CS:GO was one of several major esports that quickly embraced online competition after COVID-19 forced tournament organizers to cancel events. But this also means that it is a little bit more difficult to breakdown which teams truly had the best year.
Overall, it isn’t hard to identify the team that dominated 2020, but since there wasn’t much inter-region competition, the statistics clearly skew to Europe since a majority of the best teams in the world play in that region. This just means that European events are weighed heavier because the level of competition for squads like Astralis is higher than Team Liquid playing in a normal North American tournament.
With all of that said, here are seven teams that stood out during the wild 2020 format based on placement at big events, stats from HLTV, and a few other metrics.
In its first year operating a CS:GO roster, OG made a big impact on the competitive scene, quickly becoming a frequent top-five finisher at most S-tier tournaments. Led by former ENCE headliner Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen, the team rose through the ranks and have maintained a top ranking without one of their players being in HLTV’s top 50.
With solid team play and coverage, OG finished highly in several major events, including second at Intel Extreme Masters XV - New York Online: Europe and Flashpoint Season Two. Heading into 2021, the team will be gunning for its first major win.
As the only non-EU roster on this list, FURIA finally made the leap many have been expecting, marking another year of consistent improvement and making the top cut of all but one of the 17 tournaments they competed in throughout 2020.
Yuri "yuurih" Santos was a standout player as he and his teammates dominated American events and managed to compete with the best teams in the world in Europe too. FURIA ended up winning four events and finishing in the top three in six others, including DreamHack Masters Winter 2020: Europe, along with recording wins against the likes of Heroic and OG.
BIG were arguably the most dominant EU squad competing over the summer, winning some massive tournaments like DreamHack Open Summer 2020: Europe and cs_summit 6 Online: Europe, beating Team Vitality and Heroic, among other strong rosters.
They did have a big of a drop-off in October. But by the end of the year, Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz had the team back in top form, finishing third at both BLAST Premier: Fall 2020 and Intel Extreme Masters XV - Global Challenge to end the year.
Heroic are the first of several teams that made a big leap in 2020, breaking into the upper tier of competitive CS:GO rosters by taking on the top dogs and doing so with a roster that went through a weird change in April.
Casper "cadiaN" Møller and the Heroic roster were supposed to be acquired by FunPlus Phoenix in March, but the deal fell through and after a month of playing with the new organization, all five players reverted back to Heroic’s roster. After settling back in and making some moves, including bringing on OpTic Gaming mainstay and former Heroic player Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen, the team was off to the races.
With wins at DreamHack Open Fall 2020 and ESL One: Cologne 2020 Online - Europe over the likes of Team Vitality and Astralis, Heroic were one of 2020’s biggest success stories.
After a rather disappointing 2019 campaign, Na’Vi bounced back in a big way to reclaim a spot at the top of CS:GO’s everchanging meta.
With the addition of Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy to start the year and the continued excellence of Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, Na’Vi placed in the top four of all but two events they competed in throughout the year. That includes winning the Gamers Without Borders showmatch event and WePlay! Clutch Island.
Even though they didn’t secure a win at a major this year, Na’Vi placed second two separate times at high-profile events. At ESL Pro League Season 12: Europe they pushed Astralis to the limit and nearly managed to take the win, and just last month they did the same to Vitality at Intel Extreme Masters XV - Beijing Online: Europe.
One of the benefits of having one of, if not the best players in the world is that you will likely always be considered among the best teams in the world too.
There was some early uncertainty with Vitality, but the team managed to stabilize their performance heading into the summer, where they rolled out three straight second-place finishes and eventually won two majors over the last month. They managed to take down Na’Vi to win Intel Extreme Masters XV - Beijing Online: Europe and even beat Astralis to take home the BLAST Premier: Fall 2020 title.
If that wasn’t enough, the organization also signed star player Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut to a contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2024. Talk about a great turnaround.
Another year, another top-ranked spot for Astralis after closing out 2020 with a total of three major victories, including the last one of the year at Intel Extreme Masters XV - Global Challenge.
This is the team’s third year in a row sitting atop the CS:GO power rankings, including a three-peat as the number-one ranked team on HLTV’s World ranking (as of Dec. 24.) But the team did struggle heavily over the summer, dropping to their lowest point in the world rankings since Nov. 2016, hitting 17th in August before jumping right back up to number one by mid-October.
Just looking at the final three games Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz and Astralis played at Intel Extreme Masters XV, they managed to take down Vitality, Na’Vi, and Team Liquid all in a row to win the tournament. That alone is a testament to how strong the Astralis roster still is four years after their core came together with the organization.
Honorable mentions go to G2 Esports for managing to reach number one earlier this year and Complexity for grinding back into the top 20 after bottoming out at the end of 2019.