I'm proud to present the January 2020 edition of my CS:GO Power Rankings, based on specific map pools rather than just overall performances.
There are a number of good team rankings being published in CS:GO, such as the HLTV power rankings or Duncan “Thorin” Shields' World Rankings. While these are fantastic for general discussion on team performances, I wanted to create something akin to what WallabeeBeatle wrote back in 2017, a world ranking based on map pool.
In this way, the discussion can go a bit deeper into specific maps and what that entrails for the overall strategy and map veto considerations of different teams.
Criteria and Rankings
Before we go into the rankings, I wanted to give context on how I put this list together. In terms of criteria, there were four things to look at. The first is overall win rate, the context of a victory, relative time, and perception. The first is self-explanatory since the better the win-rate, the better a team is on a map. The context of a victory takes into account the quality of a victory or defeat as well as the level of competition. For instance, G2’s overall win rate on Vertigo in December is quite high at 6-2. However, they didn’t beat any top quality contenders as Mouz had a stand-in at CS Summit 5 (and in one of Mouz’s losses they had two stand-ins).
Relative time looks at when a team’s wins/losses occurred. In my top 10 players ranking list, I used a flat value system when it came to time. So if player X won an MVP in January and player Y won an MVP in March, both MVPs had the same value assuming that all other factors were the same. In the map rankings, there will be a much larger focus on recent results so that we can have a better grip on the overall strength of a team’s map pool right now. Like the top 10 players ranking, I will look at the records across the last three months of play on LAN.
The final criterion is perception. It refers to an overall perception of where we might estimate a team’s current strength is on any particular map. I added these criteria for team’s that change rosters mid-season to give an idea of where their potential map pool is. For instance, when NRG kicked Damian “daps” Steele for Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz, the perception was that the new squad was likely going to be good on both Train and Overpass as those were the better maps for the old NRG squad. As these rankings are inherently different from the rest, I’ll make a note of them in the lists.
For myself, modeling where a team’s map pool is at any given time is a useful tool in understanding the relative strength of the teams and a team’s approach towards the map veto. Map vetoes are fairly tricky to determine as scrims, records, styles, and perceptions all play a part in determining how a map veto plays out. As that’s the case, the overall rankings for this article will work differently from other articles.
- Read More: Top CSGO player rankings from Nov-Jan
First, I’ve created three ranks that will help evaluate the overall strength of a team on any particular map: S-rank, A-rank, and B-rank. S-rank map is the highest rank and indicates that a team’s current form on the map is strong enough to be era-defining (or close to it). Examples of S-rank maps include Astralis’ Nuke in 2018, Liquid’s Overpass in mid-2019, or LG/SK’s run on Train. A-rank rankings are for teams that have solidified themselves as one of the best on any particular map and those maps often define their championship runs. B-rank rankings indicate that a team is fairly strong on a map, but don’t have the consistency to dominate the majority of the field on it. B-rank rankings will also include potential wildcards, that is teams that have an extremely volatile style that will let them take big upset wins. An example of this is FURIA on Nuke in mid-2019.
One last thing to note is that only some maps won’t have clearly defined rankings. An example of this is Vertigo. It’s the newest map in the pool and as such, no team has been able to claim it as their own. This choice is deliberate as it gives a much better sense of overall perceptions of the map pool so that we have a better sense of depth/width of teams' map pools as well as a better base to make relative comparisons across the board.
1. Astralis: 8-2
Wins: 100 Thieves, ViCi Gaming, Fnatic, EG, Renegades, G2, Liquid (x2)
Losses: FaZe, Liquid
2. Liquid: 5-3
Wins: Cloud9, FaZe, EG, Fnatic, Astralis
Losses: Astralis (x2), Fnatic
3. Mouz: 8-1
Wins: Virtus.Pro, ENCE (x2), TyLoo, Renegades, Fnatic, Vitality, EG (with stand-in)
- Fnatic: 4-5
- Vitality: 5-1
- EG: 4-5
- 100 Thieves: 3-1
Inferno continues to be the most important map in the map pool. It is the map every top team feels comfortable playing so it is a common site in almost every bo3 series. While the meta continues to evolve, no team has been able to dominate the map like how Astralis did back during their era in 2018. The overall competition and parity level of Inferno is the highest of all seven maps.
Based on record, recency, and competition, the three best teams are Astralis, Liquid, and Mouz. Astralis have the best record and if you looked at the W-L ratio, it’s similar to the Age of Astralis. However, if you look at the games and the quality of wins, it isn’t comparable. During the Age of Astralis, teams struggled to get double digits whereas plenty of teams play them close. Their two victories over Liquid went to 16-11 and 16-13. Fnatic took them to 30 rounds in their last encounter. Astralis had to get to overtime to beat G2 19-15. The only real anomaly is the 2-16 loss to FaZe, but the loss was at a BLAST event. Astralis have always been weaker in the BLAST formats so it’s easier to write off, especially when you look at what Astralis did at every other tournament.
