23 February 2017 - 18:56
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Thorin's Top 20 Best CS:GO Players Never to Win a Major - Part 1 (20-11)

Thorin counts down the 20 best CS:GO players never to win a major
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Courtesy of Dreamhack

With more than four years of competitive Counter-Strike and 10 majors having passed, there have been numerous great players and teams securing the ultimate prize and etching their names immortally into history. Not every great player has had his day though and in this two part list I will count down the 20 best to never finish atop the podium at the end of a major.

"Best player" is obviously a contentious term and I have applied it not simply to star players, but also those who were the best at less carry-orientated roles, such as in-game leader or support. The key criteria for this list is that the player was good enough to have potentially won a major during some peak period of their career, but never did, for whatever reasons.

Part 1: 20-11

Part 2: 10-1

20. Simon "twist" Eliasson - The lost Swede

Courtesy of EPICENTER

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (13th-16th) [Reason]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (3rd-4th) [LGB]

DreamHack Winter 2014 (9th-12th) [F3]

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (3rd-4th) [FNATIC]

twist is one of CS:GO's "what if" players primarily due to his bizarre reluctance to join up with any of the elite teams within the Swedish scene from the middle of 2014, after LGB's dissolution, onwards. After helping LGB come within a map of the EMS One Katowice final, twist decided to play with second and third tier Swedish teams for the span of the next seven majors. NiP came-a-knocking and the answer was always no. It wasn't until KRiMZ, JW and flusha essentially forced him onto FNATIC, due to displacing him in GODSENT, that the talented Swede again joined a team capable of a run at a major. That campaign with FNATIC saw him help push them to the second top four finish of his career.

twist has quietly been one of Sweden's best hybrid players and not only could have won a major with LGB at EMS One Katowice, but would have made a very solid semi-star for a team like FNATIC or NiP throughout the period he found himself playing with lesser players, fitting in as the cajunb of those teams - contrasted to cajun's time in TSM/Astralis and in relation to device and dupreeh. One can but dream of what would have been possible for twist had he played in a side like the NiP of late 2014 or early 2015.

Best chance:

EMS One Katowice 2014 (3rd-4th) [LGB]

LGB were a power CS team and running into Virtus.pro in the semi-final of the second CS:GO major was perhaps the appropriate counter to their style, as the Poles were undeniable and at peak levels. Had LGB gotten to the final or faced NiP on the other side of the bracket, their chances would have been better. The previous LGB core had competed well with the Ninjas on a number of occasion and twist's own SK had battled well with him showing star performances.

19. Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen - Making the best of bad hands

Courtesy of Dreamhack and Adela Sznadjer

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (9th-12th) [Reason]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (9th-12th) [3DMAX]

DreamHack Winter 2014 (13th-16th) [myXMG]

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (13th-16th) [Dig]

ESL One Cologne 2016 (9th-12th) [Dig]

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (5th-8th) [North]

Had there been majors back in early 2013 then MSL would have had a chance to have won as a Support player in Copenhagen Wolves, but his inclusion in this list comes, perhaps unsurprisingly, thanks to his aptitude as an in-game leader. Ever since taking over the reigns of Dignitas in 2015 the Dane has improved rapidly and consistently shown an ability to take pieces which had not worked elsewhere and shape them into both quality players in his system and thus elevate his teams to competing with the best in the world.

Prior to getting Magiskb0Y in late 2016, MSL never had a line-up which was truly capable of winning a major, but now he is in a position where the possibility is not longer ridiculous enough to be ignored. They were but a few round away from besting eventual finalists Virtus.pro and moving into the semi-finals at the ELEAGUE Major last month.

A knock on MSL is that despite his teams frequently competing closely with elite level sides and becoming unusually good on specific maps, such as cbblestone and the rework of nuke, they have often performed poorly at majors, including failing to qualify for a number. Even so, MSL has been one of CS:GO's best in-game leaders for around a year and a half and given the kind of talent his fellow Danes karrigan and gla1ve have now inherited in Astralis it's not difficult to have seen MSL with a chance to go all the way.

