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Ranking the World’s Top 25 Esports Teams in 2018
Any team is only as good as the complete sum of all of its parts. The same goes for esports as much as any other collective competitive venture. Creating the ultimate rank in any such domain is exceedingly tricky, mainly because it is a process of measuring something that is continually evolving. Sure, esports have their seasons, and most teams compete in one or more of these games, so their seasonal success is used as a metric, along with the points and earnings. But, what about the level of one-off prizes they won, tournament effectiveness, future potential, or sponsorship deals?
All of these define esports team and ultimately differentiate the strong ones that will continue to exist and the weaker contenders that will almost certainly fade out sooner or later. On the other hand, new teams are constantly popping up as well, and all of them are competing for the most important factor of them all – attention of the fans and spectators. If all of these factors are combined, an ultimate list of the top teams could be compiled. Here is one such list and it features the top 25 esports teams in the world.
25. Echo Fox
This esports team is a diverse one, with competitors in LoL, Call of Duty: WWII, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Gears of War 4, and a huge range of fighting games, including Mortal Kombat X and Injustice 2. Initially, the team came to existence when Rick Fox acquired LCS (League of Legends Championship Serie) spot from Gravity Gaming and paid $1 million for it. In 2016, the team branched out from LoL into CS:GO when Torqued team joined their ranks. In 2017, Jared Jeffries came on board Echo Fox as its president.
Dignitas, previously known as Team Dignitas has a long history. It was founded in 2003 by Michael “ODEE” O'Dell at the moment two competing entities from the Battlefield 1942 merged. Then, in 2016, the Philadelphia 76ers bought the team, and it continues to compete in a range of esports, including CS:GO and LoL as the most prominent ones. The last re-branding of the team took place in 2018, which included the change in the logo and the team's name.
This Russian-based esports team and its wider organization are probably most famous for one of its investment deals. In November 2015, Virtus.pro attained an incredible sum of more than $100 million for the USM Holdings of Alisher Usmanov, a Russian businessman and investor, currently ranked as the 37th richest person in the world. The same esports team competes in CS:GO, with its team based in Poland, but also participates in competitions in Dota 2, Starcraft II, World of Tanks, Paladins, Heroes of the Storm and Quake Champions.
22. Team Secret
This esports team began in 2014 when it quickly gained recognition as a strong Dota 2 competitor. In early 2016, Team Secret created an international competitor female team for CS:GO. It then expanded into Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. with Lee “Poongko” Chung-Gon and Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno, respectively. In 2018, the team acquired Team TyRant for their competitive Age of Empires 2 division.
This esports team is based in Germany, where it started working in 2002. It competes in a range of different games, while it is best known for is CS:GO team and as a League of Legends ESL Pro Series competitor. It was also one of the key founding members of the G7 Federation. Currently, Mousesports is partnered with one of the biggest German telecommunication companies, Vodafone Deutschland.
A one-game esports team, Astralis is competing in CS:GO. The team was formed in 2016 when the players from Team Question Mark left the bigger esports organization Team SoloMid. After that they were quickly funded by a Danish entrepreneur Tommy Ahlers and Sunstone Capital. Now, it is operated by RFRSH Entertainment, and it is only a matter of time when it will branch out into additional esports competitions.
19. Luminosity Gaming
This Canadian esports organization was founded in 2015 in Toronto. Right now, it has teams competing in Call of Duty, Hearthstone, WoW, CS:GO, Smite, Overwatch, and Fortnite. Interestingly, a substantial number of its competitors come from Brazil, and the sponsors have been lining up for some time to get a piece of Luminosity Gaming. The team has partnership deals with Twitch.tv, Cyberpower PC, Games Academy, and Zowie, a line of gaming hardware that was acquired by BenQ.
18. compLexity Gaming
Better known as coL in the esports circles, this organization plays and competes in a range of games. Initially, it started in 2003 as a team gathered around Counter-Strike 1.6. Now they play a very diverse set of games that cover CS: GO, Dota 2, Call of Duty, Clash Royale, Fortnite, Rocket League and Madden, but includes many others. In the period between 2006 and 2009, they were under the franchise of the Championship Gaming Series. At the end of 2017, the organization was purchased by Jerry Jones, the owners of the NFL Dallas Cowboys. Now, the same organization shares the NFL teams HQ at the Start in Frisco, Texas.
17. SK Telecom T1
This esports team is a work team/organization from the SK Telecom, a South Korea telecommunication company. It began when the same company made its StarCraft Team Orion in 2003. Back then, Lim “BoxeR” Yo-Hwan assembled the team under the same corporation and became its captain. The esports organization became a part of a huge family of traditional sports clubs run by SK Telecom. It is a strong competitor in LoL, where it won World Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016. SK Telecom T1 partnered with the apparel company New Balance, along with several other businesses that include a health and pharmaceuticals venture Otsuka Dong-A.
