With the BLAST.tv Paris Major now concluded, all eyes are firmly set on the release of Counter-Strike 2.
There’ll be many things to discuss with CS2 as we continue to learn more about the game, but before that, it’s time to reflect on CS:GO.
Although the final Major of the games life cycle was won by an international squadron, it did round off the history of multiple nations, as well as writing a new chapter in another. Denmark and France added to their Major winner tallies, while Israel marked its first Major champion in what will be the game’s last.
So, with that said, where else to start than to talk about the success of the nations who competed in CS:GO? An integral part of the CS:GO story, nations have risen and fallen over the game’s 10-year life, so which will leave the longest-lasting impression?
Although success has been hard to come by for the Brazilian scene for quite a few years, their status on this list is firmly secured by the successes of the LG/SK core in 2016/2017.
Featuring the best player in the world, coldzera, for those two years, the core of TACO, FalleN, fer, and coldzera won back-to-back Majors on their road to becoming one of the most respected cores of all time.
After inspiring a nation, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before we see Brazilian teams become a true threat again, and we have seen FURIA become a consistently top team in the years since.
KSCERATO may exist, but the lack of true stars and tournament wins outside of the LG/SK era hinder them from placing any higher.
Here’s to Counter-Strike 2 bringing about a new wave of Samba stars.
The host nation for the final CS:GO Major, France saw the majority of its successes in the early years of CS:GO.
With 8 Major winners hailing from France, the most recent of those, ZywOo, won his first at the BLAST.tv Paris Major, the same tournament where his forefather, kennyS, announced his retirement. Two of the greats of the game, their proficiency with the AWP and their legend status propels France into the number four spot on this list.
Other players of note include apEX, shox, NBK-, KioShiMa, and Happy, four of whom won two Majors within the game's lifespan.
Realistically, France could be far higher on this list. The only thing preventing it is that their pro scene is almost non-existent. Falcons only have three players, the former HEET lineup is now orgless, LDLC have disbanded, and shox’s Nakama project lasted about as long as his time on Team Liquid. With Arcadia serving as the only pro team in France, the future isn’t looking bright for one of Counter-Strike’s most storied nations.
The online era and the subsequent return to LAN following COVID-19 saw a rise of Russian CS, with a majority Russian NAVI roster being the best team in the world throughout 2021, and a Gambit (now Cloud9) team that looked destined to be consistent challengers for trophies in the years that followed.
NAVI went on to win the first Major after the pandemic, PGL Stockholm, but they weren’t the only Russian team to win one of the four Majors since the return. Virtus.pro, then known as Outsiders, also won at the second Major of 2022, IEM Rio.
Those two Majors are the epitome of the Russian renaissance we saw during the online era, and with players like m0NESY, zorte, shalfey, Ax1Le, and sh1ro, the future remains bright for the nation with CS2 on the horizon.
The most dominant nation in the early years of Global Offensive, Sweden’s first success in the game came as NIP went on an 87-0 unbeaten LAN map streak.
Map streak aside, NIP wasn’t even the first Swedish team to win a Major in CS:GO, as their noisy neighbors fnatic drew first blood by winning Dreamhack Winter 2013 against NIP at the first Major of CS:GO.
NIP would go on to feature in all of the next four Major finals; winning one and losing another to fnatic. In fact, it would take until fnatic’s third and final Major win, ESL One: Cologne 2015, the sixth Major of CS:GO, for a Swedish team to not be in the final of a Major. Just don’t ask olofmeister what happened at the next one…
Sweden might have tapered out in recent years, with both fnatic and NIP ending life in CS:GO with international rosters, but with players like KRIMZ, REZ, brollan, and hampus all still playing their trade in tier one, Sweden still has an impact on CS:GO today.
A nation that was always a threat, it wasn’t until late 2016 that we saw the first glimpses of why Denmark would become the powerhouse in CS:GO.
With the arrival of gla1ve and kjaerbye, Astralis would take home ECS Season 2 and the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major 2017 within two months of each other. However, it wasn’t until the latter departed that Astralis would go on to become the best team of all time was formed.
As kjaerbye left, Magisk would arrive, a player on the cusp of losing his spot in tier one; the incoming rifler would elevate Astralis to a level never seen again for the remainder of CS:GO’s lifespan.
Winning three consecutive Majors and the inaugural season of the Intel Grand Slam, the Astralis team consisting of Magisk, device, dupreeh, gla1ve, and xyp9x would become uncontested as the best team of all time. A team that redefined the meta and changed the shape of Counter-Strike forever, their exploits will become the stuff of legend for whichever new generation of players pick up the game in CS2.
Outside of that Astralis team, Denmark has had a host of other top talents too. karrigan is also a Major and Intel Grand Slam winning IGL with FaZe, while MSL was an IGL renowned for spotting and developing young talents. blameF is a player who constantly threatens to truly become one of the best in the world, while cadiaN’s Heroic roster has been consistently one of the best teams since their rise to power during the online era.
While Sweden may have dominated the game's early years, the impact Danish CS has had in the latter years is unmatched. Without them, the game's landscape would be incredibly different; for that reason, they are the greatest nation in the history of CS:GO.
Honorable mention: Poland
A nation that almost disappeared into absolute irrelevancy following the decline of the legendary Virtus.pro team, Poland was an incredibly strong nation in the early years of Global Offensive.
Containing two members of the legendary Polish Five that terrorized the early days of Counter-Strike, NEO and TaZ, as well as pasha, Snax, and byali, Virtus.pro were a hallmark in CS:GO for just over four years.
Unfortunately, as their powers began to wane, the Virtus.pro roster that had gained so many fans because of the ‘VIrtus.plow’ moniker became something of an embarrassing figure. They won a Major at ESL Katowice 2014, but after finishing runners up at the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major, their steady decline saw the organization open up the cracks in the region.
Outside of the iconic VP lineup, there simply wasn’t top talent in Poland. A nation full of tier-two players who couldn’t step up, it’s taken until 2023 and the rise of 9INE for another Polish team to even qualify for a Major. Not that it went well when they got there…
We’d love to include Poland on our list, but the truth is, it’s just not possible. The Counter-Strike world will always admire NEO, Snax, pasha, TaZ, and byali, but outside of them… what exactly have they had of value?
Dishonorable mention: U.S.A
We’re very aware this one will ruffle some feathers, so let’s get the positives out of the way first. Yes, an American team won a Major. Yes, an American team won a Grand Slam. Yes, and they also have EliGE, one of the best players never to win a Major.
Now say they deserve to be on this list with a straight face.
Let’s be real, the American scene has been a joke for years, and even when it was good it was largely propped up by the exploits of Canadians. Since then, it has mainly been pitiful, with teams like Evil Geniuses and Complexity being a constant source of disappointment. That’s without even mentioning Liquid, who had to turn to European stars in order to fill a roster they thought was capable of competing.