It may be difficult to believe, but it’s been over five and a half years since the CS:GO major cycle has begun in earnest, with the 2013 DreamHack Winter event getting the official designation for the first-ever Valve-sponsored large tournament. It’s tough to describe the monumental transformation the scene has overseen since then – let’s just say that it was the biggest CS:GO tournament to date with $250 000 on line, the same sum that’s now handed out for a weekend escapade by the BLAST Pro Series. It begs the question, Football Manager-style: what happened to the class of 2013, the finalists of the first ever major, an upset-laden barnburner between NiP and Fnatic?
Perhaps the most iconic player in the scene – at least until s1mple stole the show by being so much better than everyone else –, his personal struggles with illness and the requisite reinvention of his playstyle makes his perhaps the most compelling story on this list. The man who lurked his way through the entirety of CS:GO is still around, and though it goes without saying that he’s no longer his old sterling world-beater self, it’s nice to see that he can still make a contribution at the age of 28 – clearly, his hunger is the same as it ever was.
Total winnings: $577 904
Still one of the most impressive players around, the thirty-year-old wunderkind has not stepped aside for a second, sticking with the Ninjas through the good and the bad. His impressive commitment to the game allowed him to keep up with the pack, taking down four different top 20 spots on HLTV’s yearly player rankings, plus a massive spike in his individual performances so far in this year culminating in a 1.29 rating at the first stage of the Katowice major.
Total winnings: $661 776
Who would have thought that he would end up swapping sides after having been deemed surplus to requirements by an NiP side struggling to reinvent itself? Though many questioned his in-game leading prowess over the years, Xizt still marks one of the select few who can still steer a Swedish side to the finals of a top-tier LAN event in 2019 – though embarrassing 16-0 defeats elsewhere may be the price to pay for the privilege.
Total winnings: $530 613
The first to retire from the original star-studded NiP lineup (and the only one to do so to date), the 31-year-old hung up his boots shortly after the Ninjas finally managed to clinch a major victory at ESL One Cologne 2014. His truly record at the event – -72 K/D across twelve maps – instantly turned him into meme status, and a similar performance at Fragbite Masters Season 3 pretty much marked the end of his adventure as a Ninja. That said, his articulate and knowledgeable nature made him a good fit for an analyst role, and he’s been on the desk of various top-tier events throughout the years. Currently holding a job at Twitch and a relationship with Smix, it seems like he’s also got things sorted out for himself.
Total winnings: $124 472
Spending five years on NiP, experiencing all parts of the roller-coaster that was the Ninjas’ CS:GO tenure, he was eventually replaced with REZ in the summer of 2017. He joined OpTic Gaming soon thereafter, only to see the team disband the next February. His stand-in role with Heroic in May last year quickly turned into a permanent position. He did the occasional analyst work between his playing roles, most notably at ESL One Cologne 2017.
Total winnings: $392 068
The mastermind behind three different major wins and many other tournament wins with multiple Fnatic lineups, Pronax unexpectedly stepped down from the side soon after their greatest triumph at ESL One Cologne 2015. Fnatic would not even make a major final appearance from that point on – though they did have that six-LAN win streak, of course. Pronax himself would return under the Team Ancient banner shortly thereafter before founding the GODSENT project, which never really got off the ground, even with the incestuous shuffle incident in 2017. Enyoy, Digital Chaos and the Team Ancient mix team once again: odd new chapters for someone once atop the CS:GO world.
Total winnings: $235 071
The only person no longer to play CS:GO in an active capacity from the winners’ side, Devilwalk was an enigmatic support player of Fnatic with an odd on-again-off-again playing career after their upset major victory: he took up a coaching position with the team after the arrival of KRIMZ and olofmeister before making a return as a player with many different journeyman prospects, eventually teaming up with pronax and znajder once more, only to retire shortly thereafter, becoming a full-time coach. We still got to see him on the servers in 2017 in a stand-in capacity on Epsilon eSports, which prompted him to make another attempt at returning as a player. In 2018, he returned as a coach once again for the Chaos roster before moving to NoChance in the same capacity this February.
Total winnings: $37 422
Often not-so-lovingly referred to as “Señor VAC”, the mad genius of Fnatic has always been one of the cornerstones of the side and his individual heroics played a massive part in their last top-tier tournament wins at Katowice in 2018. He moved to Cloud9 last September after a steep downturn in form and had decent showings amid the chaos that engulfed the North American organization. He is currently inactive, taking a break from the game due to personal reasons after his mother passed away during the Katowice major.
Total winnings: $747 418
Using the “schneider” alias back then, his departure from Fnatic mid-2014 began a downward spiral starting with two ill-fated stints on FlipSid3 Tactics before eventually reuniting with pronax on GODSENT in 2016, only to be released once again. They’re back together on Team Ancient, and we can only hope that his incredibly tough personal struggles are mostly behind him now.
Total winnings: $82 307
Still a Fnatic stalwart, though no longer the pure AWPer he once seemed to be, the explosive JW has also had quite the resurgence as of late after a long downturn in form. Three major wins and countless other titles, but perhaps not a strictly elite player anymore – it remains to be seen how effectively he’ll be able to reinvent himself.
Total winnings: $753 610
You can rewatch the entire final in its glory below and marvel how far we’ve all come since then: