2020 CSGO Recap: CSGO Esports Year in Rewind

by in CS:GO | Dec, 27th 2020

2020 was not just another year! It packed a mighty punch to the global economy, knocking down multiple industries and bringing the world to the edge of economical collapse. We got two magic words for you – COVID pandemic – it’s a complex subject which I don’t want to talk about that much… but we’re discussing 2020 CSGO recap here, and the pandemic greatly affected the game’s competitive calendar.

Despite being outright scary (at times), 2020 had some good stuff in the mix too. That’s the sort of stuff we’re going to focus on in our 2020 CSGO recap. We’ll start things off with a few interesting facts before moving onto the most notable events, biggest winners and losers, and of course – best individual performers.

2020 CSGO Recap | Interesting Facts

The pandemic was always going to top the list of interesting facts. It affected the esports industry in many ways but wasn’t able to put it to a complete stop. The digital nature of esports allowed event organizers to switch to online environments and keep the show going. Losses were still present across the board, but the damage control helped keep the industry afloat.

The total prize pool numbers will shock you. Typically, you’d expect Dota 2 to be the most lucrative esports title out there. But, since The International had to be canceled, Dota 2 lost to CSGO. Yep, CSGO events awarded more than $15.5 million USD across roughly 560 tournaments. Dota 2 came in second with $9.1 million, and LoL in third with $8 million.

Late 2020 showcased the difference in the quality of NA and EU teams. The weight is heavily on the European side of the table, with teams like Astralis, Vitality, G2, and BIG seeming much more capable than anything NA has to offer. Liquid’s rise on IEM Global Challenge is a good indication for 2021; perhaps they’ll put things into balance just like they did last year!

The interesting facts section of our 2020 CSGO recap can’t be finished without a couple of words on the canceled CSGO Major. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, 2020 will go down in history books as the first year without a single CSGO Major. The ESL spectacle in Rio had to be canceled (multiple times) with no concrete news on the first 2021 CSGO Major.

Key 2020 CSGO Events

Yep, 2020 didn’t have a single Major. Still, it was the most lucrative esports title of the year, all thanks to third-party event organizers who stepped up for the occasion in a brilliant way. Even though we might not have liked the online switch, it was a necessary evil for the long-term benefit of the CSGO esports scene.

But, we were lucky enough to still have a ton of awesome CSGO. Online events started popping up on a weekly basis, with several seasonal iterations and a few top-tier clashes that experienced massive quarantine-fueled viewership numbers.

ESL Pro League

2020 hosted two ESL Pro Leagues – there were no changes to the number of annual events. However, the pandemic did mess up ESL Pro Leagues’ schedule and format. Both seasons had to be divided into regional events, with the prize pool remaining roughly the same.

Liquid and Fnatic won S11; Astralis and FURIA won S12. ESL Pro League Season 13 is set to start in March next year in Malta. We already know half the teams that will set to participate (ESL’s partner teams), with the rest of them joining based on their ESL World Ranking.


Flashpoint held both of its seasons in 2020. With $2 million USD in total prize money, it was among the most lucrative series of the year. Unfortunately, the quality of teams just wasn’t there. It was better than people feared it might be, but the action still wasn’t at the top-tier competitive level we’d expect from two million USD events.

BLAST Premier

BLAST Premier Series were outright awesome! They packed plenty of action, a thrilling circuit, and Fall Finals event that exceeded everyone’s expectations. The belated BLAST Premier Global Final starts next month and it ought to be another fantastic festival of CSGO! A great way to kick 2021 off, that’s for sure!

IEM Global Challenge

IEM Global Challenge was the last event of the year! It had a hefty prize pool of $500,000 and featured eight best teams in the world. Astralis and Liquid reached the grand finals Bo5 that went Astralis’ way without too much of a hassle. All in all, IEM Global Challenge was a fine way to end the year… despite having to switch to an online environment after advertising its LAN nature. Oh well, we can’t have it all…

Biggest Winners

Moving on with our 2020 CSGO recap, it’s time to talk about the biggest winners of the year. You know, the teams who, despite all setbacks, made 2020 their breakthrough year. Three teams stand out, though there are a few honorable mentions we’ll point out as well.


BIG are the absolute winners of 2020! They are the team of the year, for sure! The Germans made all the right moves last winter, bringing in k1to and syrsoN. The latter would later on prove to be the best signing they’ve ever made. The prolific German AWPer took the scene by storm, chipping in one awesome match after another. He was by far their best player, perfectly rounding off their potent new roster.

