This year was full of surprises, upsets, fairytales, and failures. Astralis was the most popular team in the last year, especially towards the end. We can conclude that s1mple was, if not the best, player this year. Many things happened in 2018 and we will try to cover the most notable ones.
A Year in Review
Perhaps the main headline in 2018 was Astralis winning the Intel Grand Slam after claiming the title at the ESL Pro League Season 8 on home soil. It is followed by articles about Team Liquid finishing as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th team, as well as videos about s1mple’s highlight reels. Furthermore, the big surprise was Cloud9 defeating FaZe at the beginning of the year at ELEAGUE Major in Boston, considering FaZe being favorites to clinch their first trophy at Major. Therefore, we are going to start with the first big event in the year.
Cloud9 – from hero to zero and back
Cloud9 wasn’t one of the top favorites for winning ELEAGUE Major, but they finished the New Challengers Stage in first place as a team with the best score. They were gradually improving their form and beat Envy, Sprout, and mousesports. They finished in front of G2 Esports as they had the better round difference. Cloud9 was very close to dropping out of the tournament in New Legends Stage. The North American team had a rough start, considering they lost to G2 and Space Soldiers. But the squad from Cloud9 rallied back and crushed their next opponents. None of their following three opponents (Virtus.pro, Astralis and Vega Squadron) won more than 7 rounds.
Cloud9 kept riding on their momentum and crushed G2 (16-8, 16-7) in the Quarterfinals. In the Semi-final, Cloud9 faced one of the favorites, SK Gaming. Player autimatic and company prevailed and booked a meeting with FaZe Clan in the finals. The final round was incredibly tense as Cloud9 was leading 8-1 at one moment in the first leg, but they didn’t manage to hold onto their lead. Battling through the rounds, Cloud9 stayed mentally stable and won the second leg.
The last leg was unforgettable. FaZe had three match points, but they turned out to be insufficient. Cloud9 stroke back in great manner and entered the final leg of the Final in Overtime. In the final round, GuardiaN was left alone to defend the planted bomb on the B site, but Skakoodle sniped him for Cloud9’s first Major title. People in the venue went insane after that shot, as well as all members of Cloud9. The major win from the beginning set high standards, which Cloud9 was never able to meet thereafter. Therefore, many roster changes have been made in Cloud9, but without effect on their overall poor standings.
Fnatic triumphed at IEM XII World Championship and WESG 2017
Fnatic had a very successful journey in Poland and Chine in February and March this year. At IEM XII, they were undefeated. Firstly, Fnatic won first place in Group B after beating Heroic, G2 and FaZe Clan. In the Semi-final, Fnatic defeated Team Liquid (who finished in 3rd-4th place) and then confronted FaZe in final for the second time in the tournament. FaZe was again part of the stressful final, and they finished on the losing side for the second time. Two legs went into Overtime, and one of them was the final leg. Fnatic prevailed in final and that was their first Premier title since IEM X in 2016.
Fnatic maintained their excellent form and unbeaten streak. They came to China as one of the favorites and finished first in the Group Stage (Group G) in front of Cloud9. They repeated that result in Second Group Stage. In the Quarters and Semis, Fnatic had more-less an easy job, considering they faced no strong opponents. MVP.PK and Team One were victims of Fnatic’s solid performance. However, in the final, Space Soldiers made sure that Fnatic wasn’t going to have an easy ride; Fnatic indeed had a stressful match against Space Solider but finished with a victory.
Everyone thought Space Soldiers was going to clinch the trophy in China, considering they led 14-7 in the final leg. But, at that moment Fnatic went on an eight-win streak and won the WESG 2017 and an impressive prize of $800,000. Team Russia won the 3rd place at the tournament, and Cloud9 finished their path in the Quarter-finals.
Astralis began their domination at DreamHack Masters Marseille
Astralis didn’t have much success in first three months of the year. They were increasingly improving their form and reached the peak at DreamHack Masters in Marseille. That was the moment when their dominance started. In the first match, Astralis crushed Space Soldiers (16-2) and after losing the first leg to Team Liquid, they punched back in the rest of the Winners match (14-16, 16-3, 16-3). Gla1ve and company were merciless in the playoffs as well. None of their opponents won a single leg against Astralis. Even the results were very similar in all rounds. FaZe, Fnatic and NaVi (all elite squads) didn’t manage to put a dent in Astralis momentum. Therefore, Astralis won the first of numerous titles in the year.
Astralis took part in the next big event. They fought for the trophy and $250,000 at ESL Pro League Season 7 in Dallas. Astralis continued their winning streak as they didn’t lose a leg until the finals. In the Group Stage, they defeated great teams such as OpTic, SK Gaming, and Team Liquid. In the Semis, the best CS:GO team ever convincingly knocked FaZe out of the tournament. Astralis faced Team Liquid in final for the second time. Team Liquid team was humiliated by Astralis on Dust 2 (16-1). Their triumph on Mirage was insufficient for a comeback, so Astralis claimed the second title.
