Like many other trusted websites, eSports.com uses browser cookies. Cookies help you securely log in to your eSports.com account. They help us to better understand which content is relevant for you, as well as to offer content tailored to your individual requirements and a reliably functioning website - as you expect from us. For better experience, please disable any adblocking extensions.

Ok Cookie Policy
background image

CS:GO 2018 recap, or how a star was born

2018 was a wild year for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – on both competitive and casual level. With Astralis taking over the pro scene and Valve making CS:GO free to play and introducing a Battle Royale to our beloved FPS much changes were brought upon both worlds.

Here, we are going to leave aside the infinite stream of amendments made by Valve and focus on the competitive year and how we got to witness arguably the greatest run in CS:GO history.

Tighten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

January

Traditionally, the year started with the culmination of the first Major cycle of 2018. The ELEAGUE Boston Major was one to remember, especially for North American fans who, after years of being mocked for the lack of international success, finally lived to see an NA team win the region its first-ever Major title. Cloud9 were the heroes of the moment who turned the fairytale into reality with what was seen by many as the most improbable tournament win of the year.

Coming completely out of the blue, this title run forever engraved Timothy “autimatic” Ta, Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, Jake “Stewie2K” Yip, William “RUSH” Wierzba, and the Major MVP Tarik “tarik” Celik’s names in the North American CS:GO pantheon. Furthermore, Stewie2K’s heroics with the AWP in the last round of regulation on the deciding map of the final vs. FaZe immediately went down as one of the most iconic plays in all of CS:GO.

Move of the Month
The ELEAGUE Major would bring another surprise to the table as Astralis star and former Major MVP Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye shocked fans and teammates by choosing to leave the organization he’d been part of for a year and a half, and make the bold move to join North.

With a start like that, the remainder of the year was almost destined for greatness, and greatness it did deliver.



Cloud9 brought North America its first-ever Major title in CS:GO. Image credit: ELEAGUE

February

The post-Major syndrome appeared to take hold of most established favorites throughout February which created the perfect storm for Team Liquid and mousesports to enter the ring. Liquid showed their enormous potential by lifting their first-ever CS:GO trophy at cs_summit 2. While it was not a premier event overall, TL’s Bo5 final triumph from a 0-1 default map disadvantage against fresh Major champions Cloud9 was nothing to gloss over.

Mousesports did their own impressive stunts at the StarSeries Season 4 Finals in Kiev, beating virtually every team worth mentioning at this point of the season, including local heroes Natus Vincere in the Grand Final. Cloud9 were one of the victims to fall at the hands of mouz, giving further implications that not everything was sweet and sound in the Major champions’ camp.

Move of the Month
StarSeries also marked Kjaerbye’s successor Emil “Magisk” Reif’s debut LAN appearance with Astralis. No one knew it at the time, but his transfer from OpTic Gaming would turn out to be one of the most significant in the history of competitive CS:GO, prompting the Danish organization to heights even they couldn’t imagine at the time.



Magisk would turn out to be exactly what Astralis needed. Image credit: StarLadder

March

The third big post-Major tournament – IEM Katowice, produced a third different champion with fnatic winning their first trophy since that same event two years ago. In what would turn out to be the best month of the year for the Swedes, Robin “flusha” Rönnquist rolled back the time and led everyone in rating for the course of the week in Poland, capping it all off with a quite staggering 127 kills in the Bo5 Final vs. FaZe.

Fnatic did not stop there and brought another trophy home a couple of weeks later at the WESG World Finals. The $800,000 they collected for their run in Haikou, China, was supposed to be the fattest check anyone would receive in CS:GO all year long, but a team quietly on the rise would have something to say about that.

Move of the Month
March kept up with the massive roster moves as WESG turned out to be Epitacio “TACO” de Melo’s swan song with then-SK Gaming (now mibr). The Brazilian support would go on to sign with Team Liquid where he replaced fellow countryman Lucas “steel” Lopes. SK, on the other hand, would make the bold move to stray away from an all-Brazilian roster by signing Stewie2K as their new fifth player. This transfer would officially put an end to the Cloud9 Major-winning roster just two months after they concurred the CS:GO world.



Fnatic won their first trophy in two years at IEM Katowice. Image credit: ESL

April

Astralis had been gradually improving ever since they had acquired Magisk. They went out in the quarterfinals at StarSeries Season 4 and went one step further at IEM Katowice with a semifinal appearance. The jigsaw finally fell into place for the Danes at the first DreamHack Masters of the year in Marseille, France.

The magical lineup of Nicolai “device” Reedtz, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander and Magisk that would go on to terrorize the pro scene for the remainder of the calendar year hinted at things to come with an undisputed run to the title in Marseille. Team Liquid were the only ones able to brag about winning a map versus the champions in South France and though Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev collected his second MVP from an event his team didn’t win, it was the Danish boys that walked away with the big trophy. And there were plenty more to follow.

Move of the Month
April’s noteworthy roster news did not stem from a transfer but rather from a…hiatus. Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer was ruled out of play by FaZe Clan for an indefinite time due to undisclosed reasons right at the start of April. Searching for a quick fix to the hole left by the Swedish star, FaZe went with another Swede – Richard “Xizt” Landström. The in-game leader who had solely played for Ninjas in Pyjamas in CS:GO up to that point proved to be more adaptable than expected and good things were about to come FaZe’s way soon enough.



The DreamHack Masters Marseille trophy would be the first of many for Astralis in 2018. Image credit: Astralis

May

The CS:GO elite packed their bags for a trip down under at the start of May, testing their mettle at IEM Sydney. Astralis were looking like favorites to make it back-to-back titles after convincing victories over fnatic and mousesports (twice) prior to their final meeting with a stand-in riddled FaZe. Xizt and co. would have the last word on the matter though. The Swedish legend proved that he still has a lot left in the tank and more than made up for olofmeister’s absence. Boosted by an MVP-winning Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács performance, FaZe ended their 2018 drought following the most dramatic 3-0 match you’ll ever see. Their success in Australia would low-key start a conversation surrounding olofmeister’s future with the team that would only grow louder in the coming months.

Astralis did not have to wait long to get their revenge on FaZe Clan. Just a couple of weeks after that painful 3-0, the Danish machine ran through their rivals in the semifinals of ESL Pro League Season 7, giving up nine rounds combined on the two maps played against a FaZe squad that would contain Xizt for the last time.

The Grand Final would mark the start of the Astralis nightmare for the revitalized Team Liquid. In what would turn out to be their best effort in a final against the Danes all year long, the Americans got a map and put up a decent fight on a couple more in the 1-3 defeat. A matchup that looked at the time as a brewing healthy rivalry would sadly evolve into an ever-growing bubble of frustration for the NA side.

The closing days of May also saw the star of Natus Vincere rise on the CS:GO horizon. A team struggling to find an identity ever since GuardiaN’s departure in the 2017 offseason, if not before that, had begun making strides on the scene in the first few months of 2018. That was in no small part down to Denis “electronic” Sharipov who was brought into the team in late 2017 to improve their fragging power. And improve it he did.

Having already lost a pair of big event finals, Na`Vi crossed the finish line for the first time in 2018 at their home event – StarSeries. After getting upset in the final of Season 4 by mousesports, s1mple and co. made up for it in Season 5 despite barely getting out of the group.

The playoffs were where the CIS squad truly shined, taking down SK Gaming in the quarterfinals and getting their revenge on mouz in the semis before denying NRG a title in the Americans’ first big final. S1mple was at last able to smile on his MVP picture as it was backed by a tournament win. It is worth noting that neither Astralis, nor FaZe made the trip to Kiev, but Na`Vi would continue to go on an upward spiral from here and eventually top this achievement when all the lights were shining.

Move of the Month
With so many big tournaments spread across the month of May and not much time for transfers left, we find Xizt making a second appearance in the major transfer news. His successful spell with FaZe gave fnatic enough merit to pull the trigger on the IGL and bring him on board. The man he would go on to replace on fnatic – Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson would, of course, end up on Ninjas in Pyjamas. Seven months down the road it appears both teams are going in the right direction so the orgs must have done something right here.



Xizt did an outstanding job in his short stint with FaZe Clan. Image credit: ESL

June

It was becoming clearer by the tournament that Astralis will be tough to handle this year as they added the ECS crown to the ESL one they had conquered in May without losing a single map. Cloud9, FaZe Clan and Team Liquid (twice) all couldn’t find a way around the Danes in London. ECS Season 5 got Astralis’ trophy count in 2018 up to three – more than any other team, a stat that would remain true for the rest of the year.