Liquid are the second-best team on Inferno as they boast strong victories against FaZe, EG, and Fnatic and a 16-14 win over Astralis. In terms of structure and firepower, Liquid seem to be more consistent on the map than Astralis and are less likely to get into tense late-round situations. However, I couldn’t rank them over Astralis as Astralis have the advantage in the head-to-head against Liquid. What’s more, while Astralis are having closer games, they are still closing them out, so, for now, the head-to-head advantage puts Astralis at #1 over Liquid.
The third best team is Mouz. I discounted their games with stand-ins as it has no bearing on their actual lineup. While Mouz have a strong record, a lot of it is against weaker opponents. Even so, they still had good victories against Fnatic and Vitality. Outside of Astralis and Liquid, Mouz should reliably beat most teams on Inferno, so they achieved an A-ranking this time.
- Read More: Why Mouz keep beating EG
My B-ranked teams were Fnatic, Vitality, EG, and 100 Thieves. Fnatic is a bit better than their record suggests. Three of their big losses come from Astralis, Liquid, and Mouz. Teams I consider to be the top 3 teams on Inferno. However, they don’t have the consistency or the record for me to rank them above the rest of the B-ranked teams. As it stands, Fnatic will always have a chance on Inferno, but can’t rely on inferno as a home map. Vitality had a good run at EPICENTER, so I’ve put them in the B-rank for now.
EG and 100 Thieves are in the B-rank based on perception and context. EG’s big runs at StarLadder i-League Season 8 and ESL New York came from a lot of big Inferno victories. Since then though, EG’s recent record on Inferno has been spotty. They’ve lost to some contender teams like Astralis and Liquid but also lost to MIBR and forZe. During this time period, EG over-traveled and weren’t able to continue evolving like either Astralis or Mouz. Now that there is downtime, it’s likely that EG will have had more time to figure out what was wrong and fix it. As that’s the case, it’s likely that teams will respect EG’s Inferno coming into the new year, so they keep a B-rank ranking for now. As for 100 Thieves, Inferno is one of their better maps. While they didn’t play much at the end of the year, their Inferno was strong enough to keep them in this range as well.
1. Fnatic 4-0
Wins: Liquid (x2), Heroic, Na`Vi
2. Astralis 2-1
Wins: EG, Mouz
Overpass is on the lower end of map prioritization in the highest levels of CS:GO. Among the top 10 teams, the only two that seem to have any mastery of it are Fnatic and Astralis. Outside of them, we see Liquid and EG struggle on the map, NiP can get some upsets on it, and Mouz is willing to float it against teams that don’t play Overpass. This makes Overpass an intriguing map as it is relatively free real-estate for any team that wants to make it their home map. Right now Fnatic are the best on the map with a 4-0 record. They have good wins against Liquid, Heroic, and Na`Vi. Their style even seems to fit the map as they can make use of Maikil “Golden” Selim’s fast loose style to break teams on the T-side and use their team play and Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin’s aggression to hold the CT-side.
Despite that, even Fnatic themselves seem hesitant to make Overpass a specialty of theirs. They avoided picking it into Astralis at ECS Season 8 and opted for an Inferno showdown instead. The second-best team on Overpass is Astralis as they have some solid victories against EG and Mouz. For now, Astralis have relegated Overpass to second priority. They will float it in the veto and let it through against anyone not named Fnatic. In terms of strategic value, establishing a strong Overpass seems to be a good route to go against Astralis with as Astralis have had a fairly hot-and-cold relationship with the map historically.
1. Mouz 7-0
Wins: ENCE, Renegades, EG (x2), Astralis, Fnatic, EG (stand-in)
2. Astralis 3-1
Wins: 100 Thieves, G2, NiP
In the last month of 2019, Train emerged as a critical map for Mouz. They used it to bash in EG’s head multiple times and it has become their signature map. Mouz’s CT-side always had a strong defense as they could wield the Ozgur “woxic” Eker and Chris “chrisJ” de Jong double-AWP setup. They also have the best Train small-site anchor with Robin “ropz” Kool. Their T-side seems to have elevated to the next level after they moved David “frozen” Cernansky into a secondary lurker position. While Astralis can give Mouz a run for their money, almost no one else in the world can.
Astralis are the second-best team in the world and they are better on Train than their 3-1 record indicates. Outside of the three month period, they’ve had good wins against EG and Fnatic as well. In terms of the eye test, their tactics, setups, and rotations are among the best in the world. The only niggling concern I have is that their victories are closer than you’d like. Before the timeline, they beat Fnatic 16-14 and North 19-17. In the three-month time span, G2 took them to the 30th round. The close nature of their victories and the fact that Astralis aren’t as battle-tested on the map have made me put Astralis at a B-rank designation rather than an A-Rank. Given the two concerns I pointed out earlier, it’s possible that teams will try to build up their Train to target Astralis directly. This is a route that I think both Liquid and EG should consider going into 2020.