Unlike many of the names on this list, MSL is one of the active players very much capable of removing himself from the list by virtue of winning still.

Best chance:

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (5th-8th) [North]

As creaky as North's performance was in the Swiss system, they came into their series against Virtus.pro and beat the Poles on their own pick - the little played cache which MSL famously despises. The deciding cbblestone saw the Danes go up 12:3 on the CT half to open the game, behind a monster performance from Magisk, and look all but into the semi-final. Had they closed out said game, one could certainly have seen them matching up well with an SK which was shuffling around spots on maps to accomodate stand-in fox and which did not themselves like cache, thus allowing MSL to ban train and force strong maps for his own team.

Even with all of that said, it's pretty unlikely North would have won that major.

18. Sean "seangares" Gares - Deep thinking but lacking the fire-power

Courtesy of ESL and Patrick Strack

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (3rd-4th) [coL]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (5th-8th) [coL]

ESL One Cologne 2014 (5th-8th) [C9]

DreamHack Winter 2014 (9th-12th) [C9]

EMS One Katowice 2015 (9th-12th) [C9]

ESL One Cologne 2015 (9th-12th) [C9]

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (9th-12th) [C9]

sgares was one of the best North American IGLs for a couple of years and had a couple of occasions upon which he could well have seen his team go all the way. Known for designing effective anti-strats and letting his stars do what they want, sgares was able to have his teams in place to compete with Europe's best on numerous occasions. Poor roster decisions and a lack of authoritarian presence on his teams perhaps prevented them from upgrading players at the right time and getting the wrong influences out of line-ups early enough on.

Best chance:

ESL One Cologne 2014 (5th-8th) [C9]

sgares's best ever major placing, at Dreamhack Winter 2013 - the first major, was interestingly not the best opportunity to take the crown, as any of the three semi-finalists there would have dusted off his coL line-up. Rather, C9's run to top eight at ESL One Cologne 2014 stands as the obvious candidate for a potential sgares major victory. The NA side were unlucky enough to see the randomiser choose cbblestone as the decider against NiP and were the first victim of some NiP magic on the map, as the Ninjas had not even won on it in the group stage. On practically any other map NiP were there for the taking, with the team in the worst slump of their careers and looking vulnerable across the board.

Had C9 gotten past NiP then Happy's LDLC awaited in the semi-final and were certainly beatable and a good match-up for sgares's boys. The finalists were FNATIC, who were attending only their second offline tournament with KRiMZ and olofm in the line-up and who went on to lose the major to NiP in the real final. Victory was far from assured, but C9 had a surprisingly solid shot at taking down that major. In the group stage they had already taken down elite European sides Dignitas and Titan.

17. Spencer "Hiko" Martin - NA's most clutch

Courtesy of Dreamhack and Robert Paul

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (3rd-4th) [coL]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (5th-8th) [coL]

ESL One Cologne 2014 (5th-8th) [C9]

DreamHack Winter 2014 (9th-12th) [C9]

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (13th-16th) [TL]

MLG Columbus 2016 (3rd-4th) [TL]

ESL One Cologne 2016 (2nd) [TL]

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (9th-11th) [TL]

Newer spectators of CS:GO may not realise that in 2013 Hiko was one of the best players in the world, not merely one of the best NA stars. Through to 2014 he remained a solid player until late on the year, helping C9 to their almost deep run at ESL One Cologne 2014. Certainly, he could have won the major at that time. Since then he has placed top four at two additional majors, going to the final with TL - as far as any North American has ever made it. Still, those latter results were not as a star element of those line-ups.

At his peak, Hiko was one of the world's best clutch players and his lurking style anchored coL and C9's approach to the game and ensured that along with swag or Shroud he formed a solid partnership of fire-power for the NA line-ups he was a part of. Those teams argued lacked for a third legitimate source of fire-power, which held them back from more concrete contendership at more majors.

Best chance:

MLG Columbus 2016 (3rd-4th) [TL]

As a star, Hiko's best chance to win the major came at ESL One Cologne 2014, but his best chance overall arguably came with TL's inspired and unlikely MLG Columbus run to the semi-finals. There they faced eventual champions SK Gaming and got to map point on both of the first two maps, only to lose in overtime on both occasions. It's hardly outrageous to suggest TL were close to edging that match out and at the very least getting a crack at a decider.