Absent of any Danes, ESL One Belo Horizonte was an open battlefield to be conquered. With four of the top six teams in attendance (FaZe, mouz, Liquid, mibr), the conquering was done by FaZe Clan who somehow got to the title with yet another stand-in. It was Jorgen “cromen” Robertsen that was filling-in for Olof in Brazil and like Xizt before him, the Norwegian ended up with a title from his FaZe stint.

The final matchup itself was already defying all logic as the Clan was met by a mousesports squad also fielding a stand-in. The German org had recruited Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert to replace Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný while the Czech AWPer was out due to personal reasons. Gilbert, just like Robertsen on FaZe, would do an admirable job in Belo Horizonte but unlike his counterpart would be left empty-handed after a narrow 3-2 loss in the final.

On the other side of the world, Natus Vincere collected their second title of the year at CS:GO Asia Championships in Shanghai, China. As the CIS team had missed out on the ECS Season 5 Finals, this would become their second title in a row. That streak would be extended to three a few weeks later and this time the entire scene would be put on notice.

Move of the Month
June’s transfer of the month could comfortably be named transfer of the year in terms of buzz as mousesports decided to splash the cash on Virtus.pro and buyout Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski. The big Pole was brought in to replace Martin “STYKO” Styk with the org justifying their actions with the desire to go over the hump of the playoffs and into winning more titles. A little more on how that turned out would come along a few months down the line.



n0thing almost won a title with mousesports after a year away from the competitive scene. Image credit: ESL

July

Natus Vincere stepped up to answer the call with hands down their best tournament of the year – ESL One Cologne. An event that will also be remembered for BIG’s amazing run to the final, Na`Vi were having their trademark slow start in Germany but they peaked at the right time to knock out the all-conquering Astralis at the semifinal stage, then proceeded to end the home crowd’s dream with a 3-1 triumph over BIG.

The CS:GO elite gathered for one last dance before the summer break in Atlanta, Georgia for the ELEAGUE Premier. Astralis were quick to erase any doubts that may have risen following ESL One Cologne by adding another cup to their cabinet. It was their second flawless victory of the year, going undefeated on the eight maps they played vs. Cloud9, mousesports and, you guessed it - Liquid twice. A third consecutive final loss to the Danes in a little over two months would sadly be only the midpoint of TL’s miserable record in said circumstances.

Move of the Month
July brought us another blockbuster roster move courtesy of Made in Brazil. Keeping up with their intentions to go international, they replaced Ricardo “boltz” Prass with tarik, thus reuniting the American with Stewie2K. The process was completed on the first day of August with the appointment of Yanko “YNk” Paunović as coach – a position that had been left vacant by Wilton “zews” Prado two years prior.



Natus Vincere’s season peaked at ESL One Cologne. Image credit: ESL

August

While most players were chilling on a beach somewhere for the most of August, others were still in the servers. A couple of lower-tier tournaments played out in Asia – one at the start and one towards the end of the month. Giving out to the poor, the mini-Asian tour granted NRG their first-ever title at IEM Shanghai while the ZOTAC Cup Masters trophy would end up in mibr’s hands – their first and last of 2018.

Move of the Month
As player transactions are hard to come by on a beach, August was also rather uneventful on the transfer side of things. The most interesting move on the market was surely Cloud9 unveiling former fnatic member Maikil “Golden” Selim as their new in-game leader, turning the Swede into the first non-North American to get signed on a permanent basis to C9’s CS:GO roster.



Things got off well for YNk and mibr at ZOTAC Cup Masters, but their relationship wouldn’t last long. Image credit: DreamHack

September

With the FACEIT Major looming over the scene by the start of September, there was DreamHack Masters Stockholm to loosen the strings on everyone by becoming one of the most memorable events of the year, largely thanks to an unlikely hero. North’s in-game leader and perennial meme Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen rocked every top AWPer’s world in Stockholm, grabbing the big gun himself and outdueling s1mple, Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný and device in consecutive games to lead his squad to the unlikeliest of title runs. MSL was, of course, awarded the MVP, his only as of January 2019, for his outstanding contribution to North’s biggest achievement to date. Following their final victory over Astralis, North also became the only team throughout the annum to beat their big Danish brothers twice in the same tournament, the first win coming in the group stage.

Astralis losing twice to North (on four different maps) in the span of days quadrupled the hype over the upcoming Major as many felt they stand a chance after what they saw in Sweden. By the end of FACEIT Major, all of that would seem like a distant memory.

