In late 2014 and 2015, many well known organisations began acquiring North American rosters – seeking a foot in the door of professional Counter Strike. Initially, these orgs struggled to pick up top tier talent at a time where the market was saturated with new organisations. Yet the continued investment and cultivation of these teams has started to show in many, with international results on the up for the region.
The wave of organisations entering the CS:GO landscape in 2015 was impressive, many of the big names transitioned to the scene having found fame with League of Legends. From Team Liquid to Team SoloMid, many lower level North American rsoters found a home with these big name organisations.
Subsequently, the North American region was filled with resources they could have only dreamed of before hand; team houses, salaries and coaches became a standard in North American Counter-Strike. Later in the year, two renowned CoD orgs entered the scene, FaZe Clan and OpTic Gaming, picking up teams from Europe and NA respectively.
With all of the top teams now having the resources required to build their success stories, North American teams slowly started to improve not only work ethic, but their results in both online tournaments and LAN settings.
Team Liquid were the first team to reap their rewards, competing in the two majors of 2016. Although Liquid fielded slightly different rosters for the two majors, the team was still comprised of a core of Spencer “Hiko” Martin, Jonathan “ELiGE” Jablonowski and Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella, two of whom were a part of Liquid since their inception.
These two results were the first signs of life from the region in a while, with the last decent placings from the North American region being the ‘magical month’ of Cloud9 in the summer of 2015. Liquid’s rise was promptly cut short both times by the Brazilians of SK Gaming. Led by Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, they looked to be unstoppable for the majority of the year, before the fall and removal of Lincoln “fnx” Lau after a disappointing finish in the second season of ELeague.
The Brazilians shocked the scene with their talents and upon their move to North America, looked unstoppable in the region. Formerly competing under LG, the org put in countless resources to ensure success and it paid off. Although South American born and raised, the team was considered by many to be a North American team, simply due to the fact of the region in which they competed in. This core of players not only stood up to the pre-existing North American teams, but eclipsed them in international tournaments with their consistent high placings and numerous tournament wins, including the 2 majors of 2016.
OpTic Gaming victory in ELeague season 2 has rekindled North America’s resurgence. This team were once considered the ragtag squad of North American rejects, but have discovered newfound glory with their Spaniard sniper, Óscar “mixwell” Cañellas. The rise to the top for OpTic was sudden, with previous results being typical of a second tier North American team, often struggling to make the top 8 of big LANs.
OpTic made a historic run through ELeague, shocking the scene as a whole, with best of three wins against mousesports, FaZe and Astralis. To vouch for the unexpected nature of the results in the ELeague tournament, panel analyst for ELeague and many other top CS:GO tournaments, Duncan “Thorin” Shields had a 0% prediction rate for the playoffs, correctly predicting 0 out of 7 results.
Overall, the North American CS:GO scene has seen a disproportionate amount of investment in the past 2 years, with all new incoming organisations with plenty of spending cash flooding into the region, providing an opportunity which is second to none. Although delayed, the effects of this investment are starting to show with not only a more cohesive local scene, but better results in prominent tournaments across the globe.