Europe has been the home of Counter-Strike excellence since the franchise began and CS:GO has not broken that habit despite the emergence of some truly legendary Brazilian line-ups and the occasional elite North American side.
Whether it be the team-play mastery of Sweden’s best free-flowing sides, Denmark’s tactical precision or Eastern Europe’s aggressive power play, Europe remains the spring from which new dominant dynasties flow. Over nearly seven years of CS:GO competition, Europe has boasted the world number one ranked team for the majority of that time span, and of the 14 majors thus far, a European team has been crowned champion on 11 occasions.
The start of CS:GO’s competitive circuit was a confusing and uncertain time, as entire teams of players migrated over to the new title and had to initially figure out which of their players had even successfully adapted to the new game, never mind how to operate within the next playing environment and initial meta. NiP famously dominated the early days, winning their first 87 maps offline in a row and their first 10 LAN events. VeryGames could play them close at times, while others merely had occasional chances to upset them and failed, but NiP’s persistent refusal to lose established them as worthy dictators in the scene.
Until the autumn of 2013, more than a year after NiP began playing CS:GO, they were the name on everyone’s lips. Their defeats were occasional and unexpected, all of them in series play coming from two similar but just different enough Virtus.pro line-ups. The first, with AdreN, famously bested NiP twice to deny them their first title at StarSeries V. With the mighty GuardiaN in tow, VP’s second incarnation bested them but ended up gifting VeryGames their first offline title at an event featuring NiP in attendance.
That VeryGames line-up, not VP, would be the team to take the throne from NiP. For a six-month span after Dreamhack Bucharest, NiP’s last big title of 2013, it was the French side who superseded NiP to become the world number one ranked team, win the most offline events and be a threat to take the title at any tournament they entered.
Elsewhere during this period, the only other credible threat was gla1ve’s Copenhagen Wolves team. They gained ground fast in early 2013 and took runners-up finishes at two notable tournaments – ESH Vienna and Copenhagen Games. Their 16-2 destruction of NiP on Nuke, considered the Swede’s unassailable home map, suggested the Danes could have been the game’s first non-NiP world number one, but they would eventually break apart under the weight of internal conflicts and fizzle out.