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The BLAST Paris Major put an end to a decade-long history of CS:GO Majors on May 21, 2023. Knowing that every single CS:GO Major is now behind us is a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, it’s over, there will be no more. On the other hand, the game’s history is so rich we can’t help but feel pride and joy for being a part of it all. The end of an era is the best place to reflect upon said era, and that’s what we’re doing now by answering the question: What are the best CS:GO Major finals ever?

CS:GO launched on Aug. 21, 2012, but it took over a year for the first Major to take place. We doubt even the biggest believers back then expected DreamHack Winter 2013 to be the first of 19 such events, but here we are, a decade on from Fnatic becoming the first CS:GO Major champion.

Since then, legends of the game have come and gone, organizations that were iconic in the early years of CS:GO are now but a memory (and in doing so, boosted their Major sticker prices into the stratosphere), and of course, others came to take their place. There weren’t even seven maps in the pool yet during DreamHack Winter 2013. That’s how much the CS:GO pro scene has changed over the years.

All of the above is an attempt to paint a dynamic, ever-moving picture of an esport that never stopped evolving for a decade straight. It’s this evolution that has created hundreds of unique plays, dozens of unforgettable highlights, and some bloody intense Major finals. 

The stage is set, the contenders are in, and we’re ready to present to you our top five CS:GO Major finals ever.

The best CS:GO Major finals of all time

5) ESL One Cologne 2014

We begin the countdown with arguably the most universally beloved victory in the history of Counter-Strike, if not all of esports. It’s rare that you see one guy adored by all fans alike, even those rooting for other teams, but that’s what GeT_RiGhT was—the Ronaldinho of Counter-Strike. His single CS:GO Major title came at ESL One Cologne 2014, and to say the final moments of the final were emotional would be an understatement.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking we’ve added this match to our top five out of blind emotion. Though the story could not have been written better by a fiction writer, with NiP overcoming their fiercest rival Fnatic in the Major final, there’s much more to this match than narrative.

Like all of our picks (spoiler alert), the ESL One Cologne 2014 final needed all three maps to be settled. Fun fact, only seven of the 19 CS:GO Major finals went to a third map, so that’s already narrowing the pool significantly.

Ninjas in Pyjamas and Fnatic exchanged heavy beatings on the first two maps, which is the outstanding factor keeping this match from being higher on this list. The third map, Inferno, was a different story, a real matchmaker. Fnatic were seemingly headed to beating NiP in a Major final for the second time (the first was at the aforementioned DreamHack Winter 2013), holding an 11–6 lead on the deciding map.

A force buy with nothing but pistols turned the map on its head, igniting a 10-2 Ninjas run that made GeT_RiGhT cry tears of joy. The NiP superstar was by far the best player in the final, so you could say that he was on a mission that day. As are we, because there are four better Major finals to go through. Looks like a promising trip already, doesn’t it?

4) DreamHack Winter 2014

We highlighted Ninjas in Pyjamas’ greatest CS:GO Major moment, now we must delve into the darker corners of NiP history. DreamHack Winter 2014 marked the Swedish lineup’s fourth straight Major final and the first of two without original member Fifflaren. Maikelele took over main AWP duties, a feature the previous lineup lacked, and the new system was working. The Ninjas were Major finalists again.

In their way stood the French squad of LDLC, and as it turned out, it was France’s turn to shine. Sweden was the undisputed titan of early CS:GO esports, but it was just as clear that the second-best nation in the world at that time was France. It had taken a couple of years and a bunch of lineup shuffles, but at DreamHack Winter 2014, the French conquered the insurmountable Swedish mountain in the heart of Sweden.

Though this grand final is often forgotten when discussing the best matches in CS:GO Major history, it is in fact one of two finals to be decided in overtime on the third map. NiP’s comeback vs. Fnatic served as an unfortunate blueprint for LDLC. The French were trailing 14-9 on the deciding map and faced two tournament points later on, but showed the same resilience we saw from NiP in Cologne to claw their way to an overtime, which LDLC won 4-1.

As was the case with ESL One Cologne 2014, the fairly uneventful two maps that preceded this Overpass thriller keep DreamHack Winter 2014’s grand final from being higher on our list, but we’re still glad we were able to put some spotlight on this often forgotten gem.

As far as the organization goes, this would be the last notable Major appearance by LDLC, however, three of its then-members would go on to win again a year later, in a much more one-sided final.

3) ESL One Katowice 2015

Despite another lineup switch that saw Finnish AWPer allu join the fray in place of Maikelele, NiP were back on the biggest stage in CS:GO for the fifth time in as many attempts. ESL One Katowice would be the fourth and final CS:GO Major heartbreak for GeT_RiGhT and co. Neither this nor any other NiP roster would ever come close to reaching another Major final.

