Era Dominatus. The Legendary Teams In Esports
Era Dominatus. The Legendary Teams In Esports: Alliance, G2, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Astralis, Team Secret
From time to time in sports, there are teams that define an entire era with their performances. The Boston Celtics have won NBA titles eight times in a row, the Montreal Canadiens reigned the Stanley Cup competition continuously for five years, the New York Yankees were victorious at the baseball World Series from 1949 to 1953 (which is only a small part of their trophy room with 27 titles). Esports has no such impressive history. Teams come and go, but some of them have already become legendary. We decided to talk about those who, with their dominant performance, definitely staked out their place in the modern history of competitive gaming.
When a new discipline appears, often there are situations when a team to be the first to understand a bit more than everyone else will start dominating everyone else. However, in the history of esports, perhaps, there was no team comparable to Ninjas in Pyjamas at the beginning of CS:GO. The Ninjas only lost their first map and first official match six months after entering the scene! During this period, NiP won ten out of ten tournaments, but their biggest achievement is the famous 87-0 LAN streak.
From September 2012 to April 2013, the Swedes have not lost a single map in LAN tournaments. They were overthrown only on the eighty-eighth attempt: Virtus.pro finally managed to beat them. It happened at StarLadder StarSeries Season V LAN Finals which took place in Kyiv. It's hard to explain the emotions of Cybersport Arena at that moment in words: in addition to the fact that the fans generally supported one of their own (VP's roster was ANGE1, AdreN, Dosia, Fox, and kUcheR), the desire to see the epochal overthrow of the invincible Goliath led to general ecstasy when the Bears took the thirtieth round and won Mirage with a score of 16:14. NiP players, it seems, breathed a sigh of relief: this happened in the final of the upper bracket, so they had to sort out their mistakes in order to continue their performance in the tournament, but without the pressure of this winning streak.
The Swedes lost that tournament, losing to Virtus.pro once again in the Grand Finals, but after that they managed to win 11 more different tournaments over the next six months, securing their place in CS:GO history.
It's not a secret that Swedes are great at esports. But if NiP started to shine at tournaments almost from the very beginning of CS:GO, Dota 2's Alliance story wasn't the same. Ever since Dota 2 became a serious discipline, there were good results from Natus Vincere (which lacked stability to get into the list), as well as a comeback of the Chinese scene at The International 2012. In the 2012/2013 season, the first half was totally NAVI's, but they were making it by inertia. But at the beginning of 2013, a giant appeared on the European stage and began its way to become the strongest team in Europe.
The No Tidehunter stack were put together by the Swedish veteran, Loda: he invited his loyal comrade Akke, as well as the pub star AdmiralBulldog (he was known for playing exclusively on Lone Druid), together with ex-Heroes of Newerth players s4 and EternaLEnVy, who were then playing on full-support positions (it's hard to believe now). Even then, the team began to show potential, but the key decision was the transition to the all-Swedish side when Jackie Mao was replaced by EGM.
By the third The International, No Tidehunter got a sponsor and became Alliance. Along the way, the guys won the first season of WePlay Dota 2 League, the fifth and sixth seasons of StarLadder StarSeries, DreamHack Invitational 2013, the fourth and fifth seasons of The Premier League, DreamHack Summer 2013, as well as the fifth season of the G-1 Champions League, where they left no chances for the Eastern teams.
Alliance came to Seattle as the undisputed favorite, and at the tournament itself this status was confirmed: the Swedes finished the group stage with a 14-0 streak, which was a record. Before the Grand Finals, Alliance lost only one map, and the main match of the tournament became a golden classic. Having won The International, the Swedish team became the first team to perform so convincingly on the Dota 2 stage.
For a long time, there was a myth of the invincibility of Koreans in esports. It was originally based on the incredibly cool local scene of StarCraft, but in the second decade of the 21st century, the success of South Korean teams in League of Legends was decisive. In the game, which initially entered the eastern esports market for a long time (there was not a single representative from China or South Korea at the first World Cup), after a couple of years, players from SK firmly staked out the title of the best.
Lee "Faker" Sang-Hyeok became the main face of the Overlords from Korea. His team, SKT Telecom T1, became a three-time world champion: in 2013, 2015, and 2016. In the beginning, the organization had two teams, but in 2015 Riot Games restricted to have two rosters for a single org in the same league. As a result, an invincible hybrid was created, destroying everything in its international path.
The structure of League of Legends' competitive scene is quite simple: the season is divided into two segments (Splits) in regional leagues. Major international tournaments are held between them: Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and World Championship (Worlds). SKT Telecom T1 won:
- two Worlds (2015, 2016)
- two MSI (2016, 2017)
- IEM Season X World Championship (2016)
The Korean team only lost one map at the 2015 World Cup. Isn't that a definition of 'dominance'? Today, such a result is extremely difficult to imagine: the competition has intensified significantly.
Surely, all things end. SKT Telecom T1 approached the 2017 World Championship as one of the main favorites. The Korean team started the Worlds very confidently, not having any resistance in the Group Stage. The difficulties appeared during the playoffs when both the quarterfinals against Misfits and the semifinals against Royal Never Give Up ended with a score of 3:2, but Faker, due to his extremely high skill, dragged the team into the Grand Finals, which were played against another rival from South Korea: Samsung Galaxy. It seemed that Faker would accomplish another feat and finally claim the name of one of the most legendary players in the history of esports, but it didn't happen: SSG rolled over their opponent, 3:0, and the photo of Faker crying (above) became iconic. Even the end of this phenomenal era was remarkable.
After NiP ended dominating the very beginning of CS:GO, there were a bunch of decent teams. For example, Fnatic-2015 and the Brazilian Luminosity/SK-2016. But even these legends pale before Astralis-2018. Already in 2017, the Stars held the first place of HLTV's rating for almost half a year, but even with the victory at the Atlanta Major, the Danish puzzle seemed to be incomplete. The situation changed when Magisk joined the roster instead of kjaerbye.
Now it is safe to say that Astralis is the greatest team in the entire history of CS:GO. Just listen to this:
- No one has managed to win three Majors in a row before
- The team won the first-ever Grand Slam, which was awarded for four victories at ESL/DreamHack tournaments by ten or fewer attempts
- In addition to London Major, Astralis took first place in ten LAN tournaments in 2018 (despite the fact that they participated in sixteen)
For more than a year, the Stars were the leaders of the world ranking, losing the first place only in June 2019. It is believed that this was due to a sub-optimal choice of tournaments due to certain commercial interests. Because of this, the players could not maintain their game tone and slowly began to lose various championships. Nevertheless, Astralis continue to show their strength at the Majors, and even after a long break due to the ongoing pandemic it is the Danish team that will be the main favorite at the next Major — simply because they seem to know something which no one else knows.
Staying at the top is extremely difficult in esports, because of a huge variety of tournaments. Nevertheless, there is a team that in two years was unable to take first place in only four tournaments. In the second and third years of competitive Rainbow Six: Siege, there was no team stronger than the European PENTA/G2 Esports.
Many fans have found the era of Fabian and his comrades' dominance when they were playing for G2, which is not surprising: after moving to G2, the team was winning gold medals for more than six months, with the convincing victory over Team Empire in the Grand Finals of the Six Invitational 2019 being a cherry on the sundae. But even before that, the boys were simply destroying the European and world stage: first places in the final tournaments of two seasons of the Pro League Year Two (yes, the system is complicated, but now they can be called the fourth and fifth), first place in the fourth, sixth and seventh seasons of Pro League in the European division, a victory at Six Invitational 2018.
For two years, Fabian and his team were headhunted. As a result, Team Empire got the jackpot, winning Six Major Raleigh 2019 and taking revenge in the Grand Finals for an offensive defeat at the World Championship.
Now G2 is no longer the same: there have been massive changes in the roster, and the only players from the gold roster are Pengu and Kantoraketti. Fabian and Goga left for Team Vitality, jNSzki first moved to mousesports but did not stay there, and after a year of losing, he decided to end his rich esports career.
Seeing VALORANT's G2 Esports roster in such an impressive list might seem superfluous: people say that the team has not managed to achieve anything yet because there were no LANs. However, there are some facts that we cannot ignore.
- G2 Esports has not lost a single tournament in which they took part. Six tournaments (including WePlay! Invitational) ended with six wins
- The stats say it all: 30 wins - 2 draws - 1 defeat in official competitive rules matches (and even their single defeat happened unintentionally: Davidp found out about his father's death right during the match, and G2, in fact, were playing to the end formally)
- Four Grand Finals in a row were clean sheets
- A visible huge margin over all other teams
In many ways, this is a big advance for the European team, but VALORANT is developing at a fast pace, and there is every chance that right now we are witnessing the formation of a new esports legend.
The list's conclusion is a story about the team that continues to amaze our imagination for the past six months. Amid the pandemic, Team Secret flourished: after the global lockdown, Puppey and his mates won eight tournaments out of eight possible without losing a single map in the Grand Final: 24-0.
At OMEGA League, this summer's main Dota 2 tournament, the European team lost only two maps. At other tournaments, the situation is not much different. This year Team Secret played 196 maps and won 162 of them, which shows a breathtaking winrate stat of 82,65%. The closest rivals are Quincy Crew, who are reigning North America (110-32; 77,46% win rate), but Puppey is playing against the best teams in the world. By comparison, Alliance had a 75% win rate (138-46) during their dominance in 2013.
Unfortunately, like the VALORANT roster of G2 Esports, and in the case of Team Secret, there's a caveat: with the exception of NiP, who dominated in an era when there were no CS:GO Majors, all other teams won the World Cups or analogs... However, right now we are witnessing a great performance in two disciplines at once. If mixwell and Puppey can continue to show great results and achieve victories at the main international tournaments of the season in their games, we will have a full-fledged epic, which will be talked about many years later. Don't miss it: we are observing this with our own eyes.