There were some bright spots in London, like NiP making their first Major in two years (including a win in arguably the map of the year), compLexity and HellRaisers becoming Legends, and Liquid winning a Bo1 against Astralis in the New Legends group. Once we hit the playoffs though, it all went down the sink.

Even putting aside Astralis’ switch to another level once the Bo3s kicked in, thus killing every chance of an upset, there was still a whole bucket of disappointment for the average fan. Only one match in the entire course of the playoffs went to a third map and it was in the quarterfinals. There were three maps in the seven playoff games in which the loser picked up more than ten rounds – again, all in the quarterfinals.

It got particularly bad in the semis and the Grand Final where the losers could accumulate just 15 rounds across two maps in each of the three games. There was some logic to the madness at least, with the two best teams of 2018 squaring off in the last game in London, and even more logic in the outcome of it all as Astralis took home their second Major title with a win over Natus Vincere, putting further weight into the brewing claims of an Astralis era.

In the immediate aftermath of the Major, the top dogs were split by ESL One New York and BLAST Pro Series Istanbul in the last week of September. While Astralis and mibr were occupied in Turkey, Liquid seemed to be destined to putting an end to their LAN duck and get the job done on home soil, but with FaZe, Na`Vi, and mouz also residing in New York for the time being, it would prove to be harder than taking candy from a child.

In a strange sequence, TL and mousesports made it to the final with neither team having to play FaZe or Natus Vincere, both of whom bailed out in the groups. FaZe were entering a hole they wouldn’t come out from for the rest of the year while Na`Vi got their bells rang by a hungry Gambit squad that was playing through pending roster changes.

Little did we know that the weekend of September 29-30 would deliver some of the most thrilling Counter-Strike moments of the past twelve months. Up first on Saturday, Made in Brazil gave the Turkish fans what they were there for and withstood their ground against Astralis better than most. They seemed left for dead after getting bludgeoned on their own map pick Train 16-3, but a fantastic effort to come back on Overpass and a neck-a-neck duel on Inferno made this final all worth the while and would be the first episode in a short, but quality series of matches between the two sides.

Maybe TL and mouz heard of what had unfolded on the other side of the Atlantic and felt obliged to produce a similarly memorable clash. Helped by ESL’s Bo5 final format, mousesports took away from the American fans what they were there for. Down 2-1 and 13-4 on Dust II the Euro bunch pulled off the comeback of the year to win the fourth map in overtime. Mirage almost felt like it was destined to go to mousesports after their Herculean effort to even get to play on it and Chris “chrisJ” de Jong simply put the stamp on it with what was quite possibly the play of the year, shredding Liquid’s hopes and dreams into tiny little pieces.

Move of the Month
There were a number of impactful transfer stories that unfolded in the month of September, including North removing MSL mere weeks after the best tournament of his life and Paweł “byali” Bieliński leaving Jarosław “pashaBiceps” Jarząbkowski, Filip “NEO” Kubski and Virtus.pro behind. NEO and pasha now the only thing that remains from the Virtus Plow days.

While what was happening to VP was undoubtedly a kick in the gut of every old school Counter-Strike fan, it is fnatic that take the cake for tearjerker move of the year via the benching of Robin “flusha” Rönnquist, which put an end to a five-year-long history of extreme highs and extreme lows. What’s that? GODSENT? Never heard of her. Flusha would soon join his former IGL Golden on Cloud9, expanding the Euro invasion on the C9 squad.



Astralis could not be stopped at FACEIT Major. Image credit: FACEIT

October

October saw most of the top teams taking a breather from LAN play and focusing on the online leagues. The StarSeries Season 6 Finals took the hardest hit in terms of tier one attendants with mousesports the only top 5 presence in Kiev. In fact, their group exit in Ukraine was the final nail in the coffin of the Snax experiment, with STYKO reprising his role in the lineup that had brought mouz initial success. ENCE took advantage of the lower level of competition and mouz’ poor showing to grab by far the most prestigious trophy in the org’s history and a fat check to go with that.

EPICENTER received a bit more attention from the elite with Na`Vi, Liquid and FaZe all making the trip to Moscow. Quite predictable it was these three in the semifinals where FaZe took out the American squad and went on to do the same with the home team in the final. This event was a bright spark in a chaotic period for the Euro mix, but alas it was not enough to light a fire.

