a very entertaining team to watch and can match-up with anyone in the game. G2 being nuke monsters has made that direct head-to-head harder, but everyone else still has to come correct if they hope to beat FaZe in a bracket stage. This team was so close to winning BLAST Fall Finals and were victims of G2 match-ups elsewhere. After G2, this is the next team in the world I expect to win big LANs and potentially the next major. They still have it all, minus a top five player in the world or a dominant AWPer. Even then, ropz has repeatedly shown that potential in his career and they are one of history's great teams at finding success without prototypical sniping. They have a strong map pool, arguably the best calling in CS:GO, they are hard to eliminate and they have three players who consistently put up star numbers by committee.
(Courtesy: ESL)Heroic are very much in the Liquid camp where I see why their placings and series wins demand high spots on world rankings, but I don't believe in them as a true world number two that can split trophies and win the major. This is a team where my biggest compliments would be that I think they play the best tactical Counter-Strike right now - no slight feat in a game featuring names like B1ad3, zonic and gla1ve - and they appear to have tapped their potential to near maximum levels. That's also why I think they benefit from flaws in the other big names right now. Heroic can match up with any team in the game, thanks to their map pool strength, playing style and cohesive team-play. As such they provide great entertainment and excitement for fans around the world. Their trouble is they lack three of the best features of an all-time great team: a transcendent star, an all-time great IGL and a world class AWPer. stavn is a very good player but he is no NiKo, KSCERATO or Ax1Le right now. These are players who go off, win you the series and overpower the other team and its stars through force of will and skill. stavn is a player who top frags big games and is consistent in his performances. There is still a step to be taken or a style adjustment to be made there. cadiaN is now contending for status as one of the game's great IGLs, but his dual role as the AWPer means he can limit them individually in-game even as he enhances the team strategically and with his calls. When you face m0NESY, ZywOo, sh1ro etc. you're going to be reminded of cadiaN being outclassed by his sniping counter-part whether Heroic eek out the win or not. Finally, they mirror their stavn issue in that Heroic struggle to put up star performances and win based on team-play and tactical execution. jabbi had the tournament of his entire career thusfar to give them unlikely fire-power in Katowice and they still got swept in the final. On a normal day Heroic have an underdog vibe against even some of the teams ranked below them and when they can win by playing their game it increases how impressed I am at cadiaN and their team cohesion but still leaves me wanting for a device, k0nfig or Magisk level star who can be the MVP of the event.
(Courtesy: BLAST)That G2 are one of the most controversial world number one teams in recent history shows how overpowering narratives have been on the image of this team, which is not only riding back-to-back tier 1 LAN wins, including a monster prestige championship campaign in Katowice, but at one point had won 21 maps in a row and 16 series - incredible in a historical context as well as topical. On paper, it's entirely fine that G2 are the best team in CS:GO. NiKo is arguably the best rifler in history and remains a contender for best player in the world, territory he is very much comfortable occupying. m0NESY is better than s1mple right now as an AWP star and battles NiKo for the MVP every event. huNter- is the reliable glue of the team and continues to shine in late-round situations. Then there's jks - himself a long time master of clutch rounds and whose CT positions mean when he contributes to the fragging, there are barely any teams who can stay in the server with this G2. It's little wonder G2 are knock-out artists who have crushed even the world's best in series sweeps, no matter the veto. HooXi obviously remains an enormously divisive figure in fan and analyst discussions, but whatever he is doing the rest of his team is playing about as well as one could hope for and his line-up is arguably the most skilled in CS:GO, even with his paltry fragging aggregated. He is no contender for best IGL in the game, but he must be doing his job. I think G2 will be one of a number of teams by the major arrives and I would bank on the likes of FaZe and Na'Vi to be able to overtake them, but these individual performances have been special and this punching power looks like it can conceivably last. Obviously jks over-performed in Katowice, for a second year in a row contextually, but the NiKo-m0NESY duo looks scary, huNter- is perfect playing without pressure to top frag and jks will always be an over-powered "fourth best player" on any top 10 team. G2 are the best team in the world right now. Let's see how long that remains the case, though. ------- I will return to update my 10 best CS:GO teams in the world at a later date.
Carlos "Ocelote" Rodríguez and the great inconsistency in esports morality
2022 PAX West - Galahad 3093 by Simutronics Corp. - The Search for The Next Esport
System Shock by Nightdive Studios - The Search for The Next Esport | Bioshock-esque Beauty
SPRAWL by Rogue Games - The Search for The Next Esport | A Proper Quake-like Successor