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Top 60 five man line-ups by prize money won

With the last world championship level tournament (the IEM VI World Championship) long gone, and even the medium-sized tournaments having died out, now feels like the appropriate time to take stock of the great teams in CS history. In this series I will count down the best five man, four man, three man, two man teams and single players in CS history in terms of prize money won.

In this first edition I'm presenting the top 60 five man line-ups in CS history, by prize money won. I have gone to great lengths to calculate every dollar won, even from domestic tournaments, to ensure the list is as accurate as possible. I have also been strict in my definitions, so fnatic's WEM 2009 victory with THREAT does not count to the total of the other 2009 line-up, for example. I've also not counted CS:CZ, CS:O or CS:Source tournament wins, only retail CS 1.0-1.6.

The top 10:

1. $379,936 - Na`Vi ( markeloff, Edward, starix, Zeus and ceh9)

No Ukrainian team had ever won a major title in Counter-Strike 1.6, and the only instance of one reaching the semi-finals of a major tournament was considered a fluke by most people. In a game dominated by Swedish teams historically Na`Vi came together in a flash, with the help of Arbalet's bankrolling of the team, to become the most successful Counter-Strike team ever, in terms of prize money won.

In their first year together they won all three majors (IEM, ESWC and WCG) and broke the record for prize money earned in a single year, taking down $207,749 in 2010 alone. Since then the team has become more well known for their incredible consistency, finishing third at the majority of tournaments in 2011 and second in 2012. This consistency saw them finally overtake the Poles to reach #1 on this list.

This line-up really defined the blueprint for making a great CS team: two stars (markeloff and Edward), a half-star who on occasion can cover for one of the stars (starix), a great in-game-leader (Zeus) and a unique fifth man (ceh9).

2. $375,472 - The Golden Five ( NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and LUq)

If Na`Vi's arrival on the scene, hailing from Ukraine, was a shock then this Polish team's appearance practically gave the CS world a heart attack. Not only had Poland never been competitive at the top tier of CS before their arrival, the country hadn't even produced a team anyone would have put into the top 10. The promise of the earlier Pentagram lineups, known for success at SEC/ECG events, suddenly flourished as the line-up, which would become known as 'The Golden Five', won two events in their first few months together (WSVG UK and WCG 2006).

As one of the few line-ups to remain in place for a long period of time, almost three a half years with only a brief change-up, the Poles were famously inconsistent when it came to maintaining a spot as CS' best team, yet when the major tournaments rolled around they time and time again found a way to win. If you are looking for a line-up to win a major title, regardless of recent form, this is the line-up to pick.

Powered by the mighty NEO, perhaps the best CS player ever, the Poles displayed some of the most incredible intuitive team-play ever witnessed, seemingly knowing where their team-mate would be in any 2vX situation, and how to play off them.

3. $227,231 - fnatic 2007-2008 ( f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and ins)

It will surprise few to see a fnatic line-up in the top three, yet I imagine the exact line-up that topped the others may. This fnatic line-up won none of the majors during their two years together, and yet their grinding consistency in placing top three at event after event accounts for their high placing here. It's also worth throwing in that they won a hefty amount of medium-sized tournaments during their time.

Known as one of the great team-play line-ups, this fnatic team showed that even without a multitude of stars a team could compete and become the best in the world. Of course it didn't hurt that their line-up had f0rest in career peak form.

4. $225,364 - coL 2005-2006 ( fRoD, Storm, sunman, warden and tr1p)

After Team3D went down the drain, descending to the dolldrums of finishing outside of the top five at CPL events, it seemed as though North America's chances at producing a top tier team to compete with the Europeans were shot. After all, 3D had a monopoly on the stars of the day, even gutting teams like zEx and tsg of stars. It took United5 deciding to form a LAN team, who would live out of one house, to put in motion the wheels which helped form this great coL line-up.

