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SK Gaming: Simply the Best

Michael Longsmith argues that SK are the best ever.
The recent ESL Pro League finals saw SK Gaming pick up its eighth championship of 2017. The Brazilians are not just the best team in the world right now, they are the best team Global Offensive has ever had. After such an incredible year, there is no longer any room for debate on the subject. Here are the reasons why.

The ranking

HLTV’s ranking has always provided a sort of rough average of who the best teams are in Counter-Strike at any one time, without being truly definitive. The system is heavily skewed towards recent tournaments but SK Gaming has been one of the top three teams throughout 2017. In fact, you have to go back to March 2016 to find a ranking with SK Gaming outside the top three. They have been more consistent than any other team for two years now. The fact that their recent form has been impeccable is icing on a delicious cake.

The mentality

Some might argue that SK Gaming are not the best because there are many teams out there who could, on their day, beat them. But actually, one of CS:GO’s defining characteristics is the depth of talent in the scene –  this isn’t League of Legends or Starcraft, where the gap in skill between Korea and the West is is immense and unassailable.But what separates SK from their peers is more than just skill  –  it’s the mentality of champions they possess. SK lost a map to Optic during Pro League finals, for example, which was a huge upset. But they demonstrated their star quality and fought back, stronger than before. The fact that SK have held onto this same grit and resilience, despite a strong and ever-changing field snapping at their heels, only serves to reinforce their claim to the title of best ever.

The best ever?

Recent evidence shows that SK is without doubt the best team in the world right now. Faze took just one map from SK during the Pro League grand-final, while Astralis is in disarray due to injury. Who else but Faze and Astralis could realistically claim to be anywhere near SK’s current level? But to be dubbed the best ever, SK must stand apart from the great CS:GO teams of the past, most notably 2015 Fnatic and 2014 Ninjas in Pyjamas.The first point in SK’s favour is the sheer volume of championships they won this year. SK won eight championships this year. Eight! That’s ridiculous. Nobody can match that. None of those were majors, sure, but there were only two majors this year. Last year there were only two as well and SK won both of those, albeit under a different name the first time around. Secondly, due to the increase in the level of competition in modern CS:GO, those wins count for a lot more. Winning a tournament in 2017  –  any tournament  –  is way, way harder than it was during NiP or Fnatic’s heyday. Players have figured out the game to a level that makes early Global Offensive look laughable. Seriously, go back and watch the VODs of old Majors. It’s like a different game. I would even go as far as to argue that winning Pro League in 2017 is more difficult than winning a Major in 2014.Let it be known that I’m not here to pour scorn on the achievements of the teams that dominated CS:GO’s early days. Fnatic, were undoubtedly, the best team ever during their 2015 pomp, but that time is gone now. SK have surpassed them, and they have done so against a far tougher field.The increasing popularity of CS:GO, and the resulting rise in competition, means the average team on the professional scene today is vastly superior to the average team of three years ago. The fact that SK have achieved so much, even in the current cutthroat competitive environment, cements their status as all time greats. Eventually, someone will catch up. But until then, SK Gaming will be considered, as Tina Turner famously said, “Simply the best”.