2020 was a turbulent year for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic ushering in a whole new structure and format when it came to how the competitive calendar played out. New tactics were introduced, with more teams than ever before competing at the top table of the game.
But which sides are set to come into the new year ranked the highest in the world?
1. Astralis (Denmark)
Notable Event Wins: IEM Global Challenge, ESL Pro League S12, DreamHack Masters Winter 2020, ESL One Road to Rio
Astralis are the finest orgs to ever touch the game of Counter-Strike, with a list of records and achievements that very few other sides can even begin to match. The core five players of Gla1ve, Magisk, Device, Dupreeh and Xyp9x hold the record for the most amount of Major Championships (4, including the last three in a row), are all the five highest earners in the game’s history, and hold the record for the longest time spent atop the HLTV world rankings, spending 118 weeks at the top of the summit between April 2018 and May 2019.
The Danes are absolute Counter-Strike royalty, and have established a legendary legacy of stepping up and producing when the stakes are at their highest. 2020 was actually a pretty turbulent year for Astralis on the whole, with Gla1ve and Xyp9x both taking medical leaves, the side having to drop out of the CS_Summit 6 event in the summer and dropping to as low as 17th in the world rankings at one point.
Nevertheless, the core reunited for the final couple of months of the year and managed to once again pull out the stops and round out the year with a second place finish at the BLAST Winter Finals and wins at DreamHack Masters Winter and the IEM Global Challenge at the end of December.
2. Team Vitality (France)
Notable Event Wins: BLAST Premier Fall Finals, IEM Beijing-Haidian Europe
Team Vitality have established themselves as the hub of French Counter-Strike ever since their emergence on the scene back in 2018, but had developed an unhealthy reputation for being the game’s nearly men, having reached the grand finals of six events before finally winning their first major title of 2020 at IEM Beijing.
The side recovered from the loss of their IGL ALEX ahead of the online era and have revolutionised the way in which the game is played through the introduction of Nivera as a sixth man and having him substituted for either Shox or Misutaaa on Nuke, Inferno or Dust II. The young Belgian has consistently averaged twenty kills from his time in the server, however the real difference has come from how good Misutaaa and Shox have looked when they’ve stepped back into the server.
Team Vitality have consistently marked themselves as favourites in the CS:GO odds for the tournaments they attend now, and even if there will be tinge of regret that they haven’t closed out the year on top of the world rankings, there’s no denying that the future looks bright for the French org.
3. Natus Vincere (Ukraine/Russia)
Notable Event Wins: IEM Katowice 2020
Arguably the most hot or cold side in the entire world of competitive Esports, Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) have the potential to blow out literally any side in the world on one day, and then get blown out in reply by a side they should never be losing to on another.
Na’Vi dominated the final few months of the pre-Covid LAN era by destroying the likes of G2 and Astralis at IEM Katowice, the addition of Perfecto giving the side a real specialist edge when it came to clutches and winning the high pressure scenarios. Throw that on top of boasting one of the best ever talents in the game in S1mple, and his double pivot with Electronic, and you have a side with perhaps the most devastating amount of firepower in CS:GO.
Communication and holding back the chaos that comes with Na’Vi has always been the thing holding the side back from the biggest prizes traditionally, and it’s that disorganisation and frenzied approach to the game that has stopped them from winning more prizes over the course of the year and see them rank higher in the final 2020 world rankings.