Counter-Strike had one of its best years, if not the best, in 2019. Several teams had their moments and intensively fought for the top during the season.
No one was dominant during the whole season, however, like we saw Astralis be in 2018, SK Gaming/Luminosity in 2016, and Fnatic in 2015. This made the season more interesting for all CS:GO fans, even those who cheer for smaller teams. Every tournament could be anyone’s for the taking—aside from the Majors, which Astralis kept dominating—and upsets happened more frequently at other tier-one events.
This year was arguably the most competitive time span of CS:GO since its launch in 2012. Here are the best CS:GO teams of 2019.
- Best version: Aleksi “allu” Jalli, Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, Jere “sergej” Jalo, Sami “xSeveN” Laasanen, and Jani “Aerial” Jussila
- Notable championships: BLAST Pro Series Madrid
- Runners-up: IEM Katowice Major, DreamHack Masters Dallas, IEM Chicago, and CS:GO Asia Championships
ENCE were the most pleasant sensation of 2018. The full-Finnish lineup ended last year close to the top 10. But who would’ve thought that ENCE would have such a stellar run at the IEM Katowice Major in February? The Finns lost to Astralis in the grand finals, but kept showing the same consistency throughout most of the season.
They broke Astralis’ 31-win streak on Nuke to win BLAST Pro Series Madrid in May and were the runners-up at two other tournaments. Despite their good year, ENCE opted to replace in-game leader Aleksib with star rifler Miikka “suNny” Kemppi after the StarLadder Berlin Major in September. The team hasn’t shown the same consistency and groove that they did with Aleksib, however.
- Best version: Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut, Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt, Dan “apEX” Madesclaire, Cédric “RpK” Guipouy, and Alex McMeekin
- Notable championships: cs_summit four and ECS season seven
- Runners-up: ESL One Cologne and DreamHack Masters Malmö
ALEX’s addition to the roster at the end of 2018 did wonders for Vitality’s gameplay. He took over the in-game leadership for the T-sides and NBK- kept leading their CT-sides. It was a new meta in CS:GO and it proved to be effective since Vitality won one of the most coveted trophies of the circuit, ECS season seven in June.
But along with this success, egos also got bigger, which ruined their chemistry after the StarLadder Berlin Major. Vitality decided to have one main voice leading the squad, ALEX, and benched NBK- to bring in G2’s former captain, Richard “shox” Papillon, just as a player.
This roster move is yet to pay off. Shox was expected to become the team’s second star behind ZywOo, who had a stunning year. But so far, Vitality look more inconsistent than before.
- Best version: Robin “flusha” Rönnquist, Jesper “JW” Wecksell, Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson, Maikil “Golden” Selim, and Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin
- Notable championships: DreamHack Masters Malmö
- Runners-up: StarSeries i-League season seven, IEM Sydney, StarSeries i-League season eight, and ESL Pro League season 10
Fnatic was having its worst year in 2019. The three-time Major champions didn’t even qualify for the StarLadder Berlin Major in August and made a bet that many people thought wasn’t going to work: bringing flusha and Golden back in September.
They won their first and only tournament of the year right after that change, however, at DreamHack Masters Malmö and the winning atmosphere was instantly brought back. They could’ve won two more championships, but there’s no need to hurry. If the Swedes maintain this level in 2020, they could add a couple more trophies to their shelf.
- Best version: Finn “karrigan” Andersen, Robin “ropz” Kool, Özgur “woxic” Eker, Chris “chrisJ” de Jong, and David “frozen” Čerňanský
- Notable championships: CS:GO Asia Championships, EPL season 10, and cs_summit five
- Runners-up: None
Mousesports had a mediocre season for most of the year, but the international squad saved it just in time. They were on the verge of being eliminated by TYLOO at the CS:GO Asia Championships when every piece was finally put together.
Now, they’ve won three tournaments in a row between November and December—that’s simply something that weak teams can’t do. This recent success will help mousesports begin 2020 with a lot of confidence. And if anyone thought that karrigan was just a washed-up leader, he’s once again built a top-five team from scratch.
3) Evil Geniuses
- Best version: Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte, Cvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov, Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz, Tarik Celik, and Ethan Arnold
- Notable championships: ESL One New York and StarSeries i-League season eight
- Runners-up: None
It’s impossible to talk about EG without breaking their season down in parts. When the North Americans were still playing for NRG, they had a terrible campaign at the IEM Katowice Major in February that led to tarik’s addition in place of Jacob “FugLy” Medina. Later on, in-game leader Damian “daps” Steele was replaced by stanislaw.
Fans were practically believing that a curse was in effect since NRG never made it through the semifinals. The North Americans ended in the top-four five times, including at the StarLadder Berlin Major. But everything changed when they were bought by EG ahead of ESL One New York in September and beat Astralis in a best-of-five grand final.
EG still had a bit of gas left in the tank and won StarSeries i-League season eight. But they seemingly lost steam in the last few events of the year, failing to reach a grand final again. Their calendar, however, wasn’t the best since they attended two tournaments in China, which may have caused burnout. EG can do better in 2020 and they won’t have to carry the weight of never winning a big tournament this time.
2) Team Liquid
- The lineup: Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, Keith “NAF” Markovic, Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, Jake “Stewie2K” Yip, and Nick “nitr0” Cannella
- Notable championships: IEM Sydney, DreamHack Masters Dallas, EPL season nine, ESL One Cologne, BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles, and IEM Chicago
- Runners-up: BLAST Pro Series São Paulo, BLAST Pro Series Miami, ECS season eight, BLAST Pro Series Global Final
After a couple of runners-up finishes at BLAST events, Liquid finally broke their curse and won a major championship for the first time since the organization entered CS:GO in 2015.
And it wasn’t just one title. EliGE and crew won six consecutive tournaments in two months, the Intel Grand Slam and its $1 million prize, and dethroned Astralis, who held the No. 1 spot in HLTV’s world rankings from more than a year.
Although 2019 was incredible for Liquid and is by far the best campaign that a North American team has ever had, Liquid still don’t have a CS:GO Major title. They missed the opportunity to crown their era at the StarLadder Berlin Major and saw Astralis come back to the top instead.
That said, 2020 is looking more optimistic than ever for Liquid and the North American region as a whole. The next season should be the closest that North America has been to winning another CS:GO Major.
- The lineup: Nicolai “device” Reedtz, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, Emil “Magisk” Reif, and Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth
- Notable championships: IEM Katowice Major, BLAST Pro Series São Paulo, StarLadder Berlin Major, IEM Beijing, ECS season eight, BLAST Pro Series Global Final
- Runners-up: BLAST Pro Series Madrid and ESL One New York
The Danish powerhouse did it again. They were the best CS:GO team in 2019. This year wasn’t nearly as commanding as 2018 when they dominated almost the entire season, but in 2019, they won two Majors.
There was a lack of titles between these Majors, though, and many thought that Liquid were going to be the best team in 2019. Astralis fixed their issues and came back with new strategies to prove that they have better team play.
What’s the limit for the Danes? They’re the only team to have won three Majors in a row (don’t forget about FACEIT London in 2018). It’d be absurd if they grabbed their fourth consecutive and fifth title. After these two years, Astralis is definitely one of the best organizations in esports.