The Counter-Strike scene is at a standstill as the top teams prepare for the upcoming London Major 2018. The Majors present a validation of their efforts and a checkpoint for the CS GO calendar. With the FaceIT London Major set to take place next month, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of where the teams stand in the current environment.

While there are many teams considered to be top teams, there are three teams which standout amongst them. Astralis, Na’Vi and Faze Clan have been at the top of the scene for several months. The performance of these teams is miles ahead of the next best teams. In this series of articles, we take a look at the top ten teams in the world right now. We start off with the very best – Astralis, Na’Vi and Faze Clan.

The Elite Trio – Astralis, Na’Vi & Faze Clan

The three teams comfortably at the top of the rankings are Astralis, Na’Vi and Faze Clan. These teams are a regular appearance carrying the trophies of big tournaments. The tussle between them is fun to watch as they constantly have to evolve their game, movement and strategies to one-up their opponents. Astralis is the best team amongst the trio, while Faze Clan and Na’Vi compete very closely for the Number 2 spot. Either team is capable of winning any tournament and it depends on a lot of mind games as well as map vetoes.

Astralis – The best team in the world

The Danish powerhouse is the best team in the world right now. They have commanded their position with excellent tactical movement accompanied with some of the world’s best firepower in CSGO. The team knows no limits and is constantly seeking to improve their game. After a brief slowdown post the Boston Major, Astralis was ready with their new roster and their new In-game Leader, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander.

The Astralis core has remained steady throughout the years. Xyp9x, Device and Dupreeh are playing together for several years and they form the crux of the Danish roster. The three might not always play on one side of the map, but their influence on the team’s playstyle is very evident. Device has consistently remained one of the top players in the world since his addition to the team. His ability to pick up either a rifle, an AWP or pistol and yet be as effective makes him unique.

Nicolai ‘Device’ Reetz

The primary AWPer for Astralis has been consistently good over the past few months. His statistics show a steady improvement over time. The Astralis roster depends heavily on his individual performance to maintain the firepower on the roster. With time, Device has also maintained his composure much better on the team. In the past, Device, along with his team was known as the Chokers. They would frequently lose in the semifinals of big tournaments. It was a psychological block, one that became impossible for the roster at the time to overcome.

Device can hold down certain sections of the map with ease. He has excellent movement and coordination with the rest of the team. It is often that he stays alive after getting multiple kills, securing the bomb site on his own. While Device might be one of the stars on the team, he cannot play at his level without the help from his teammates. The likes of Xyp9x and (now) Magisk are crucial to the team’s performance and results.

Dupreeh – Changing roles, but just as effective

Dupreeh has seen a slight fall in form, but his presence on the roster is of utmost importance to the team. Previously an entry fragger, he has taken on a more supportive style of play. This results in him providing adequate support via grenades and flashes for the team. Dupreeh has adapted to his new role on the team with ease, which allows Glaive to put on some really good performances.

Glaive – The In-Game leader who isn’t a walkover

Glaive has become one of the best In-Game Leaders in CSGO

It is rare to see an In-Game Leader play as efficiently as Glaive. He is definitely not the weakest link on the Astralis roster ( we are not sure if there is one yet). Indeed he has surprised casters and analysts with strong performances against some of the best teams. Despite his skill, Glaive’s tactics and mid-round calling is what makes the Astralis team surprising and unpredictable. He makes sudden mid-round calls based on the outcome of multiple individual duels in different parts of the map. This leads to sudden changes in the Astralis team movement such as moving down to B site on Nuke despite setting up a set-play for the A site The mixture of being an excellent player with skill as well as great mid-round calls is what makes Glaive a crucial element for Astralis.

The synergy on the roster is evident during these sudden mid-round calls. The team moves in unison, checking angles and trading frags whenever needed. The Astralis roster looks like a well-oiled machine partly due to their coach and strenuous practice sessions.

Achievements: Over the past six months, Astralis has won several Premier tournaments. The team suffered a shock exit from the Boston major and immediately following that was the exit of Kjaerbye from the roster. The performance of the team suffered during this time, but the subsequent changes only served to help the team establish itself as the best team in the world. 

Astralis tournament results since Boston Major 2018

Astralis is currently on a winning streak, and they are undoubtedly the best team in the world. But the possibility of Astralis remaining on top of the rankings is not dependent on the Danes alone. It is difficult to maintain the Number one position unless you innovate. With Faze Clan and Na’Vi attempting to secure themselves better results and higher rankings, Astralis has their work cut out.

Natus Vincere – A well-rounded team lacking results

Natus Vincere has been for some time, the team overly dependent on S1mple. The World’s best player would regularly put up strong performances despite Na’Vi as a team, faltering and struggling to secure good results.
However, of late, we have seen Electronic also join the bandwagon and help the team out immensely with his skill. The Na’Vi team composition is well-rounded with a good balance between experience, firepower as well as a strategy based team. They have the necessary pieces to be successful, but they have not produced the results yet.

Despite securing three consecutive tournament victories, they still failed when it mattered. For the most part, Na’Vi has been a team with middling results. They show a lot of promise, but never really impress against the other top teams.

electronic - NaVi CSGO
Electronic has stepped up his game of late

In June and July 2018, however, Na’Vi won three back-to-back tournaments. This definitely set off alarm bells in other team camps. Na’Vi looked really strong when S1mple and Electronic both go off at the same time. While S1mple has always been a consistent performer on Na’Vi, Electronics’ new avatar was just a new treat for everyone.

