Despite some pretty fierce competition from the likes of Overwatch, Counter-Strike came out of 2019 still as the competitive gaming world’s most premier first-person shooter. The game regularly attracts nearly a million active players a month, as well as boasting one of the most hotly followed communities on platforms such as Twitch.
CS:GO viewership had fallen somewhat in the opening months of 2019, however the second half of the year coincided with a sharp revival in Counter-Strike’s popularity and returned it to its highest peak in viewers since January 2017. 2020 looks like a potentially great year for the first-person shooter, with a stacked calendar, rising viewership, increasingly lucrative competitions and the most volatile meta we’ve seen within the game in nearly two years, here are some of the biggest points we’re going to be keeping an eye on this year:
How Are Astralis Going To Do?
2019 was, on the whole, a pretty good year for Danish super-side Astralis. They became the Counter-Strike world’s most successful ever side in September, picking up their fourth major title at StarLadder Berlin and netting a cool $500,000 in winnings.
The core group of dev1ce (voted MVP at Berlin), dupreeh, Xyp9x, glav1e, Magisk and coach zonic have been together for years now, amassed winnings of over $8 million and seem to possess a superhuman connection in the game. They were at the top of the HLTV ranking tree for a record 407 days before being deposed by Team Liquid prior to StarLadder.
They go into 2020 once again as the kings of the game atop of the rankings table, having well and truly won the 2019 rivalry against Liquid. They are sure to amongst the favourites in any sane Esports betting guides for the year’s hottest competitions, showing enough times over the past few years that the pressure of being the best rarely fazes them.
When’s The Next Major?
Counter-Strike’s Major championships are the highlights of the game’s competitive calendar and remain some of the most influential and important events in the competitive Esports world. Set to take place between May 11 and May 24th, the first Major of the year will kick off in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
It is the first time a CS Major has been hosted outside of North America or Europe in the game’s history, and promises to deliver some of the most passionate and electric atmospheres found anywhere in the world. Brazil is one of the few countries in the world that have been able to compete with the sides from the Northern hemisphere, with FURIA and MiBR remaining the country’s best hopes of bringing a Major back to home soil. It’s been well over 1,200 days since Brazil tasted success at a Major, but could that be on the brink of changing this year?
The second Major of the year will be hosted around November time, with the location not yet revealed but the prize purse of $1,000,000 in previous Majors looks set to be matched again.
Who Are This Year’s Teams To Look Out For?
Having gone through their worst ever run of form at the head of last year, Fnatic rounded off the year with a truly shocking win at DreamHack Malmo in October, their first triumph at an S-Tier tournament since March 2018. The additions of Flusha, Golden and coach Samuelsson has led to a huge revival in the Swedish side’s success in the game, taking them back into the elite crop of talent in the game where the undoubtedly deserve to be. They also possess arguably the hottest young talent within Counter-Strike in 17 year old Brollan, who could be the player to watch this 2020.
Mousesports were definitely the surprise package at the end of 2019, rising from 12th in the rankings in November, all the way to 2nd place at the start of this year. Karrigan offers some steely experience as team leader, whilst woxic, frozen and ropz are playing with some seriously exciting confidence at the moment.
Our final pick for teams to look out for this year is 100 Thieves. The side that Canadian superstar Drake famously invested into, 100 Thieves had been out of the CS circuit ever since 2017, despite being reasonably heavy hitters in the wider Esports world, but acquired the Renegades roster sometime during the StarLadder Major. They’ve since gone public with their acquisition and will look to soar up from their 7th place ranking.