With fRoD and tr1p left out of the U5 merger, due to not wanting to move to Chicago or not being considered for it, those players would, not at the same time, eventually connect with the throwaways of another of North America's top teams: Forsaken. warden and storm came from Forsaken, fRoD and tr1p from U5 and the four man unit was initially bolstered by 3D veteran Bullseye. That saw their initial performance spike, but then Bullseye retired for good and in came former zEx star sunman to take the fifth spot.

With, what would become, one of the all-time great line-ups in place the coL team wasted little time, finishing runners-up at CPL Barcelona and then taking down the ESWC title for 2005, at the first event where the French organisation legitimately had the best tournament in the CS world. From there on out the team had a lot of up and downs, but somehow always managed to win tournaments and take down prize money.

fRoD's AWPing and level of play was the motor which powered their team, but the rest of their line-up also had their own positions in which they flourished. Storm showed the CS world how effective a good lurking rifler could be, sunman continued to add to his legendary scrapbook of clutch round wins, tr1p established the solid tactical base he'd learned under U5's Hare and warden proved to be an unselfish and surprisingly clutch jack-of-all-trades.

5. $218,877 - fnatic 2009+2010 ( f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, Gux, dsn and cArn)

The fnatic line-up many will have been expecting to make the top five of this list actually comes in at the end of the top five. 2008 had seen teams like mTw, mouz and eSTRO out-perform fnatic, so they went back to the drawing board and came up with this drastic change. Out went the previous formula and in came the young stars, with veterans cArn and dsn moving to more team-play orientated support roles. As it happened this proved to be the magic pill to overcome mTw and dominate 2009.

This monsterous line-up feasted off their holy trinity of f0rest, GeT_RiGhT and Gux, who might have been three of the top five players in the world that year, to rampage to five titles and runner-up finishes at two more. Then disaster struck internally and out went Gux, in favour of THREAT. When Na`Vi's rise set aside any dreams that the THREAT-era line-up could be #1 they tried to go back to the 2009 formula, with mixed results. Some event wins early turned into a disappointing finish to the year and eventual disbanding of the line-up entirely.

Likely the most fire-power heavy of all the great modern day teams, this fnatic line-up were absolute monsters during their peak, winning events without the results being even close.

6. $213,056 - The Golden Five II ( NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and pasha)

The original Golden Five had been consistent only in the sense that they had stayed together so many years and averaged at least a major a year. In terms of actual months strung together they had never been truly consistent though, at least in terms of an elite level team. When they removed LUq and brought in pasha many wondered if that would be it for the Poles as an elite team, breaking up the seemingly magical formula of their old five man unit.

2010 seemed to suggest that might be the case, as the best they managed in the first seven months was a fourth place at ESWC. Beyond that though the team gradually climbed up and up until they began 2011 as one of the favourites for every title once more. That year would be their shining achievement, winning two majors, the most prize money of the year and overall accomplishing the feat of being the very best team of the year, for the first time in their careers.

7. $210,765 - mTw 2008-2009 ( whiMp, Sunde, ave, zonic and MJE)

This Danish line-up had rightfully earned a reputation as one of the most impressive CS teams of all time. From the 2007 line-up which was competing for major titles, but always fell in the final, few could have guessed the team was one move away from being the best in the world. When Danish master team-player whiMp came in the roles of the team switched around a little, and suddenly the machine was set in place.

A mixture of innovative use of the incredibly hot AWPer Sunde, ave's brilliant use of anti-strats and the teams remarkable ability to play off each other in every site, soon vaulted them up the rankings to the top spot, winning two tournaments fairly soon off the bat. Before disbanding, when fnatic exposed their style of play in 2009, the team had won five significant tournaments and racked up a lot of prize money.

A front-runner for best tactical team of all time, best team-play unit of all time and most evenly balanced great team, skill-wise, this mTw team have earned their reputations.

8. $158,027 - mouz 2007-2009 ( gore, cyx, gob b, Kapio and TIXO)

Mouz had been a team who could never hit the world championship level in CS, despite being on top of the German scene so often in their early years. When they brought in new faces gob b and cyx in the latter half of 2007 it didn't seem to have changed much, they were still second best to ALTERNATE at home. The next year everything changed though, the team gelled entirely and every player had career years, to that point in time.

