Beating the odds: All the most unexpected performances and results from the 2022 CS:GO season

While CS:GO might be chock-full of talented players and machine-like team cohesion which separates the best of the best from the lower-caliber squads, there has always been room for upsets. The tournament scene gives fans more than they could ever dream of, with events happening throughout the year almost weekly.

In those weeks, there are teams that pull rabbits out of the hat, forcing their way through any tier of competition to win it all, and it’s happened a few times this season.

Here are the most unexpected performances in 2022. (The significance of the win, their form prior to the event, and of course, the players in the squad were taken into consideration for this Counter-Strike list.)

FaZe Clan winning IEM Katowice 2022

Image via ESL

While FaZe Clan is now known as a powerhouse CS:GO roster sporting a collection of deadly aimers, this was the start of the squad’s almost-record-breaking 2022.

The team copped one bad hand after another, with the COVID-19 pandemic ripping players from the roster left, right, and center. Robin “ropz” Kool had just joined the team, and the move was seen as a game-changer for the team. FaZe had performed well at the BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2022, Katowice was their second event together, and they started off strong.

The team was seen as a potential trophy winner, but the pandemic had other ideas. Players came in and out of the roster, forcing the team to adjust positions to even stand a chance.

This is where Justin “jks” Savage came in. The Australian stood in for FaZe, taking both ropz and Håvard “rain” Nygaard’s places due to illness, requiring the Aussie to switch roles on multiple occasions.

Elsewhere on the now star-studded Counter-Strike roster, Finn “karrigan” Andersen showed he’s in contention for the G.O.A.T. in-game-leaders, putting jks in the best positions in order to take home the trophy. The roster beat the likes of Gambit (now Cloud9), G2, Heroic, and Liquid (granted with shox), all with a stand-in.

FaZe went on to win a bundle of events after Katowice, but this was the start.

Outsiders lifting the IEM Rio 2022 Major trophy

Photo by Michal Konko via ESL Gaming

Formerly known as Virtus Pro, the Outsiders roster has always been a dangerous team to play against.

Outsiders have been a titan killer in the CS:GO scene for years, destroying the dreams of incredibly strong teams since the start of the roster. They’re formulaic. Their tactics grind teams down, bringing games down to the wire, and making their opponents work for their win. Their economic mindset ensures they’re always saving for the next round, but when push comes to shove, they can all clutch when necessary.

While their IEM Rio run was easier than others, it doesn’t take away the fact they survived against an arguably stronger Heroic side in the grand finals.

The pressure didn’t phase the CIS roster. They lived up to the previous Virtus Pro roster’s legacy, taking home another major win for the organization. In their run, Outsiders took on each and every upcoming underdog in the scene. MOUZ, Fnatic, and Spirit fell at the hands of Outsiders, leaving them against the remaining fave, Heroic, to then win in Rio.

In the same event, Dzhami “Jame” Ali solidified his status as one of the best IGLs in CS:GO right now, bringing his roster of young guns to the main stage and grand finals once more.

This was also the tournament where Petr “fame” Bolyshev proved he could take on any caliber of player, and do damage.

No one expected them to win, but they took home one of the biggest CS:GO trophies.

G2 winning the final tournament of the year

Image by Stephanie Lindgren via BLAST

It had been over 1,000 days since G2 had won a map in a final. In 2017, the organization won DreamHack Masters Malmö with an entirely French roster. Now they have some of the most impactful aimers in the world, but they hadn’t done anything noteworthy for years. 

The squad suffered from multiple roster moves each year, making team cohesion an uphill battle. The team has had three different IGLs in 2022 alone, leaving a hive-mind-like final form nigh impossible to achieve.

The penny dropped at IEM Rio Major when G2 failed to qualify after losing the teams like GamerLegion and 1WIN in the Road to Rio. This year, it didn’t feel like G2 was going to lift any trophies. This could have been their last year together as a squad.

G2 has been in disarray for what feels like an eternity. Poor performances came day in and day out for the squad, with a glimmer of hope arriving at ESL Pro League Season 16 where they beat both major winning teams in 2022 in the group stage.

The squad was undefeated until they reached the BLAST playoffs. They took down NAVI in the quarter-finals but were stopped in their tracks by Vitality, who went on to win the event. For fans, it felt like after several failed events Rasmus “HooXi” Nielsen’s team was on the brink of collapse, and the BLAST Premier World Final 2022 tournament was a breath of fresh air.

Ilya “m0nesy” Osipov earned the MVP of the tournament. The CIS prodigy won every single 1v2 he was thrust into and was an integral player throughout the whole tournament. On only two occasions did the Russian AWPer go beneath a 1.00 rating in 12 maps.

G2 beat every big player in the scene. For the second time this year, they beat both major winning teams, taking down almost all the other contenders in the process. Vitality, Liquid, Outsiders, and FaZe suffered defeats at the hands of G2, leaving them the final champions of the year, and taking home the $500,000 prize.

Honorable mentions

  • Spirit making the playoffs in PGL Antwerp Major 2022
  • Movistar Riders placing 3-4th at IEM Cologne 2022
  • Bad News Eagles placing 1-2nd at IEM Rio Major 2022 Challengers Stage
  • GamerLegion eliminating G2 at IEM Road to Rio Europe RMR A