2 December 2014 - 20:30
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Thorin's CS:GO Top 10 World Rankings - 2nd December, 2014

CS:GO has always struggled for a consistently and coherent set of World Rankings, with so many teams attending different events and the difficulty of judging the context of which event's results should count for more than another.
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CS:GO has always struggled for a consistently and coherent set of World Rankings, with so many teams attending different events and the difficulty of judging the context of which event's results should count for more than another. Rather than construct some kind of elaborate point system and place my expertise into the task of allocating which would receive how many points, I've instead looked back over the recent form of each of the teams out there and determined, according to my own analysis and intuition, which team ranks where in my global top 10.

Dreamhack Winter, the fourth CS:GO major, has just been and gone, so it's time to update the rankings accordingly.

These are my CS:GO Top 10 World Rankings for December 2nd, 2014.

1. FNATIC (KRiMZ, JW, olofm, Flusha and pronax)

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Recent form:
Dreamhack Stockholm (3rd-4th)
FACE IT S2 LAN (1st)
ESWC (1st)
fragbite Masters S3 LAN (1st)
Dreamhack Winter (5th-8th)

The outcome of FNATIC's Dreamhack Winter run, forfeiting a replay of the third map against LDLC and being eliminated in 5th-8th place, has had implications for a number of other teams in this ranking, but it has not changed FNATIC's spot at the top of it. FNATIC's loss, without ever actually losing the necessary rounds in regulation, ended their seven tournament flawless run of top four finishes with this line-up. It also ended their run of three straight offline titles. In the match against LDLC, they did look to be on the brink of losing, but LDLC have been known to choke against FNATIC and in pressure games, as they would later show in the final against NiP, so it is not a foregone conclusion that a return was impossible for FNATIC once they were down 3:13.

With all of that said, FNATIC's loss does make their top spot much less secure than it had been, their run of three offline victories is going to mean it will take more than one big win for LDLC to topple them, but the French side did take a large stride closer to doing so. For now, as fans wait and see if this FNATIC line-up will even survive intact, admist cheating accusations and their backlash as a result of doing that now infamous boost, the Swedish side are still the best in the world and the number one ranked team.

2. LDLC (shox, Happy, kioShiMa, SmithZz and NBK)

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Recent form:
Dreamhack Stockholm (2nd)
StarSeries XI (1st)
FACE IT S2 LAN (3rd-4th)
ESWC (2nd)
fragbite Masters S3 LAN (2nd)
Dreamhack winter (1st)

Had LDLC gotten to play the second half of that overpass game against FNATIC, at least without Olof's boost taking place, then I think it is quite likely they would have won. The French side has shown a trend of choking against FNATIC in the past, and in pressure games in general, but that time they looked to be too close to the finish line for even an insane comeback to truly halt them at the very least limping over and to victory. They would have beaten FNATIC for the first time in an offline Bo3 and would have been tournament favourites to take the entire title, which of course they went on to take. I think even that result alone would have been a huge boost for their morale in future series and really helped them in the knowledge that FNATIC weren't unbeatable for them. With that said, I would have put my money on FNATIC to beat them in a replay on overpass.

When the final did arrive, LDLC got a map draw which meant they had a very good chance of winning outright on the first two maps, dust2 and inferno. On the latter, they are the best team in the world outside of FNATIC. Instead, they wilted and NiP rolled them on the map. On the third map, overpass again, they showed some tilt and crumbled at times, clearly choking, as SmithZz's hand will attest to as he attempted a sip of coke in the break before overtime. LDLC might have the most talented and skilled line-up in the world, but they clearly still have some performance issues when it comes down to the winning round. Those haven't been entirely resolved, but they did make some progress with a clutch return to take the title in overtime.

For now, LDLC are the world champions, by virtue of winning the major, but they aren't quite the world's best team yet. I really hope FNATIC keep their line-up together and we get to see these two teams battle it out in future tournaments.