Winning a major (IEM II), a medium-sized tournament (IEM III Dubai) and finishing runner-up at another (WEM) set mouz up as the second best team of 2008.

9. $155,880 - fnatic 2006 ( f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and Tentpole)

The original line-up to put fnatic on the map racked up a lot of prize money considering they were only together for a year. Fortunately for them their year together came during 2006, one of the years which had the most tournaments around the world for CS. The majority of the year was spent bested by other teams in the majors, and living in the shadow of NiP domestically, but at the final event of the year, CPL Winter, they came through to win the title. Then had to replace Tentpole, who was sick of the constant travel.

10. $149,542 - wNv.gm 2005-2006 ( Jungle, Sakula, Mikk, tK and alex)

Few would have expected a Chinese team to make it into this top 10, and rightfully so: almost half of their total prize money came from winning the most top-heavy CS tournament in history, $70,000 for first at WEG Masters in 2006. With that said, the Chinese team were great in Asia, beating up Europeans to everyone's surprise and establishing Jungle as a star player. They couldn't deliver the same kind of performances abroad, though, and eventually this line-up was changed.

That international feeling

One thing that is interesting to note is that after a solid 11+ years of CS competition the world has been represented well, in comparison to the Swedish domination of the early years.

Line-ups in the top 10 by country
Sweden: 3
Poland: 2
Denmark: 1
USA: 1
Germany: 1
Ukraine: 1
China: 1

The entire top 60:

1. $379,936 - Na`Vi ( markeloff, Edward, starix, Zeus and ceh9)

2. $375,472 - The golden five ( NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and LUq)

3. $227,231 - fnatic 2007-2008 ( f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and ins)

4. $225,364 - coL 2005-2006 ( fRoD, Storm, sunman, warden and tr1p)

5. $218,877 - fnatic 2009+2010 ( f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, Gux, dsn and cArn)

6. $213,056 - The golden five II ( NEO, TaZ, kuben, loord and pasha)

7. $210,765 - mTw 2008-2009 ( whiMp, Sunde, ave, zonic and MJE)

8. $158,027 - mouz 2007-2009 ( gore, cyx, gob b, Kapio and TIXO)

9. $155,880 - fnatic 2006 ( f0rest, dsn, cArn, Archi and Tentpole)

10. $149,542 - wNv.gm 2005-2006 ( Jungle, Sakula, Mikk, tK and alex)

11. $113,643 - SK.swe 2003 ( HeatoN, Potti, elemeNt, ahl and fisker)

12. $103,580 - SK.swe 2008-2009 ( walle, RobbaN, allen, zet and Tentpole)

13. $109,924 - eSTRO 2008-2009 ( solo, termi, bail, hee and ari)

14. $104,246 - SK.swe 2003 ( Potti, HeatoN, fisker, ahl and SpawN)

15. $94,685 - SK.swe 2011+2012 ( f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, Delpan, RobbaN and face)

16. $81,664 - mousesports 2005 ( Blizzard, neo, gore, PapsT and Roman R.)

17. $80,000 - NoA 2004-2005 ( elemeNt, XeqtR, Naikon, shaGuar and method)

18. $78,802 - mTw 2009-2010 ( ave, Zonic, Sunde, minet and trace)

19. $77,000 - 9.esu 2003 ( vesslan, quick, Luchesse, XeqtR, luciano)

20. $76,028 - emuLate 2007-2009 ( mSx, R!Go, MaT, HaRts and ioRek)

21. $75,000 - NiP 2006 ( SpawN, RobbaN, zet, ins and walle)

22. $72,100 - fnatic 2010 ( f0rest, GeT_RiGhT, dsn, cArn and THREAT)

23. $71,875 - 3D 2006 ( Rambo, shaGuar, Volcano, method and Dominator)

24. $70,392 - NoA 2007-2008 ( Sunde, ave, Zonic, MJE and hpx)

