Astralis become perennial chokers, and two four-time winners emerge in their place, Cinderella runs conclude in epic fashion, and FalleN takes NiKo’s mantle as the one who missed out: shift the smallest of margins in the biggest games of CS:GO esports, and we get a very different story of the past decade of competitive Counter-Strike.
Heading into DreamHack Winter 2013, the Ninjas of f0rest, Get_RiGhT and their ilk were the runaway favorites of everything competitive Counter-Strike, racking up an 87-0 streak that will likely never be beaten in CS history. In this alternative timeline, they get off to the best possible start and get the fairytale ending for their home-made documentary, triumphing over their domestic rivals, Fnatic, in a close-fought three-mapper.
They’d then go on to take down the hometown heroes of Virtus.pro in Katowice, triumphing in the cauldron of the Spodek against a plow in full force. Gunning for a three-peat in Cologne, they barely fall short against Fnatic, who get sweet revenge for their narrow loss in the inaugural Major, prompting Fifflaren’s retirement soon after.
And yet, the legendary core would bounce back in incredible fashion, taking down the French upstarts of LDLC in Jönköping and getting Maikelele a Major title. (How the olofboost plays out in this alternative timeline remains a mystery.) They still end up swapping him out for allu by the time ESL One Katowice 2015 rolls around, and they once again defeat Fnatic to earn themselves a fourth and final Major title. Get_RiGhT and co. bow out in the quarterfinals of Cologne, but in this timeline, Happy and co. manage to stop Fnatic’s Dust 2 comeback, denying them the quad-AWP graffiti and a second Major title.
The Frenchmen would fall short in their title defense at the DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca Major, marking the first of GuardiaN’s many Major titles. He’d overcome his hand injury in legendary fashion in Columbus to steer his team to back-to-back wins on the biggest stage of the world, consigning FalleN and his plucky Brazilian underdogs to the back pages of the history books.
Heartbreakingly, they’d fall short again at the 2016 edition of Cologne, where s1mple would avenge coldzera’s incredible jump shot on Mirage from a few months earlier, earning himself the first of many Major titles. This win would secure a majority-North American core their first and only victory, securing a North American core their solitary Major, prompting people to meme forever about how they needed a bit of EU to overcome being NA.
In this timeline, the final ten Majors CS:GO would feature nine different winners, proving how remarkably difficult it has become to string together a period of supremacy in a way NiP could in the early days of Global Offensive. In Atlanta, Astralis would suffer the first of their many chokes in grand finals, almost completing the comeback on Train but ultimately falling short to TaZ and co., who finally exorcize their demons from Katowice 2014.
Kraków still remains an upset-ridden affair, but Zeus can’t quite notch himself another title after Na’Vi move on from him – perhaps Dosia misses the grenade, perhaps something else happens, but HEN1, LUCAS1, boltz, steel and kNgV- prove it and kill the CIS opposition to make themselves the first and only Brazilian Major winners in CS:GO history. Still, he does enough to earn himself a return to the black-and-yellow outfit, with spectacular results soon to follow.
We make right of a great wrong in Boston and get NiKo a Major title (with GuardiaN picking up a third and final one) before heading into the greatest series of chokes in competitive Counter-Strike history. Losing to a rampant Na’Vi in London is perhaps the most justifiable failure of this Astralis squad as s1mple gets himself his second title, but the progressively more and more embarrassing chokes against ENCE and AVANGAR in Katowice and Berlin make the Danes the permanent laughingstock of the CS:GO community, clearly showing that nothing has changed since the TSM days.
After the pandemic, Na’Vi are so close yet so far from a record-equaling fourth title, but they can’t quite pull level with NiP in Stockholm because NiKo doesn’t miss his shot from heaven on Nuke and G2 complete a remarkable comeback, making this arguably the strongest individual tournament performance from the Bosnian in CS:GO Major history, single-handedly carrying his team to the greatest title of them all to get himself a second such trophy.
Though Na’Vi couldn’t quite cap off a remarkable 2021 with a Major title, s1mple and co. more than make up for it in Antwerp as they pip FaZe to the post in a memorable grand final. Even in this timeline, Rio remains an outlier, but it’s not the Outsiders who earn themselves an unexpected victory, but cadiaN and his merry men, ending all the onliner talk for good.
Finally, after falling short on four separate occasions, dupreeh and zonic (and three-time choker Magisk) gear up one last time in Paris to get themselves on the scoreboard, but they once again fall short in hilarious fashion, losing the final CS:GO Major to GamerLegion, forever wondering what could have been.
With 11 of the 18 CS:GO Major finals ending with a 2-0 scoreline, we had to do a lot of twisting on the timeline to make this all shake out. However, there are so many interesting oddities that it’s well worth the thought experiment.
For instance, allu is a two-time Major winner in this timeline, and perhaps he wouldn’t have gone for the coup in ENCE after winning in Katowice. Neither FalleN nor gla1ve, some of the biggest brains of their generation, earn themselves a Major title – and while apEX does get there, it isn’t with the in-game leader mantle.
That said, it’s a testament to the continued excellence of the CS:GO elite to see just how many of these players and teams ended up with just a straight swap, making up for lost ground elsewhere across the years. This bodes well for competitive CS2 matches as well, no matter the timeline we end up with: Ultimately, most of the greats do rise to the top and earn themselves what they deserve.