16. NRG Esports
NRG Esports is a team based in the US, more precisely California. Currently, it is a part of the roosters in Dragon Ball FighterZ, Clash Royale, CS:GO, Fortnite, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Vainglory, Rocket League, Smite and For Honor. It was founded in 2015, but since then it has aggressively expanded its outfit. Apart from the mentioned games, the organization is active on Twitch where its members stream content on a regular basis.
15. Epsilon eSports
This esports organization hails from Belgium where it was founded in 2008. Its HQ is in Brussels, but the team is spread out across the US and Europe. The main competitive fields for the team are CS:GO, Gears of War, FIFA, Call of Duty (with multiple European championship titles) and H1Z1. What is especially interesting about the team is the fact that it operates an effective academy for new talent. Epsilon esports has been able to transfer many of its homegrown players to teams like Fnatic, AS Monaco and PSG, showing a remarkable potential to develop the new generation of esports professionals.
14. Counter Logic Gaming
CLG or Counter Logic Gaming was formed in 2010 and is currently based on LA, California. Initially, it started as a LoL team and even to this day, it is probably best known for the same game. However, the team has also branched out into Smite, CS:GO, Super Smash Bros, H1Z1 and most recently, Fortnite. Financially, the big change for the team took place in 2017 when the Madison Square Garden Company, the NYC heavyweight in sports entertainment, acquired a CLG's controlling stake.
13. Ninjas in Pyjamas
Better known as NiP, this Swedish esports organization reaches back to 2000 when it was formed and quickly established itself around Counter-Strike. The game was so important to the team that it completely reorganized to embrace the appearance of CS:GO fully in 2012. Aside from this shooter, the team is active Dota 2, Rainbow Six Siege, PUBG, LoL, Fortnite, and Paladins. Ninjas in Pyjamas also showcases a range of sponsors, where the most prominent include Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers series) and Panasonic Lumix.
12. G2 Esports
G2 Esports is a Spanish team, but it is based in Berlin, Germany, where it is active in a big selection of games. These include LoL, CS:GO, PUBG, but also Clash Royale, Hearthstone and Rocket League. Even though the team is relatively new (established in 2013), it managed to make a big impact on the LoL competitive scene. It is a competitor in EU LCS since 2016. There, it won the Spring and Summer seasons twice in a row, in 2016 and 2017. Apart from LoL, G2 Esports managed to attain the CS Summer 2014 season.
11. Evil Geniuses
This esports organization comes with some serious history behind it. It was founded in 1999, but it draws its roots to a Quake clan from Victoria BC, Canada. In the previous two decades, Evil Geniuses teams competed in Dota 2, LoL, StarCraft 2, WoW, but also many FPS and fighting games. Its Dota 2 team won The International 2015, which at that moment came with the highest payout in esports history. In 2018, its Call of Duty: WWII won the Call of Duty Championship. The team's sponsors include Twitch.tv, Monster Energy, SanDisk, and AMD, but they remain an independently owned organization.
10. TEAM ENVYUS
The fact that this esports organization has so many nicknames is just one of the signs of its popularity. Its official name is Team EnVyUs, but they are also known as Team Envy, and its competitors have given them a new nickname – The Boys in Blue. Ever since 2007, this team has been competing in plenty of different games, including Counter-Strike, FIFA, Gears of War, Halo, LoL, Overwatch, PUBG, Rocket League, Paladins, StarCraft, Smite and Street Fighter. The game that initially brought them together was Call of Duty 4 when Tosh “Stainville” McGruder and Skyler “FoRePlayy” Johnson founded the outfit. Today, they are sponsored by the fast-food chain Jack in the Box and have a long list of alumni who achieved notable success in their competitive domains.
This esports and media organization active in North America was formerly known under the name Follow eSports. It was founded in 2015, and since then its teams have competed in LoL, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Rocket League, Halo, Starcraft II, Smite, Paladins, and Overwatch. While based in North America, Splyce has staff and players across the world, including a strong presence in Asia and Europe. The same is true for its rapid acquisitions. In 2015, it attained the Dignitas EU LoL team for about $1 million. In 2018, Splyce became part of an ownership group that purchased the Overwatch League's Toronto Defiant. Splyce has also been very active in its content production branch, focusing both on streams and content creators. Unsurprisingly, the team's dynamic vision attracted sponsors like AMD, Mountain Dew, Foot Locker, and Corsair.
