The top 40 five man Counter-Strike 1.0 to 1.6 line-ups, by prize money won in a single year

Find out where SK.swe, Na`Vi and all stack up in the top 40 five man Counter-Strike 1.0 to 1.6 line-ups, by prize money won in a single year.


This article was originally published on GameSpot's sister site, which was dedicated to esports coverage.

Previously, I published a list of the top 60 five man line-ups in Counter-Strike 1.0 to 1.6 history, on the basis of total prize money won. Now, I've narrowed the parameters down, looking at the top 40 five man line-ups in history, by prize winnings won in a single year of competitive play. As expected, the list is littered with familiar names, but where they all stack up tells its own story.

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10. $108,378 - FX/AGAiN/ESC 2011 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and pasha)

2011 IEM V EU (3rd) - $5,500

2011 IEM V WC (2nd) - $17,500

2011 ICSC7 (2nd) - $3,000

2011 Copenhagen Games (1st) - $14,630

2011 EPS Poland S2 (1st) - $2,746

2011 East Games United (1st) - $1,102

2011 ICSC8 (3rd) - $2,000

2011 ASUS Summer 2011 (1st) - $3,600

2011 e-Stars Seoul (1st) - $13,800

2011 SEC (1st) - $15,000

2011 ESWC (4th) - $3,000

2011 ICSC9 (2nd) - $1,000

2011 BEAT IT Russia (5th) - $500

2011 WCG (1st) - $25,000

After the original "Golden Five" split apart, with the removal of LUq in early 2010, the team quickly dropped off in success. In 2010 the newly pasha-infused edition of the once great Polish team found themselves racking up only ~$40,000 in prize money, less than half of their totals for any of the previous years, and failing to win a single major title. The line-up began to return to the elite level half way through the year, but it wasn't until 2011 that they finally re-established themselves as a truly great team.

A whole slew of top placings, including top four finishes at all three of the majors (IEM WC, ESWC and WCG), as well as event wins at the likes of Copenhagen Games, e-Stars Seoul and SEC, ensured that the world was once again talking about a golden five from Poland. They were also a key player in removing the GeT_RiGhT and f0rest era SK Gaming line-up from the top spot, beating the Swedes in all their key series over the latter half of the year. When 2011 had come to a close, the new look NEO and company had returned to the top of the CS mountain, even surpassing their previous incarnation in one key respect: establishing themselves as the best team of the year.

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9. $109,916 - PGS 2007 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and LUq)

2007 shgOpen (2nd) - $12,484

2007 SEC (2nd) - $7,491

2007 IEM I (1st) - $49,941

2007 ESWC (1st) - $40,000

While the most famous years for CS' "Golden Five" were their breakout in 2006, winning the WCG gold medal, and their return to form in 2009, besting fnatic for another WCG gold medal, it was 2007 that saw the Polish crew put the most money on the board in a single year. Despite only earning prize money from four tournaments that year, TaZ and his team were able to win two of the majors, the IEM S1 final and ESWC, to earn almost $90,000 from those two scores alone. Despite such a blistering start to the year, it was the grinding consistency of fnatic, over the last half of the year, which snatched the "team of the year" title away from the Poles, in the eyes of most.

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8. $113,643 - SK.swe 2003 (HeatoN, Potti, elemeNt, ahl and fisker)

2003 ESWC (3rd) - $15,000

2003 CPL Summer (1st) - $60,000

2003 SEL S4 (1st) - $5,643

2003 CXG Swedish Qualifier (1st) - $3,000

2003 CPL Winter (1st) - $30,000

SK.swe's legendary 2003 run established them as the most dominant team in history, to that point in time, and seemed to establish a Swedish dynasty that needed never end. What's key to note is that the line-up did not even acquire elemeNt, and thus qualify to begin their run for this list, until the June of that year. From that point onwards, they lost only one event, finishing third at ESWC. After ESWC, it was a nonstop parade of championships and dominant performances.

SK.swe were so dominant that they lost only a single map in offline tournament play from the start of CPL Winter to the end of the year. Pairing the impossibly successful duo of HeatoN and Potti with the peak of elemeNt at his most brilliantly intuitive was the formula to securing previously unseen levels of prize money. It's also worth noting, that this prize figure does not include the WCG gold medal the four Swedish members won along with SpawN that year.

