CSGO Mid-Year Recap: A Month-by-Month look at 2021 in CSGO

July 26, 2021 | 0 | 399| |

July is almost at its end, and Counter-Strike’s second competitive season of 2021 is already on the horizon. The next months are very anticipated by Counter-Strike fans, as the Major and a series of LAN events are currently planned to be run from October onwards.

However, while we’re all excited for what’s to come, it’s important to remember what happened so far: tournaments, updates, rankings, and more.

For that reason, we’ve prepared this recap as we remember the headliners of each month so far in the year. Whether you’re a returning fan looking to catch-up for the next semester, or a viewer who want a quick recap, we have your back.

JANUARY – BACK TO THE GRIND, the online grind

TOP 5 HLTV RANKINGS (January 4th)

1.Astralis1st @ IEM Global Challenge 2020
2.Vitality5th – 6th @ IEM Global Challenge 2020
3.Natus Vincere3rd – 4th @ IEM Global Challenge 2020
4.BIG3rd – 4th @ IEM Global Challenge 2020
5.Heroic7th – 8th @ IEM Global Challenge 2020

Counter-Strike kicked off 2021 with headliners and premier events right from the start. During January, we saw BLAST Premier Global Final, CS_Summit 7, and DreamHack Open January EU as the three key events. Natus Vincere, Virtus.Pro and Team Spirit would respectively won these. These victories can be seen as an early signal of the Eastern European rise that would be seen later on.

Unfortunately, the month also had negative news coming up. First, EnVy, the organization which once hosted the roster which won DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 decided to leave Counter-Strike. Then, the legendary GeT_RiGhT announced his retirement.

The Discussion Surrounding Coaches continues

Later in the month, discussion about coaching in CSGO kept being a heated topic within the community. The discussion developed further after an announcement from Valve, in which punishments to coaches who abused a bug in the game were revealed. Furthermore, coaches and staff wouldn’t be allowed to be in the same room as players during online matches in tournaments that are part of Valve’s system.

In that same announcement, Valve also introduced the RMR system to CSGO’s 2021 competitive season. Since 2020 didn’t saw any Major running, RMR points would be transferred, in some level, to 2021’s RMR. The Major, which by the way, was confirmed to be hosted by PGL. The company announced that they planned to host it in October at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm with live crowds for the playoffs.

Now, roster changes. To list these in a more “direct” way, we’ve got a table going that show the biggest roster moves of the month – feedback appreciated. Take a look:

Cloud9Xeppaa (01/22)woxic (01/18)
FaZeTwistzz (01/30)KJaerbye (01/30)
FNATICJackinho (01/12)flusha (01/08)
FURIAJunior (01/13), honda (01/14)hen1 (01/08)
LiquidFalleN (01/09)
MiBRyel, boltz, chelo, shz, danoco (01/15)LUCAS1, vsm, leo_drk (01/06), kNgV-, trk (01/08)
MousesportsacoR (01/23)


TOP 5 HLTV RANKINGS (February 1st)

1.Astralis1st2nd @ BLAST Premier Global Final 2020
2.Vitality2nd3rd @ BLAST Premier Global Final 2020
3.Natus Vincere3rd1st @ BLAST Premier Global Final 2020
4.BIG4th3rd – 4th @ DreamHack Open January 2021 Europe
5.Team LiquidNEW4th @ BLAST Premier Global Final 2020

The Eastern European trio we listed above would continue to make the news in February. Na’Vi came on top of BLAST Premier Spring Groups to kick off things. Later on, in the opening stage of one of the biggest events of the whole year, IEM Katowice, Gambit, Spirit and Virtus.Pro would qualify to the next stage among the likes of Liquid, NiP and Mousesports.

In the main event itself, however, Eastern European teams took complete control. Na’Vi was eliminated in the quarter-finals, while Spirit reached the semis. In the grand-finals, a clash between to teams from the CIS region was seen as Gambit lifted the trophy and Virtus.Pro left the event in a respectable second place. IEM Katowice featured the likes of Astralis, NiP, Heroic and Vitality, and to see such a dominant display from the teams coming from CIS was a sight to behold.

Besides tournaments, February also saw some names leaving CSGO. The Danish organization North, and fan-favorite player ‘autimatic’ both announced their departure from the game – in North’s case, the organization announced total closure.

The Roster Changes of the Month

As with any other month, we also saw some roster moves happening in the second month of the year.

Evil GeniusesEthan (02/28)
FaZekarrigan (02/15)olofmeister (02/15)
Heroicsjuush, refrezh (02/26)b0rup, niko (02/26)
Mousesportsdexter (02/10)karrigan (02/15)
Movistar Riderssmooya (02/02)
Ninjas in Pyjamasztr (02/02)twist (02/02)
OGNBK- (02/26)



1.Astralis1st5th – 6th @ IEM Katowice 2021
2.Natus Vincere3rd (+1)5th – 6th @ IEM Katowice 2021
3.Virtus.ProNEW2nd @ IEM Katowice 2021
4.GambitNEW1st @ IEM Katowice 2021
5.Vitality2nd (-3)9th – 12th @ IEM Katowice 2021

In March, the future was looking somewhat bleak. While players and fans were already used to the online era, the offline dream seemed so distant, and many were feeling tired from the whole online scenario. Many players took up to social networks to complaints, but there wasn’t much to be done from any party – at least regarding the return of offline events.

Still, Counter-Strike never stops and March was still a busy month. For the smaller teams in North America, DreamHack Open March 2021 was the biggest tournament then. In Europe, smaller and even some bigger teams took part in Snow Sweet Snow 2. These two were won by Extra Salt and HAVU, respectively. Pinnacle Cup 2021, which was also directed at smaller teams (although it featured Gambit, BIG and NiP) started in early March, but would only finish a month later.

It’s EPL time for CSGO!

The bigger event in March, however, was ESL Pro League Season 13. Featuring the likes of Gambit, Natus Vincere, Astralis, Vitality and Liquid, the event was set to be another key event from ESL. The event would run across March and April, with the playoffs taking place in the latter. March still saw some incredible games and performances in the event. Gambit and Heroic, mainly, were two highlights of EPL Season 13 groups. In the other side, however, there’s no lack of teams that bombed out of the league: OG, FNATIC, Mousesports, Cloud9 – and the list goes on.

Cloud9, specifically, would announce devastating news to its CSGO fans right after their run ended in EPL. The organization was putting their CSGO team on hold indefinitely. The colossus, unfortunately, had fallen.

DignitasLekr0 (03/07)H4RR3 (03/18)
Evil GeniusesoBo (03/05)
G2JaCkz (03/04)kennyS (03/04)
MAD LionsTMB, tudsoN, Woro2K, keen, jL, sausol (03/23)roej, HooXi (03/01)
OGniko (03/17)ISSAA (03/16)
VitalityNivera (03/12)

APRIL – TYING UP LOOSE ENDS, from last month


1.Natus Vincere2nd (+1)5th – 6th @ IEM Katowice 2021
2.Astralis1st (-1)5th – 6th @ IEM Katowice 2021
3.Gambit4th (+1)1st @ Pinnacle Cup 2021
4.Virtus.Pro3rd (-1)2nd @ IEM Katowice 2021
5.LiquidNEW3rd – 4th @ DreamHack Open March 2021 NA

Overall, April was a quieter month when it comes to the highest level of competition in Counter-Strike. The month started heated with the Pinnacle Cup finals and the playoffs of ESL Pro League Season 13, though.

In Pinnacle Cup, HAVU upset the Germans from BIG, setting them an encounter with Gambit who had defeated Spirit. While HAVU couldn’t keep with the Russian team, it was still an interesting watch.

While Pinnacle Cup was interesting, all eyes were on EPL Playoffs. Gambit and Heroic advanced through the bracket earlier by defeating Astralis and NiP and booking a spot in the SFs. The losing teams were booked for the quarter-finals, while the eight remaining teams would be fighting their way from the first playoffs rounds onwards. FPX, Liquid, Na’Vi and ENCE were the first ones to be eliminated. They were then followed by G2 and Virtus.Pro in the second round. In the QFs, FURIA defeated Astralis while NiP took down Complexity. Both teams would fall to Gambit and Heroic in the semis, and an incredible match was set for the grand-finals.


Of course, this grand-finals encounter between Gambit and Heroic became immensely popular as Heroic not only did upset Gambit to win the tournament, but their leader ‘cadiaN’ did an incredible play to close the match. You can watch it below:

As for the rest of month, April saw the first season of Perfect World League running in Asia, which was also the first RMR event of that region. Then, we saw the start of the next premier event in CSGO: DreamHack Masters Spring 2021. One of the biggest roster moves in CSGO in recent time was also announced at the end of the month – Astralis would see their star player ‘dev1ce’ going to the Ninjas in Pyjamas roster. Evil Geniuses’ would also move fan-favorite and Major-winner player ‘tarik’ from their CSGO division to their content creator division.

