Whilst competitive video games have been able to keep their heads afloat better than their real-world counterparts during the suspension of large gatherings and freedoms of travelling to and from a place, the difference between a strictly online event split up into localised regions and one hosted on a LAN is quite substantial to a pro player. This is particularly the case for pro players and teams at the highest levels, who become used to extensive travel, face-to-face interactions with their teams and playing on the stage at events.
The issue of online play is still the predicament facing a lot of the world’s best Counter-Strike teams at the moment, with a lot of sides struggling to adapt to an entirely new form of playing the game. Not only are certain rosters stripped of thriving off the energy of a crowd, but games online are far more aggressive, far more fast-paced and have already led to some seriously shocking results over the past couple of months.
Here’s our take on some of the most surprising faces to have found success during the online era of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Complexity Gaming had the ultimate fairytale story during the BLAST Premier Finals throughout June. The team were split up on their way to a boot camp due to complications with travel restrictions during the COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, forcing the team to choose between competing in the EU or NA regionalised groups. Despite the fact it was far more stacked in terms of competition and two of the team members weren’t even in the same timezone as the sides they were competing against, Complexity rose to the challenge and opted to compete in the EU division.
Complexity are a team that seem to have a real love for the BLAST circuit, pulling out one of the shocks of the season when they 2-0’d four-time Major Champions Astralis at BLAST Premier London earlier in the year, and the continued to turn it on even online against the world’s best this Spring. OG, Natus Vincere and Faze were all downed by Complexity on their way to a Grand Final showdown against French side Team Vitality. Despite being huge underdogs in most Esports betting markets pre-game, Complexity fought back from a 16-2 loss on Vertigo to sweep the rest of the series and claim a 2-1 series win.
As well as bagging the org a pretty decent payday of $335,000, Complexity rose from 20th in the HLTV world rankings, to all the way up into the top 10.
After spending the better part of a year playing second fiddle to last year’s Intel Grand Slam winners Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses finally look set to become North America’s undisputed kings of Counter-Strike.
Having parted ways with former-NRG coach ImAPet, EG brought in former Liquid and MiBR star Zews as their coach and the results have since been pretty telling. Having not ranked at either the ESL Road to Rio North America and Dreamhack Spring Masters events in May, EG found some form made it back to back wins at the BLAST Spring Showdown NA and CS_Summit 6 North America, practically securing qualification for the Major this year, rising up to third in the HLTV world rankings and laying a serious marker of five places between themselves and Liquid.
Evil Geniuses have always been touted as a possible number one team in the world but, for the first time, they’re finally beginning to look like one in the server too now.
BIG are the prime examples of just how wild online Counter-Strike really can be. Having not even qualified for the Intel Extreme Masters World Championships in Katowice just days before lockdowns were declared around the world, they suddenly find themselves, at the time of writing at least, at the very top of the global world rankings.
BIG’s meteoric rise began during the Dreamhack Spring Masters, where the German org were able to qualify for the finals and then overcome the likes of Faze (twice), Mousesports and G2 in the Grand Final.
Things only continued to get better for BIG at CS Summit 6 about a month later however. The regional qualifiers for the ESL One Rio Major set for for November this year, this was a tournament that a lot of EU teams came into knowing they had to step it up. But, once again, BIG were suddenly the team to beat. They qualified for the tournament, beat Faze Clan yet again, squashed GODSENT, Fnatic and OG and then romped to another Grand Final win, this time taking Vitality down 3-2.
Given the fact that they were hardly a top 30 team at the end of April, BIG’s astronomical rise to the top of the world rankings has been truly special.