ESL One Katowice was the most spectacular out of all of the Ninjas’ grand final losses, and it couldn’t have come against anyone else but Fnatic. Unlike our previous entries, the action here started from the first map and never ceased until the very end.

The Dust II opener produced the most infamous CS:GO’d moment ever. NiP’s newest addition allu fell victim to the game’s occasional jank in the most inopportune moment and missed a crucial AWP shot in the 29th round of the map, which catapulted Fnatic to a 16-14 victory.

This moment would prove vital. Ninjas in Pyjamas pulled away in the second half of Cache to win it 16-10 and could have easily won their second Major title if not for that allu blunder on Dust II. The silver lining for neutrals is that we got to experience one of the most intense games of Inferno ever put to screen.

Fnatic rumbled their way to seven match points on the T side when NiP magic finally entered the server, producing another legendary CS:GO moment in the process. Friberg’s amazing spray control to win a one-vs-two clutch denied Fnatic for the fifth straight round, making every NiP fan believe.

Eventually, the defense fell in round 29, putting an end to a phenomenal era of Ninjas in Pyjamas Major greatness. Fnatic would soon follow suit, but not before becoming the first back-to-back CS:GO Major champions at ESL One Cologne 2015. Fnatic would not reach another Major final after that.

2) ELEAGUE Major Atlanta 2017

We jump a couple of years ahead, from the end of one era to the beginning of another. Though it would take a while longer and a roster change for the true Astralis era to begin, the Atlanta Major was the first proof that this Astralis core can achieve great things in CS:GO.

The Atlanta Major final was the antithesis of what Astralis were known for in early 2017. It almost feels blasphemous to say now, but at that time, the team were known to choke away big leads and lose close matches. That single game vs. the veteran squad of Virtus.pro would turn that impression on its head.

The Atlanta grand final began as one would expect. A tense Nuke game eventually being lost by Astralis 16-12. The second map put the nail in the coffin. Astralis blew a 13-9 lead as CTs on Overpass and proved all the critics right—is what we would have said if, after losing five rounds in a row and all of the momentum, the Danes had not picked themselves up to scrape an improbable 16-14 win. Surely they can’t do it again?

So Astralis did it again. It’s difficult to ascertain if what happened in Atlanta was a product of unbelievable mental toughness from Astralis or a never-before-seen choke job by Virtus.pro, but someway, somehow a map that began with a 7-0 VP lead on the T side of Train, arguably the most CT-sided map in the pool, did not end with a VP victory. The comeback wasn’t even gradual. Astralis took six of the next seven rounds but fell in another 13-7 hole. Virtus.pro would completely crumble from then on, winning a single round until the end and making everyone witness the biggest comeback in CS:GO Major finals history, the first of a record four Major titles for Astralis, and a worthy No. 2 on our list.

1) ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018

We assume that if you’re reading an article on the best CS:GO Major finals, you are already a fan of Counter-Strike esports. If we assumed right, then you knew exactly what No. 1 was going to be. Even the most dedicated FaZe Clan fans can’t deny that the painful loss in Boston is objectively the greatest final in CS:GO history.

If Astralis were considered an underdog in Atlanta, Cloud9 might as well have not shown up in Boston. The team had always brought flair to the circuit, but that was rarely supplemented by tournament success. Cloud9 had never before and would never again play in a CS:GO Major final, and didn’t even have any notable success in non-Major events. As middle-of-the-road a team as you could find. Against them—FaZe Clan, a CS:GO All-Star selection. This could only go one way. Well, if it did, it wouldn’t be anywhere near this list.

“Look at the time” is a trivial phrase that means everything to an American Counter-Strike fan. The iconic call of commentator James Bardolph just as Stewie2K would single-handedly hold off FaZe’s final push onto Inferno B site and force overtime on the deciding map is synonymous with an entire continent’s greatest CS:GO moment.

It’s so iconic, it overshadows the double overtime that followed. First and last such occasion in a Major grand final. It’s so iconic, it overshadows Cloud9 throwing away a commanding lead on Mirage. It’s so iconic that we’d still place it first even if the other two maps were 16-0. It’s so iconic, you could only understand if you see it for yourself.

There are many other great moments that CS:GO has left with us, but nothing beats this. The best players, on the biggest stage, delivering the highest caliber of drama. 

We have no doubts that we will have a new era full of heartfelt moments like ESL One Cologne 2014, tremendous comebacks like ELEAGUE Major Atlanta, and Cinderella stories like ELEAGUE Major Boston in Counter-Strike 2 as well. The journey begins soon, and we can’t wait to see where it leads.

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