As the year went on, BIG started winning bigger and bigger events. The pinnacle of their excellence happened over the summer when they managed to win three back-to-back events. And we’re not just talking any events here, we’re talking DH Masters Spring, CS_summit 6, and DH Open Summer. Even though their form dropped a bit, they’re still a force to be reckoned with and ought to be able to transition it to 2021.


FURIA is basically the BIG of NA! Brazilians are responsible for pushing Team Liquid off the top of NA! They are the team that drove Liquid crazy and rose to the forefront of the region. EG were there too, but it’s safe to say FURIA did things with way more style and swagger!

Unfortunately, they failed to transition their form to Europe. In fact, FURIA’s poor performances in Europe showcased the sheer difference in quality between the two regions. FURIA’s 2020 was amazing to say the least. Unfortunately, I reckon 2021 won’t be as much, especially if international LAN events spring back to life. 


Heroic’s 2020 was absolutely great! The failed FunPlus Phoenix acquisition paved the way for Heroic to reach splendid results. Stavn and the company started off by winning Loot.Bet’s CS Season 6 which they used as a jumping board for a superb ESL One Cologne campaign. They took Vitality down in the grand finals to secure $150,000 in prize money.

They didn’t stop there – DreamHack Open Fall title came in late October. Unfortunately, Heroic’s form has been dropping down ever since. They haven’t had a single notable performance since then, which makes me think they were merely a one-hit-wonder. 

Honorable mentions include OG and Gen.G. Mantuu took OG to great heights this year. Despite not winning a single event, OG participated in two big grand finals. As for Gen.G, they won DH Open Anaheim and ESL One Road to Rio NA. But, it seems as though Gen.G’s management expected more because they’re looking to sell their CSGO roster. It’s a shame, I thought they had the potential for a 2021 breakthrough.

Biggest Losers

Now let’s talk about the other end of the table – the biggest losers of 2020! Three teams stand out. I’m certain they’re all hoping for better things to come next year!

Team Liquid

Yep, Team Liquid is the biggest loser of the year! The NA side started the year off as the hottest NA contestant with big expectations for 2020 following a splendid summer show. They did get off to a good start by winning ESL Pro League S11 NA in April, but things quickly went downhill from there.

They haven’t won a single title since then, despite playing in four grand finals. The latter (IEM Global Challenge) saw them overcome some of Europe’s finest and lose to Astralis in the grand finals. While every grand finals loss is heartbreaking, I’m sure Team Liquid will appreciate this one. It was a good way to end 2020 – let’s hope next year will be a lot better for Liquid.


Why is Vitality among the biggest losers of 2020? Well, it was a bit of a stretch considering they’ve won two pretty notable events… but still, I felt like they missed out on an amazing opportunity to be crowned as the best team this year. Mind you, Vitality played on six grand finals this year and only managed to win two of them. That’s why they’re here.

It’s Liquid’s 2018 all over again – and remember, everyone kept calling them the biggest losers despite being one of the most consistent teams that year. Nuances matter in CSGO – if Vitality could’ve kept their composure in key matches, they could’ve easily got at least two or three additional titles.

Faze Clan

Faze Clan had another disastrous year. Yes, they did win an event, but with a godlike roster featuring Coldzera and NiKo, we all expected a lot more from them. To make matters even worse, NiKo is no longer a part of Faze Clan. Their best fragger signed for G2 to form a powerful Balkan block with his cousin hunter and nexa.

At the moment, Faze Clan’s roster features rain, olofmeister, coldzera, broky and Kjaerbye. It’s still a potent roster, but I’m afraid they’ll need another revamp if they are to make something happen in 2021. Olofmeister might see the exit door seeing as he’s only a stand-in at the moment. Twistzz is a free agent – I wonder if Faze Clan will want to experiment with another NA player…

Best Individuals

Our 2020 CSGO recap is nearing its end! We still need to say a thing or two about the best individual performers in 2020. Obviously, the top spot belongs to the French magician ZywOo. The 20-year-old French superstar has had another splendid year. The only downside is the fact he failed to win more titles having lost in four grand finals this year.

S1mple has had another outstanding year as well! It’s as if the two great CSGO legends are directly competing with one another. The Ukrainian beast finished the year with 1.29 HLTV 2.0 rating, the same as ZywOo. NaVi won two events, just like Vitality, and lost three grand finals. 

Ones to watch section has to be mentioned too. The likes of YEKINDAR, stavn, and misutaaa/nivera made a proper name for themselves this year. If they can keep the momentum going, I’m sure they’ll develop into world-class athletes!

That’s it for 2020 CSGO recap. Do you agree with our assessment, or think there were other teams who came out bigger winners or losers? Let us know on Twitter, and we’ll see you all next year!


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