As G2 entered IEM Katowice 2023, all conversations around the team were focused on their impressive map-winning streak. A streak that was already up to 11 by the time of their opening match-up versus BIG, they had extended it to 17 by the time the Playoffs kicked off.
As was said to Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen and Jan “Swani” Muller during their live HLTV Confirmed segment, G2 wouldn’t even have to win the event to break Natus Vincere's record of 19 maps; they would just have to win their Semi-final 2-0 and the first map in the Grand-final. As it happened, they breezed past Liquid, making light work of the American squad as they won 16-10, 16-11 on Anubis and Inferno.
With a final booked and a record to break, the only things left to question were how long they could keep their streak going, and whether their sheer form and firepower would be enough to withstand the fundamentally and proactively strong brand of Counter-Strike their opponents, Heroic, were playing.
While they managed to triumph over Heroic, they failed to maintain their streak for its entirety. G2 won the first two maps of Nuke and Mirage (extending their streak to 21), countering Heroic’s style and suffocating their defaults. Inferno, however, as is often the case with CS:GO’s most tightly contested map, went the way of what was now proving to be the relative underdogs. Heroic’s breaking of the map-winning streak mattered for little, though, as G2 would instantly bounce back with a 16-7 demolition of the Danes on Ancient.
For what it’s worth, G2 themselves would state that the map streak wasn’t something they thought about. Instead, all they were focused on was winning. In our interview with HooXi, he stated, “We don't really care; we don’t really think about it. We're only thinking about winning.” However, it is a monumental and historic achievement, so for that reason, we’re going to analyze and compare it to answer the question: Is it the greatest map-winning streak of all time?
The newest contender: G2’s 21
Where else to start than with the new record holders? G2 was propelled to its record by all five of its members hitting peak form simultaneously. Much like FaZe a year before them, G2 peaking elevated an already high floor to their firepower, a combination that, due to their four-man core of star-level players, made them an unstoppable force.
In Katowice, despite Nemanja “huNter-” Kovac being the eventual winner of the MVP award, it was Justin “jks” Savage who was the star. At least in the earlier rounds. Labeled as the team’s Supports player, jks performed far above the expected level of a player operating in his role. With well-timed lurks and an innate clutching ability, the Australian could easily turn rounds on their head.
Speaking of well-timed lurks, huNter- was a constant thorn in the sides of their opponents. Excellent in mid and late rounds, the Bosnian consistently found the space to earn himself multi-kills and devastate the plans of opposing IGLs just as they were about to carry them out.
The most obvious peak to spectators is that of their AWPer, Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov. Fondly nicknamed the “Baby GOAT”, the Russian prodigy repeatedly performed at the level expected of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. Now with a year of tier-one experience under his belt, m0NESY looks far more comfortable across the map pool. Improved positioning and rotations make him an ever-present threat, even more terrifying for his opponents than that; he is potentially the most mechanically gifted player CS:GO has ever seen. While his teammates are displaying peak form, in m0NESY’s case, it might just be that we’ve seen him raise his floor exponentially.
The most important peak, however, is the one displayed by HooXi. Undeniably the least mechanically skilled player on the team, previously HooXi had often been criticized for his usual level of performance holding the team back. One of the more understated elements of the win streak was that he was no longer doing that, something we have seen creep back in during G2’s time thus far at ESL Pro League Season 17.
During their winning streak, Nuke was displayed as being a map G2 could always rely on. Nikola “NiKo” Kovac has always been one of the best Nuke players in the world, but this was now backed up by an all-around great Nuke playbook. A home map that can typically be used as evidence for whoever is the best team in the world.
Inferno and Ancient were also shown to be consistently strong. Maybe it’s due to the nature of Inferno, but Ancient, in particular, was a map G2 showed an ability to win comfortably whenever they played it. The addition of Anubis to the map pool was also of great benefit to them, they were able to become strong on the map and play Vertigo, one of the weaker maps in their pool, less than they would have prior.