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7. $126,490 - fnatic 2007 (f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and ins)

2007 NGL-One S2 (2nd) - $10,000

2007 IEM I (3rd) - 10,000E=$12,495

2007 WSVG China (2nd) - $7,000

2007 ESWC (3rd) - $12,000

2007 GameGune (1st) - 12,000E=$14,995

2007 NGL-One S3 (1st) - $20,000

2007 e-Stars Seoul (1st) - $25,000

2007 IEM II LA (1st) - $25,000

PGS had been they key force for the first part of 2007, but fnatic's consistency simply could not be denied that year. Having lost the powerful and versatile skillset offered by Tentpole, who had left early on, they had been forced to adjust their line-up to incorporate former NiP team-players ins. Initially, that meant top three finishes but no event victories. At GameGune, one of the most stacked medium-sized events of all time, fnatic finally kicked it into the highest gear and overtake all of their competition.

This fnatic featured f0rest in his final form of fearsome frag dominance, one of the most effective hard carries in CS history. Surrounded by a smoothly-running team-play machine, f0rest's men were not to be touched from there on out. Winning GameGune, NLG-One S3, e-Stars Seoul and IEM II Los Angeles, fnatic finished the year as the best team in the world and had begun to write their own legends in CS history. Eight top three finishes over the year showed the level of consistent success this line-up was uniquely capable of. You might beat this fnatic, but it would take a world class performance.

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6. $140,022 - mouz 2008 (gore, cyx, gob b, Kapio and TIXO)

2008 IEM II (1st) - $50,000

2008 EPS SXII (1st) - $18,760

2008 ESWC Masters Paris (3rd) - $5,000

2008 GameGune (2nd) - $7,504

2008 IEM III Dubai (1st) - $25,000

2008 WEM (2nd) - $15,000

2008 EPS SXIII (1st) - $18,758

2007 had been such a disappointing year for mouz, with the 2006 acquisitions of the ex-aTTaX players having fallen flat, seeing them unable to reassert themselves as the international power they had been in the first half of 2005. The team took a gamble in the middle of 2007 on new talents cyx and gob b, only to find themselves still behind at the EPS finals. In 2008, their new line-up finally kicked in and launched itself into relevance on the world stage with a victory at the IEM II finals. Over the rest of the year, there would be a number of top three finishes, as well as two domestic EPS titles.

2008 will be remembered as the year of mTw, as the Danish side put together a legendary run, but mouz's own tear quietly bears recognition as a great moment in CS history for a German-based team. mouz were also one of the few teams who could match up well against the mighty mTw, when both teams were at their peak form.

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5. $154,165 - mTw 2008 (whiMp, Sunde, ave, zonic and MJE)

2008 SLAP LIVE #14 (1st) - $5,044

2008 KODE5 (1st) - $25,000

2008 EPS Denmark (1st) - $2,525

2008 Dreamhack Summer (3rd-4th) - $2,118

2008 ESWC Masters Paris (1st) - $12,500

2008 SLAP LIVE #16 (2nd) - $3,366

2008 IEM III Dubai (4th) - $4,000

2008 WEM (1st) - $30,000

2008 WCG (1st) - $50,000

2008 Dreamhack Winter (2nd) - $7,252

2008 SteelSeries Ligaen (1st) - $1,346

2008 Rekrut (1st) - $9,840

2008 DEL S4 (1st) - $1,174

Speaking of mTw, it wasn't until 2008 that this team truly grasped greatness. The pieces had been put together one at a time, as the core of the team, under the NoA name, had gotten into position as a team with the potential to finish top three, back in 2006. In 2007, the addition of Sunde had elevated them to true event contenders, but they would always lose out in the major final. In 2008, picking up veteran Danish star whiMp looked to be a potential game-changer, though initially the team fell flat on their faces at SEC.

Once things got rolling, though, this side racked up prize money and titles, all thanks to their incredible level of consistency. With one of the most versatile and evenly distributed skill line-ups in history, all harnessed by the magnificent mind of in-game leader ave, mTw could be beaten, but they would not be stopped marching to round after round. Their overall run continued on into the first part of 2009, but 2008 is still remembered to this day as the year of mTw. In arguably the most competitive year of competitive CS, they were the kings atop the mountain.