Astralis kept winning big titles. They came in ECS Season 5 as one of the main favorites and for a good reason. They just crushed the field. Cloud9, Team Liquid (two times) and FaZe Clan were all victims of Astralis dominance. This time, Astralis didn’t lose a single map. They defeated Team Liquid in second consecutive finals.
History repeats itself
Almost the same scenario occurred at ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018. Astralis had a nearly identical path to the title. The only difference was mousesports in the Semi-finals. Gla1ve and company came to ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier after, for their standards, failure at the ESL One: Cologne 2018. Once again, Astralis didn’t lose any legs. At that moment, everyone noticed their power on Nuke. It became clear that beating Astralis on Nuke is one of the hardest thing to do in CS:GO esports.
Someone finally defeated Astralis on the major stage. Astralis lost two matches in the Group Stages at FACEIT Major, the first major of FACEIT in history. Astralis lost to Ninjas in Pyjamas in the New Challengers Stage and then was defeated by Team Liquid in New Legends Stage. However, Astralis showed their power in play-offs as they knocked-out FaZe and Liquid, and defeated Natus Vincere in finals for the fifth title in the year.
FaZe, NaVi and North managed to stop Astralis in few occasions
When one team is so dominant as Astralis was, it is really hard to triumph in big events. Only a few teams managed to do such a thing. FaZe did that at IEM Season 13 in Sydney. They came to the play-offs through the Lower bracket and then reached the finals. Afterward, they won against Astralis (3-0). Even though the final score was 3-0, it was so close match. Alongside this title, FaZe won ESL One: Belo Horizonte 2018 (against mousesports in final) and EPICENTER 2018 (to Na Vi). Note, Astralis didn’t take part in any of these.
Natus Vincere clinched two trophies. In the second one, they knocked Astralis out of the competition in Semi-finals at ESL One Cologne 2018. Afterward, they faced BIG in final and won. Natus Vincere also won StarSeries & i-League CS: GO Season 5 beating NRG in the final round
North is another team that achieved something notable in the Astralis era. They won DreamHack Masters Stockholm in a direct meeting with Astralis. Actually, North managed to beat Astralis in that event not only one time but twice. They are the only team to have accomplished such a thing this year.
Astralis finished the season in great style
Astralis finished 2018 in a great manner, winning four main events. First, they were champions of IEM XIII in Chicago (3-0 against Team Liquid in final). Then, they defeated MiBR in final of ECS Season 6. And finally, they claimed a title of winner of ESL Pro League Season 8 and Intel Grand Slam $1,000,000 bonus against Team Liquid. That was a historical moment in CS:GO esports. Each Astralis player received a golden bar with their name on it, as well as all the titles they won in the season. That was the 9th title for Astralis in 2018. Even with all these titles in their pockets, they continued playing and won the PLG Grand Slam at the end of the year, beating NaVi in the final.
- Also read: Astralis made history at home!
PashaBiceps and shroud retired, MiBR and x6Tence Galaxy started competing, Bravado moved to NA
Alongside tournament results, we will remember this year by several retirements and team foundations. First of all, Shroud decided to retire in April this year. After five years of professional competition, he chose to stop playing CS:GO professionally. Moreover, he stayed in the esports industry as well as becoming a full time streamer on Twitch. PashaBiceps also decided to retire at the end of this year after Virtus.pro ceased competition. He said it was enough and now he is finding a new way to be useful in eSports. Zeus from Natus Vincere announced he is going to retire in 2019; CS:GO will lose another great player.
Another great change was seeing SK Gaming squad competing under the MiBR name. It was a shocking moment for the audience seeing SK players not wearing SK Gaming kits. That was a clear sign something is going on. Later, fans found out what was behind the name change. As well, two more teams have been created; x6Tence Galaxy and Team Vitality. The well known South African team Bravado, decided to move to NA which turned out to be a good decision.
CS:GO 2018 Esports Season [Recap]
The 2018 season is going to be remembered as a year of Astralis and their domination on Nuke. In the future, everyone will talk how Astralis won Intel Grand Slam for the first time in history in 2018, and how they went on a 30+ winning streak on Nuke. CS:GO fans will chat about the Astralis / Team Liquid rivalry, as well as the Team Liquid curse considering they finished 2nd and 3rd-4th many times. Astralis’ players that won Intel Grand Slam prize and had gold bars with titles names which will be a nice trophy to display and remind them of their dominance in 2018.
- Read more: Top-Earning CS:GO Esports Players
Most likely, everyone will remember 2018 as last year of s1mple in Natus Vincere. Many teams are interested in this young Ukranian player, and he will probably leave NaVi rather sooner than later. FACEIT will always talk about 2018 as about the first year they held Major. Fans will sadly discuss 2018 as about last season of pashaBiceps in Counter-Strike. This year will remind Brazilians on (re)creation of MiBR. All in all, this definitely wasn’t a boring year and Game Life is looking forward to the 2019 season.