It was also during April that Valve changed some rules regarding their circuit. Including a new rule that allow previously VAC-banned players to play in events part of Valve’s circuit three years after the ban was issued. More about this here.

TEAMPLAYER(S) ADDED (announcement)PLAYER(S) REMOVED (announcement date)
Astralisdev1ce (04/23)
Evil GeniusesMICHU (04/15)tarik (04/15)
FNATICPeppzor (04/22)
Natus VincereB1T (04/11)***flamie (04/11)***
Ninjas in Pyjamasdev1ce (04/23)nawwk (04/23)
OGflameZ (04/09)
VitalityKyojin (04/12)RpK (04/12)
*** – added to the main roster, and moved to a reserve position, respectively

MAY – ANCIENT RISING, and Train leaving

Ancient replaces Train in CSGO competitive map pool


1.Gambit3rd (+2)1st – 2nd @ BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2021
2.HeroicNEW3rd – 4th @ BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2021
3.Astralis2nd (-1)9th – 16th @ BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2021
4.Natus Vincere1st (-3)9th – 12th @ ESL Pro League Season 13
5.Virtus.Pro4th (-1)7th – 8th @ FunSpark ULTI 2020 Europe Final

In early May, Valve announced major changes in the CSGO map pool. ‘Train’ would be leaving the competitive map pool, and ‘Ancient’ would be added in its place. ESL and other tournament organizers were quickly to react, and the map would be used in competitions from June onwards. The map pool changes were announced alongside the closing of the then running Operation, called ‘Broken Fang. In the same patch, the first skin case of 2021 was added to the game. Called ‘Snakebite Case’, the container featured 17 community-created weapon finishes, as well as gloves part of the Broken Fang collection.

At the same time the update dropped, DreamHack Masters Spring 2021 was still an ongoing event. A mighty looking Natus Vincere showed up, with their new player, ‘B1T’. He would be replacing ‘flamie’ in the team’s main squad. Natus Vincere would proceed to convincingly win DHMasters after beating Gambit in the grand-finals. They even won the game without dropping a single map in the BO5.

Overall, it was at this point that many fans started pointing at the crumbling of Astralis. The team wasn’t the same for a while at this point, but their latest results were getting worse quickly.


In early-to-mid May, the first RMR events kicked off. European teams headed to Flashpoint 3, while Eastern Europeans would go to EPIC League CIS. South American teams were already playing CBCS Elite League Season 1, while North American teams were waiting until May 20th for cs_summit 8.

During this period, the infamous incident between the Ninjas in Pyjamas and Anonymo happened in Flashpoint 3. If you want to learn more about it, here’s our piece about it. Following on, Flashpoint 3 and the other events proceeded as usual, and the RMR standings were updated. Mousesports won Flashpoint 3, with NiP coming in second. Team Liquid won cs_summit 8, with FURIA coming in second. MiBR won CBCS, and Sharks came in second. ViCi won PWLS1, with TyLoo in second. Finally, Renegades won EPIC Oceania League Spring, with ORDER coming in second place. You can check the current RMR standings through here.

May CSGO Roster Moves
TEAM PLAYER(S) ADDED (announcement) PLAYER(S) REMOVED (announcement date)
ENCEallu (05/12)
EntropiqEl1an, Lack1, Nickelback, Krad, Forester (05/10)


Paying for CSGO is now the only way to play ranked games


1.Gambit1st1st @ EPIC League CIS 2021
2.Natus Vincere4th (+2)5th @ EPIC League CIS 2021
3.Heroic2nd (-1)4th @ Flashpoint 3
4.G2NEW3rd @ Flashpoint 3
5.Astralis3rd (-2)6th @ Flashpoint 3

Right after the bunch of RMR events, another premier event was in the horizon: IEM Summer 2021, which was also the first top-level tournament to feature Ancient as part of its map pool. Gambit, the then best team in the world, was quick to show that they were more than willing to play the new map, and that it would be another tool in their arsenal. OG, the other finalist, finally had shown signs of improvements after having a difficult year overall. Evil Geniuses and Virtus.Pro both reached high standings after months of bad performances, too.

