This list was made to acknowledge and celebrate the best players of CS:GO in 2018. Unlike a few of the other lists where there is a hard ranking, this will acknowledge the best players by role. In this list I name the winner and the runner-up of each category. As there are no real set roles I’ve divided it into: supportive player, versatile player, best leader, best AWPer/CT-side entry, T-side entry, hardest carry, and overall best player.
As for criteria I took into account a few things. Consistency – How much a player turned up tournament after tournament. Path taken – The performance the player gives against what kind of team is taken into account. To a lesser degree results are mixed into the performance/path, though there are games where the best player was on the losing side of the equation. Mitigating circumstances – As this is an individual role, things like having a better teammates or a better team count against players. This is because I find it more impressive when a player performs under more adverse conditions. And finally, I only counted LAN results.
The Hardest Carry:
This award isn’t so much a role as it is a recognition of players that went far beyond the call of duty. They were the players whose individual performance shone so bright that they were a force of nature unto themselves. This year, the winner and runner-up was quite clear.
Winner: Oleksandr “S1mple” Kostyliev
Runner-up: Nikola “NiKo” Kovac
You’re going to see s1mple’s name a lot throughout this list. He has had the best year I’ve seen of any individual player. While Na`Vi had among the best results of any team during this period and were at times a legitimately strong team, they were also obscenely inconsistent. There were periods of time, especially early on, where the only reason they got anywhere at all was because s1mple literally carried them across the finish line again and again and again.
For s1mple, this was an year of impossible performance upon impossible performance. For me personally, I think his magnum opus was at StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 4. While he had equal or potentially higher peaks, this was one of the absolute worst showings from the other members of Na`Vi and highlighted how otherworldly s1mple was. That was the single best individual performance I’ve seen from anyone in all of CS:GO history.
The runner-up of this award goes to NiKo. When Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer took a personal hiatus from the team, I believe NiKo stepped up huge for FaZe and became the NiKo of old mouz. The one that Jaroslaw “pasha” Jarzabkowski once half-jokingly and half-seriously referred to as Rambo. As the year went on, NiKo hit his greatest level of form ever and had probably the best individual performance of his career thus far. If s1mple hadn’t broken the bell-curve on hard carries, NiKo would have been a shoe-in for this award.
Most Versatile Player
For the versatile player award, it was given to the player who did a multitude of different roles for his team to succeed. Players that were impactful for their team and had to do it at any moment of a round, whether it was early round, mid round, late round, whichever side, whichever map, or whichever role they had to do in each round.
Runner-up: Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken
This was another victory for s1mple. While he had more set roles compared to a few other players, he also had a particular role that no one else had to do. That was to be the hero AK in the forcebuy rounds or the hero deagle in the eco rounds. Na`Vi was the best forcebuy team in the world and that was largely predicated on the fact that s1mple was consistently good for two kills with the AK or deagle. At times he was out dueling AWPs with deagles at long range. This normally isn’t a role at all, but s1mple did it with such consistency that he essentially created the role and Na`Vi built an entire strategy around it. Because he essentially created an entire role and was one of the best AWPers and best riflers, he won this award as well.
As for runner-up, there were three players in contention for this, all from Liquid. They were: Twistzz, Keith “Naf” Markovic, and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablownowski. The reason all three were nominated was because of Liquid’s entire play style relies on hybrid rifle roles that could switch off roles and positions depending on their form and feel of the day. All three played different types of roles throughout the year. Twistzz shifted between being first man in, second entry in, lurker, or CT-side AWPER. NAF was a lurker, AWPer who could play it on both sides of the map, a passive wing player, and aggressive duelist at times. EliGE played part of the entry pack, third man-in and could also play the lurker or hold position. All three were used as CT-side entry players. All three played a variety of different roles through the year. In terms of form, they were all comparable. NAF had a huge peak in the beginning of the year before dropping off and then picking it up again near the end. EliGE was consistently good through most of the year and picked it up at the end. Twistzz was good at the beginning of the year, but missing in playoff games. From the middle to nearing the end of the year he was playing like a top 5 player in the world, at times top 3. He had a dip in performance near the end. In the end, I awarded Twistzz the award as he was the player most likely to shift roles compared to NAF or EliGE.
Best AWPer and Best CT-side Entry
Last year I made the AWPer and CT-side Entry player a different role. However this year, they are combined as the winner and runner-up are the same two players as I think the best CT-side entry players were AWPers. While there are different types of AWPers and roles within them, the two players I chose could do it all.
