February 27, 2020. A day of heartbreak, as COVID-19 claimed its first victim, IEM Katowice 2020. Luckily, the matches still played out on-site and on stage - but little did we know that it wouldn't happen again for a very long time.
Fast forward to today. Online games are the norm in what has been named the infamous Online Era. And while it has shown us horrible sides of the scene - be gone, coach buggers! - it hasn't been all bad. Because even online, Counter-Strike has a way of delivering unforgettable moments.
These are the Top 5 plays of the Online Era (so far).
#5: device on fire - quite literally
Rewind to the good ol' days, when device was still on Astralis - and Astralis were still dominating. Now, device may not make the flashiest highlights, but he knows when to take a fight. And for this play, he had to take the fight immediately as things quickly got HOT.
#4: Eco clutches are s1mple
One P250 and no armor. The human highlight-reel, s1mple, doesn't need much to shine. Though, I'd say this play involves more brain than brawn. With a mix of patience, reading the game, and one of the best aims in the world, s1mple made this clutch look easy.
#3: Spray painting with TeSeS
Here's a play that makes me go "holy sh*t" every time I watch it. With a single magazine and a full-length spray, TeSeS manages to spray four opponents down while transferring the spray both horizontally and vertically. To break it down, that's 30/4 = 7.5 bullets for each opponent on average. Meanwhile, the rest of us spray full mags only to see 78 in 3 on the death cam afterward.
#2: "Ever heard of a cadiaN 1v4?"
One P250 and no armor. Sound familiar? It should. Though, this time it's cadiaN. He doesn't care about the P250. He'll knife you instead, steal your AWP, and clutch 1v4 for $200,000 and an ESL Pro League trophy.
Could Gambit have played that situation better? Yes. But after the initial knife kill, it might not have mattered. When cadiaN gets the chance to build confidence and momentum, he seemingly can't be stopped again.
#1: Learn to count with ZywOo (and Machine)
Naturally, the two-time best player of the world also had his moments of glory during the Online Era. But this one tops the charts. After an initial 1-on-1 fight, which leaves ZywOo with 9 points of health, he ends up in a 1v4. Cornered and with nowhere to go, he does what any best player in the world would do: he taps and finishes the count to five.
Plays like these are why we watch Counter-Strike, and why we'll always come back for more. The plays are not any less because they are online, but hopefully, we will return to LAN to give them the roars they deserve.