When all is said and done, G2’s map-winning streak is a phenomenal achievement. Truth be told, it will likely not be bested for a very long time. CS:GO is simply too competitive nowadays for it to be broken easily. That being said, it does come with caveats.
G2’s peak, while the main reason for their streak, is also its main detractor. As seen with FaZe last year, dominance sustained by the peak of the players is not sustainable. As players begin to return to their regular performances, dominance will no longer be achievable.
There is also the fact that many of the game's other top teams are very weak right now. NAVI is still bedding in Andrii “npl” Kukharskyi, an addition that has seen multiple role changes and will require the youngster to quickly become accustomed to playing at a far higher level than he is used to. FaZe are off the boil, there is an element of the team being unstable in the air around them. Cloud9 has also recently undergone a change, and as the only team to beat G2 in 2023, Cloud9 not being at their best in Katowice because of that change is worth noting.
It’s likely, then, that had some of these factors not been the case, G2 would never have reached their map streak to begin with. A streak made by the strength of their individuals rather than their team play, it’s our verdict that G2’s map winning streak is not the most impressive of all time.
The record that shouldn’t be counted: NIP’s 87-0
You’ll have noticed that we’ve considered G2’s map-winning streak as the record during this article thus far, and you’d have been right to have said, “Well, actually,” at any point up to now. Or would you?
NIP’s streak, by the time it was ended by Astana Dragons, had reached a whopping 87-0 maps. A feat that truly could never be matched in the modern era; it is genuinely hard to imagine just how dominant NIP was at the time of their streak.
However, the time of their streak is the key reason why they also shouldn’t be involved in these conversations. A full five years before any of the other teams that will feature in this article, CS:GO was far less developed at that time and, as a result, far less competitive.
Have you ever watched a game from 2013? If not, we implore you to do so, it will feel like you are watching a very different game to the one you watch today. Utility is scarcely used in an effective manner, so much so that Adam “friberg” Friberg was able to become the best player in the world simply by running out and having better aim than his opponents.
NIP was also one of the few organizations that went all in on CS:GO upon its release. With many of the top players in the world still playing on older editions of the game that had different mechanics, NIP was able to get ahead, a head start that gave them a sizable lead for those other players to catch up to.
The fact is, while NIP’s streak is impressive, it’s simply a product of its time. While they remained a top team, no one was there to truly challenge them during that period. We had to mention them because they are the official map-winning record holders in CS:GO, but it's one record we think should be struck from the record books.
A Major run - NAVI
NAVI rolled into PGL Stockholm 2021 comfortably in the top spot on HLTV’s rankings. While they had just lost IEM Fall CIS to Gambit, there was no doubt in people’s minds who was the favorite to take home the Major trophy. At long last, it looked like s1mple would win his first Major.
Victory for NAVI proved to be undeniable, although history was made as they became the first team to do so without dropping a single map on their road to victory.
Buoyed by the explosion of Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy onto the tier one stage, NAVI was unstoppable during their time in Sweden. As the team best equipped for the return to LAN, they made light work of almost all of their opponents. Their toughest map, and maybe most fortunate, came on map two of the Grand-final versus G2 on Nuke when NiKo whiffed his infamous Deagle clip.
During their streak, NAVI destroyed both of their CIS rivals, Gambit and Virtus.pro. There were also comfortable wins against Vitality and Heroic and a relatively uncontested affair versus NIP.
As with most top teams, Nuke was shown to be an incredibly strong map for NAVI during this time, G2 may have pushed them close, but their strength on the map continued to be displayed in the months that followed. NAVI also showed incredible consistency on the other maps in their pool; outside of their perma-ban Vertigo, the only map they didn’t play in Stockholm was Inferno, although Inferno would later become the final map win in their streak during a 2-1 series victory over Heroic at BLAST Fall Finals 2021.
NAVI’s map-winning streak is undoubtedly the most high-pressure streak of all of the streaks within this list. Playing at a Major is different from any other level of tournament CS. It isn’t uncommon that we see favorites fail, sometimes even catastrophically. This wasn’t the case with NAVI, however, who, despite the raised stakes of the Major, managed to see through their favorite narrative.
Unfortunately, the one caveat is that this tournament was the first to be played on LAN following COVID-19 pushing CS:GO into its online era. Many teams were slow out of the gates after the return, and some, like Heroic and Gambit, who had ascended to becoming top teams during that era, were not experienced enough to deal with the added pressures of playing in front of a crowd.
Therefore, in our opinion, NAVI's streak is on level terms with G2’s. However, there is still one team left to consider.
The greatest of all time - Astralis
When Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye unceremoniously left Astralis for rivals North, it came as a great shock to Counter-Strike fans and even Astralis themselves. Even more shocking, perhaps, was the unprecedented level of dominance that would follow.
As Astralis were left reeling and quickly in need of a replacement, many expected that they would sign Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke, the loud-mouthed Entry Fragger who had always seemed destined for greatness. Instead, they would sign Emil “Magisk” Reif, a decision that would turn out to be a masterstroke.
One of the main issues during Kjaerbye’s time on Astralis was his role clash with Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, which would only have been exacerbated by the potential arrival of k0nfig. With Magisk, this clash was not only non-existent, but the incoming Dane also gave Astralis a far more balanced and well-rounded squad than they had ever had before.
With Magisk, Astralis were able to completely redefine the way CS:GO was played. Their preparation was phenomenal, anti-stratting each opponent within an inch of their playbook, leaving them constantly aware of anything any opponent may ever do to them. Not just that, but they invented new ways of using the game’s various pieces of utility, most iconically their HE stacks, later affectionately named ‘mortar strikes’. Molotovs, Incendiary Grenades, Smokes, and Flashbangs were all also used to a greater level of efficiency than ever before, nullifying the stars of teams and leaving their In-Game Leaders entirely clueless about how to stop them.
Suffocating is the only word that can be used to describe Astralis’ style at the time. Many described it as boring, particularly as it also focussed heavily on playing by numbers and maximizing upon saving to protect the economy, although this is now an ideology adopted by every team in the game.
It is the pure existence of this Astralis team and the three Majors they won during their almost two-year-long period at the top that renders NIP’s map-winning streak truly irrelevant. By redefining the game, they essentially reset the game, ushering in a new era of Counter-Strike being played in a far smarter way, with the very idea of ‘good fundamentals’ being cranked up to eleven in the process.
During this time, Astralis’ highest map-winning streak was 14, a feat they achieved twice in 2018. However, it is not their total map-winning streaks we wish to discuss, it’s their map-winning streaks on single maps.
By the time Astralis were finally defeated on Nuke by ENCE, their win streak on the map had extended all the way to 31. During that streak, IGL Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander became one of the best players in the world on the map, a Rotator that had an uncanny ability to appear as if he was everywhere on the map, making countless correct reads and big plays that would shut rounds down just as Astralis were about to lose a foothold on them.
Nuke was one of many maps they had an impressive streak on during their era. Perhaps more impressively, their win streak on Inferno ended at 21. As stated before, Inferno is the most tightly contested map in CS:GO. For a map typically relied upon for an upset in a BO1 or a decider, it became the epitome of Astralis’ playstyle, a chokehold of fire and explosions that rendered enemies helpless in Banana with half their health or less before a round had barely even begun.
At just 14, Astralis' total map-winning streaks may not seem anywhere near as impressive as other teams on this list, but they were typically winning the series they lost maps regardless. A dominance such as theirs at this time will never be seen again, a symptom of their success and the way they remolded the very fabric of the game. This remodeling, combined with their streaks on individual maps, is why we think Astralis’ map-winning streaks are the greatest of all time.