Esports teams have become the foundation of competitive gaming—they’re the reason behind the success of esports. In 2019, there have been multiple esports teams that surpassed all expectations. But which squad had the best year?
The teams on this list have been chosen in terms of the impactful victories they had in 2019 and the scale of the event. The International in Dota 2, for example, is considered to be a “bigger” event than a Solo Cash Cup in Fortnite. Prize earnings are included as an additional factor, via esports earnings. Each team name will be followed by the esport in which they succeeded the most.
Here are our top 10 teams of 2019.
10) Sentinels – Fortnite
Prize earnings in 2019: $3,095,400
Tournament wins: Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019 – Solo, Contender’s Solos Cash Cup, week two – NAW, Contender’s Solos Cash Cup, week six – NAE, Champion’s Solos Cash Cup, week six – NAE, Champion’s Solos Cash Cup, week seven – NAE
Sentinels had a lackluster start to the beginning of 2019. But this all changed when the organization signed 16-year-old Fortnite star Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf on March 25.
This signing proved to be one of the best acquisitions of any organization in 2019. Four months and a few online victories later, Bugha won the Solo Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019 and a hefty $3 million in prize money.
Alongside the star player, Nick “Aspect” McGuire finished in 61st place in the Solo Fortnite World Cup Finals and eighth at the Solo Secret Skirmish, winning a total of $70,000.
9) eUnited – Call of Duty
Prize earnings in 2019: $1,487,375
Tournament wins: CWL Championship 2019, CWL Pro League 2019 Finals
EUnited were considered to be one of the best teams in CoD: Black Ops 4. The North American squad had a dominant end to their 2019 tenure, winning the CWL Pro League 2019 Playoffs and the CoD World League Championship 2019, the grand prize of CoD esports.
The North American organization developed one of the best young talents in esports, CoD Champs MVP and 18-year-old Chris “Simp” Lehr. He was the best submachine gun player in the game and the linchpin of eUnited’s success in the first-person shooter title.
8) TNC Predator – Dota 2
Prize earnings in 2019: $1,821,852
Tournament wins: MDL Chengdu Major 2019, WESG 2018 (Dota 2), ESL One Hamburg 2019, Asia Pacific Predator League 2019
TNC Predator have been extremely consistent in the latter half of the Dota 2 season. After a disappointing top-12 finish at The International 2019 in August, TNC Predator won both the ESL One Hamburg 2019 in October and the MDL Chengdu Major in November.
One thing is for certain, though. Unlike Team Liquid, TNC Predator know how to win tournaments.
7) SKT – League
Prize earnings in 2019: $448,810
Tournament wins: LCK Spring 2019, Rift Rivals 2019 – LCK vs LPL vs LMS/VCS, LCK Summer 2019
One of the most dominant teams in League of Legends history had to make the list. SKT had an impressive 2019, but its impact was unscalable in comparison to previous years. The South Korean organization finished top-four at both the Mid-Season Invitational in May and Worlds 2019 respectively, losing to European team G2 Esports both times.
6) San Francisco Shock – Overwatch
Prize earnings in 2019: $1,500,000
Tournament wins: OWL season two playoffs, OWL season two, stage two
The San Francisco Shock had arguably the most emphatic run in any esports tournament of 2019. At the OWL playoffs in September, the Shock went 16-0 in the lower bracket to secure a place in the finals against the Vancouver Titans. But the Shock weren’t done there. They managed to beat the Titans 4-0 in dominant fashion in the finals.
This wasn’t the first time that the Shock had beaten the Titans, however. In May, the Shock won the OWL stage two playoffs with a 4-2 victory.
5) Team Liquid – CS:GO
Prize earnings in 2019: $2,312,600
Tournament wins: Intel Grand Slam season two, ESL Pro League season nine: Finals, iBUYPOWER Masters IV, IEM Season XIV – Sydney, DreamHack Masters Dallas 2019, ESL One: Cologne 2019, BLAST Pro Series: Los Angeles 2019, IEM Season XIV – Chicago, ECS S8 – NA Series four
The second-best team in CS:GO won the Intel Grand Slam season two in July, which was a series of tournaments hosted by Intel, ESL, and DreamHack. Although this wasn’t a Major, Liquid displayed world-class Counter-Strike before the end of 2019, winning five tournaments in a row.
But since their disappointing top-eight finish at the StarLadder Berlin Major in September, Liquid have failed to win a tournament. Liquid have bounced back before, however, and they’ll likely do it again in 2020.
4) FunPlus Phoenix – League
Prize earnings in 2019: $1,132,275
Tournament wins: League Worlds 2019, LPL Summer 2019
A team that wins the League World Championship has to be in the history books, especially when that team sweeps G2, the best squad in Europe. The jungle-support duo of Gao “Tian” Tian-liang and Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song paired with mid laner Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang made FPX the best team at Worlds.
The Chinese team dominated the latter half of the LPL, winning the LPL Summer Split in September after defeating Royal Never Give Up 3-1.
3) Astralis – CS:GO
Tournament wins: IEM XIII – Katowice 2019, StarLadder Berlin Major 2019, ECS S7 – Europe Series one, BLAST Pro Series: São Paulo 2019, ECS S8 – Europe Series four, IEM Season XIV – Beijing, ECS S8 – Finals
Back-to-back Major champions Astralis are the pinnacle of tactical and team-based Counter-Strike. The Danish side knows how to win Major trophies.
Astralis struggled during the middle of the year due to Liquid’s dominance, but the Danes quickly recovered toward the latter half of 2019 with victories at IEM Season XIV – Beijing in November, ECS S8 Finals in December, and BLAST Pro Series: Global Final 2019 later this month.
2) OG – Dota 2
Prize earnings in 2019: $15,817,681
Tournament wins: The International 2019
The first repeat champions of The International in August had to be high on this list. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein and crew went 14-2 in the group stage and beat Liquid 3-1 in the final. OG were awarded $15.6 million out of the $34 million prize pool from TI9.
But the back-to-back TI champions had a rough start to the year, failing to reach higher than a top-six placing at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major in May and top-eight at the EPICENTER Major in June. OG turned up when it mattered to successfully defend their trophy, however. And now, they’re the only team to win the prestigious Dota 2 tournament twice in a row.
1) G2 Esports – League
Prize earnings in 2019: $900,103
Tournament wins: Mid-Season Invitational 2019, 2019 LEC Spring Split, 2019 LEC Summer Split, Rift Rivals 2019 – NA vs. EU
Arguably the best European League team of all time, G2 dominated the competition in 2019. The team signed support Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle and mid laner Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther, while Luka “Perkz” Perković switched to AD carry. These moves were instrumental in G2’s success since they went on to win nearly every single tournament they participated in.
G2 won both the LEC Spring and Summer Splits in April and September, respectively, while winning Rift Rivals in June. But their biggest tournament victory was in May when G2 swept Liquid to take home the MSI 2019 title with Caps as the MVP.
This wasn’t the only achievement for the European side, however. In August, G2’s entire roster was named as the 2019 LEC Summer Split All-Pro first team, proving that they were the most dominant team in Europe.
But this incredible form didn’t reach its full potential. After dismantling SKT in the semifinals of Worlds 2019 in November, the European side fell flat to FPX, losing 3-0 in the grand finals. This marked G2’s only tournament loss of the entire season.
This was an incredible year for esports teams. Plenty of organizations will be looking to field the best talent to compete at the top level in 2020. Perhaps there will be some new faces at the end of next year.