With the Fourth of July upon us, it’s time to remember some of our region’s greatest accomplishments in CS:GO, specifically against European teams. Funnily enough, the American War for Independence was NA’s first major victory over a top tier European team in the British, so why not rejoice in the albeit few times North American Counter Strike has not been a complete disappointment by beating European teams in random, one-off matches.
1. Cloud 9 beating Fnatic in the Semi-final of Faceit League Stage 2 Finals at Dreamhack Valencia 2-0
The seemingly magical upset of Fnatic by Cloud 9 at Dreamhack Valencia was their most notable victory during their run of hot form during the summer of 2015. Fnatic were the last major champion, had won four tier one events since that time with their now legendary lineup with Pronax, and were only losing series to the then TSM now Astralis. Cloud 9 had played a decently close series against the Swedish side at ESL ESEA Proleague Season 1 Finals not two weeks earlier, and were playing up to the level of other top teams like Na`Vi, Envyus, and Virtus Pro as well. However, with this even but decisive victory over arguably the greatest lineup CS:GO has ever seen, Cloud 9 proved they were at a level that no other North American team has been able to match in international play. Seang@res was at the peak of his skill in his ability to “anti-strat” opponents and utilize n0thing effectively, stars Shroud and Skadoodle were in peak carry form, and Freakazoid’s aggression gave the rest of the team more space to play passively. While iBuyPower’s double best of three upset of Titan at ESEA Season 15 was superficially a more impressive victory, this series asserted Cloud 9 as a real international threat alongside their other placings, which iBuyPower spent the entirety of their existence struggling to prove.
2. iBuyPower beating Titan in the Final of ESEA Season 15 Invite 2-0, 2-1
After losing to them earlier in the winner’s bracket, iBuyPower would reset the bracket against Titan in Grand Finals to take their first LAN series win against a European team. This Titan lineup, formerly VeryGames before this event, is arguably a top five all time lineup in CS:GO, one of the early challengers to the dominant NiP led by mastermind Ex6tenz and all time great shox. For the DaZeD led American side to beat Titan in two separate BO3s, which included wins on Titan specialty maps Dust 2 and Inferno, was unprecedented for an NA team and would establish iBuyPower at the top of NA with Complexity and eventually Cloud 9. The victory, however, would reflect a key issue with the iBuyPower squad: they could only win events against top Europeans that were in North America. At least they defended America well while they were here.
3. iBuyPower beating LDLC in the Semi-final of Faceit League Season 2 Finals 2-0
This BO3 win by DaZeD and company at Faceit would prove their biggest series win not on American soil, and likely the biggest win for the arguably the most dominant iteration of the iBuyPower lineup (the infamous DaZeD, swag, Skadoodle, AZK, and steel). LDLC, clearly the team to come out the victor of the post Cologne 2014 French shuffle, were a top team and eventual major winner, boasting some of France’s best. The first map of the series was a grueling 58 round game on Inferno, which saw DaZeD dropping 50 frags and helping Steel in an incredible 2v5 retake. The series remains one of the few translations of the online and domestic skill of iBuyPower into an international setting, and a testament to Steel’s Bernie.
4. CLG beating LDLC in the Group Stage of MLG X-Games Aspen on Dust II
Despite ultimately being the only map CLG would win at the MLG X-Games at Aspen, their upset of an LDLC fresh off of their major victory put the newly formed NA squad on the map as a rising contender for NA’s best. The team was normally led, much as it is now, by the domestically dominant tarik and the “NA Krimz” in Cutler, both of whom had performed incredibly in the online qualifiers leading up to the event (which included a BO3 win over iBuyPower with Hiko as a stand-in). However, in this map, it was the explosive AWP of Ptr that shook the server all the way through the last round, rendering the usually good Dust II AWP of SmithZz useless. Inevitably, CLG would drop out of the tournament later on in groups, but this upset (based on csgolounge betting odds still one of the most historically one sided) helped to establish CLG in the post-iBuyPower wasteland of NA CS. And Ptr kicked some French ass.
5. Liquid beat Fnatic in the Winner’s Match of the Group Stage at MLG Columbus on Dust II
This overtime thriller victory by Liquid would be their biggest victory in their run to the semi-final of the MLG Columbus major. Fnatic, having won the last 6 LANs they had attended, seemed poised to remain the undisputed best in the world with their +Dennis -Pronax lineup. However, an olofmeister injury and a lack of any step-up performances led to disappointment at yet another major for the Swedish side. Nonetheless, the upset was essential to Liquid’s major run and emblematic of the potential explosiveness of players like Elige and s1mple. After losing two incredibly close maps to Luminosity to close out their major, Liquid (until their failure at upcoming LANs) established themselves as the best in NA.