The best CS:GO players to never win a Major
There are so many ways to define success in competitive CS:GO, but none are quite as illustrious or desired as the honor of lifting the Major trophy. Since 2013, Valve has sponsored the prize pool of 19 Majors, and the rise of the Danish dynasty in Astralis in 2018 made it seem like the door was closing for some of the game’s greats to finally get there.
But Astralis’ core didn’t come through the Major break brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic intact, opening a path for some of the game’s best players to finally get that elusive Major win. S1mple, electroNic, karrigan, rain, and Twistzz, among others, all finally won their first Major trophy when Na’Vi and FaZe won the PGL Stockholm and PGL Antwerp Majors, respectively. Finally, at the last CS:GO Major at BLAST Paris, the prodigy ZywOo finally got his in front of an adoring crowd.
After three straight Astralis victories, CS:GO fans saw a team of players all win their first Major in back-to-back-to-back instances, lending hope to the idea that some of the remaining greats still missing out on that trophy could finally get theirs.
A lot of players haven’t won the Major. But when it comes to active players who are considered great by consensus and playing on top-tier teams, there’s a big three. Here are the best CS:GO players to never win a Major.
Nikola “NiKo” Kovač
Photo via PGL
- Second at PGL Stockholm 2021 (with G2)
- Second at ELEAGUE Boston 2018 (with FaZe)
- Top-eight at IEM Katowice 2019 (with FaZe)
- Top-eight at FACEIT London 2018 (with FaZe)
For over half a decade, the Bosnian superstar has been a consistently dominant presence at the top of competitive CS:GO. He’s cracked the top five of HLTV’s Player of the Year lists in four separate years, claimed seven MVP trophies, and has always been in the conversation when discussing the best player in the world.
It’s not like NiKo no-shows at Majors, either. He’s one of only seven players to reach a Major grand final with two different teams, and he holds the Major record for most kills in a map with 52 against FlipSid3 at MLG Columbus. But FaZe’s collapse against Cloud9 in Boston is only more tragic in hindsight. The duo of karrigan and rain went on to redeem themselves at PGL Antwerp 2022, while NiKo and G2 were unable to even reach playoffs at that Major despite being considered favorites.
Finally, after returning to the Major for BLAST Paris and cruising past the Challengers Stage, NiKo and company stumbled again, crashing out of the Legends Stage with a 1-3 record. With ZywOo going on to win that Major, NiKo might go down as the greatest to never win a CS:GO Major.
Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski
Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming
- Second at ESL One Cologne 2016 (with Liquid)
- Top-four at MLG Columbus 2016 (with Liquid)
- Top-four at FACEIT London 2018 (with Liquid)
- Top-eight at StarLadder Berlin 2019 (with Liquid)
- Top-eight at IEM Katowice 2019 (with Liquid)
- Top-eight at BLAST Paris 2023 (with Liquid)
EliGE has been one of the most consistent pillars of North American Counter-Strike, a top-20 player for over five years, and the driving force behind the dominant 2019 that Team Liquid had. But he’s still left without a Major. Clutch, consistent, and cool under pressure, EliGE is certainly one of NA’s best and in the conversation for the best ever from the region. Right now, though, the most accomplished NA player has to be Twistzz.
EliGE’s top three Major placements are all heartbreaking in their own way. Even with nitr0, Hik0, and s1mple at the start of his peak, Liquid were unable to get past the Brazilian SK/LG roster in 2016, and the “jumping double from cold” that stunned the NA crowd in Columbus is etched on the walls of Mirage forever.
Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács
Photo via DreamHack
- Second at DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 (with NAVI)
- Second at MLG Columbus 2016 (with NAVI)
- Second at ELEAGUE Boston 2018 (with FaZe)
- Top-four at DreamHack Winter 2014 (with NAVI)
- Top-eight at ESL One Cologne 2014, 2015, 2016, Katowice 2015, and ELEAGUE Atlanta 2017 (with NAVI)
- Top-eight at FACEIT London 2018 and IEM Katowice 2019 (with FaZe)
GuardiaN is one of the game’s most legendary AWPers, and a player that was pivotal to both Natus Vincere and FaZe Clan during his lengthy tenure. He finished in the top 20 of HLTV’s “best player of the year” lists for six straight years between 2013 and 2018. But he’s also the only player to appear in three separate Major grand finals and not win one.
GuardiaN reached the grand finals of back-to-back Majors with NAVI, falling in two maps in both of those series. Like with NiKo, the Boston Major loss to Cloud9 is by far the more heartbreaking, given how good that FaZe team was and how close they were to taking that series.
About the author
VALORANT lead staff writer, also covering CS:GO, FPS games, and other titles. Watching and writing esports since 2014. Jack of all games, master of none.