This UK team started in 2004 in the UK. Today, their HQ is in London and the organization features players from many different nations. Their main competitive domains are the esports heavyweights – CS:GO, Heroes of the Storm, Dota 2 and LoL. Fnatic entered history as the first ever winner of the League of Legends World Championship in back in 2011. They also hold a range of other accolades in the same game. In Counter-Strike, the team is considered one of the best in history, with three Global Offensive Majors, along with a handful of other tournaments. They are sponsored by big businesses like AMD but also sell their merchandise on a large-scale level.
7. 100 Thieves
The esports organization called 100 Thieves or 100T for short (just as their logo features) is a team that was created by Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag. This Call of Duty player set up the organization in 2017 in Los Angeles and currently, it competes in a limited number of games. These include LoL, Call of Duty, Fortnite Battle Royale and Clash Royale. However, the team managed to be one of three from the US that was at South Korea's 2018 League of Legends World Championship. Their partnership also revealed that many have a lot of trust in their future success, being that they have deals with Team Razer and Red Bull Esports.
6. OpTic Gaming
This esports team is a registered company, which is why its full name is OpTic Gaming, LLC. As a US team it has players in the Call of Duty, CS:GO, LoL, Fortnite, Gears of War and Overwatch. The team was set up by OpTic KR3W and Ryan “OpTic J” Musselman in 2006 but is currently owned by Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez and Neil Leibman. Liberman is also the owner of the MLB team Texas Rangers. The team is in a partnership with Turtle Beach Corporation, a large US headset, and sound card manufacturer.
5. Team SoloMid
Team SoloMid, known as TSM is a US esports organization that was founded in 2009. Its founding member was Andy “Reginald” Dinh, a LoL pro player and an entrepreneur. The team, unsurprisingly, is active in LoL, Hearthstone, Vainglory, Fortnite, PUBG, Super Smash Bros, and H1Z1. Solo Mid is a dynamic outfit, which has already stopped featuring teams in CS:GO and Overwatch, but did create numerous successes in the North American LCS. Their sponsors are also numerous, and many of these global companies are not often seen in the esports domain, including Dr. Pepper, HTC, Logitech, Gillette and T-Mobile.
4. SK Gaming
In 20017, SK Gaming, an esports organization based in Germany celebrated a big anniversary, marking 20 years since its founding. Back in 1997, it came about from a Quake clan active in Germany and from then on it never looked back. The team made a name for itself in Counter-Strike tournaments and soon branched out to new games and new territories, including Brazil. The South American team won the ESLA ONE Cologne 2016 Major. Right now, it has teams competing in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and LoL, while a range of brands, including Mountain Dew are its key sponsors.
3. FaZe Clan
As both an entertainment and sports organization FaZe Clan or as it was previously known FaZe Sniping is active in multiple FPS games, along with FIFA. It was founded in 2010, and since then it kept adding new successes to its trophy room. The team won more than $6 million in prizes alone, and its teams have an incredible combined social media following. It is enough to say that they together have over 82 million subscribers and a sum of over 11 billion views.
This esports organization is probably known even outside of the esports community. Founded in 2013, it is now competing in Rocket League, LoL, CS:GO, Hearthstone, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Fortnite, Overwatch, H1Z1, Clash Royale, Rainbow Six: Siege, and Rules of Survival. Cloud9 started in LoL, but after the successes in the North America LCS, it began to diversify. Two years after its founding it won the very first Heroes of the Storm World Championship while its roster for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was the first North American winner of a major championship. As one of the largest esports organizations in the world, its ranking is no accident, as well as its sponsors, including HTC, MSI and even the US Air Force.
1. Team Liquid
The top dog of the esports team pack, this esports organization was created in 2000 and is based in the Netherlands. It started competing in StarCraft 2 and then to Dota 2, followed by LoL, Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. Naturally, the expansion into new esports domains continues to this day. In Dota 2, the Team Liquid squad won the International 2017 tournament which featured one of the biggest prize pools in any game so far. In other games, the team's players are among the top positions of the leaderboard, and this setup will continue in the coming period. Its sponsors include Alienware and Kingston Technology HyperX brand.
Honorable Mention: OG
OG represents an esports team based in Europe that is heavily focused on Dota 2. The team was made back in 2015 and has worked in the ecosystem of this popular MOBA game. The effort paid off big when the team won the International 2018 tournament, with a prize of 25 million. It also managed to get four wins at the Dota Major Championship series. As of May 2018, OG team is also competing in Super Smash Bros.
Honorable Mention: Natus Vincere
This Ukrainian esports organization, which translates as “born to win” started working in 2009. The organization began competing in games like FIFA Dota 2, and CS:GO, only to be followed by LoL, World of Tanks, Paladins, and PUBG. It first started to gain recognition in Ukrainian national competitions and the European scene. But, it became the first in history to win the three premium tournaments of Counter-Strike in a single calendar year. Currently, it has a range of sponsorships include Monster Energy and Nvidia.
Image via: Bloomberg