The 10 most impressive tournament runs in CS:GO history

While Fnatic had an easy run to the $800.000 first place prize at WESG last weekend, a lot of teams have done the opposite and defeated the best to wow us all.


Photo Credit: (Nathan Wentworth) 

One of the best things about CS:GO is celebrating the greatness of the best teams in history. We often praise the likes of Fnatic and NiP establishing their own individual era’s and winning multiple tournaments in a row. But just winning one big event means that you’ve accomplished something great. Some wins can be a fluke or the result of an easy bracket, but these 10 wins are all the result of a team going above and beyond and taking on the toughest competition. And sometimes looking unbeatable while doing so. 

Before getting into the list, I want to establish the criteria that were taken into account for picking out which wins were the most impressive.

Format – It’s possible to do well in BO1’s or to look good defeating two teams in a smaller-sized event. But for this list, we’re looking for teams winning as many BO3’s and as many games as possible. Unfortunately, this disqualifies most of the Valve Majors and a lot of events in the early years of CS:GO. 

Level of opposition – Ideally you want to see the best teams go up against each other. Unfortunately, with random bracket draws, that doesn’t always happen. Every team on this list went through tough opposition to take home their tournament victory.

Level of play of the winning team – Last but not least, it’s better to dominate your opponent, than to edge out a victory. Things like amount of maps won vs amount of maps lost and round scores are also taken into account. 

With the criteria established, it’s time to look at the list. 

10. Virtus.pro get revenge in Las Vegas (DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017)

Results

VP vs Misfits (16 – 12)

VP vs Gambit (10 – 16)

VP vs Fnatic (2 – 0)

VP vs Mousesports (2 – 0)

VP vs Astralis (2 – 1)

VP vs SK Gaming (2 – 1)

After a disappointing loss in the finals of the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major, Virtus.pro were back with a vengeance at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas. Following an upset in the groups at the hands of Gambit, Virtus.pro bounced back and made short work of the reunited Fnatic to advance from the group stage. In the quarterfinals, Virtus.pro took home an expected win against mousesports, but it would not get easier from there. The semi-finals was a rematch from the ELEAGUE Major against Astralis, but this time Virtus.pro came out on top. In the ELEAGUE Major finals, Train had been the map that let Virtus.pro down, but this time Virtus.pro won the map easily with a 16-4 scoreline. In the finals, they took on the newly formed SK Gaming lineup, with their latest addition, Joao “Felps” Vasconcellos. Virtus.pro won out a close series, partly due to a resurgence in form from Filip “NEO” Kubski. 

Unfortunately, Virtus.pro could not follow up on their victory, and this would be the last time we saw the legendary lineup reach the top. But at this event, they defeated the two other top 3 teams, in the form of SK Gaming and Astralis. In the semifinals against Astralis in particular, they looked very strong, winning both Nuke and Train with ease. 

9. SK Gaming continue their dominance in Cologne (ESL One Cologne 2017)

Results

SK vs Space Soldiers (14 – 16)

SK vs Virtus.pro (16 – 9)

SK vs North (16 – 10)

SK vs G2 Esports (11 – 16)

SK vs Fnatic (16 – 6)

SK vs OpTic (2 – 1)

SK vs FaZe Clan (2 – 0)

SK vs Cloud9 (3 – 0)

Prior to ESL One Cologne, SK Gaming had won 4 out of 5 events. In Cologne, they would make it 5 out of 6. SK had a few struggles in the group stage, losing in an upset against Space Soldiers, and against their kryptonite, G2 Esports. But with relatively easy victories against Virtus.pro, North and Fnatic, all of which were highly ranked teams at the time, SK advanced to the playoffs. OpTic Gaming denied them a win on the first map in the quarterfinals, but from then on it was smooth sailings for the Brazilians. SK Gaming shut down OpTic, and went on to face their rivals, FaZe Clan. SK dominated on FaZe Clan’s map pick of Overpass and ended up taking the series 2-0. In the finals, both Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and Marcelo “coldzera” David had outstanding individual performances, and SK Gaming defeated Cloud9 3-0. 

ESL One Cologne 2017 is perhaps mostly remembered as the event right before the PGL Krakow Major. But despite Astralis skipping the event, all the other top teams were in attendance. Not only did SK Gaming defeat the 2nd best team in the world in the form of FaZe Clan, but also took home victories against North, Cloud9 and Fnatic, all of whom were top 10 teams at the time. With Coldzera, Fer and FalleN all playing at a high individual level, SK looked like they were a level above the rest of the competition. 

