Esports in the CIS is mainly built around Dota 2 and CS:GO, which were affected last year by the coronavirus pandemic: it moved both scenes online Clubs, players and fans have lost The International and Majors. Natus Vincere proved to be the best among other regional organizations: and who else found a place in the top 5?
To determine the most popular esports organizations, we calculated Hours Watched of their teams at the championships, including all languages. The statistics of the "Battle Royale" tournaments were excluded from the calculations. At the same time, the best CIS team of the last season in League of Legends (Unicorns of Love) was not in the top, because it represents the German organization.
Virtus.pro and Gambit Esports are still in top-5, they proved to be the most stable on the scene. Both have strong CS:GO rosters (ranked #5 and #19 in the world as of February 15 by HLTV.org) and keep on developing its young Dota 2 teams. VP has already won the spot on ONE Esports Singapore Major 2021 and AS Monaco Gambit is currently placed 4-6 in CIS qualifier.
Compared to previous rankings, Vega Squadron and AVANGAR dropped out of the rating. The first one faced financial problems back in 2019 and left key disciplines, now the club is focused on its League of Legends team, as well as on the development of the youth CS:GO roster. This does not bring a significant amount of views: as a result, in a year Vega became only 16th most popular organization in CIS.
AVANGAR was ranked 4th previously. At the end of 2019 they sold CS:GO roster to Virtus.pro. After that, for two months the club worked with a young Kazakhstani roster in Counter-Strike, but in the end decided to leave esports. Now the management is focused on the development of esports arenas in Kazakhstan. So who replaced Vega and AVANGAR?
Ukrainian organization HellRaisers is ranked #5 with 10.9M Hours Watched in 2020. This is the only club that got into the rating only with rosters in CS:GO and Dota 2.
HellRaisers got into the top 5 primarily thanks to their Dota 2 roster. HR did not miss a single significant tournament in the region in spring-summer unlike many other clubs in the region. The team did not achieve much success, but played regularly and got 8.6 times more HW than CS:GO roster.
2020 brought significant changes to the CS:GO roster of HR. In April, a Counter-Strike veteran and permanent leader of the team ANGE1 left the club. Now the organization is represented by the Russian-European mix, but the audience is not very interested in it: during the year the team played more than a hundred matches, but gained a little more than 1.1M Hours Watched.
Gambit Esports dropped from third to fourth place. In 2020, the organization scored 13.6M Hours Watched, which is four million less than it was in 2019.
Uncertainty arose with Dota 2 lineup of Gambit during COVID-19 pandemic. Key players left the team and the club took a break until the end of the season when it got a roster for EPIC League Season 2. However, Dota 2 still got the largest amount of Hours Watched for the club among all the other disciplines.
At the same time, Gambit had an extremely successful year in CS:GO. Although the team scored 38% fewer Hours Watched than the Dota roster, they had way more wins. The young Russian squad with the captain nafany won over ten big tier-2 tournaments and became one of the main discoveries on the CIS scene. In October, the team started playing under the Gambit tag (previously the team was called Gambit Youngsters), and by the end of the year the squad reached the top 15 in the HLTV.org rankings.
2020 was not the best year for Gambit in League of Legends. Team finished 3-4 at spring split and was runner-up at summer one: in the final they were deafeated by Unicorns of Love. So, Gambit missed the World Championship for the second year in a row.
Gambit also has a Russian Valorant team. The team won several online championships, but could not consolidate their success at the main tournament of the year in the region: at First Strike CIS the team finished 3rd-4th. However,team started off well in 2021 and already won VCT 2021: CIS Stage 1 Challengers 1.
Russian multigaming Team Spirit opens the top 3 with 15.4M Hours Watched. Organization did not make it to the top 5 last year, but its rosters performed way more successfully in 2020, especially in CS:GO. Interestingly, Team Spirit was the least on the air in 2020 among other clubs in the rating (409 hours).
Spirit’s CS:GO roster started last year at the 25th place in the HLTV.org rankings and made significant progress in the year. Currently the team is the 13th strongest in the world according to HLTV. Team Spirit achieved the greatest success on tier-2 tournaments, including victory at ESL One: Road to Rio CIS.
Team Spirit’s CS:GO roster also proved itself in matches against the biggest teams. Roster did not achieve great success at the tier-1 tournaments, but regularly beat favorites (including FaZe Clan, NAVI, mousesports, NiP and Vitality).
Club has also chosen the same waiting tactics as Gambit Esports in Dota 2. In Summer the roster went inactive and later players began to leave for other clubs. The new roster was signed only in December: and the very first tournament (BTS Pro Series Season 4: Europe / CIS) was victorious for the team.
Virtus.pro unsurprisingly finished #2 with 44.6M Hours Watched in a year. Note that the gap between the top 2 and the rest of the clubs continues to grow. It was x2 in 2019, now it is x3.
The whole year Virtus.pro was tied to Dota 2, which brought the club about 75% of the total sum of Hours Watched. The club was represented by the team of Solo and No[o]ne at the beginning of the season. Later on the club signed a young squad of Save- and Nightfall.
VP.Prodigy with Save- and Nightfall won several big online championships. In December they were crowned champions of EPIC League Season 2 Division 1 which became the debut for the team under Virtus.pro tag. However,
Interestingly, the team (and organization) reached Peak Viewers with Solo’s lineup: over 508K people were simultaneously watching the final of ESL One Los Angeles 2020 vs OG.
VP CS:GO didn’t start great in 2020 and went inactive in summer to rest and sort out the roster. As a result, the team made only one point change (YEKINDAR swapped AdreN), and that was enough. The team won IEM New York Online 2020, DreamHack Open December 2020 and Flashpoint Season 2. As a result, the team reached the #5 in the HLTV.org rating.
Virtus.pro also has a fairly successful Rainbow Six Siege team. At the end of May the roster won the fourth season of the Russian Major League and until the end placed many times in the top-3 on both domestic and international championships. Team also got a spot on the world cup, which was supposed to be held in France and was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus.
It is hardly a surprise to anyone that Natus Vincere is the most popular CIS organization with 86.1M Hours Watched. The club had a phenomenal year in CS:GO and finished second in the global club ranking (ahead of such giants as Team Liquid and Fnatic). You can find an in-detail article on NAVI-2020 here, so now we will only briefly summarize their success.
Also Read: Top esports organizations of 2020
2020 was one of the most successful for NAVI in the entire history of CS:GO. S1mple’s team regularly finished in top-4 at the largest events and won IEM Katowice 2020, which was the only big LAN of the year. Team has also set the Peak Viewers record for non-Major CS:GO championships with over a million people during the final against G2 Esports.
Natus Vincere also improved its results in Dota 2. FlyToMoon joined NAVI at the end of September and got some top-4 placements at online events, Team also won the last big tournament of the year OGA Dota PIT S4: Europe / CIS.
The gap between #1 and #2 teams also increased in a year. It was 10M Hours Watched in 2019, and 40M in 2020.
Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro have been dominating the CIS for several years now and almost certainly no one will be able to impose any competition on them in the near future. There are simply no other stable strong teams in the region. The main intrigue is how strong the gap between the leaders will be by the end of 2021.
Outside the top 5 no organization has surpassed the 10M Hours Watched. ForZe was the closest to getting into the top-5, but was unable to do so as its CS:GO team didn’t have the best season.
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