With season 3 of Starladder coming to an end and Faze-Clan taking a hard-fought victory in the finals against reigning Major champions Astralis, it’s fair to say, we were treated with a lot of great games. That said, the general consensus calls this era the most competitive, CS or at the very least CS:GO has ever been, because any top ten team might be able to beat each other on a good day.

So, who are these top ten teams?
I don’t think, anyone can argue with NaVi’, G2, Fnatic, North, Faze and Astralis being up there and it would be kind of weird to not include EnVy and NiP as well. Now, giving the last two remaining spots in the top ten to their respective owners is a lot harder. Virtus.pro didn’t look like a top team anymore at neither Starladder nor the IEM World Championship in Katowice. On the other hand, I would still give them the benefit of the doubt, just because of how dominant they have looked prior to Katowice.
At the same time, they must step up at the next premier tournament, we see them play at. Otherwise, I think it’s fair to deny them a spot in the top ten power-rankings.
A last spot would probably go to Hellraisers, simply because of their upset performance at Starladder, although it’s a close call between them, Gambit, SK and Heroic.

With that out of the way, the logical question would be, if any of those teams can really beat each other, to which the answer has to be “no”, in my opinion.
A simple way to evidence this is, of course, the back to back finals
by both Astralis and Faze. Sure, those two do look like, they can beat the other on any day, yet for me, they are the clear-cut top two in the world, with Astralis maybe being a tad bit more consistent than Faze with their new superstar Nico, formerly of Mousesports. What we are seing right here, is a new rivalry in the making and we can expect this clash to deliver us loads of fantastic matches in the future.
Faze have not hit their skill ceiling, just yet and Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz said the same about the Astralis lineup and just the thought of their rival becoming even better should be seen as motivation to practice even harder, for all of their players.

So, who is the biggest contender to both of Astralis’ and Faze’ shared throne?
In my opinion, it’s G2 Esports. The result of the recent French shuffle, didn’t seem to work out in the beginning, but with convincing victories over Hellraisers, NiP and SK, the newly assembled and star-powered team of both Richard “shox” Papillon and
Kenny “kennyS” Schrub seems to be working like a charm. It’s kind of a shame that we don’t have any recent results against either NaVi’ or Astralis, so it’s hard to rate them convincingly, yet it took a stellar performance from Faze to take them down and that alone makes them a contender for top three, definitely ahead of NaVi’.

Although, NaVi’ looked strong themselves, Astralis were able to exploit their lack of a deep map-pool and they really did make it look easy, as they took them down in clean fashion on Overpass and later on in a closer, but not really scary second game on Nuke.
The team around Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and legendary AWPer
Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács has the star-power, to make them go all the way to a grand final, but they seem to rely on comfort-maps to get them there, at the moment. Working on that problem should make them a scary contender for top two in the future.

Next up, we got North and Hellraisers. Both teams do have one problem that plagues them: Inconsistency. Those two do really push the narrative of the most competitive era of CS:GO, simply because of how North might beat Faze on a great day, and lose to Hellraisers, a day after. Even though, Hellraisers haven’t been looking too bad themselves with two close maps against Faze, North should really be able to beat them on a better day.

Near the bottom of my list, we have Fnatic, EnVy, and NiP. I included all of them in the same tier, because all of them seem to be able to take wins of each other but none of them has looked good enough to take a Bo3 over any of the above teams. While I do not see this changing too soon for the French squad around
Vincent “Happy” Cervoni Schopenhauer, Fnatic seem to have it in them to find back to their 2015 form. NiP, while not quite as promising yet, are on the rise again, too after the recent addition of William “draken” Sundin. We have to see their skill ceiling, yet and it would be unfair to judge them, after their roster-change after such a short time.

Now, after explaining myself, did I change my opinion about any of these teams being able to beat each other? No, not really. Hellraisers have shown us their potential, by nearly upseting Faze, but other than that, the top two haven’t been challenged in a Bo3 since the Eleague Major. That said, do we have this most competitive era of CS:GO right around the corner? Absolutely! Astralis might right now hold the titel of
Major Champions and Faze have just been able to steal the Starladder Final from them, but there is so much potential, coming for their shared throne and by the time, the next Major comes around, I expect nearly every single one of the top ten teams to challenge them for it. Taking all of that into consideration makes me jump right onto the hype train for ESL One Cologne and I certainly expect nothing less, but the best
Major tournament to be witnessed yet, when the PGL Major in Kraków is finally going to take place in July.