Last week, the CS.MONEY blog tried to find out: does the curse of the major exist? We have evaluated the winners of the first majors. Not finding a trace of the curse, we decided to dig deeper. Let’s go!
ESL One Cologne 2015
Another triumph of the Swedish team. FNATIC won their second Major in a row and third in total, raising their bar to unimaginable heights.
The unchanged lineup with a new coach easily cruised the tournament and shut out ex-LDLC in the Major finals. No career failures happened to the winners of this championship, so let’s move on.
The 2015 DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca
The end of the $250,000 Major era. This era of “cheap” championships would end with another victory of EnVyUs. Since last year’s win, only one player had been replaced in the French lineup, and that replacement didn’t ruin anyone’s career.
The championship in Romania could’ve ruined kioShiMa’s career: after the triumph, Fabien was kicked out of the team because “he was a problem.” Still, kio was able to prove himself again and joined FaZe, then returned to EnVyUs, joined Cloud9, and supposedly finished his career in Heretics. Not the best way to end your path as a CS:GO champion, but not the worst either. The player stayed in the public eye for a long time and didn’t fade into obscurity until late 2020.
MLG Columbus 2016
The beginning of a new era. The first Major with a million-dollar prize pool, and the first one won by a team that’s not based in Europe. Luminosity Gaming had been inching their way towards their coveted position in the top 5 world ranking for six months, and they didn’t come to MLG Columbus with the best fan expectations. After facing many challenges in the group stage and playoffs, the Brazilians would still be able to earn the coveted victory and become the first American team to win Valve’s tournament.
By this time, teams were beginning to realize that kicking players out after such victories isn’t a particularly good idea. The Brazilians wouldn’t make replacements in their lineup until the next Major.
ESL One Cologne 2016
The second consecutive Major for FalleN & co. This time, the trophy found the Brazilians’s hands easier than the one at the North American tournament. Coldzera was twice the best player at the 2016 Major, making Marcelo the absolute best player four years ago.
While Luminosity didn’t make any substitutions after their win in Columbus, reshuffles couldn’t be avoided this time. Lincoln Lau, a.k.a. fnx, would stop practicing, come to team boot camps, and would basically lose interest in the game and training. This kind of behavior is unacceptable for a player on the planet’s best team — and he would get kicked. Considering Lincoln’s great background, he wasn’t taken to a top team even by Brazilian standards.
Fnx would join Immortals six months after getting kicked from SK, play there for a couple of months, and get replaced by kNg. Then Lincoln would join 100 Thieves, who woudln’t play a single match. Fnx would spend his last days as an active pro player with Team One, RED Canids, and Imperial.
ELEAGUE Major 2017
A new player on the scene. Just like the French at the dawn of the CS:GO era, Astralis finally won their first Major. They had been working towards this achievement for a very long time. The Danes had repeatedly reached the semifinal and quarterfinal stages, but never before had they managed to properly defend their name in the finals.
Astralis came to America with a new captain and, much to the surprise of many, they managed to win the Major by beating Virtus.rho in the finals. If EMS One marked the start of the Poles’ success, ELEAGUE Major 2017 was the end that destroyed the Polish players. Thanks to that win by Astralis, the world discovered Kjaerbye.
But it also buried his career: Marcus would start to feel stronger than his teammates. Kjaerbye would begin focusing on himself, which will allow him to simply not sign with Astralis in 2018. He would leave the winner lineup to join North, who wouldn’t establish themselves in the long run. Marcus will leave the lineup in 2020, join the FaZe Clan, and become the worst player in the history of the organization. Kjaerbye is currently without a team, honing his skills on the bench at FaZe.
PGL Krakow 2017
The first CIS win at a Major. It’s a shame it’s also the last. Gambit pulled a genuine miracle. They ascended like a phoenix and won those $500,000 — and yet they quickly left the top after that, in no small part due to the kicking out of the coach and Zeus leaving after kane.
It would seem this could’ve been the end of both Daniil’s and Mikhail’s careers. But actually, it marked the end of the careers for the remaining four players. Dosia still hasn’t found a team and is currently a streamer, and mou and AdreN reunited earlier this year in K23, but this squad hasn’t accomplished anything yet. The only player who returned to the top is Hobbit, who rejoined the ones he won Major with, namely Gambit.
Zeus and kane joined NAVI and had one of the best career finishes in the history of competitive CS. With Daniil, the CIS team won three tournaments in mid-2018, reached the finals of a Major, and has been a consistent top-5 team in the world for the past three years.
ELEAGUE Boston 2018
The first major to be won by North Americans, namely Cloud9. This story is much similar to that of Gambit, who won the Major practically out of nowhere. But C9 had more consistent results before the tournament in the US.
After beating FaZe Clan in the tournament finals, Cloud9 wouldn’t achieve similar results ever again. No replacements helped the team. First, Stewie2K left the squad: he preferred money and SK Gaming. Then Skadoodle followed suit, but not for long. Next up, tarik would join Stewie2K, and it would be left to autimatic, RUSH, and Ska (who would be asked to return) to defend the status of the Major champions.
The North American lineup didn’t have a long life. After the London Major, which we’re going to discuss below, Skadoodle would finally leave the team for good — and we would no longer see the champion’s trio together. Subsequently, Skadoodle would announce that he would be going in-active. In 2020, he would end his career as a CS:GO player and move to the newcomer VALORANT by Riot Games. Auti and RUSH would play for different Cloud9 lineups, but eventually, RUSH would end up playing in Complexity, and autimatic would follow Tyler into VALORANT.
FACEIT London Major 2018, IEM Katowice 2019, and StarLadder Major 2019
Three consecutive Majors won by the best team in history. Astralis would win three Valve tournaments and become the first team to win four… four Majors in total.
No substitutions or career failures can ever follow such accomplishments. These results greatly increased the status of the team both in the media and in history. They became true legends and masters of their craft. Many aspire to their achievements, but no-one has yet been able to repeat them.
Astralis are defending their status as the best team ever at the PGL Stockholm 2021 Major this fall, but no-one knows whether they will be able to do it.
The curse of Majors: myth or reality?
Is it true that players’ careers can end after winning a Major? Yes, it’s absolutely true. We’ve provided clear examples of that: znajder and Fifflaren. Sometimes, even after getting kicked out of a champion lineup, a player succeeds with another team: remember Zeus, kioShiMa, or RUSH.
But there’s no such thing as a curse associated with winning Majors. There’s no definite pattern, especially now that there are no Valve tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many players stay at the top for a couple of years after winning a Major and then start to stagnate; someone wins to steadily stay at the top.
Winning Majors is a great event for every player’s checklist. Some want to win a Major and finish their career at the top, others want to win a Major and then win another one to prove that the first win was no fluke, like Hobbit. Someone intends to win and continue playing. Others want to win Major after Major, like Astralis do.