Winner: Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz
The choice of AWPer is highly contested and even now I’m not certain if the choice I made was right. It comes down to what we think an AWPer is supposed to be. Dev1ce is the AWPer that all other AWPers should strive to be. He’s incredibly mobile, knows the limits of his skill, and has incredible consistency. S1mple on the other hand is the AWPer who can do the impossible and is often forced to do the impossible. He is equally consistent and has an arguably higher level of impact than dev1ce does with the AWP.
Both players are essentially playing a style of AWPing that is most suited for what their team needs. S1mple is the aggressive high impact AWPer while Dev1ce is the steady, consistent tactical one. Where s1mple is more likely to go for insane plays to try to win rounds, dev1ce is more likely to go for the consistent play. He’ll play the odds and won’t risk the AWP in a bad situation so that his team’s economy won’t be wrecked in the following round. In terms of ideal AWPing I consider dev1ce to be the best in the world.
However in the end, I went with dev1ce. The reason was because of how I frame the idea of role. When I compare the strategies of Na`Vi to Astralis, it seems to me that, Na`Vi don’t necessarily build around the idea of s1mple having an AWP as he is ridiculously impactful with every gun. This is why we see them forcebuy all of the time. On the other hand, Astralis will usually take the extra round or build the economy in such a way that they can guarantee that dev1ce gets the AWP on the CT-side. Because of that, I think dev1ce fits the role of AWPer better and thus I gave the nod to him.
This was the hardest category to judge. Beyond the fact that you don’t know what it is the leaders are saying or doing behind the scene is the fact that you can categorize leadership in all kinds of directions. There is the tactical leader, the charismatic leader, the teaching leader, and multiple variations therein. For this one, I measured it based on a combination of those factors.
Winner: Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander
Runner-up: Fatih “gob b” Dayik
In terms of the winner, the choice was obvious. Gla1ve had the best tactics of anyone all year. He could use every type of play on every map. No one was even close to his level this year. As for the runner-up, this was a weird year for in-game leaders. Every subsequent in-game leader had a caveat to them that made it hard to pick them over the rest. Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella and Chris “chrisJ’ de Jong had a fairly successful year as an in-game leader, but both were tied to a coach and it’s hard to figure out where the coach ends and the leader begins in their two cases. Though if this was an award for best pairing, I’d say the nitr0-Wilton “zews” Prado would likely be the runner-up.
Usually leaders like Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo or Finn “Karrigan” Andersen are shoe-ins for this award, but neither had a great year. FalleN had the in-game leadership role taken away from him. On top of that, I was never a fan of how this team was assembled and while that isn’t solely the leader’s fault, I do lay some responsibility with him. Beyond that, I don’t think FalleN was able to find a coherent identity to make the MIBR squad work at the highest levels of CS:GO. As for Karrigan, he also had the leadership role taken away from him. While I do give him credit for leading the team during the period where they had a bunch of stand-ins to success, that wasn’t enough. He wasn’t able to reinvent how FaZe could work, whether that was through potential roster changes or structural changes. In the end, while I consider both FalleN and Karrigan to still be among the best leaders in the world, their problems and the fact that they didn’t lead the entire year held me back from picking either as the runner-up.
As for my choice of runner-up, it came down to three leaders: Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko, Damian “daps” Steele, or gob b.
In the case of Zeus, he had some good highs and some terrible lows. There were times where the literal tactic looked to be “s1mple go kill.” The team looked dysfunctional in the group stages and I found his map veto to be awful at times. The other side of that though was that Zeus was able to build a fairly coherent map pool and enforce his style of play. I also have to give him credit for controlling the mental aspect of the team to some extent as while Na`Vi looked like they were always on the verge of tilting out of the tournament, most of the time they were still able to play through and get a top placing.
As for daps, he impressed me with his ability to take a team full of rookie stars relative to the international scene and make them a solid top five team throughout most of the year. Overall, I liked his system and the way he used his players. What held him back for me were two aspects. First, he wasn’t able to get his team to have a super strong map outside of Overpass. Secondly, the team did have pressure and communication issues, which came out on the CT-sides. For me, those factors held me from picking him as second best leader this year.
