A rollercoaster called NA CS! Ahead of the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals in Dallas, let us refresh your memory with a broad outline of how the North American scene developed since the launch of CS:GO

A promising beginning

The 5th of July in 2006 is an important date in the history of North American Counter-Strike. It marks the last time a NA team (Team compLexity) won a major Counter-Strike Championship, the CPL Summer in Dallas. That’s ten years, nine months and fifteen days! No US team has accomplished that feat since. But when CS:GO first came out, we had two promising prospects.

The first premier CS:GO tournament was the Electronic Sports World Cup in 2012. Now, at the time, NiP was unbeatable, going on their mind-boggling 87-0 LAN run. Teams were effectively competing for second place. At that tournament, a team called Area51 Gaming placed third. Their roster consisted of Hiko, DaZed, sgares, Semphis and tck, some of the protagonists of the first era of CS:GO in NA.

A few months later, now under Quantic’s banner, they placed second at the ESEA Global Finals S13, behind NiP. After two such impressive placings, the team’s future could have been bright, if it hadn’t been for Hiko’s and Semphis’ departure just one week later. No one knew it yet, but this disbandment would eventually provide the NA scene with its first great CS:GO rivalry. Hiko and Semphis joined n0thing’s compLexity (later Cloud9). DaZed teamed up with Skadoodle and AZK, the core of what would become Team iBUYPOWER (iBP).

Skadoodle, steel, DaZed, AZK, swag. Photo courtesy of ESEANews.com

Many a time coL/C9 and iBP locked horns. iBP mostly performed superior on home soil, even winning the ESEA Global Finals S15 over Titan. Whereas C9 was the better team on the international stage, making it out of the group stage of two majors, something iBP never achieved. A great rivalry evolved between the two top NA teams. A rivalry that had the potential to strengthen the scene, to inspire new players and to unite the entire North American region, but then came August the 21st, 2014 when a match-fixing scandal shook the professional scene and got some of NA’s most talented players banned for life.

The post match-fixing era

It was now Cloud9’s task alone to rebuild the NA scene. And they didn’t do a bad job at it either. After the match-fixing scandal, it got quiet around the NA area, until C9 had their miraculous two-week run in the summer of 2015, where they placed second three tournaments in a row, one of them ESL Pro League Season 1 Finals, a stacked premier tournament. During that run, Cloud9 defeated several top EU teams in Best of 3s and everybody was convinced: finally NA’s time had come!

But in NA, hope comes and goes seemingly overnight, because that was the last anyone’s heard of NA for the rest of 2015. Cloud9 took a major dive and disappointed at all subsequent tournaments. To make things even worse, now the best North American team wasn’t even from North America, it was from Brazil. Luminosity Gaming/SK took NA by storm. Under FalleN’s leadership, the Brazilian’s utterly dominated their northern counterparts on their way to becoming the world’s best team.

The smile of winners. Photo courtesy SK-Gaming

Only after several roster moves and the rise of very skilled young players, NA re-emerged in 2016 with a bang. First, Team Liquid reached the semi-finals of the MLG Columbus Major, where they lost to Luminosity Gaming and wasted a total of 15 map points over the course of two maps!

At the next major, ESL One: Cologne, Liquid reached the finals where they again faced off against the Brazilians, now called SK Gaming. It was a pretty one sided affair, but still, no NA team got that close to winning a major before in CS:GO.

Re-watch Liquid owning fnatic in Cologne

Then Optic Gaming won the ELEAGUE Season 2 Finals over Astralis with a prize pool of a whopping $1,100,000 on October the 21st. Only five days later, Cloud9 won the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals in São Paulo over SK Gaming, where $600,000 were on the line. And finally, it was Optic Gaming again who placed second at the ECS Season 2 Finals, in December.

The current state of the NA scene

After these impressive performances by NA teams in the second half of 2016, it has gotten quiet again in the region. NA has still yet to win a tournament in 2017, and frankly, it doesn’t look like that will be happening soon. Once again, the scene finds itself battling against the current in the gruelling Tier 2 waters. Nevertheless, in the long run, I wager that NA is on the verge of breaking through the barrier once and for all. There are now just too many young, hungry and insanely skilled players. ELiGE, RUSH, autimatic, nitr0, shroud, and of course the fan favorite, Stewie2k.

This man can become the best in the world! Video courtesy of Gouldy CS:GO Channel 

The ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals in Dallas, Texas

This was part II of our history lesson on North American Counter-Strike, with a focus on CS:GO. Dallas is now only one month away, and teams in both regions are still trying to clinch their finals spot, so do not forget to cheer for your teams, and tune into the ESL CS:GO YouTube channel.

Secure your tickets for the finals from June 3rd – 4th here, while they are still available.

For live coverage and all of the latest updates on the ESL Pro League, be sure to follow ESL Counter-Strike on Twitter and Facebook.

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