With the 2021 season rapidly approaching, many teams have made changes to their squads, for better and worse. This article sees us look at a few of the teams that, in our opinion, made the best roster moves of 2020.
BIG’s new German talent
BIG were the team many noted as having adapted the best to the online era of CS:GO, cemented by their lifting of the DreamHack Masters Spring Europe title in June. But this good form had started earlier in the year, partially helped by the additions of two new German players, Florian "syrsoN" Rische and Nils "k1to" Gruhne, at the start of 2020.
It’s safe to note that the changes Virtus.pro made in the middle of the year were some of the most successful this year
After a poor end to 2019, BIG came out of the gates running at one of the only offline events of the year, DreamHack Open Leipzig, taking down the likes of Virtus.pro, Renegades, and Heroic to win the tournament title. They then managed to qualify for the inaugural Flashpoint season (before withdrawing to accept a place in the ESL Pro League) before the online era of the game commenced.
While BIG didn’t manage to attain any other online S-Tier titles after the DreamHack Masters competition, they still posted a number of exceptionally strong results. Back-to-back victories at the cs_summit 6 Regional Major Ranking (RMR) event and DreamHack Open Summer tournament came after a string of cup victories. These were then followed by back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the ESL Pro League, IEM New York and DreamHack Open RMR events, where they were eliminated by the eventual winners in the latter two events - keeping up their claim of being a team to be reckoned with.
The year ended with them being eliminated in 5-6th place by eventual runners up OG in Flashpoint, before two third-place finishes at BLAST Premier Fall and the IEM Global Challenge, falling to the eventual finalists on both occasions. BIG had a breakout year in 2020, and their goal for 2021 will be to prove that they can keep it up. If not, 2020 will be another false dawn akin to that of 2018.
MIBR Mutiny and restructure
In September, Brazilian squad MIBR underwent a near-complete change. Out went the historic, Major-winning core of Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, Epitácio “TACO” de Melo, Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, after the organisation benched and sacked coach Ricardo “dead” Sinigaglia for his role in the coaches’ spectator bug fiasco.
The only two players to remain were the two newest additions, Vito "kNgV-" Giuseppe and Alencar "trk" Rossato. The playing roster saw Vinicius "v$m" Moreira, Leonardo "leo_drk" Oliveira and former MIBR player Lucas "LUCAS1" Teles all join, and were set to be coached by Brazilian CS 1.6 legend Raphael "cogu" Camargo.
Overall results weren’t immediately improved by this change, which shouldn’t be a surprise with a wholesale overhaul. What made this change good is two-part. Firstly, it indicated a true changing of the guard in Brazilian CS:GO. For the first time since the Luminosity line-up arrived in 2016, a Brazilian roster didn’t feature “FalleN”.
Secondly, MIBR appeared to be competitive. Whether or not it was down to them being new and unpredictable, or the five being naturally good together, the team posted some impressive results. They won map victories against the likes of Astralis and G2, and series victories against compatriots FURIA and European super squad FaZe. This was all capped off by a fourth place finish at Flashpoint 2, where they were eliminated after a narrow defeat to OG, despite beating them earlier in the playoffs.
However, the potential this roster showed may be in jeopardy. At the time of writing MIBR have not re-signed the three players that returned to the team, with “LUCAS1” stating that after the initial three month term, renegotiations were unsuccessful. The reason why they remain on this list leading up in to 2021, is that, as per a report from Roque Marques, the full team intend to move forward as a single unit under a new organisation. Time will tell.
YEKINDAR moves to Virtus.pro
Virtus.pro ended 2020 much stronger than they started it, and the assistance offered by Latvian Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis after his mid-year addition cannot be understated. Initially joining in place of Timur "buster" Tulepov, he eventually lined-up alongside the Kazakhstani player after the departure of Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev, with Dzhami "Jame" Ali taking up IGL duties.
BIG were the team many noted as having adapted the best to the online era of CS:GO, cemented by their lifting of the DreamHack Masters Spring Europe title.
The change between the two versions of the team was almost immediate. They went from a series of embarrassing exits in HomeSweetHome cups and online qualifiers, to posting a victory in the BLAST Premier CIS cup, taking out forZe who had started to establish themselves as the leading squad in the CIS region, and a third-place finish in the RMR WePlay! Clutch Island event.
They then pushed forward on these results and continued to improve, taking the IEM New York CIS RMR Event, before lifting the Flashpoint Season 2 title having journeyed all the way from the tournament’s open qualifier. That Flashpoint title was no joke, with the team overcoming Fnatic, BIG, OG, and the highly rated new Cloud9 roster on the way to the win.
Finishing the year off with the DreamHack Open December title as well, overcoming regional rivals Gambit and forZe to reassert themselves at the top of the CIS region, it’s safe to note that the changes Virtus.pro made in the middle of the year were some of the most successful this year.