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4. $155,122 - fnatic 2009 (f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, Gux, dsn and cArn)

2009 IEM III EU (4th) - $4,000

2009 IEM III Global (1st) - $50,000

2009 S1 (2nd) - $6,622

2009 ESWC Masters Cheonan (1st) - $20,000

2009 KODE5 (1st) - $25,000

2009 e-Stars Seoul (1st) - $12,000

2009 IEM IV Gamescom (3rd-4th) - $2,000

2009 IEM IV Chengdu (2nd) - $7,500

2009 IEM IV Dubai (1st) - $10,000

2009 WCG (2nd) - $18,000

fnatic had maintained the same line-up from 2007 through to the end of 2008, and seeing an impressive level of consistency with that unit. The problem was, that the team which had asserted itself as the best in the latter part of 2007, had been overtaken and outmatched by a new set of elite teams, such as mTw and mouz, as well as a much stronger overall field of sides at the top. For 2009, fnatic gambled on two young aimers, GuX and GeT_RiGhT, and the gamble paid off like few have in CS history.

After an initial fourth place, the team immediately took the first major of the year at IEM III Global Finals. This fnatic line-up was not just a team who won titles, they dominated their opponents entirely. To beat them took some of the finest CS ever played, since that's what they themselves were so, seemingly, effortleslly outputting on a daily basis. One of the most dominant and terrifying runs in CS history.

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3. $155,880 - fnatic 2006 (f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and Tentpole)

2006 shgOpen (2nd) - $11,773

2006 CSCL 3 (1st) - $9,186

2006 WSVG Dreamhack (2nd) - $7,500

2006 ESWC (2nd) - $36,000

2006 WSVG ISC (3rd) - $20,000

2006 WEF (2nd) - $5,000

2006 NGL-One S1 (2nd) - $10,000

2006 CPL Singapore (1st) - $10,000

2006 WSVG Finals NY (3rd) - $10,000

2006 Wonderbase (1st) - $6,421

2006 CPL Winter (1st) - $30,000

The finest year for fnatic was undoubtedly 2009, which 2007 following thereafter. Yet the year which netted them the most prize money was one in which they rarely won event titles. In 2006, the fnatic team as we know it first was introduced, with its core of cArn, dsn and f0rest. At the time, they weren't heralded as the next champions, they were a mixture of veteran players and young talent, all unrefined and uncertain of any top placings.

As the year went on, the team climbed higher and higher, only to be beaten down in the key matches at the big tournaments. Their kryptonite was NiP, who were racking up their own run of titles and prize money, thanks to zet's monster performances. It wasn't until the very end of the year, at CPL Winter, when fnatic first took a major title and learned the lesson of what separates a good player from a champion: It's not enough to be capable of winning, one must learn how to win.

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2. $164,825 - coL 2006 (fRoD, Storm, sunman, warden and tr1p)

2006 CEVO-P S2 (1st) - $8,000

2006 WEG Masters (2nd) - $20,000

2006 GGL TransAtlantic Showdown (1st) - $17,500

2006 WSVG Lanwar (3rd) - $5,000

2006 CGI (1st) - $50,000

2006 ESWC (5th-8th) - $8,000

2006 WSVG ISC (1st) - $40,000

2006 DigitalLife (1st) - $15,000

2006 CEVO-P S4 (5th-6th) - $1,325

North American teams had been out of contention for major titles for many years by 2006, as the Team3D line-ups, all packed with superstar names, had consistently failed to place highly, at least outside of WCG events. In 2005, coL had changed that, becoming the best team in the world and taking the ESWC title. 2006 was less about major titles, though some victories were seized, and more about showing that the coL line-up was capable of competing with anyone on their day. What they lacked in raw skills, at times, they could make up for with the best team-play and chemistry in the history of NA Counter-Strike.

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1. $207,749 - Na`Vi 2010 (markeloff, Edward, starix, Zeus and ceh9)

2010 IEM IV EU (5th) - $1,250

2010 Arbalet Cup Asia (1st) - $10,000

2010 IEM IV Global Finals (1st) - $50,000

2010 Arbalet Cup Ukraine (1st) - $3,000

2010 Arbalet Cup Best of Four (1st) - $12,000

2010 Arbalet Cup Europe (2nd) - $10,000

2010 CGL of Ukraine 5&6 (1st) - $1,800

2010 ESWC (1st) - $36,000

2010 Arbalet Cup Dallas (1st) - $25,000

2010 GameGune (3rd) - $3,873

2010 IEM V Shanghai (3rd) - $5,000

2010 ASUS Summer (3rd) - $3,000

2010 WCG (1st) - $25,000

2010 WEM (4th) - $7,500

2010 Dreamhack Winter (1st) - $14,326

It only took the first half of 2010 for the world to realise that Na`Vi, a Ukrainian super-team created at the behest of a millionaire from the country, was set to go down as one of the best teams of all time. Even so, the sheer scope of their dominance was unseen, in key respects. Of course, SK.swe had been impossibly dominant, with only a single loss in over six months of offline competition. Yes, mTw had secured a number of key titles and placings in an era of extremely close competition across the top end of the field. We could all still remember fnatic's frightening run from the previous year, smashing all the elite sides for most of the year.