Had the s1mple-fueled NA side made the final, then it turned out Na`Vi were far from the monsters they had been earlier in the year. GuardiaN's injury was at its very worst, as evidenced by him using four times his normal sensitivity in the final, and had been carried as far largely by an unlikely performance from Edward and a patented Astralis choke. Na`Vi would still be favoured, but not by as much as some may suggest. Na`Vi banning cache would have given TL trouble, so a decider on a map like train could have been troublesome, but TL could have picked a map like dust2 and then prayed for cbblestone as the decider.

16. Håvard "rain" Nygaard - Norway's secret weapon

Courtesy of Dreamhack and Adela Sznadjer

Results at the majors:

ESL One Cologne 2014 (13th-16th) [CW]

ESL One Katowice 2015 (9th-12th) [LGB]

ESL One Cologne 2015 (5th-8th) [Kinguin]

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (3rd-4th) [G2]

MLG Columbus 2016 (9th-12th) [FaZe]

ESL One Cologne 2016 (9th-12th) [FaZe]

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (5th-8th) [FaZe]

rain once looked doomed to play out his career wondering "what if" the Norwegian scene had ever produced enough talent or been gifted good enough opportunities sponsorship-wise. Instead, he climbed out of that pit via the freak-show spectacle of Kinguin, which began as seemingly an exhibition team boasting well known names from different countries and eventually evolved, through roster moves, into a legitimately good side. rain was arguably the star player of the team in the middle of 2015 and has shown period of strong performance through to their time as FaZe in 2016.

Due to his style of play being so calculated and smooth, he is often thought of as a consistent player, but I've always seen him as a very up and down player who, if his decision-making and skills are dialed in, dominates or, when those criteria are not met, can go missing. Even putting aside his obvious opportunity to win G2, rain could have been a deadly addition to teams like NiP, Astralis or FNATIC in late 2015 or early 2016.

Best chance:

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (3rd-4th) [G2]

As unlikely as it was, taking down a strong VP in the quarter-finals no less, G2's run to top four at Cluj-Napoca saw them a single round from reaching the final. With NiP upsetting Astralis on the other side of the bracket and Na`Vi then benefitting from that win to move to a final they were perhaps not quite ready for, G2 would have had a real shot at taking the major crown. Na`Vi would have banned out their cache, but inferno was always a chance to beat Na`Vi and stood as one of G2's best maps.

15. Braxton "swag" Pierce - The banned game-sense star

Courtesy of ESL and Kelly Kline

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (3rd-4th) [coL]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (5th-8th) [coL]

ESL One Cologne 2014 (9th-12th) [iBP]

Dreamhack Winter 2014 (9th-12th) [iBP]

With Skadoodle still lacking in communication for the first years of CS:GO, it was swag who stood as the next great player for the early portion of the game. His game sense was strong on an intuitive level, his skills were consistent and he played with his brain more than most skilled NA players. His coL teams were a little hamstrung for fire-power early on, his iBP teams never performed at the majors and he was banned by the team the other NA talent came through. Given the team around, though, swag could have been a key piece in a championships side in 2014.

It is worth noting that he crippled his last chance at a major by instigating the removal of DaZeD and steel prior to Dreamhack Winter. It's quite unlikely the team would have taken the title, but their performances against elite European competition at FACEIT Season 2 Finals had shown they were a solid team and had a good shot at upsetting European teams.

Best chance:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (3rd-4th) [coL]

While this stands as the closest swag got to a major, it was not a legitimate chance to win the title. Instead, that would have come had a combination of coL and iBP players been assembled in the middle of 2014, when he was at his peak individually and other players were developing internationally. Of course, given more years in his career he may well have moved further up this list or eventually gotten that title.

14. Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham - The game's best turret

Courtesy of Dreamhack and Adela Sznadjer

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (13th-16th) [iBP]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (13th-16th) [iBP]

ESL One Cologne 2014 (9th-12th) [iBP]

Dreamhack Winter 2014 (9th-12th) [iBP]

ESL One Cologne 2015 (9th-12th) [C9]

Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca 2015 (9th-12th) [C9]

MLG Columbus 2016 (13th-16th) [C9]

As the star of iBUYPOWER, Skadoodle quickly emerged as one of NA's brightest talents, even if he and his team infamously fell apart in the group stage of the first three majors. Joining C9 in 2015, Skadoodle became the best NA player and was legitimately contending with GuardiaN for the title of best AWPer in the world. C9's three straight international finals appearances showed his consistent ability to deliver on the big stages. Alas, C9 inexplicably were unable to showcase such performances at the majors and Skadoodle's own form has since continued to dip to the extent he has become irrelevant.

It's also worth noting that Skadoodle is one of the more hypothetical names on this list, in as much as he has never moved beyond the group stage of a major he has participated in, given seven chances.

Best chance:

ESL One Cologne 2015 (9th-12th) [C9]

What happened to Cloud9 at this tournament remains a mystery. The bizarre redraw system for the groups can't have helped, with sgares famous for his research of opponents and design of anti-strats, but the collapse cannot solely be blamed upon the format of the tournament. C9 came in after their three finals and a top four finish at CEVO-P S7. Theoretically, they should have been a team capable of a deep run and Skadoodle should have been a candidate for MVP of the tournament, standing as one of the world's highest impact star players.

13. Denis "seized" Kostin - Masterful Support

Courtesy of ELEAGUE

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (13th-16th) [Na`Vi]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (13th-16th) [Na`Vi]

ESL One Cologne 2014 (5th-8th) [Na`Vi]

DreamHack Winter 2014 (3rd-4th) [Na`Vi]

ESL One Katowice 2015 (5th-8th) [Na`Vi]

ESL One Cologne 2015 (5th-8th) [Na`Vi]

Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca 2015 (2nd) [Na`Vi]

MLG Columbus 2016 (2nd) [Na`Vi]

ESL One Cologne (5th-8th) [Na`Vi]

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (5th-8th) [Na`Vi]

seized has shown great versatility throughout his long and storied CS:GO career. Starting out as the team's star player, replacing the departed markeloff and Edward, he showed potential but was not able to hit the heights required to make Na`Vi champions. With GuardiaN's addition he continued to output strong performances in a team which largely lived and died by the Slovakian's strengths. When flamie finally got there, seized settled in as a Support player and when starix finally took over as IGL seized's value in that role became apparent, as by mid 2016 he was one of the world's best in that role.

Na`Vi have suffered many sorrows across the years, but their run at the end of 2015 and into early 2016 saw them strong enough to take big titles yet so often denied by what have since become all-time great sides. seized is a player who was strong enough at his role that not much needed to be changed in his teams for them to have taken that major title.

Best chance:

MLG Columbus 2016 (2nd) [Na`Vi]

The run at Cluj-Napoca was thanks in large part to TSM's failure to meet Na`Vi in the semi-final, with a series win over nV not a likely outcome in the final. MLG was the true missed opportunity for seized and company. Had GuardiaN's hand not destroyed his game, the opponent and the maps were there for the taking. Luminosity had yet to ever win a big tournament, the map draw was the best Na`Vi could have hoped for and they had the style and talent to match LG across the board.

12. Finn "karrigan" Andersen - The cursed leader

Courtesy of ELEAGUE

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (9th-12th) [n!]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (9th-12th) [Reason]

ESL One Cologne 2014 (9th-12th) [CW]

ESL One Katowice 2015 (5th-8th) [TSM]

ESL One Cologne 2015 (3rd-4th) [TSM]

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (5th-8th) [TSM]

MLG Columbus 2016 (3rd-4th) [Ast]

ESL One Cologne 2016 (5th-8th) [Ast]

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (5th-8th) [FaZe]

karrigan will unfortunately be unfairly labelled as one of the primary problems in Astralis and thus considered a bad IGL, but it was less his leadership and more the lack of confidence from his team, with whom he had been playing for more than a year and a half, that caused his relationship with that core to dissolve. Make no mistake, when karrigan was fully activated as a leader, throughout the body of 2015, he was one of the game's best IGLs and his team looked set to shoot up the all-time great line-up list close to the top.