8. Fnatic defeats the best team in the world – twice (IEM World Championship 2018)

Results

Fnatic vs Heroic (16 – 9)

Fnatic vs G2 Esports (2 – 1)

Fnatic vs FaZe Clan (2 – 0)

Fnatic vs Team Liquid (2 – 0)

Fnatic vs FaZe Clan (3 – 2)

In an event that’s still fresh in people’s memories, Fnatic delivered a big upset and took home the trophy in Katowice. The event introduced a new format to the IEM circuit, resulting in every team having to play a lot of BO3’s to make it all the way till the end. After a BO1 win against Heroic, it was all BO3’s for Fnatic. In the group stage they took down G2 Esports, and followed it up by getting their first victory against FaZe Clan, defeating them 2-0. Before facing off against the best team in the world once again, Fnatic defeated Team Liquid with a 2-0 score in the semifinals. While people might have written off Fnatic’s victory against FaZe in the group stage since both teams had already secured a spot in the playoffs, they had another opportunity to prove the doubters wrong in the finals. The finals came down to the wire, with Fnatic taking home a 3-2 victory, but defeating the best team in the world on two separate occasions is a very impressive feat. Robin “Flusha” Rönnquist had a heroic performance in the finals and played a huge part in his team’s victory. 

In a format that made upsets even more difficult than usual, Fnatic pulled off two big wins against the number one ranked team. Combine that with wins against the very dangerous opposition in the form of G2 Esports and Team Liquid, and the victory looks even better. 

7. Fnatic solidify the start of their era (ESWC 2014)

Results

Fnatic vs London Conspiracy (16 – 5)

Fnatic vs eNergy (16 – 1)

Fnatic vs POW (16 – 5)

Fnatic vs k1ck (16 – 9)

Fnatic vs NaVi (5 – 16)

Fnatic vs HellRaisers (2 – 0)

Fnatic vs Virtus.pro (2 – 0)

Fnatic vs LDLC (2 – 0)

2014 was the start of the Fnatic era. While we had seen them take home victories at the StarSeries X Finals and the FACEIT League Season 2 Finals, ESWC was the first event where we saw Fnatic in their top form, go up against all the other top teams in CS:GO. 

The group stage was mostly a trivial affair as it featured a lot of teams that weren’t close to Fnatic’s level. Natus Vincere were the only notable team in the group, and the two teams would square off in a match with little on the line. Both teams had already secured a top 2 finish, which was enough to reach the playoffs, leaving Fnatic and NaVi to just play for seeding. Fnatic lost the match, but that didn’t stop them in the playoffs. In the quarterfinals, Fnatic took out a dangerous upset team in the form of HellRaisers with a 2-0 scoreline. They would follow it up by defeating the always dangerous Virtus.pro in the semifinals and eventually defeat what would become their archrivals, LDLC, in the finals. Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson proved that he was the star of the team with what is perhaps the best tournament performance of his career. 

Aside from the mostly meaningless match against NaVi, Fnatic went undefeated throughout the event. They defeated both the 2nd and 3rd best team in the world, LDLC and Virtus.pro. Had the group stage featured slightly more difficult opposition, this could’ve been one of the most legendary tournament runs of all time. Unfortunately, instead of seeing Fnatic go up against the likes of Dignitas and Titan, they had to play teams like POW and eNergy that weren’t even in the same league. But regardless of opposition, it truly looked like nobody could’ve stopped Fnatic at ESWC. 

6. Mousesports prevail in the hardest format in CS:GO history (StarSeries Season 4 2018)

Results

Mouz vs Virtus.pro (2 – 1)

Mouz vs SK Gaming (2 – 1)

Mouz vs G2 Esports (1 – 2)

Mouz vs Team Liquid (1 – 2)

Mouz vs Cloud9 (2 – 0)

Mouz vs G2 Esports (2 – 0)

Mouz vs Team Liquid (2 – 1)

Mouz vs Natus Vincere (2 – 1)

Most big CS:GO tournaments require you to win 3 or 4 BO3’s to win the trophy, but at StarSeries Season 4, Mousesports had to win no less than 6 BO3’s on their way to the championship. Even with two losses on the way, the swiss stage included some impressive victories for Mousesports. While defeating Virtus.pro in 2018 isn’t a monumental feat, both SK Gaming and Cloud9 were among the very best teams in the world at the time of the event. In the playoffs, Mousesports got revenge against both G2 Esports and Team Liquid, before taking on Natus Vincere in the finals. Despite the best efforts of Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Mousesports were the better team and got the biggest victory of their careers. 

Mousesports victory wasn’t dominant, but winning 6 BO3’s is notable. Except for Virtus.pro, they only faced off against other top 10 teams in the tournament. This included victories against 3 top 5 teams in the form of G2 Esports, SK Gaming and Cloud9. Unfortunately, Mousesports didn’t get to play against the best team in the world, FaZe Clan. Had they gone up against and defeated FaZe, this victory could very easily have been even higher on the list. 

