Top 10 players to watch for rest of 2016

This article represents my own thoughts and is the list of players who either make their team a serious championship-contender or have the potential to be the best in the world.

This article represents my own thoughts and is the list of players who either make their team a serious championship-contender or have the potential to be the best in the world.

1. Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev – s1mple is a new player on the legendary Na’Vi roster, replacing one of the smartest in-game leaders Zeus, which makes this move one of the riskiest in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. s1mple had two amazing major performances this year, reaching the semifinal and final of CS:GO Majors and that didn’t go without notice from this Ukranian team. Na’Vi was on top of the world for about two years since Flamie replaced Starix in lineup. However, since then, Na’Vi has many top-four finishes, some of them being first place finishes, but the most important win missing is a Major championship.

Na’Vi struggled to defeat many teams when it mattered in this era, even though they had some of the most interesting rivalries (fnatic, SK, Losing so many finals against different opponents raised the question: does Na’Vi have mental problems in big games? Skill didn’t seem to be the problem because even though Fnatic started a year with all those wins, it was Na’Vi that only had two players in the top-five of the world at that moment (flamie,Guardian), so something was clearly missing.

s1mple’s experiment in North America was a mistake, as he managed to get into a fight with many players and even teammates, all of which labeled him a huge risk for any team. Despite his performance last Major at ESL One Cologne 2016 with a (1.12) rating, this was all that Na’Vi could take, defeating them in such fashion with a team that was only together such a short period of time, which meant the end of this team.

Now it remains to be seen what kind of impact he will have on this team with stakes just being raised with Valve’s newest rule about coaching. Na’Vi, without knowing this, released Zeus, who was previously the in-game leader before Starix took over from the coaching department. This is the biggest and probably last chance for s1mple to be on one of the best teams in the world cause he has a bad reputation of being toxic. Many would like to see him fail, but it remains to be seen if this player is destined to be one of the best in the world on the best team in the world.

2. Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye – This youngster improved so much when he finally got a chance to be the star of Dignitas after the departure of Aizy and Pimp. He managed to elevate his level so high that he became the best player in Denmark, which automatically meant that he can compete with the best in the world.

He opened this year with DreamHack Zowie Leipzing, where he was the star that made his team advance from the group stage, beating both and Mousesport with his amazing 1.21 rating, the second best at the tournament. Next was ESL Barcelona, where he once again had an amazing 1.23 rating, the third best at that event. His next big event was DreamHack Malmo 2016, where he had 1.20 rating and that put away all the doubt that this guy is not a superstar.

The Astralis pick up came naturally with their long known problem with choking in semifinals, and they hit a new low with choking earlier in tournaments and even group exits. Zonic, the new coach of Astralis, was the guy that wanted Kjaerbye on the team because of their previous relationship as Zonic worked on Dignitas as a coach before Astralis.

The Danish scene is one of the most promising right now and they manage to have two of the best players on one team: Device and Kjaerbye. It remains to be seen if that is finally the winning combination for getting out of choking problems and finally earning a Major title.  

3. Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom – This very popular Belgium player had some unlucky breaks in his career with his whole team being banned and the player replacing him on Titan also being banned for cheating didn’t discourage this star. After having to make a team with Maikelele that put him back on the map, and with a lack of firepower on shox’s new team, he managed to get another chance.

G2 somehow managed not only to overcome EnVyUs as the best team in France, but they ranked up even for some time to be the second best team in the world and in no small part due to Scream. Yes, of course shox is the superstar on their lineup, but Scream is the clear cut second best player and we must wait and see if Scream can finally become the consistent threat and driving force on that team. Or, will he just remain a star player and occasional wild card?  4. Simon “twist” Eliasson – This young Swedish player has a reputation for only wanting to play with friends, but he is now getting a chance to play with two buddies who he knew previously from his time on LGB. Twist now will be joining Olofmeister, who was for a long time the most dominant player in CS:GO history, and Denis, probably the best pistol player in the world right now and the most improved and in form player from the old Fnatic lineup.

At just 21-years-old, twist was always part of the conversation as one of the next big players in Sweden. His choice to say no to NiP in apparently couple of occasion seemed insane to outsiders but this guy knows what he wants. Getting a chance with Godsent under the leadership of Pronax, who is still respected by many of his colleagues and everyone else in the CS:GO community, put twist on the map again.

He was the superstar of Godsent and one of the key factors why they managed to break so fast into such a difficult place where many teams can’t make even now: third place at DreamHack Malmo 2016 and third place at DreamHack Zowie open Summer 2016. At Malmo, he was almost named MVP without reaching the finals, getting in front of teams on LAN such as Dignitas,, Tempo Storm, Mouz, Astralis, Luminosity, FaZe, G2 and Liquid.