3. Virtus.pro (Snax, byali, pasha, NEO and TaZ)

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Recent form:
GameShow League (3rd)
FACE IT S2 LAN (3rd-4th)
ESWC (3rd)
fragbite Masters S3 LAN (3rd)
Dreamhack Winter (3rd-4th)

Just as FNATIC not making it to the semi-final was not enough to move LDLC up a spot, so LDLC failing to reach that position wouldn't quite have dislodged them and boosted Virtus.pro up, though I might have had to make a case for it if the Poles had won DHW. I thought Virtus' problem was that they couldn't beat LDLC or FNATIC in a series, so facing a bracket containing neither seemed like a sure-fire run to a top two finish. In fact, the new NiP side produced a miracle series to defeat the Poles in devastating fashion on the deciding inferno. I hate the use of the word "should" in talking about CS:GO, so I'll just say that VP were in an incredible position to beat NiP on nuke and then head into a cache which they were overwhelming favourites to win.

In the world where they get one more regulation T side round or a couple more in overtime, they really would have been off to the final and a tough match against LDLC. Instead, VP couldn't close nuke and it cost them, as they would crumble on inferno, a map they have historically been strong on, and end up with no chance of a better placing. Virtus are a great team and I still think at their peak they can win big events, they just have not been able to turn on the plow for more than a map against the best or the hottest teams out there. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I also don't think it's too worrying for now.

4. Na`Vi (GuardiaN, Edward, Seized, starix and Zeus)

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Recent form:
GameShow League (1st)
StarSeries XI (2nd)
ESWC (4th)
Dreamhack Winter (3rd-4th)

Na`Vi's Dreamhack Winter run was by far the easiest of any team in the top eight, in terms of what they actually accomplished. They barely got out of the group, enduring a pasting from VP along the way, and then defeated a Dignitas who did a good job of aiding them, both in terms of map picks and actual performance, leaving it looking more like an assisted suicide than an execution. Nevertheless, the Ukrainians again impressed and played up to the level of their opponents in the big games. A top four at a major was the highest placing yet for this side and showed that they continue to be a gatekeeper to the elite, good enough to beat all the teams below them but not quite possessing enough to go above the names ahead of them and win big events.

5. Ninjas in Pyjamas (GeT_RiGhT, f0rest, friberg, Xizt and Maikelele)

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Recent form:
Dreamhack Stockholm (5th-8th)
Dreamhack Winter (2nd)

Whenever a team changes players, there's a part of me thinks you should take their old ranking and performances and throw them out of the window, such can be the impact of roster moves. With that said, when you have nothing else to go off, then those old results will give some hints to how the new line-up might play in some respects. The revitalised NiP that took in Maikelele lived a charmed life in this tournament, progressively getting better as the tournament went on. That their miraculous run almost took them to the title, a single round from it in fact, is to be commended and considered a huge accomplishment.

With that said, I'm not sure it's that indictative of their level. I get the sense that NiP is around the level of VP, where on their best day they can win the tournament but they will also lose in some semi-finals and find LDLC and FNATIC opponents beyond their level, for now. The experiment has worked, thusfar, but one result alone can't boost them past some of the other names on this list, who have all put in consistent performance levels for months now.

6. Dignitas (device, dupreeh, cajunb, Xyp9x and FeTiSh)

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Recent form:
FACE IT S2 LAN (5th-6th)
ESWC (5th-8th)
fragbite Masters S3 LAN (4th)
Dreamhack Winter (5th-8th)

Dignitas retain their sixth placing ranking purely by virtue of Titan having to be removed entirely, otherwise they would likely be dropping down. The Danish side were gifted with the easiest group in the history of the CS:GO majors and then given the luxury of playing their best map twice, seeing them progress to play-offs with no difficulty at all. Given an opponent they should have been capable of beating (Na`Vi) and possibly even being able to gain a map pool advantage, they opted to play cbblestone and mirage. Getting humiliated on the former, they then lost a close game on the latter. It was not just another famously tragic Dignitas collapse, but this time it came in the quarter-final and against a lower class of opponent than we're used to stopping the Danes in their tracks.

Clearly adding cajunb was not the cure to all of Dignitas' problems, in fact it didn't seem to change a whole lot. They still crumble in pressure moments, their stars still become far too mortal the longer a tournament goes on and they still have issues with the terrorist side of maps. Until at least one of those problems is remedied, I don't see them breaking into the top four.

7. HellRaisers (Dosia, markeloff, s1mple, kucher and ANGE1)

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Recent form:
GameShow League (2nd)
ESWC (5th-8th)
Dreamhack Winter (5th-8th)

It's pretty wild to think that just progressing from the group stage is enough to boost HellRaisers two spots in the rankings, but such has been the paucity of consistent performance once you get outside of the top five or so teams in the world. HellRaisers shocked the world with their victory over FNATIC on mirage, a map the Swedes are monsters on. The result not only helped the CIS superteam move on in first place to the play-offs, but it ensured everyone was buying into the story-line of them being "dolls" in the hands of the puppet-master that is B1ad3. The problem was, that the HellRaisers which turned up to play NiP the following day in fact looked and played just like the HR of old. As usual, they beat a better team early in the competition only to lose to an opponent worse than the one they had beaten.

HellRaisers do look to have potential and did improve a lot on T sides, as their stomp of C9 on inferno from the T side showed, but they still are a long way from the kind of consistency that behoves a top tier team in this game.

8. Cloud9 (Hiko, Shroud, n0thing, Semphis and sgares)

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Recent form:
FACEIT S2 LAN (5th-6th)
Dreamhack Winter (9th-12th)

It may appear baffling that a team could win a single game at Dreamhack and yet jump two spots in the rankings, but Titan disappearing was its own problem and then iBUYPOWER not only removed two players, but suicided to PENTA in the group stage of the major. C9 were beaten by HellRaisers, who also beat FNATIC, and then FNATIC, the best team in the world. There's no shame in that, even if HellRaisers did crash and burn later on. C9 are a long way from the team who threatened to make a finals run in Cologne, but they are still a top 10 team, for now.

9. iBUYPOWER (Skadoodle, swag, nitr0, AZK and desi)

Recent form:
FACEIT S2 LAN (2nd)
ESWC (5th-8th)
Dreamhack Winter (9th-12th)

The new iBUYPOWER line-up initially disappointed many, as it dismantled the team which had made a strong run to the final of the FACEIT S2 LAN, but then built some hype as reports came out that it had been performing well at the pre-Dreamhack bootcamp. As a beneficiary of Titan's disqualification, iBP seemed to now have a very good chance to get out of the group. It was expected that CPH Wolves might be capable of taking them down, but instead iBP smashed the Danish side. Getting toppled with ease by Dignitas, all that was left was a final match against PENTA to reach the quarter-final. From the easiest group in the history of a major, iBP managed to flunk out and fail to reach the play-offs, losing tou to PENTA.

This new iBP line-up looks pretty bad, with their win over CPH Wolves their only real result of note and hardly one worth bragging about.

10. PENTA (kRYSTAL, fel1x, r0bs3n, denis and Spiidi)

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Recent form:
Dreamhack Winter (5th-8th)

It shows how weak the lower end of the competitive scene is that a surprise play-off run for PENTA, out of the weakest group no less, is enough to secure them the 10th spot in this ranking. Wins over CPH Wolves and iBUYPOWER saw the German side through to what would be a one-sided beating from Virtus.pro. When Titan get a new fifth player and other teams attend more offline tournaments, it seems quite likely this appearance on the top 10 will be a short one for PENTA

Speaking of which, I will address the matter of why Titan have been removed entirely. Typically, my process is to keep line-ups which have been changed as the ranking for their previous edition, at least until the new one plays a tournament. In the case of Titan, their fifth player isn't even known and KQLY being removed likely drastically changed their style. It felt pointless to keep them in the rankings, at this point in time. This is a special case and so it felt pointless to rank a team that can never exist again and has no bearing at all on the world rankings anymore.

I'll update my world rankings following the next offline tournament, which will be the ESEA S17 finals, this weekend.

Photo credit: Dreamhack, fragbite, esport.kicker.de

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