- FaZe: 7-1
- Na`Vi: 5-1
- Astralis: 3-2
- Mouz: 5-2
- Liquid: 2-4
- G2: 3-2
- EG: 2-5
Dust2 is the first map where every team remains unranked. This correlates with what we generally know about the map. That it’s a high octane, momentum-based affair that can swing off of individual skill or economy. The six teams I’ve listed here have a good chance of beating each other on any given day. FaZe, Na`Vi, and Mouz have the best records, but none of them had a consistent system or extraordinary levels of firepower to make me believe they could consistently dominate the field on the map. Example of a consistent system includes Astralis control-style in 2018 and extraordinary levels of firepower include Liquid’s run in mid-2019.
What I will say is that FaZe and Na`Vi should accept every Dust2 duel they can get their hands on when playing against better teams. This should give them the best odds possible of knocking out teams in the higher echelon. Astralis and Mouz are both solid on the map and are good enough to win if someone picks it into them. The two teams that stand out on the list are Liquid and G2. While Liquid have a 2-4 record, their four losses come from Astralis twice, FaZe, and Na`Vi. Almost all of their losses were close affairs that went into the double-digits and they had victories against EG and Mouz. As for G2, they have a high ceiling and a low floor. They are good enough to beat Astralis and bad enough to lose to TyLoo (though TyLoo did have a shockingly good run at CS:GO Asia).
The final team in the B-rank is EG. While they’ve been having a bad run, their losses come from strong Dust2 teams: Liquid, Na`Vi, FaZe, and G2. What’s more, this was one of their primary maps when they had their run after the Berlin Major, so in terms of overall perception, it’s likely that teams will still be wary of pickingDust2 into EG. So for now, they retain a B-rank status but they could drop out if they don’t pick up some wins soon.
1. EG 8-1
Wins: TyLoo, G2, Fnatic, Na`Vi (x2), forZe
2. Liquid: 4-1
Wins: NiP (x2), Fnatic, FaZe
Mirage is similar to Dust2. There’s a good amount of parity and most teams are willing to play it. In the final two months of 2020, EG’s map pool had a rapid decline as they lost Inferno and Dust2. What people didn’t mention though was that in the midst of that loss, they started to get a lot of wins on Mirage. They had an 8-1 record and Mirage is currently their best map as it lends itself well to the loose individualistic style that EG like to play with. Other teams have taken notice, most notably Mouz who have consistently first banned it against EG. While EG are good on this map, they need to improve the rest of their map pool before they can use Mirage as a feasible weapon for title runs.
Beyond EG, Liquid have also had a good run of form on Mirage as well. They don’t seem to love the map, but whenever they’ve played it, they’ve come out on top. While plenty of other teams play this map, I haven’t any other teams excel at it like the NA squads.
- Astralis: 1-1
- Liquid: 2-1
- Mouz: 2-0
Vertigo is the least explored map in the map pool. This makes sense considering that it is still being updated. As that’s the case, it’s hard to know who is actually good on the map as no team has made an established meta for the map. Among the top teams I’ve watched, the three best seem to be Astralis, Liquid, and Mouz. There is too little data to go off of to actually rank these teams.
As Astralis often float Vertigo, this is another potential avenue that a team could use to try to exploit them. The problem is that outside of G2, no team seems to be willing to pick Vertigo as their goto pick at the moment.
1. Astralis 11-1
Wins: Liquid (x5), Cloud9, 100 Thieves (x2), Sharks, Fnatic, NiP
2. Vitality: 6-1
Wins: EHOME, Na`Vi, Mouz, FaZe, HellRaisers, Fnatic
Losses: 100 Thieves
- FaZe: 4-3
- Liquid: 2-5
- Mouz: 3-3
- Fnatic: 2-1
- EG: 4-5
Nuke has become one of the most played maps in the map pool. While it is still a haven for tactical play, loose individualistic styles have found more life as teams the variations of the yard smokes buy a lot more space for potential individualistic plays. We first saw this with FURIA in 2019, but since then teams like EG, FaZe, Fnatic, and Na`Vi to an extent can work well on this map as well.
Even so, Astralis reign supreme on this map. With an 11-1 record, they have reinstated themselves as untouchable Gods of Nuke. At this point, they can first pick Nuke into every team and I’d pick them to win every bout. Outside of Astralis, Vitality have been building up a solid resume on the map with wins over FaZe, Na`Vi, Mouz, and Fnatic.
Outside of them, there are a plethora of fairly good teams on the map. The five I consider B-Rank are FaZe, Liquid, Mouz, Fnatic, and EG. Liquid stands out as potentially not being there with a 2-5 record, but all five losses came from Astralis.