25. $69,840 - aTTaX 2006 ( mooN, Silver, Kapio, TIXO and CHEF-KOCH)

26. $67,875 - EG.usa 2009-2010 ( lurppis, fRoD, n0thing, Storm and gfn)

27. $59,000 - 3D 2002-2003 ( Rambo, Ksharp, Bullseye, moto and steel)

28.$57,907 - TyLoo 2009-2010 ( alex, GoodRifle, xf, tb and KarL)

29. $56,090 - mouz 2010 ( cyx, gob b, roman, Kapio and TIXO)

30. $55,250 - aTTaX 2007 ( mooN, roman, paN, CHEF-KOCH and approx)

31. $55,250 - M19 2002 ( kALbI4, MadFan, Nook, Rado and Rider)

32. $53,772 - mouz 2003-2004 ( Johnny_R, Roman R., neo, Blizzard and gore)

33. $53,600 - MiBR 2006 ( cogu, fnx, nak, KIKOOO and bruno)

34. $53,546 - mTw 2009-2011 ( ave, Zonic, ArcadioN, minet and trace)

35. $53,300 - Begrip.se 2005 ( f0rest, Tentpole, RobbaN, IsKall and Calippo)

36. $52,885 - MYM.ru/M5 2010-2012 ( Dosia, Fox, ed1k, xek and ROMJkE)

37. $52,500 - SK.swe 2009 ( walle, RobbaN, allen, face and kHRYSTAL)

38. $50,000 - NiP 2001 ( HeatoN, Potti, Hyb, MedioN and ahl)

39. $50,000 - aTTaX 2006 ( mooN, roman, Kapio, chucky and CHEF-KOCH)

40. $49,780 - The-Titans 2004 ( eGene, Eraz, whiMp, KK and Drally)

41. $47,650 - Virtus.Pro 2007-2008 ( LeX, Sally, ROMJkE, Edward and Zeus)

42. $45,300 - Virtus.Pro 2004-2005 ( LeX, groove, F_1N, Snoop and Sally)

43. $43,941 - WeMade FOX 2009-2010 ( solo, termi, glow, bail and GARSIA)

44. $43,500 - MiBR 2008 ( cogu, fnx, nak, bit and btt)

45. $42,184 - 69N-28E 2007 ( ruuit, naSu, contE, lurppis and natu)

46. $41,000 - SK.swe 2010 ( walle, RobbaN, allen, face and Gux)

47. $40,000 - LnD 2001 ( steel, reek, Boromir, Poutine and Simonak)

48. $37,831 - 9.esu 2003 ( vesslan, luke, quick, luchesse and luciano)

49. $37,450 - 3D 2006 ( Rambo, shaGuar, Volcano, method and moto)

50. $35,000 - SK.swe 2005-2006 ( sNajdan, SpawN, vilden, fisker and ahl)

51. $34,642 - H2K/Gravitas 2007-2008 ( KK, whiMp, XciteD, MoRf4r and zone)

52. $34,542 - SK.swe 2003 ( HeatoN, Potti, brunk, ahl and fisker)

53. $34,409 - NoA 2006-2007 ( Paddy, ave, Zonic, MJE and hpx)

54. $33,103 - WeMade FOX 2010 ( solo, termi, glow, bail and peri)

55. $31,500 - Catch-Gamer 2005 ( bsl, Juzam, zevy, juven9le and DaY)

56. $30,878 - lunatic-hai 2005 ( cliper, rishnarchk, bebe, maL and enemy)

57. $30,411 - mouz 2002 ( Johnny_R, Roman R., Chris P., Sebastian S. and Nils K.)

58. $30,194 - 69N-28E 2006-2007 ( ruuit, naSu, contE, lurppis and toNppa)

59. $30,000 - EYE 2004 ( vilden, Hyper, archie, GudeN and IsKall)

60. $29,581 - Lions 2011-2012 ( zneel, THREAT, kHRYSTAL, FYRR73 and niko)

I will return with the top four man units, in terms of prize money won, soon.

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