Funspark ULTI 2021 - Gambit (Online)
Funspark ULTI 2021 strangely took place between January 18th and January the 24th of 2022 for a prize pool of $150,000. Funspark ULTI 2021 took place Online and saw Gambit continue its strong form into the new year. Other notable teams attending Funspark were Astralis with Philip “Lucky” Ewald, Fnatic with Owen “smooya” Butterfield, and BIG. Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov’s men stormed to the trophy at this event, losing just two maps on the road to Funspark glory over Entropiq in the Grand final. Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov topped the statistics at Funspark ULTI, which netted him the HLTV MVP for the event with an enormous 1.43 rating.
IEM Katowice 2022 - FaZe
IEM Katowice 2022 was a stacked tournament containing nine of the top-ten teams in the world.
The famed tournament took place in Poland between the 17th of February till the 27th of February, where 16 teams fought for a one million dollar prize pool. IEM Katowice 2022 saw lots of Big Event debuts for new signings over the Winter Break - Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen, coach Remy "XTQZZZ" Quoniam, and youthful superstar Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov for G2, Danish trio Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen, Emil "Magisk" Reif and Danny "zonic" Sørensen for Vitality and Robin “ropz” Kool for FaZe, among others.
FaZe were the eventual winners in Poland, and the international side certainly had a chaotic event. Due to COVID-19, Robin “ropz” Kool had to miss the early stages of the event in favor of Justin “jks” Savage, and again the services of the Australian were required in the Playoffs when Håvard “rain” Nygaard also tested positive. It was a clash of international rosters in the Grand Final of IEM Katowice 2022 as the new-look G2 came up against Finn “karrigan” Andersen’s side. The American organization won the final 3-0, but all maps were incredibly tight, with the second map Mirage going 58 rounds. With strong performances throughout the event, Helvijs “broky” Saukants was awarded the MVP medal as FaZe established itself as the team to beat in 2022.
ESL Pro League Season 15 - FaZe
The fifteenth season of the ESL Pro League took place between March and April this year in Düsseldorf, Germany, and saw 24 teams fight for the trophy. ESL Pro League Season 15 saw a stand-out performance from Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia from Movistar Riders, and his displays with the AWP were vital in the Spanish side's 5-0 score in the group. ENCE and FaZe were the finalists in the end, which was the first sign that this ENCE side was a real title contender. Pavle “Maden” Bošković was a new addition in 2022, and his arrival sparked an increase in form for the international side, and Israeli rifler Lotan “Spinx” Giladi continued to showcase his star power on a global stage. Despite this, ENCE fell short in the Grand final, losing 1-3 to FaZe. Robin “ropz” Kool was the eventual MVP of the tournament, but despite finishing 5-8th, Natus Vincere’s Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev was the highest-rated player of the tournament with a meteoric 1.44 rating.
PGL Major Antwerp 2022 - FaZe
PGL Major Antwerp was the first Major of 2022 and took place in Antwerp, Belgium in May. PGL Major Antwerp saw Astralis miss out in the Challengers Stage, losing out to Liquid in the 2-2 match for a Legends Stage place and the Gambit/Players roster acquired by Cloud9 before the Major began.
In the Legends Stage, surprise omissions from the Playoffs were Cloud9 and the last Major finalists G2, who both missed out after disappointing showings. Spirit was the standout side in Antwerp as Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov’s men qualified for the Playoffs with a 3-0 score. Copenhagen Flames made the Playoffs, continuing their strong Major form from PGL Stockholm, but it was obvious either Natus Vincere or FaZe Clan was going to be the eventual Major Champions. Despite the best efforts from Robert “Patsi” Isyanov and Abdul “degster” Gasanov in their Semi-final against FaZe, this was the match we got - NaVi against FaZe Clan.
Would Finn “karrigan” Andersen manages to lift his first Major trophy? The Grand final was closely fought, but thanks to heroics from Håvard “rain” Nygaard, FaZe were triumphant and won the series 2-0. The Norwegian was not only integral in the final but was incredibly effective throughout the entire event, averaging a 1.24 rating, the highest at the Major, and he became a member of a very exclusive club - he became the fifteenth-ever Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major MVP. The international team won this third event in a row, and they were dominant in this period.
IEM Dallas 2022 - Cloud9
Finn “karrigan” Andersen’s reign over the Counter-Strike scene came to an end in Dallas, where the Gambit/Players/Cloud9 side won their second event of the year. Taking place in Dallas, Texas, the American organization lifted its first trophy since the ELEAGUE Major in Boston all the way back in 2018. Natus Vincere was not in attendance in America, but all other big hitters were present, and Cloud9 needed to overcome FaZe in the Quarterfinals to win the event.
The bout between FaZe and Cloud9 went all three maps, with star rifler Sergey “Ax1Le” Rykhtorov and AWPer Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov being vital in being victorious in this series. Sergey “Ax1Le” Rykhtorov's consistently impressive performances gained him his first MVP of the year. IEM Dallas 2022 saw ENCE again make a final, this time with Polish veteran Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski standing in for star man Lotan “Spinx” Giladi. They fell short, and Cloud9 lifted a trophy once again with their newly acquired Russian/Kazakhstan roster. This was a step forward for Konstantin “groove” Pikiner’s team, winning their first LAN event. To celebrate, organization owner Jack Etienne took to the stage and lifted the trophy with his CS:GO, team. It was great to see Cloud9 hoisting some silverware again, especially in the United States; IEM Dallas 2022 was reminiscent of ELEAGUE 2018.