Still, Na`Vi's run not only broke the prize winnings record, it set a new standard, as they seemingly combined all of the best qualities of previous champions before them. They won all of the majors, they racked up a ridiculous number of top three finishes and they were able to beat all the best sides over the year.

The top 40 five man Counter-Strike 1.0 to 1.6 line-ups, by prize money won in a single year:

1. Na`Vi 2010 (markeloff, Edward, starix, Zeus and ceh9) $207,749

2. coL 2006 (fRoD, Storm, sunman, warden and tr1p) $164,825

3. fnatic 2006 (f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and Tentpole) $155,880

4. fnatic 2009 (f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, Gux, dsn and cArn) $155,122

5. mTw 2008 (whiMp, Sunde, ave, zonic and MJE) $154,165

6. mouz 2008 (gore, cyx, gob b, Kapio and TIXO) $140,022

7. fnatic 2007 (f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and ins) $126,490

8. SK.swe 2003 (HeatoN, Potti, elemeNt, ahl and fisker) $113,643

9. PGS 2007 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and LUq) $109,916

10. FX/AGAiN/ESC 2011 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and pasha) $108,378

11. fnatic 2008 (f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and ins) $100,741

12. eSTRO 2008 (solo, termi, bail, hee and ari) $99,924

13. Na`Vi 2011 (markeloff, Edward, starix, Zeus and ceh9) $98,806

14. 2009 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and LUq) $96,942

15. PGS 2006 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and LUq) $86,500

16. PGS/ 2008 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and LUq) $82,114

17. mousesports 2005 (Blizzard, neo, gore, PapsT and Roman R.) $81,664

18. 2006 (Jungle, Sakula, Mikk, tK and alex) $77,847

19. 9.esu 2003 (vesslan, quick, Luchesse, XeqtR, luciano) $77,000

20. NiP 2006 II (SpawN, RobbaN, zet, ins and walle) $75,000

21. SK 2011 (f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, RobbaN, face and Delpan) $73,399

22. Na`Vi 2012 (markeloff, Edward, starix, Zeus and ceh9) $73,381

23. 2005 (Jungle, Sakula, Mikk, tK and alex) $71,695

24. NoA 2007 (Sunde, ave, Zonic, MJE and hpx) $70,392

25. SK.swe 2008 (walle, RobbaN, allen, zet and Tentpole) $69,857

26. aTTaX 2006 I (mooN, Silver, Kapio, TIXO and CHEF-KOCH) $69,840

27. fnatic 2010 II (f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, Gux, dsn and cArn) $63,755

28. emuLate 2007 (mSx, R!Go-, MaT, HaRts and ioRek) $62,280

29. mTw 2010 (ave, Zonic, Sunde, minet and trace) $60,395

30. coL 2005 (fRoD, Storm, sunman, warden and tr1p) $60,146

31. ESC 2012 (NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and pasha) $59,836

32. NiP 2001 (HeatoN, Potti, Hyb, MedioN and ahl) $50,000

33. mTw 2009 I (whiMp, Sunde, ave, zonic and MJE) $57,848

34. mouz 2010 (cyx, gob b, roman, Kapio and TIXO) $56,090

35. aTTaX 2007 (mooN, roman, paN, CHEF-KOCH and approx) $55,250

36. MiBR 2006 (cogu, fnx, nak, KIKOOO and bruno) $53,600

37. Begrip.swe 2005 (f0rest, Tentpole, RobbaN, IsKall and Calippo) $53,300

38. M19 2002 (kALbI4, MadFan, Nook, Rado and Rider) $53,000

39. 3D 2006 I (Rambo, shaGuar, Volcano, method and Dominator) $52,625

40. aTTaX 2006 II (mooN, roman, Kapio, chucky and CHEF-KOCH) $50,000

Photo credit: fragbite, compLexity

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