January brought the return of top-tier Counter-Strike after the player break as BLAST hosted the global final of its 2020 Premier circuit, featuring $1 million in prize money and eight teams, six of which inside the top 10 in the rankings. Natus Vincere ran rampant in the tournament and put in some performances reminiscent of last year’s IEM Katowice campaign, but it was not enough for them to overtake Astralis or Vitality in the world rankings, although the second place is now within their grasp.
One of the month’s winners was Virtus.pro, who added the cs_summit 7 trophy to the Flashpoint 2 and DreamHack Open December titles that they had won at the tail end of 2020. The CIS team, who did not drop a single map throughout the tournament, are now sixth in the world, their highest rank since November 2019.
Smaller tournaments, such as DreamHack Open January and the OMEN WGR European Challenge, also had an impact in the lower half of the top 30, with Spirit moving up to No.14 despite making a roster change, and Dignitas, Movistar Riders and Sinners all making this month’s table.
Here’s a summary of our ranking for new readers:
Our team ranking is based on teams’ achievements over the past year (with severe decay in points throughout each month), recent form over the last two months, and performance in recent events in the last 3 months.
Each team is required to have a three-man core in order to retain their points. Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, online results, which previously had a minimal effect, now carry more weight as they are also included in the ‘Achievements’ and ‘Recent Events’ sub-categories.
Below is the current top 30 table as of February 1, which goes more in-depth into how the points are distributed — or you can check our special page, where you will be able to find the latest, weekly version of our ranking. You can see the lineup for each team by hovering over their name in the table.
Please note that the +/- gain on this table differs from our weekly rankings page, and it is related to the ranking update of January 5.
NAVI breathing down Vitality’s neck
Natus Vincere began 2021 by securing a trophy in their first tournament of the year, BLAST Premier Global Final. Despite getting off on the wrong foot, the CIS squad bounced back in the lower bracket with victories against Complexity, G2 and Liquid before taking on the two highest-ranked teams in the world, Vitality in the consolidation final and Astralis in the grand final. NAVI’s run was all the more impressive when taking into account that they lost just two maps after being knocked down to the lower bracket in their tournament opener.
Although NAVI did beat both Astralis and Vitality in the BLAST tournament, they could not overtake the aforementioned teams in the ranking and are still in third place, but their victory does put them in hot pursuit of the French squad as they landed just four points shy of second place, closing a gap that was nearly 300 points wide at the end of 2020.
Up next for Natus Vincere will be the BLAST Premier Spring Groups, in which they will face MIBR before taking on Liquid or FaZe. But the real proving ground for NAVI – and where they will be gunning to overtake the Frenchmen – will be IEM Katowice, in which the CIS team will try to defend their title from last year’s event, the last big LAN competition before play moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Virtus.pro close in on top 5
Virtus.pro have climbed to sixth place in the rankings, their highest since November 2019, when the core of this team was still reaping the rewards of their final run at the StarLadder Berlin Major and a victory at BLAST Pro Series Moscow. This time around, it comes off the back of a victory in cs_summit 7, the third tournament in a row they have won following their Flashpoint 2 and DreamHack Open December titles at the end of 2020.
The CIS team were a force to be reckoned with in their first tournament of the year, beating NIP, FURIA, mousesports and fnatic without dropping a single map in the five series played. Dzhami “Jame” Ali showed particular good form in his team’s success, ending eight out of the ten maps played with 1.15+ ratings and leading nine different stats categories by the end of the event, which earned him his second career MVP.
After jumping five places in the ranking since last month’s update, Virtus.pro are now right in the middle of a hotly-contested fight for fifth place, 29 points behind Liquid and just eight above Heroic. Without a spot in IEM Katowice’s main tournament, Virtus.pro will have to fight their way through the play-in to qualify for the main event, a crucial hurdle in their aspirations to become a top-five team in the world.
FaZe drop to lowest rank in over a year
FaZe are continuing their downward trend from last year amid a roster overhaul, as they kicked 2021 off outside of the top 10, in 13th place, and have now dropped all the way down to 19th. The international squad are now on the brink of falling out of the top 20 after a disastrous 11-12th place in cs_summit 7 following losses to mousesports and MIBR.
Big news came from the FaZe camp after their cs_summit 7 elimination, however, and Marcelo “coldzera” David and company will be hoping that the high-profile signing of Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken will pay off and help revitalize a team that has been unable to regain flight after losing their star player and former in-game leader Nikola “NiKo” Kovač to G2 last year.
FaZe will be able to feel out their new configuration with Twistzz at BLAST Premier Spring Groups, in which the Canadian will face off against his former Liquid teammates in the Group C opening match. But the team’s first big test will come later in February, in IEM Katowice, in which they will hope to draw on a honeymoon phase to buck their negative trend in a tournament featuring a whopping $1 million prize pool.
Ninjas in trouble
NIP played their last official match of 2020 on November 25 – a 0-2 defeat to Cloud9 in the first round of the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown – and looked rusty when they returned to action in cs_summit 7, in which they recorded one more loss to the ‘Colossus’ and two against the eventual champions, Virtus.pro. The 2-1 victory against a Dignitas side barely inside the top 30 offered little consolation to the Ninjas, who are now ranked just 18th in the world.
This is the lowest that NIP have been in the rankings since June 2017, and they could be in for more misery as they have been placed in the only BLAST Premier Spring group with three top-10 sides (Astralis, BIG and OG).
The honeymoon period following Hampus “hampus” Poser‘s addition is well and truly over, and the cracks in the team are all too evident. Perhaps the recent rebrand could push the management to press the reset button in an attempt to stop the bleeding?
SINNERS break into the top 30
“You will see us in top 30 next year,” Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný said during his official unveiling as a Sinners player, exactly two months ago. The Czech team have since climbed 40 places in the world rankings, finally breaking the top-30 barrier in the latest ranking update following a very busy month.
Sinners have played 25 official matches since the start of the year, and while results haven’t always been stellar, they have managed to defeat some established teams, including Dignitas, HellRaisers, Sangal and Lyngby Vikings. With oskar and Adam “NEOFRAG” Zouhar both putting up solid numbers, the team will be looking to consolidate their place in the top 30 before they can start thinking about bigger things.
Lucas Aznar Miles contributed to this story