Move of the Month
October saw the birth of Vitality, the latest potential French superteam, including one of the most exciting talents on the market Mathieu “Zyw0o” Herbaut. Still, it is fnatic again that made the headlines, because you know, it’s fnatic. Simon “twist” Eliasson entered his second stint in the org at the expense of William “draken” Sundin with 16-year-old Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin taking flusha’s spot to complete the lineup. The addition of the former Red Reserve duo would pay immediate dividends and at least a partial resurrection of the golden days might be on the way for fnatic.



Mousesports gave up on Snax less than four months after signing him. Image credit: ESL

November

The conclusion of the online leagues meant that we were back at it again with a number of big LAN tournaments throughout November. Right at the beginning of the month, six teams were welcomed to Copenhagen for the second BLAST Pro Series of the year. Having won the first one in Istanbul, Astralis were obviously favored to do the same on home soil, but it wasn’t meant to be. Overpass was the slippery slope for the Danes as a couple of losses on it vs. NiP and Na`Vi cost them a spot in the final. It was those exact same teams that also met in the final. The Ninjas were unable to overcome the challenge of Na`Vi and would miss out on their best opportunity to win a title in 2018. This would become the first instance of a calendar year passing without a single NiP title. The Copenhagen event would also become the last one to feature Astralis and not be won by them.

The third edition of cs_summit just preceded the larger IEM Chicago. While NRG picked up their second trophy of the year, they were unable to replicate that success in Chi-town, getting upset by LDLC on the brink of the playoffs. While Liquid had their own troubles against LDLC in the quarterfinals, they still were far removed from having to face six match points, which is exactly what happened to Astralis in their semifinal clash with a rejuvenated fnatic. As they often did in the course of the year, the Danish managed to pull a rabbit out of their hat and came back to win in overtime, ensuring another easy final win versus Liquid.

The fnatic game would eventually turn out way more valuable than it was initially perceived but that would not become apparent until the ESL Pro League Season 8 Grand Finals.

Foreshadowing supreme.

Before we reach the resolution of that storyline at the ESL Pro League Finals, we must first jet through Arlington, Texas for the other online league’s culmination – the ECS Season 6 Finals. Made in Brazil were the thorn in Astralis’ side for a second time in a month after playing the same role at BLAST Pro Series Istanbul. The American combo got the victory they wanted over the Danes in the group stage, but they needed a second one in the Grand Final and that was simply asking too much, despite another close match.

Move of the Month
No-transfer November was rather calm, but even calm waters in CS mean people getting kicked. That was the case for G2’s veteran duo Kévin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans and Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux. The French squad had been underwhelming for quite some time even before Ex6TenZ and SmithZz were brought on board in June and they were again involved in the re-shuffling of the roster, only this time they were on the other side. Audric “jaCkz” Jug and Lucas “Lucky” Chastang were selected to help restore G2’s placement within the CS:GO elite.



Natus Vincere would be the last team to deny Astralis a title in 2018. Image credit: BLAST

December

The first half of December presented an intense schedule right before the break with some smaller events surrounding the two main draws of the month – the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals and BLAST Pro Series Lisbon. These smaller events granted ENCE and Liquid their second notable titles of 2018, with the Finns triumphing at DreamHack Open Winter and the Americans grabbing gold at SuperNova CS:GO Malta.

Fnatic also proved that IEM Chicago was not a one-off and demonstrated their new squad’s immense potential with a title in their second ever LAN with the new lineup, albeit against lesser competition at PGL Grand Slam. Good words could also be said of G2 who were the victims in the Grand Final in their debut LAN with jaCkz and Lucky. They would follow that up with a successful qualifier campaign for the WESG 2018 World Finals, so positive vibes overall for the new G2.

Out of the three champions, Team Liquid were the only ones to have qualified for the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals, held in Odense, Denmark. They stood up to the tag of contenders once more and stomped on both Natus Vincere and Made in Brazil in the playoffs, only to come short in the final vs. Astralis - the fifth and thankfully last time in 2018 that would happen. Just like in the previous season of ESL Pro League, TL took one map away from their nemesis, but just like in Dallas earlier on the year, that would be all they could manage.

The 3-1 victory did not only grant Astralis their ninth title on the calendar year and a $250,000 check, but it also created history as the Danes became the first-ever team to achieve the Intel Grand Slam. They did so by winning their fourth title out of the last ten events eligible for the IGS, these being DreamHack Masters Marseille, ESL Pro League Season 7, IEM Chicago and ESL Pro League Season 8. To make it all the more pleasing, they received the $1 million check given to the winners of the Grand Slam in front of their friends and family in Denmark, thus somehow managing to captivate the whole process of getting to this point in one single moment.

