The CS2 circuit is already underway, but there’s still plenty of time to look back at the incredible era that CS:GO had.
We’ve already covered the best nations, the best riflers, as well as the AWPers. Now it’s time to focus on the unspoken heroes of Counter-Strike, the masterminds — the coaches.
Some people don’t appreciate or understand their role, but a coach's timeout could be the thing that swings momentum in the favor of their team. They can calm their players down, hype their players up, or call the exact right strategy at the exact right moment. Their influence is huge and we have seen a great coach take an average team to Major contenders.
So who are the best coaches of all time? Well, make sure you read the article below to find out our Mount Rushmore of CS:GO coaches; presented in no particular order.
Okay, we did say that this list was in no particular order, but it would be remiss not to mention the greatest CS:GO coach ever first. Not only has Danny "zonic" Sørensen had a lasting effect on the professional scene with his great coaching, but he has also affected the wider community and has a CS:GO "law" named after himself, which states that 11-4 is the most dangerous lead.
But zonic’s greatness did not start with coaching. He started his journey as a Counter-Strike player back in 2003 and over nine years he became known as one of the best Counter-Strike players from Denmark at the time. He then stopped playing Counter-Strike in 2012 and returned to Global Offensive three years later as a coach.
His first coaching gig was for Team Dignitas which was short-lived, and he returned to playing once again for the team MTW, but the urge to coach did not go away and he returned to coaching but this time for an orgless team called ? also known as Team Questionmark. The former TSM roster contained a core of modern-day Danish legends, including Finn "karrigan" Anderson, Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, Nicolai "device" Reedtz and Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen. Shortly after zonic’s addition, Team Questionmark became Astralis, a partly player-owned organization.
It didn’t take long for Astralis to cement themselves in CS:GO’s history, they formed in January 2016 and won the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta in January 2017. The Danish giants did not stop there as they began one of the most dominant eras in esports history, looking completely unstoppable from 2018 all the way to 2020 when COVID-19 canceled the ESL One Rio Major.
As if one incredible legacy wasn’t enough, zonic went about trying to create another when he joined Vitality in 2022. The French organization was home to Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, a player who many compared to Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and even argued could be the best player in the world. Despite having this insane talent, the team had yet to win a Major in their history and struggled to stay consistently at the very top until zonic came in.
The very last CS:GO Major was to be held in Paris, France and Vitality came into the tournament as one of the favorites — it was written in the stars. zonic led his team to the Major Final and dispatched the underdogs, GamerLegion, in electric fashion giving the Danish coach his fifth Major and making him the undisputed best CS:GO coach to ever grace the game.
Similarly to zonic, Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy competed in Counter-Strike as a player, but unlike his Danish counterpart, he entered CS:GO still playing and did not transition to a coach until later. From 2015 to 2018 B1ad3 continued to compete on the FlipSid3 roster and after years as their IGL he transitioned to become their coach… for five days.
Despite only coaching for five days, this kickstarted his journey into coaching as he was then loaned to Gambit and became their coach for the next year and a half. Over that period he spent a lot of time rebuilding a team that was never the same after winning the PGL Krakow Major in 2017, but whatever he was doing was working as in 2019 he got an offer he could not refuse.
B1ad3 turned away from coaching and took his career in a new direction, he became NAVI’s Esports Director and worked directly with their coach at the time, Mikhaylo "kane" Blagin, who had also made a name for himself on Gambit. When kane stepped down from coaching later that year, B1ad3 took the opportunity and returned to coaching, bringing NAVI into a new era of success.
NAVI’s winning ways began in 2020 with IEM Katowice and throughout the online era until NAVI could get a shot at what they really wanted, their first Major trophy. That opportunity came when Valve’s first Major after COVID happened, the PGL Major Stockholm 2019. The first Major back and the Counter-Strike world was ready for a spectacle, and that’s exactly what they got as NAVI and FaZe battled it out on the Grand Final stage.
In the end, s1mple and B1ad3’s squad came out on top and delivered the organization's first Major trophy, cementing the coach’s legacy. Since then B1ad3 has remained at the head of the team and will now look to bring about a new NAVI era in CS2 with their international roster.
The recently retired Robert “RobbaN” Dahlström is irreplaceable according to his long-term IGL, the Swedish coach held the reins at FaZe for two separate stints and experienced the highs of lifting a Major trophy and the lows of losing in a Major final. Throughout it all he established himself as one of the most valuable coaches in the entirety of the esport, but how did it all start?
Another player who thrived in Counter-Strike, RobbaN is most well-known for his time in the Swedish scene alongside legends such as Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg on NIP and SK Gaming. The latter of which he played for last from 2007 to 2012 until he took a step back from Counter-Strike. He later returned in 2016 where he transitioned into coaching and joined FaZe.
