In the past 12 months, fans observed many amazing moments in CS:GO. From astonishing upsets to dominating performances, the pro players gifted the scene with several impressive plays.
Some pros in the world consistently pulled off stunning performances, and as a result, claimed their place in our ranking of the best players of 2021.
When it comes to Heroic in 2021, people often think of the HUNDEN drama, or cadiaN’s jaw-dropping clutch to win ESL Pro League Season 13. Yet, the team were fairly successful throughout the year, cementing themselves as one of the best in the world. Much of that was thanks to stavn. The rifler provided a stable performance in most of Heroic’s top-four finishes. What’s more, the 19-year-old only twice scored an event on which he ended with a negative 2.0 rating (IEM Fall 2021 Europe and IEM Katowice 2021, where he had a 0.95 and 0.98 score, respectively). If you’re talking about the future of Danish Counter-Strike, stavn is the name you need to mention.
And since we’re talking about the future, there probably isn’t a better prospect in the entire world than B1T. The second half of 2021 was the beginning of the Natus Vincere era in the eyes of many. And while the main authors of that success were players such as s1mple and electronic, B1T still played a massive part in it. The Ukrainian joined Na’Vi by the end of last December, and the CIS side started to look like the best squad in the world since. Despite being only 18 years old, B1T has proven that he has every value a perfect entry fragger needs. And make no mistake, he’s just beginning his journey on a world-class level Counter-Strike career. Many expect him to get better and better every year.
While every squad in 2021 was overshadowed by Na’Vi, two teams were closest to catching up to B1T and his crew. G2 Esports were one of them. The French-Bosnian mix often came close to Na’Vi, with PGL Stockholm Major being one of the examples. Many of G2’s top-three finishes were a result of huNter-’s hard work and fearless performances. The 25-year-old, along with NiKo, created a duo only few could overcome in 2021, which is noticeable in the statistics: both were G2’s best players this year. Although the team’s slump in the fall threw them off a little, when the squad was fighting for the trophy, you could see the Bosnian pouring his heart into the game.
FaZe Clan is a team with many cons. In 2021, it almost only shone during LAN tournaments, which finally returned to the scene. Many roster changes resulted in a lack of stability. Nevertheless, if there’s a transfer that definitely has worked out for FaZe, it’s the addition of Twistzz. The Canadian made his name in Team Liquid, where he was known for pulling off astonishing clutches and being the incredible anchor. He brought those advantages to FaZe Clan, regularly being the standout player from the international roster. His efforts deservedly ensured him a spot in our ranking.
When the discussion about Na’Vi begins, it often comes down to s1mple. While that shouldn’t be too surprising, the praise of the Ukrainian compels electronic to live in his shadow. But the 23-year-old was Na’Vi’s second-best player this year. When s1mple failed, electronic was always there to pull his team back up. It seems he finally found the tasks that fit him perfectly in the current roster—and he hardly fails to deliver. With his role, it’s tough to shine in terms of statistics, yet he’s the second-best Na’Vi player, and the one without whom the team wouldn’t achieve as much this year.
The CS:GO community was stunned when device left Astralis to join Ninjas in Pyjamas in April. The Dane did so partly for private reasons, but don’t be mistaken: his addition to NiP ranks was one of the better transfers this year. He elevated the level of the Swedish team, leading them to triumph at IEM Fall 2021: Europe—NiP’s first major event win since IEM Oakland in October 2017. Device was brought in to make a difference. And so far, while he hasn’t lived up to his individual form from the past years, he’s in the race for one of the best CS:GO transfers in 2021, because the difference in NiP’s level is enormous since he joined.
In 2021 a lot of people said that the CIS region was the best one—and Na’Vi wasn’t the only reason. The PGL Stockholm Major winners became so tremendous thanks to the local competition, which was superb as well. We said G2 were one of the teams trying to catch Na’Vi, and Gambit are the second. Sh1ro was the most standout player on the CIS side. For his individual performances, he claimed three MVP awards this year—more than any other Gambit player. While there’s a lot of talk about how much can Gambit improve in 2022, most eyes should be turned towards sh1ro, since he has proven to be the youngster with the greatest caliber from the team.
For a few years now, when it comes to the top four players in the past 12 months, the same names appear. This time, once again, the third place in the ranking falls in the hands of NiKo: too far to fight with the top two, but good enough to simply outshine the rest. NiKo has been a part of G2 Esports for over a year now and solidified the European roster as a title contender. The team fell short many times against their nemesis, Na’Vi, yet the 24-year-old almost every time was G2’s best player on the server. And when playing against other squads, he simply outplayed basically everyone, proving that he’s still one of the best in the world.
For the past two years, the community talked about whether the Frenchman should receive the award for the best player in the past 12 months or not. In 2021, the case is no different. While ZyWoO once again has proven himself to be one of the best in the world, this time he fell short to claim the number one spot. Still, he put up spectacular performances across the board, being Team Vitality’s member the squad could count on in every single tournament. Since the team didn’t win many trophies this year, ZyWoO didn’t snag many MVP titles (with IEM Winter 2021 being the exception). Nevertheless, he was inches away from doing so many times, therefore ending up in the number two spot of our ranking.
The GOAT. The Machine. The Ukrainian Powerhouse. While every Na’Vi representative played his part in securing countless trophies this year, s1mple’s contributions were clearly the most important. The 24-year-old secured a handful of MVP titles in 2021, receiving one for his impressive form during the PGL Stockholm Major, the first one in the organization’s history in CS:GO. After being outshined by ZyWoO in 2020 and 2019, s1mple had much to prove this year. And he overperformed in every single aspect he could, cementing himself as the best CS:GO player in 2021 and blessing us with some of the best performances in the game’s long history.