BLAST Premier: Spring Finals - Natus Vincere
BLAST Premier: Spring Finals took place following the Spring Groups and the Spring Showdown, and the top-three teams in the world, FaZe, ENCE, and Natus Vincere, were all in attendance. The event took place in Lisbon, Portugal, and saw eight teams fight for the trophy between June 15th and June 19th. OG with newly acquired Abdul “degster” Gasanov from Spirit impressed during the Group Stage as the Russian sniper looked to be a superb signing for the Red Bull-sponsored organization. Both ENCE and FaZe fell in the Quarter-final stage, FaZe at the hands of Natus Vincere, and this set up a Grand final against Vitality in the Portuguese capital.
This was the first Grand final clash between Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut in 2022. Not only that, but it was the first final appearance for the ex-Astralis members, who had gotten accustomed to challenging for titles consistently before joining the Parisian organization. The Ukrainian sniper and his side came out on top, winning the competition and getting himself his first MVP medal of the year - the twentieth of his career, averaging a 1.37 rating across the entirety of the Spring Finals. This was Natus Vincere’s first tournament win with Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev on their roster, and at the time, the future looked bright with the 25-year-old under the leadership of Denis “electroNic” Sharipov.
Roobet Cup 2022 - BIG (Online)
In a little break before IEM Cologne 2022, an Online event took place called Roobet Cup 2022. This event took place between June the 22nd and June the 30th and saw sixteen teams face off for a large Online prize pool of $250,000.
Certain teams seemed to thrive with the event being online; teams like Eternal Fire, with a famous “onliner” Ismailcan “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş, had a strong event, making the Quarterfinal in quite a stacked event. FaZe continued their impeccable form in the Online setting, as well as Cloud9 and BIG, who seem to suit the Online environment better. Famously, Florian “syrsoN” Rische, the sniper for the German side, is incredibly effective online, and Roobet Cup 2022 was no exception. Florian “syrsoN” Rische carried BIG to a tournament victory at this event, beating out FaZe in the final 2-0.
The 26-year-old was instrumental at the Roobet Cup, averaging a 1.23 rating, and received the MVP for this event. A rating of 1.23 was dramatically higher than the next best on his team - Nils “k1to” Gruhne, with a mere 1.06 rating. This form from the German sniper was promising with an event in Cologne up next; big things were expected from BIG in their home country.
IEM Cologne 2022 - FaZe
IEM Cologne 2022, as always, was one of the biggest events of the year. It was a 24-team tournament that took place between July 7th and July 17th. Before the main competition began, IEM Cologne 2022 Play-In, a qualifier for IEM Cologne 2022, took place.
In this qualifier, Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz’s BIG failed to qualify for the main event, a huge disappointment for the team that made the Grand Final back in 2018. There were lots of surprises at IEM Cologne 2022; MOUZ managed to make playoffs, as well as Movistar Riders, which saw Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia again have a marvelous event, continuing from his heroics at ESL Pro League Season 15. After a year of struggles, Astralis also managed to make the playoffs alongside their 2019 rivals Liquid, who, with new signing Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis, managed to have a strong result.
The arrival of the Latvian entry star sparked an upturn in form for Team Liquid and led to a much-improved end to the year. However, despite all the surprise playoff appearances, the Grand Final was Natus Vincere against FaZe. The Best-of-Five final went all the way, with FaZe winning 3-2. This event victory cemented FaZe as the team to beat in 2022, with Natus Vincere second-best. Despite finishing in second place, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev was still awarded the MVP in Germany. He averaged a 1.25 rating and therefore received his second MVP of the year. At this point in the year, due to the struggles from Vitality, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev was far and away the best player of 2022.
ESL Pro League Season 16 - Vitality
The second season of the ESL Pro League in 2022 was the sixteenth season, and it was certainly exciting. Season 16 of the ESL Pro League took place on the Mediterranean island of Malta in September.
It was a long tournament that saw Evil Geniuses pick up their first ESL Pro League series win since March 2021. The event in Malta was the first big event to feature the new Vitality arrival Lotan “Spinx” Giladi from ENCE, who replaced Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier on the now international side. And, alongside Liquid, Vitality was the standout team of this event, with the two rosters with fairly new additions - Lotan “Spinx” Giladi for Vitality and Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis for Liquid, making the Grand final in Malta.
G2, who were also fielding their new roster - with Danish leader Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen and Australian super stand-in Justin “jks” Savage, had a strong event making the Semi-final. Other title contenders such as FaZe, Natus Vincere, Heroic, and Cloud9 fell short in ESL Pro League Season 16, guaranteeing an exciting Grand final between Liquid and Vitality. The Best-of-Five final went the whole way, with Vitality eventually coming out on top with a 3-2 scoreline.
Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut was truly dominant at this event, and the Frenchmen received his first MVP medal of the year, averaging a 1.42 rating across twenty-one maps. With the IEM Rio Major 2022 fast approaching, there were no clear favorites, and with Andrei “arT” Piovezan’s men at FURIA looking strong, could a Brazilian side challenge for the Major in Brazil? Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato’s form in Malta would suggest yes.
IEM Rio Major 2022 - Outsiders
The IEM Rio Major 2022 was the highly anticipated Major in Brazil, which was canceled due to the pandemic in 2020. The Road to the Major began at the IEM Road to Rio RMRs, where the notable omissions from the Major were four-time Major champions Astralis and G2 with their new-look roster. This was a huge loss for both the organizations and players, as stars like Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, Benjamin “blameF” Bremer, and Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov should be in contention for every Major trophy.
Without these two behemoths of the Esports scene, the Major carried on to the Challengers Stage, where Kosovan side Bad News Eagles again performed superbly, achieving a 3-0 score and securing berth to the Legends Stage. The only noteworthy exclusion from the Legends Stage was the international side OG, who was looking competitive with Abdul “degster” Gasanov before the Major. Heading into the main event, many were expecting Natus Vincere and FaZe to battle it out for their second Major, with Vitality, Cloud9, and Liquid following close behind, but the Major in Rio had many surprises up its sleeve. The first was FaZe, who proceeded to leave the IEM Rio Major without a win, finishing 0-3, a shocking result for the previous Major winners.
Last event finalists, Vitality and Liquid also missed out on the Playoffs alongside ENCE, who weren’t strong enough with their new roster featuring ex-Movistar Riders sniper Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia and Danish rifler Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså. Therefore, heading into the Playoffs, Natus Vincere and Cloud9 were the only remaining favorites, and being on other sides of the bracket, everything pointed to a Natus Vincere/Cloud9 final.
It wasn’t to be as both lost at the first hurdle; Cloud9 suffered a shocking defeat to MOUZ as Natus Vincere fell at the hands of FURIA, who were riding the momentum of the Brazilian crowd. Both FURIA and MOUZ then lost their Semifinals and left Heroic and Outsiders fighting for the Major trophy in Brazil. It was Outsiders who came out on top to win with their sniper and In-Game leader Dzhami “Jame” Ali winning the MVP award after averaging a 1.30 rating across the event. This shock result cemented the Outsiders as title challengers from this point forward.
BLAST Premier: Fall Finals - Heroic
After losing out on a Major win at the final hurdle, Heroic was looking for vengeance at the BLAST Premier Fall Finals. With ex-Copenhagen Flames star Jakob “jabbi” Nygaard now playing under Casper “cadiaN” Møller's regime, Heroic was a much more competitive team but lacked something to get themselves over the edge in close playoff matchups.
In Copenhagen, at the BLAST Premier: Fall Finals, that is where that changed. Heroic fought through G2, Liquid, and FaZe, all in close series on their road to lifting the trophy. Their bout against FaZe was intense, and with the crowd behind them, the Danish squad prevailed, coming out ahead 19-16 in Overtime on the last map - Mirage.
The starman for Heroic, Martin “stavn” Lund, was at his usual best in Copenhagen and was the highest-rated member of Heroic at the Fall Finals, but it was FaZe’s Latvian sniper, Helvijs “broky” Saukants, who was awarded his second MVP of the year. The event established Heroic as the best team in the world, an accolade they would hold onto until the Winter break. It must be nice being ranked number one over Christmas!
BLAST Premier: World Finals - G2 Esports
Having missed the Fall Finals, this was Outsiders' first event since winning the Major in Rio de Janeiro. The last event winner, Heroic, was also in attendance, and both these two teams were expected to fight for the trophy. To the Heroic side’s dismay, Martin “stavn” Lund would not be participating at the BLAST Premier: World Final, and instead, ex-Astralis man Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke would feature.
This was a shame as many would have loved to have seen Heroic aim to defend their title. The BLAST Premier: World Finals was also the first event to feature the newest map added to the Active Duty Pool - Anubis. This spiced up the action in Abu Dhabi and made the competition all the more interesting. Heroic was the first team to fall in the United Arab Emirates, and with a stand-in that was not particularly surprising; however, Outsiders, who also finished last place after losses to both Liquid and G2, shocked the Counter-Strike community.
After missing out on the Major, Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen’s men at G2 had a point to prove and, alongside Liquid, looked like the team to beat at the World Final. Liquid and G2 eventually met, which meant a new event winner for 2022 would be crowned in Abu Dhabi. Heading into the final, G2 had not won a map in a Grand Final in a staggering 1092 days, but they managed to overcome this statistic and beat Liquid 2-0. Justin “jks” Savage was particularly impactful throughout the playoff run, with the consistent performers Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, Nemanja “huNter” Kovač, and Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov being instrumental in their victory.
It was a joy to see the European superteam victorious in 2022, and it will be interesting to see if they can continue this form into 2023. 17-year-old Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov received the MVP award at the World Final. Can he take the next step in 2023 and challenge the best player in the world?