At ESWC 2013, a trend began - one that kept Ninjas in Pyjamas and Titan (then Team VeryGames) from claiming first place at most of the major CS:GO tournaments. The two usual suspects didn’t completely fall, but a combination of other teams giving them a hard time and even literally pushing them off the throne kept them from occupying their habitual top spots.
What started out looking like two coincidental happenings, with Clan-Mystik winning the ESWC 2013 and Titan coming second as well as Fnatic taking the title away from NiP at DreamHack Winter 2013, ended up becoming some kind of trend within the CS:GO tournament scene as three more big events since saw the underdog stepping up and knocking one of the two biggest teams in CS:GO history down to second place.
Grand final results of the latest major events in CS:GO
- ESWC, France: Clan-Mystik > Titan
- DreamHack Winter, Sweden: Fnatic > Ninjas in Pyjamas
- ESEA 15 Finals, USA: iBUYPOWER > Titan
- EMS One Katowice, Poland: Virtus.Pro > Ninjas in Pyjamas
- CPHGames, Denmark: Ninjas in Pyjamas > Virtus.Pro
- SLTV StarSeries IX, Ukraine: Natus Vincere > Ninjas in Pyjamas
NiP - The former undisputed champions
When looking at the placements, it’s a home team winning in five out of six tournaments. Even when not counting in the ESEA Finals as only one non-NA team was taking part in it, it’s still an impressive number. In addition to this, none of those winners started as favorites - dark horses maybe, but some - if not even most - of those wins left a good part of the scene stunned. Clan-Mystik, Fnatic, Virtus.Pro and NaVi all were by far not the favorites to any serious degree but worked themselves to be seen in a new light by the fans.
One factor that shouldn’t ignored is the influence a cheering crowd can have on a game. Even though teams have noise-canceling headsets and only see fans for a split second every now and then during games, just being there when they go wild builds up a lot of emotion that can spur players on to giving that extra bit and thus help surprise champions rise. One of the best examples of this is the way Virtus.Pro took the title in Katowice, coming into the tournament as the potential local heroes, picking up steam and getting better and better with every match won and every moment of the fans cheering them on. This led up to the grand final against NiP, where over 10,000 people pushed them to the biggest victory TaZ and his teammates had achieved in years.
Big crowds pushing underdogs to become champions
Six events with six different winners is a pretty good example of how CS:GO is developing and the scene is stepping up. After the dominance of NiP in the beginning of the CS:GO era and Titan taking over this position in the summer and fall of 2013, we are now at a point where a lot of teams are able to actually challenge the prior all-time favorites and seize a tournament win. Of course, NiP and Titan show why they’re still favorites almost every time they compete, but they are no longer unstoppable forces. More serious competition means more dedication is needed by those at the top to stay there, and that’s one of the core aspects of professional sports.
What’s your opinion? Will we see more local teams picking up trophies at tournaments or will the old favorites reclaim their former glory?