All the pieces were there, but they famously fell apart in the play-off stage of majors, a problem not solely stemming from karrigan in any respect. When one considers that device, karrigan's central piece, suffered from performance anxiety during the best times of the team, one can hardly blame karrigan solely for his team's failures.

Best chance:

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (5th-8th) [TSM]

It speaks to the tragedy of Astralis that they legitimately had three opportunities from which they might have won the major, but their best stands as their lowest major placing with karrigan. At Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca, TSM came into the competition in fantastic form. They were getting wins against everyone but nV, slaying elite level teams like FNATIC and Virtus.pro in the run-up to the tournament. device looked like the world's most consistent star player, dupreeh was winning clutches every game, Xyp9x was a monster at Support and cajunb had his own map - dust2 - where he could take over at will.

The bracket opened up for TSM, with the three other elite teams (nV, Virtus.pro and FNATIC) all drawn into the other half. All the Danes had to do was beat NiP, a team they had dominated on a number of occasions and who were far from major winning level by then, and then take out the winner of Na`Vi, a good but not yet great side, and Luminosity, who had never won a Bo3 over a top 10 ranked opponent. TSM fell at the first hurdle, failing to turn up at all to the quarter-final and getting completely destroyed by NiP in one of the most ludicrous chokes of all-time. When one throws in that nV themselves were almost upset in the semi-final, the way could have been open to have beaten NiP, Na`vi and G2 to win a major.

11. Philip "aizy" Aistrup - The missing Danish great

Courtesy of Dreamhack and Robert Paul

Results at the majors:

DreamHack Winter 2013 (13th-16th) [Xapso]

EMS One Katowice 2014 (9th-12th) [3DMAX]

ESL One Cologne 2014 (3rd-4th) [Dig]

DreamHack Cluj-Napoca 2015 (13th-16th) [Dig]

MLG Columbus 2016 (9th-12th) [FaZe]

ESL One Cologne 2016 (9th-12th) [FaZe]

ELEAGUE Major 2017 (5th-8th) [FaZe]

aizy is a player who has seemingly taken the wrong route along his career path again and again, yet only in hindsight and from scenarios one could not reasonably have blamed him for. As an up and coming talent in 2014 he took the opportunity to join Dignitas - Denmark's best team - as any Danish player would, only to find his skills wasted by FeTiSh and a team which already had their pieces set in place, leaving him to struggle in an off-role.

When a later Dignitas team, based around an entirely different core, saw his skills activated by IGL MSL, he jumped ship to go and rake in big bucks at G2, later to become FaZe. Again, one can hardly blame him, as despite some success in Dignitas the team had outright failed in the group stage of Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca - the seventh major - and he had been exceptional over the past few months. Added to that, G2 had just been a round from the very same major final, so G2 looked to be an upgrade. Little could he have known that Dignitas would accomplish more the following year and he would end up in a FaZe team which only recently began to look truly dangerous, in a title-winning sense.

At his peak, in the latter half of 2015, aizy was one of the world's most skilled and dangerous rifle players. Put into an Astralis in a starring role or perhaps playing in Dignitas the following year, he was certainly good enough to have been the star of a major winning side. Much like MSL and karrigan, the sun has not necessarily set on the young Dane's chances.

Best chance:

ESL One Cologne 2014 (3rd-4th) [Dig]

The closest aizy came to major victory was Dignitas' run to the semi-final of ESL One Cologne 2014. With the other side of the bracket being a mess, thanks to NiP upsetting C9 and LDLC, it's not ridiculous to suggest Dignitas could have won the title. With that said, their failure in the semi-final was yet another classic break-down for a talented core and they were infamous for being mentally broken by NiP in big series, as would continue the following year at key points.

In reality, aizy's best chance for a major would have been a strong team built around him during the Autumn of the year. At Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca he played monster CS, yet found himself nowhere close to a play-off run, thanks to Dig's failure around him.

The top 10 players will be revealed in part two of this list tomorrow.


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