Video gaming is now worth more than the industries of film and music put together, and its strand of competitive titles has helped blend together entertainment and sports in a way that most people would have once thought impossible.
No game in the Esports community right now is bigger than Valve Corporation’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The game’s recent ESL Pro League and Road to Rio tournaments topped both YouTube and Twitch viewership charts, and Steam reported a record-breaking one million concurrent players playing actively twice last month. To get you into competitive gaming’s most popular title, here’s some of the most dramatic storylines from the Counter-Strike scene in the past year or so.
Na’Vi Whip Up A Storm At Katowice
CIS Org Natus Vincere were growing a pretty serious reputation for being chokers on the big stage by the time the Intel Extreme Masters World Championships rolled around to Katowice in March this year. Despite having the world’s player in S1mple on their side and routinely making it to quarter and semi finals, they just hadn’t been able to close things out consistently enough to warrant being considered as one of the world’s best sides.
Astralis, on the other hand, were the only team in history to win four Major Championships and had never dropped out of the top four in Counter-Strike’s world rankings.
The two met on the stage at the semi-finals and Astralis were, naturally, the go-to pick in most esports predictions. However, what followed was one of the most devastating and shocking stompings ever seen at an IEM event. S1mple and co. ran riot with 16-5 wins on both Dust II and Nuke in a showing that was both brutal to watch and shocking to look back on, even after Na’Vi had swept aside G2 in the grand final.
Fnatic Win Dreamhack Malmo
It had only been a handful of weeks since Esports giant Fnatic had failed to qualify for a Major event for the first time in their history, and their current roster had only been together for a month or so heading into the Dreamhack Autumn Masters in Malmo last October. Safe to say that not much was expected of this side, especially against the likes of Na’Vi, Astralis, Liquid and Mousesports.
An opening round loss to ENCE aside, Fnatic were brilliant throughout the entire tournament, knocking out the likes of G2, FURIA and Ninjas in Pyjamas on the stage before shocking the world with a 2-0 win over Astralis in the semis. A nervy grind against Team Vitality in the grand final sealed the title for Fnatic and rounded off one of the most memorable trophy wins of the year. After a torrid time, Fnatic were back to their best on home soil.
Astralis Outfox Liquid At Berlin
Heading into the StarLadder Berlin Major at the end of last summer, no side was ranked higher and on better form than Team Liquid. Their win at ESL One Cologne completed only the second ever Counter-Strike Intel Grand Slam and their unbeaten record on maps like Vertigo made them the clear favourites for the biggest trophy of them all.
Astralis had skipped out on the bulk of CS competitions throughout Liquid’s dominance, which only helped make their map pick of Vertigo all the more surprising to see. However, this one strategic selection would prove to be one of the smartest counterplays in the entire game’s history.
Astralis indeed came out on top, stomping Liquid 2-0 in the decisive game of the entire tournament. They would eventually win their fourth Major that summer, the first team to ever complete the feat, whilst Liquid have never been at the top of the Counter-Strike tree since the event.