Finally, there was BLAST Pro Series Lisbon to cap it all off and put an official end to the CS:GO competitive year. In a fanfic-like scenario, the champions of the previous two BLAST Pro Series met in the final to decide upon the true master of this format. Natus Vincere stepped into the game with a bang to pick up the first map but 2018 of all years could not have ended with anything other than an Astralis title. After sleepwalking through Overpass, the Danish squad morphed back into this unbeatable monster for the next pair of maps to break into double-digit numbers in the trophy department, finishing the year in a manner suitable for an era.



Astralis received the largest check in CS:GO history for achieving the Intel Grand Slam. Image credit: Astralis

Move of the Month (sort of)
The holiday period has its traditions outside of Counter-Strike, obviously, but it has its traditions inside the game world too. These include aaaaa lot of moving around, if you catch my drift. Due to this and the extended period that need be covered, I’ve decided against limiting the transaction report for the offseason to a single main entry but extend it to three (or a dozen, depending on how you’re counting). Here it goes!

Made in Brazil reversed the course and went back to a full-Brazilian setup by re-acquiring former members TACO and João “felps” Vasconcellos. The former was acquired via a   with Liquid that sent Stewie2K the other way, the latter was recruited from INTZ. These moves practically brought back the clock by a year as this exact roster was together under the SK banner a year ago.

The new factor is zews, who last coached this core of players two years ago when Lincoln “fnx” Lau was still on the team instead of felps. He will reprise his coaching role with mibr after also being involved in the trade with Team Liquid. The Americans found his replacement rather fast in the face of former player Eric “adreN” Hoag. All of this meant that tarik and YNk’s days in mibr are also numbered, but only one of them would find a new home in the following weeks.

FaZe Clan confirmed the suspicions that they would be removing Finn “karrigan” Andersen from the starting lineup amid a bad run of results in the latter half of the year. The Danish IGL joined Envy on loan for the time being with PLG Major Krakow MVP Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev announced by FaZe as his replacement. The Kazakh will act as a stand-in for the Major cycle and be re-evaluated right after.

More news from the Clan’s camp included YNk entering a new working space just a week after receiving the boot from Made in Brazil as he took over the coaching of FaZe from Robert “RobbaN” Dahlström who stepped down on the evening of his 34th birthday in order to focus on his family.

Virtus.pro presented their fans with a mixed bag of feelings with their latest roster moves. Snax and byali came back to the team that made them who they are, but they would go on to replace and not join pashaBiceps and NEO. While pasha is said to remain within the organization (possibly as a streamer), NEO would forego a different path. Michał “snatchie” Rudzki and Michał “MICHU” Müller would remain from the old squad with Mateusz “TOAO” Zawistowski taking Piotr “morelz” Taterka’s spot to complete the new lineup.

Other notable transactions include Ismailcan “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş replacing Johannes “nex” Maget on BIG, Ismail “refrezh” Ali replacing Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen on OpTic and Alex “ALEX” McMeekin replacing Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer on Vitality



Made in Brazil will be one of the teams expected to give Astralis trouble in 2019. Image credit: mibr

2019

2018 was a year filled with action, amazing plays, memorable tournaments, and spicy transfer stories, all marked by the rising star of Astralis. The Danish organization dominated the scene in a fashion we might have never seen, even in the fnatic and early NiP days. The limits of CS:GO perfection have not been challenged in this manner before and dethroning the kings would be a tough task for anyone who dares to approach.

With that said, if Counter-Strike has ever taught us anything, it is that nothing lasts forever and that goes especially true for so-called “eras”. NiP and fnatic would be the first ones to attest to that.

With so many quality teams on the horizon, someone is bound to put an end to the Danish march. Maybe the rebooted mibr could go back to the glory days? Or their former coach YNk would turn out the perfect fit for FaZe? Maybe Stewie2K would be the missing piece that Liquid needed to get over the hump? Maybe we see another dominant iteration of fnatic led by young Brollan? And perhaps someone would step up completely out of the blue and take the scene by storm? Nobody knows.

What we do know is that every year of Counter-Strike is an exciting one and there is no doubt in my mind that the next twelve months are going to deliver.

2018 cemented Astralis in the CS:GO pantheon. Who will 2019 turn into a legend?