Gamers8 Proves Tier 1 CS:GO is More Competitive Than Ever
With the conclusion of the Gamers8 CS:GO tournament, Vitality have once again proven themselves among the elite teams on the planet. Of course, we knew this, after their triumphs at the BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023 and IEM Rio 2023.
It’s still Vitality’s first trophy in three months, with all of ENCE, Heroic, and G2 winning tournaments in between. Coincidentally, it was these four teams that made up the Semi-Finals of Gamers8’s CS:GO tournament. It’s hard to remember a period where we had four teams so capable of lifting the biggest prizes. Make no mistake – Gamers8 has shown how Tier 1 CS:GO is more competitive than ever.
The Past Year of CS:GO
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen several rosters cement themselves as the best CS:GO team in the world for a period. Mid-2022 was FaZe Clan’s peak, with few able to stop them on their way to an Intel Grand Slam win. Late-2022 then saw Heroic come into the fray. They perhaps didn’t win as much as they’d have liked, but they were the only team consistently reaching Grand-Finals.
Early 2023 saw the ascension of G2, who went on to set one of the longest unbeaten streaks in CS:GO LAN history. Then we had Vitality, who from April onward seemed to click in a way they hadn’t before. While there were other good teams competing at each of these events, at the time there was no doubt that these teams were the best in the world.
The Here and Now
So what’s changed? Ultimately, it’s a case of the teams at the top never dropping to a level that sees them fall off completely. There were understandably a couple of underperformances along the way, but nothing to truly hit the panic button over. Now, all four of ENCE, G2, Vitality, and Heroic are in strong form at the same time, each able to compete for every single trophy.
One potential factor is roster changes, or lack thereof. Mid-June to mid-July was CS:GO rostermania, with most of the top teams choosing to overhaul their squads with fresh blood. Of the four teams mentioned earlier, G2, ENCE, and Heroic stuck with their men. At the peak of their powers, Vitality chose to replace veteran dupreeh with flameZ, but a single change pales in comparison to what the likes of NAVI and Astralis chose to do with their rosters.
It really seems like keeping the faith is paying dividends for these teams. The biggest team not seeing similar benefits is FaZe, although there’s a growing feeling we’re seeing a spent force there. We’re on the precipice of Counter-Strike 2’s release, and that could change everything. Having some roster consistency could prove to be vital in the madness of it all.
The Gamers8 CS:GO tournament was interesting due to its unique format. With the BLAST and ESL formats that we’ve become so accustomed to, there is usually some form of extended Group Stage prior to the Playoffs. At Gamers8, it was a straight shootout, one single elimination bracket all the way to the final. Despite it all, there were no massive surprises. The cream of the crop still rose to the top in Riyadh.
Ultimately, this goes to show where ENCE, G2, Vitality, and Heroic are right now. They’re operating at a level that others simply can’t reach at the moment, yet when they play each other it’s difficult to separate them. When it does go down, it’s usually a moment of individual brilliance that makes the difference, a coin toss at the best of times.
While not everyone will be a fan of the overall Gamers8 project, there’s no doubt that its unique format has displayed just how competitive CS:GO is at this moment in time. Long may it continue – while eras like Astralis’ from 2017-2019 are fun, there’s no doubt that the scene is healthier when competition is stronger than ever.