5. FaZe Clan go undefeated in Atlanta (ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017)

Results

FaZe vs Renegades (16 – 9)

FaZe vs Natus Vincere (16 – 6)

FaZe vs EnVyUs (2 – 0)

FaZe vs North (2 – 0)

FaZe vs Astralis (2 – 0)

October 2017 looked like it would be the start of the FaZe era. While that’s not where we ended up, this tournament made FaZe look unstoppable. The group stage was a piece of cake for FaZe as they only lost 15 rounds in total over the 2 maps they played against Renegades and Natus Vincere. FaZe got a lucky draw in the playoffs as they had to go up against EnVyUs whom they defeated with ease. The semi-finals against North was a closer affair, but despite a decent showing, the Danes couldn’t match the skill level of FaZe. In the finals, Astralis became the first team to take FaZe to the limit, with the first map, Cache, ending with a 16-14 scoreline in the favor of FaZe. On Overpass, FaZe shut down Astralis and won the map 16-7, going undefeated in the tournament. 

An undefeated run is very rare in CS:GO and gives FaZe a high placing on the list. Both Astralis and North were highly ranked and difficult teams to beat. But two things hold them back from being even further up the ranks. The format of the event allowed FaZe to advance from the group stage by simply winning 2 BO1’s. Combine that with their easy quarter final draw against EnVyUs, and FaZe’s victory doesn’t look quite as good as you’d think.

4. Astralis follow up on their major win (IEM World Championship 2017)

Results

Astralis vs OpTic Gaming (16 – 12)

Astralis vs Ninjas in Pyjamas (28 – 24)

Astralis vs Immortals (12 – 16)

Astralis vs Fnatic (19 – 17)

Astralis vs FaZe Clan (16 – 8)

Astralis vs Natus Vincere (2 – 0)

Astralis vs Heroic (2 – 0)

Astralis vs FaZe Clan (3 – 1)

After winning their first major in January of 2017, Astralis were looking to establish their own era. With every top team in attendance, the IEM World Championship was a perfect opportunity to take a step in that direction. Astralis went through the group stage with a 4-1 scoreline, defeating OpTic, NiP, Fnatic and FaZe Clan, all of whom were top 10 teams in the world. Due to a tiebreaker, Astralis didn’t advance directly to the semifinals, and instead had to play in the quarterfinals against Natus Vincere. Despite some struggles, Na’Vi were still ranked 5th in the world. Astralis made easy work of them and won the series 2-0. In the semifinals they faced unexpected opposition in the form of Heroic, a series they also won 2-0. FaZe Clan, with their new superstar addition Nikola “NiKo” Kovac awaited in a BO5 finals. Astralis took home a 3-1 victory, which included a very famous deagle ace from Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen. 

With their victory in Katowice, Astralis silenced their critics and proved that they could still be the best team in the world. On their way to the trophy, Astralis defeated 5 different top 10 teams, including the new FaZe who would quickly rise up to become a top 3 team. They wouldn’t win another event, but before the rise of SK Gaming in the summer, Astralis were the best. 

3. The Poles introduce the world to the Virtus plow (EMS One Katowice 2014)

Results

VP vs HellRaisers (19 – 16)

VP vs Titan (16 – 7)

VP vs LDLC (2 – 0)

VP vs LGB eSports (2 – 1)

VP vs Ninjas in Pyjamas (2 – 0)

EMS One Katowice 2014 was the first LAN victory for the Polish lineup of Virtus.pro. Going into the event, they had been drawn into the group of death with the best team in the world Titan and the always dangerous HellRaisers. Most people expected Titan to advance in first place, especially since they had a good matchup against Virtus.pro, and it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to predict the Poles to finish 3rd in the group. Instead, Virtus.pro took a narrow victory against HellRaisers, followed up by a convincing victory against Titan to take 1st place in the group. From here there was nothing stopping the Virtus plow. Aside from a map loss against LGB, none of Virtus.pro’s playoff opponents got over 10 rounds on a map. This included a convincing final victory over the previous kings of CS:GO, Ninjas in Pyjamas. 

Aside from the 1 map loss to LGB, this was perhaps the most dominant run in CS:GO history. With most of their opponents failing to get to double digit rounds, Virtus.pro cruised to victory in Katowice. Had the format allowed Virtus.pro to play more games, it’s likely that this win would have taken 1st place. Both Pawel “byali” Bielinski and Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski had a breakout event and along with Jaroslaw “Pasha” Jarzabkowski they were some of the best players at the whole tournament. Filip “NEO” Kubski and Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas continued their CS 1.6 legacy and won yet another Major, but this time they took a step back and let other players do the fragging. This would be the beginning of the legacy of one of the greatest lineups in CS:GO history as they established themselves as an elite team. The Virtus plow was brought out for the first time, and it wouldn’t disappear for years to come. 