His first step into coaching lasted three years and included much success including ESL One New York 2017 and IEM Sydney 2018 as well as coaching some of the best players to ever touch the game. It wasn’t all highs as FaZe notoriously lost the 2018 ELEAGUE Boston Major Final to Cloud9, but overall it was a successful period. After three years RobbaN decided to step away from coaching and moved into a managerial role for FaZe until 2021, during this period RobbaN was handed an ESIC ban for his use of the coaching spectating bug.
RobbaN couldn’t stay away from the lure of coaching for long as he took back his role, although he wouldn’t be able to stand behind FaZe as they made back-to-back Major finals due to the aforementioned ban. During this run he found even more success winning an elusive Grand Slam with his team. But there was one achievement he never won, as despite FaZe’s Major win at the PGL Antwerp Major 2022 RobbaN was not present due to his ESIC coaching ban lasting for two Valve Majors. Despite this RobbaN still had an incredibly successful run with FaZe and although we won’t see him coaching in CS2, he remains one of the best coaches in CS:GO’s history.
Wilton "zews" Prado, similarly to B1ad3, didn’t start his career in CS:GO as a coach. He had competed as a player in Counter-Strike and Source and continued to do so in 2013 when he played on ProGaming.LTD. It would not be until two years later, after a break from the game, that he began coaching for three months at Games Academy. This was his first encounter with some of the players who he would go on to create an incredible legacy with.
After his three months at Games Academy, he joined Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo on Luminosity and created the roster that went on to become the first-ever team from the Americas to win a Major trophy.
Not only did they win the first-ever Major trophy for the Americas, but the team then signed for SK Gaming and completed the feat of winning back-to-back Majors, something that had only ever been done by Fnatic the year prior. With two Major trophies under his belt zews had done something most coaches dream of very early in his coaching career and as the Major winning core broke apart he ventured out of Brazil for a new challenge.
His journey took him to Team Liquid where he remained as the Head Coach for two years. After this, he founded his own esports organization called Yeah whilst coaching at MIBR and EG. He then suffered from a medical problem where he had a 90% chance of death and he decided to hang up his headphones. He later came out of retirement to coach O Plano and then Fluxo, but he is currently without a team.
His legacy remains as one of the only coaches to win back-to-back Majors and he was an instrumental part of building up the Brazilian scene from nothing to a consistent contender on the international stage.
This honorable mention is the only North American to make an appearance on this list. Eric "adreN" Hoag has achieved a feat that only a few other CS:GO coaches have, winning an Intel Grand Slam, which he did with Team Liquid in 2019.
adreN started his journey into Counter-Strike as a player in both Counter-Strike and CS:GO, competing on teams such as Team Dynamic, iBUYPOWER and even Team Liquid in 2015 and 2016, who he would later go on to coach. His first stint as a coach took place from 2018 to 2020 whereby he won the Intel Grand Slam alongside the BLAST Pro Series 2019 in Los Angeles. It was in 2020 that he would be temporarily replaced by Jason "moses" O’Toole until his return in May 2021.
His second stint was not as successful as the first due to the incredible heights he had reached, but his legacy as the only North American coach to win a CS:GO Intel Grand Slam will remain forever and he goes down as one of the most successful CS:GO coaches.
The common theme on this list is that these coaches have played at the highest levels and Jakub "kuben" Gurczynski is no different. His story begins in Counter-Strike and the early days of CS:GO where he played alongside the Golden Five lineup, some of whom he would go on to coach later in his career. In 2015, after a two-year break from playing, he began his coaching career on Virtus.Pro winning multiple trophies and having a successful run for almost five years.
He later moved on to become a manager and coach at ENVY then coached at Mad Lions before his most recent stint at Apeks. At Apeks he enjoyed an incredible underdog run at the last ever CS:GO Major, ending his CS:GO coaching career with a top-eight finish at the ESL Paris Major.
kuben’s ability to keep Virtus.Pro performing at the top level for multiple years makes him a top contender for one of the best coaches in CS:GO history. His healthy amount of trophies won doesn’t hurt either.
Unlike the other coaches on this list, Eetu "sAw" Saha did not play Counter-Strike competitively outside of CS:GO and he only began coaching in 2019. sAw spent his playing career predominantly in the Finnish scene on teams such as Menace.Fi, LGR, and eventually HAVU Gaming, the latter of which was where he made the switch from playing to coaching. This transition did not last long as after three months he was back as a player and it wasn’t until a year later that he left HAVU and joined ENCE in a permanent coaching role.
It was this move that solidified sAw as a top coach. He came in as ENCE transitioned away from their Finnish roots towards an international lineup. Although ENCE have always been an underdog team, sAw has taken them to a contender on the international stage which culminated in winning a trophy at IEM Dallas in 2023.
He may not have the longevity of the other coaches on the list, but sAw is a coach who has built great rosters in CS:GO with an incredible eye for talent and he has a bright future ahead of him.