As for gob b, I felt like he was in a similar situation to daps, except he had even less talent. The only world class player on BIG is Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz. Everyone else is good, but have to be used in particular ways. Gob b was able to create a coherent team identity and a strong enough map pool to cover for those deficiencies and stay within the top 10 for the latter half of the year. Overall, I felt like he did the most with the least amount of player resources so I gave him the nod as second best leader of the year.
Best T-side Entry:
This is the player who clears the way and breaks open sites. The vanguard of the entry unit or the second player coming in. This is the guy who can either break open the site or give space to the guy following him to break open the site.
Winner: Peter “Dupreeh” Rasmussen
Runner-up: Miikka “suNny” Kemppi
There were only two players that were in the conversation this year, Dupreeh and suNny. A majority of the other teams had a kind of mixed hybrid for the entry pack players, whereas these two were the closest to being a primary entry fragger, though suNny was often used as a lurker as well. In terms of pure role definition, Dupreeh wins this automatically. Even if I didn’t add in that caveat, I still believe Dupreeh was more consistent throughout the year and had higher peaks. He was as close to a second star as the Astralis lineup had, despite what looks to be one of the most balanced teams in CS:GO history. As for suNny, I think he had a stellar year on Mouz and was their best player overall in 2018. While he did a phenomenal job on a worse team. That would usually be enough to give him the nod in the way my criteria works, but in terms of raw consistency and impact, Dupreeh won this out. He was consistently good to great through most of the year. A monster of an entry player and someone who was miles ahead of the rest.
Best Support Player:
The word support is a vague term. The way I use it is the player given the least resources, the one that helps facilitate the other teammates. It is dependent on the team, the style they are running, and who is getting the resource to do what. In this case a supportive end player is someone who isn’t focused on by his team to be the pivotal player in their style or strategy. The best support player this year is:
Winner: Andreas “Xyp9x” Hojsleth
Runner-up: Epitacio “TACO” de Melo
I think Xyp9x and TACO stood above the rest this year as support players. Xyp9x is clearly the best support player in the world as he can ofttimes carry games when the rest of his team isn’t feeling it. How many times did we see Xyp9x in a 1vX and think to ourselves that the other team was screwed? Even if you ignore the fact that he was the best clutch player, in terms of playing off his teammates and enabling them, he was the best in the world. He played at an incredibly high and consistent level day in and day out. As for TACO, he had a bad start to the year, but once he joined Liquid his play was revitalized. While he rarely has big numbers, he always does his job. He consistently had some level of impact, whether that be through holding a passive angle, trading, or dying for the team. Also, he changed a bunch of roles around whenever the team wanted to change things up and still did a good job regardless. In the end TACO, was the clear second best support in 2018 for me.
Player of the Year:
This year’s choice of best player of the year was incredibly easy. S1mple was far and away the best player of the year. He won multiple categories through these awards including hardest carry, most versatile player. On top of that, he was the runner up for best AWPer and best CT-side entry. Finally, the economy game was incredibly important throughout the year as teams learned that the best way to win the CT-side was to get a full buy with full utility. In order to deny that, s1mple consistently grinded away at CT-sides or T-sides on ecos and forcebuys. It didn’t matter if he had an AK, deagle, scout or whatever. He continually pulled out impossible play after impossible play to the point where the impossible became inevitable and the other worldy became mundane.
No one was even close to s1mple’s stratosphere this year. As for the runner-up, the two choices for me were dev1ce or NiKo. Dev1ce was brilliant all year in terms of consistency and peak performance. NiKo had arguably the best year of his career on a team that had a lot of internal issues.
The difference between them was minimal, so I had to look back throughout the year to try to compare them. NiKo had a better start at the ELeague Major, but really kicked into gear once olofmeister had to step down from FaZe. This happened around April 2018. As for dev1ce, the ELeague Major was his only bad event for the year. He was still a star level player for the rest of the period and reached a higher level once the Age of Astralis started to kick into gear at DreamHack Marseille. So in terms of level of consistency throughout the year, I’d say both of them were incredibly close.
So it came down to other extenuating circumstances. In the case of dev1ce, he won numerous MVP awards and plays primary AWPer, which I consider to be the hardest individual role in the game. On the other hand, NiKo played on a worse team, though if you break it down player-by-player, the individual skills of each player is better than Astralis. In the end, I sided with NiKo as I think he did have to carry more individual weight in those circumstances. So for me, NiKo was the second best player of the year if only just.