2. Cloud9 run the ultimate playoff gauntlet (ELEAGUE Boston Major 2018)

Results

Cloud9 vs EnVyUs (16 -11)

Cloud9 vs Sprout (16 – 5)

Cloud9 vs Mousesports (16 – 5)

Cloud9 vs G2 Esports (8 – 16)

Cloud9 vs Space Soldiers (13 – 16)

Cloud9 vs Virtus.pro (16 – 7)

Cloud9 vs Astralis (16 – 6)

Cloud9 vs Vega Squadron (16 – 4)

Cloud9 vs G2 Esports (2 – 0)

Cloud9 vs SK Gaming (2 – 1)

Cloud9 vs FaZe Clan (2 – 1)

In another recent event, Cloud9 had one of the toughest playoff runs in CS:GO history. Many people expected them to lose along the way, but Cloud9 overcame the odds and became the first North American team to win a Major in CS:GO. 

Cloud9 had their struggles in the swiss stage, losing to a G2 Esports team on fire, and losing in a close game to Space Soldiers. Being down 0-2, there was no room for error for Cloud9. And they made none. In what looked like easy victories, Cloud9 defeated Virtus.pro, Vega Squadron and the team ranked 3rd in the world, Astralis. Even though Astralis were struggling at the event after a recent illness hitting their star player Nicolai “device” Reedtz, the victory was still impressive. In the quarterfinals, it looked like Cloud9 had gotten a tough draw in the form of G2 Esports. G2 had looked dominant in the previous stages of the tournament and even beat Cloud9 16-8. But in the playoffs, G2 looked like a different team and Cloud9 beat them effortlessly. It would not get easier from here. In the semifinals, Cloud9 took on SK Gaming, and didn’t make it any easier for themselves by screwing up the veto and choosing Nuke as their first ban. It didn’t end up mattering, and Cloud9 won the series 2-1. In the finals, the favorites to win the event were waiting. In one of the most exciting finals in CS:GO history, Cloud9 barely beat FaZe to win the tournament. 

It took all the Cloud9 players playing close to their peak form to win the ELEAGUE Major in Boston, and despite some struggles on the way they defeated every other top team on their way to the trophy. Astralis, G2 Esports, SK Gaming and FaZe Clan were all ranked in the top 5 prior to the event, and Cloud9 defeated them all. They showed big improvements on maps like Inferno and Overpass, while remaining strong on their home map Mirage. Cloud9 didn’t follow up on their victory, but this will go down as one of the most exciting runs in CS:GO history. 

1. Fnatic make it six in a row (IEM World Championship 2016)

Results

Fnatic vs Natus Vincere (16 – 10)

Fnatic vs Luminosity (12 – 16)

Fnatic vs Ninjas in Pyjamas (16 – 14)

Fnatic vs The MongolZ (16 – 4)

Fnatic vs Mousesports (19 – 17)

Fnatic vs Virtus.pro (2 – 0)

Fnatic vs Astralis (2 – 1)

Fnatic vs Luminosity (3 – 0)

Towards the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Fnatic went on one of the most notable streaks of tournament wins we’ve seen in CS:GO. With 5 wins in a row, they went into the IEM World Championship looking to make it 6. With pretty much every top team in attendance, there were plenty of candidates looking to break Fnatic’s streak. But none of them could do it. Despite some close games in the group stage, and a loss to Luminosity, Fnatic advanced from the group stage with a 4-1 scoreline. In the quarterfinals, Virtus.pro awaited in a matchup that was historically close. But this time it was far from close, and Fnatic cruised through the series with a 2-0 victory. Astralis gave them a little more competition and took Cache 16-12, but lost out on Overpass and Inferno 6-16 and 7-16, respectively. In the finals, Fnatic avenged their group stage loss against Luminosity and won the series 3-0. 

In a team that heavily relied on individual performances, this event was no different for Fnatic. The likes of Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer and Robin “Flusha” Rönnquist both came up huge to help Fnatic secure their victory. Fnatic had the ability to win their opponents map picks and won Overpass against both Astralis and Luminosity, two of the strongest teams on the map. Similarly to Cloud9 at the ELEAGUE Boston Major, Fnatic went through the who’s who of top teams. Not only did they destroy the #7 ranked Virtus.pro, but got victories against fellow top 5 teams, Natus Vincere, Astralis and Luminosity. The only top 5 team that Fnatic didn’t beat was EnVyUs who were slumping and would take a big fall in the rankings soon after the event. Although some group stage and finals games were close, Fnatic didn’t give their playoff opponents much of a chance and only lost 1 map in their whole playoff run. Fnatic shutting down every top team in the world, makes it the most impressive tournament run of all time.

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