During this time period, Na’Vi won CS GO Asia Championships, StarSeries & i-League CS: GO Season 5, as well as the Cathedral of CS, GO ‘ ESL One Cologne 2018. On paper, this looks great, but a detailed review of the tournaments and the teams attending them presents a not-so-optimistic picture.

The Starseries & i-League CS GO Season 5, despite being a regular feature in the pro circuit did not have the big names in Counterstrike. The absence of teams such as Astralis and Faze Clan made the importance of the tournament several times smaller.

Na’Vi was always expected to win CS GO Asia Championships 2018. The tournament had a predominantly Asian lineup and without any big names involved, it was only a matter of time before Na’Vi won the tournament. Na’Vi’s performance definitely comes as that of a top team, one that is still unable to match up to Astralis. Na’Vi’s win at ESL one Cologne 2018 is what raised eyebrows. However, this was also a one-off tournament where all the players seemed to perform their roles to perfection. Maintaining consistency at the highest level is probably more important if you are to maintain your position as a top level team.

Na’Vi won ESL One cologne 2018 but flattered during the Eleague CS GO Premier. While it is not enough to downgrade their rating, it definitely isn’t enough to increase their ratings either. If anything, Na’Vi still remains the same when it comes to team rankings.

Faze Clan – Handicapped for most of 2018, but still relevant

Faze Clan CSGO Roster 2018
Faze Clan need to win this major to cement themselves as the Best team

The Faze Clan has been the strongest competitor to Astralis since the past few months. They were the favourites to win the Boston major, however, they succumbed to the crowd and were unable to best Cloud9. The home field advantage definitely helped Cloud9 a lot and Faze also seemed to be somewhat underperforming. The Faze Clan, however, has always been a crowd favourite, partly due to their flamboyant playstyle. They have some of the world’s best players on their roster and each player has a aggressive gameplay. The likes of Olofmeister, Niko, Guardian guided by Karrigan present one of the top teams in Counter-Strike.

But for most of the past few months, they have not been playing at their full strength. They have been playing without Olofmeister, who is a very important part of their roster. Despite not having Olofmeister on their roster for an elongated period of time, the Faze Clan still managed to pick up trophies and secure deep placements in tournaments.

The return of Olofmeister saw him put up big numbers. This bodes well for the team, which has not really been able to upstage Astralis from the top spot. But in the current scene, Faze Clan probably has a better chance to win against Astralis when compared to the other contender Natus Vincere. Olofmeister’s return to the team makes them a lot stronger and their performance should be viewed with a handicap for the past few months. The Faze Clan roster remains a very flashy roster, one that can probably only be led by Karrigan.  He has ample experience leading star players in the past.

Return of Olofmeister – Is it enough for Faze Clan?

Olofmeister was the world’s best player at a point in time. His time on Fnatic saw him rise to prominence as a player who simply did not have any counter. He used to win all of his duels and ended each game with huge numbers. While his numbers(1.31 rating) have fallen off since his peak, his impact on the game remains the same. The mere presence Olofmeister as the lurker on the team presents multiple angles for the opponents to focus. With Niko on the other side, the two present a very strong and formidable combination for the enemy teams to focus on.

He has played only one tournament since his return from the self-imposed break. His performance at ESL One Cologne 2018 was definitely surprising since not many expected him to be as good immediately. His frags are impact frags which often turn the tide of the round. He can secure a site by himself or ensure that the opponents are in confusion of the actual Faze Clan movement. With him on the roster, the remainder of the team does not have to adjust to stand-ins. They can truly execute their plans and play accordingly.

Karrigan’s problem – The Mind Games versus Glaive

Karrigan is a rare breed of In-game Leaders. The veteran player has a lot of experience in leading and ensuring that his ‘star-studded’ team remains calm during tense situations. Handling the egos of top professional players is not an easy thing to do. There are very few leaders who can boast of a similar ability to as much efficiency.

But we are talking about his problem when it comes specifically against Glaive. Glaive has shown an affinity to making very efficient mid-round calls. The speed of the Astralis execution and their superior aim is what makes these calls work. For Karrigan, this is not as easily possible. With Faze Clan not better than Astralis when it comes to aim, maybe even worse; his strategies fall awry. Karrigan feels woefully out of place when it comes to the tactics and leadership compared to Glaive. Ofcourse, leading an International star-studded roster is way more difficult than it seems on paper.

Faze Clan has challenged Astralis in the past, but they have consistently failed. Assuming that they can have a deep run during the London FaceIT major, they eventually do have to face off against Astralis at some point. This is where Karrigan’s ability to outmanoeuvre Glaive will come into effect. But for now, Faze Clan has to focus on rebuilding their team and developing a playstyle for the Majors and it’s group stage.

The Top 3 are in a league of their own

These three teams with their strengths and flaws are the elite of Counter-Strike Global offensive in the present period. While they do suffer the occasional losses to teams such as Mousesports, North and Liquid, they have maintained their dominance through results and their games.

The tug of war between the three teams is very evident. While earlier it was a two-way competition between Faze Clan and astralis, Na’Vi’s recent wins have propelled them into the fighting ring. It is still Astralis’ title to lose, but it is not an impossible task for either Faze or Na’Vi to become the best team in the world.

The next stop for this three-way competition will be at the London FaceIT Major. But if the past two Majors are anything to go by, we might just be in for a surprise at London.

The author

Esports journalist. An esports fan, former wannabe pro and occasional angry young man. You can find him trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR or just chilling in Rocket League. Or maybe building an entire city in Cities: Skylines. The current mood is always a surprise.

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