Between IEM Summer 2021 and the next premier event in the scene, it was time for another major update from Valve. This time around, it was related to the casual player base: CSGO F2P would receive various limitations, and players are now required to purchase the game in order to take part in ranked games.

Mid-May in CSGO

In mid-May, it was time for BLAST Premier Spring Final. The eight-team event ended with clash between two Eastern European teams: Gambit and Na’Vi. This time around, Gambit were the ones lifting the digital trophy. However, the rivalry between Gambit and Natus Vincere was just heating up.

At this time, it was possible to notice the tides changing for certain teams. For Heroic, their momentum was gone. G2, in the other hand, was quickly heating up. Natus Vincere finished adjusting to their newest player. Evil Geniuses, unfortunately, couldn’t repeat their form from IEM Summer and wasn’t looking as hot.

In the remaining of the month, two Major-winning players said their goodbyes to Counter-Strike. ‘KJaerbye’ (ex-FaZe, North) announced his retirement, while NBK- (ex-OG, DBL Poney) would leave CSGO to become a VALORANT player. Then Pinnacle Cup 2 and the second CIS RMR event both kicked off.

Here are the roster moves of May:

TEAM PLAYER(S) ADDED (announcement) PLAYER(S) REMOVED (announcement date)
ENCEhades (06/17)
FaZeolofmeister (06/14)coldzera (06/01)
FURIAhonda (06/03)Junior (06/03)
Ninjas in PyjamasLNZ (06/01)ztr (06/01)

JULY – CSGO RETURNS TO LAN, even if just for one event

IEM Cologne is the latest premier event in CSGO


1.Gambit1st2nd @ StarLadder CIS RMR 2021
2.Natus Vincere2nd1st @ StarLadder CIS RMR 2021
3.G24th (+1)3rd @ BLAST Premier Spring Final 2021
4.Heroic3rd (-1)9th – 12th @ IEM Summer 2021
5.Ninjas in PyjamasNEW4th @ BLAST Premier Spring Final 2021

The month started with StarLadder CIS RMR reaching its climax. The event would end with a grand-final encounter between Gambit and Na’Vi in a BO5 match. While Gambit had the initial map advantage, Na’Vi managed to circumvent that and take the win after a disputed, must-watch game. The team certainly gained some important momentum which would fuel them in their upcoming event.

Now, July certainly was one of the most anticipated months of the year for CSGO fans. After over a year since the game saw its last international LAN event, July would mark CSGO’s return to an offline environment with IEM Cologne 2021. ESL, the organizers behind it took all measures to make it happen, and at the end, we had one incredible event full of great stories, which you can read more about here. At the end of IEM Cologne 2021, Natus Vincere lifted the trophy – a physical one – and dethroned Gambit as the best CSGO team in the world.

Besides Cologne…

Also in this month: HYENAS, the team composed by ex-North players, disbanded. FNATIC entered a rebuilding phase (more here). Valve announced a contest for the community called ‘Dreams & Nightmares. The contest has a $1.000.000 prize pool that will be rewarded to ten skin makers. Plus, winners’ works will be also made available in-game through a case later this year. PGL has also entered discussions with the Swedish government in order to make sure that the upcoming PGL Major happens. However, the company also announced that in case Sweden refuses to host the tournament, two other European countries have been contacted and are ready to become the new hosts of the $2.000.000 event.

As far as competition goes, the top-tier players are on a break that will last until mid-August. However, there’s still plenty of official games happening on a lower level. CBCS Season 2, the second South American RMR kicked off this week. WePlay Academy League also started recently and it will be only ending in August, with its playoffs stage being played in LAN between four teams.

Also, July has already seen some interesting roster moves, so we’ll be listing what has happened so far below. You can also come back here by August, as we will be updating the table below as soon as a roster move happens this month.

TEAMPLAYER(S) ADDED (announcement)PLAYER(S) REMOVED (announcement date)
AstralisLucky (07/26)
Complexityes3tag (07/22)RUSH (07/22)
FNATICGolden (07/06), JW (07/20)


As mentioned above, most Counter-Strike top-level professionals are on a break, but there’s still plenty of matches to watch. And soon enough, the roster moves will start coming up to keep up things interesting. So, want to keep up with all that? Then make sure you follow us!

The author

My name is Marcos, I have been following the CSGO pro scene since 2015 but really got into in following games and pro teams in 2016. Used to bet a lot, stopped a bit but never stopped following the esports scene. I'm a student right now so I got a lot of time to keep with it and discover new things.

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