This is not a small accomplishment and many teams didn’t do this even with a longer period of time as a team. Now, with the Swedish shuffle giving him a chance to compete on the biggest stage, we can only hope that he is up for the challenge. 

5. Tomáš “oskar” Štastný – This Czech superstar is finally on Mouz playing along side of Niko, who many rated as the best player in the world. Oskar is one of the players who broke into the scene when FACEIT introduce FPL. He quickly become hot stuff on the market and got his chance with HellRaisers, where he was clearly their best player and superstar. Many NA teams were looking his way when thinking about making improvements to their team, but he wanted to wait for a chance in Europe.

That chance is here, with Mousesport kicking Nex from the active lineup and putting Oskar in his place to finally make some progress, mostly in CS:GO Majors where Nex had the most problem and often didn’t play to his level. There are many question on this new Mouz team, (such as who will be the sniper? How will ChrisJ play in a new role?) but one thing is for sure, Niko will finally have someone who will consistently put up numbers to help the team reach their goal. 

6. Marcelo “coldzera” David – Coldzera is a two-time Major MVP, a task that no other player has managed to do before him, and he is on his way to becoming the best player in the world if there is some doubt that he isn’t already. This beast from Brazil played in his first international LAN event only a year ago at ESL One Cologne 2015. It is amazing what he and his teammates managed to do in that period of time, but his story is a more interesting one.

It’s not often we see a player with no background coming and taking over the whole world in Counter-Strike, but this 21-year-old not only came with no international expirience but became a world champion and set the new era of CS:GO. He is one of the rare players that is carrying his team from the shadows; you won’t see too many flashy plays or gambling from this guy, but he just does his job to the fullest of his ability, while putting up numbers that in the end make him a superstar. 

7. Joao “felps” Vasconcellos – Some of you might think that this 19-year-old Brazilian doesn’t belong on this list, but his ability in this game is amazing. Other Brazilian teams overshadow Immortals, but their status cannot be ignored; some experts might put Boltz as the superstar of their team, but after watching their matches closely, it is clear to me that this guy is the superstar.

The explosiveness in his game is his huge decision making on the higest level, as he has helped his team make some promising results this year. Firstly, they won the CEVO LAN finals, then won DreamHack Summer, coming on top of teams such as NiP, Astralis and Godsent. Beating NiP 2-0 in a best-of-three series with a +15 K/D and a 1.36 rating is no small feat. We can see that felps is already star material, but he can improve so much more and if SK ever make a change, this is the first guy they would need to look at. 

8. Aleksi “allu” Jalli – This Finnish born 24-year-old had some good results with NiP, but unlucky for him, they decided to switch back to the Swedish language. This didn’t stop allu from getting offers from NA and many more teams, but he decided to try again with the Finnish squad ENCE. Even if it’s clear for everyone that he is world-class player, allu didn’t manage to be the hard carry on his team. Luckily, that didn’t sway FaZe from looking at him; after many failed events, it was clear that Fox is not a superstar AWPer.

Allu now has another chance to be on a world-class team who regularly advances in Majors and is more welcome to his freeway of AWPing instead of NiP’s way, which put him on leash. He is younger and a more skilled player than Fox, so it is improvement for FaZe either way, but we now must see if this player can be the superstar that can win a Major for the most expensive team in the world. 

9. Jacob ‘PIMP’ Winneche – This 21-years-old seems to have been in the scene forever, as he was one of the best players on Dignitas’s top-ten team in the world at that time until he switched to the AWP. It doesn’t matter now if it was his choice or not, he was removed from that team and the future looked dark for him, being on SK’s Danish squad that was cleary bellow his former team and his skill.

The light at the end of the tunnel came for him when Liquid realized that losing s1mple would leave such a big firepower hole in their squad that would not be filled from the NA talent pool. Maybe a couple of players could fit there from NA, but why overpay them when the EU market is so much more open?

Pimp is a very smart player for his age, wanting to improve and do everything for his team, and he deserves this chance to be on a team that wants to fight for a Major in CS:GO. From a realistic standpoint, Pimp is nowhere near s1mple’s level, who is clearly a superstar and can play with every weapon in this game. This will be good  experience for Pimp, and who knows, maybe one day, Astralis will make another change or he makes a new Dignitas team with the rising talents from the most promising Danish scene. 

10. Emil ‘Magiskb0Y’ Reif – Another promising player from Denmark, this 18-year-old finally broke through and got his chance on Dignitas after many considered him to be an “onliner.” His ability to kill brought many teams to their knees online, such as Na’Vi, NiP and He finally managed to transfer his online game to LAN at ELEAGUE. 

His magnificent performance on LAN with a 1.40 rating, the best in league, made Dignitas realize that he is a talent worth having on the team to help with firepower problems after losing kjaerbye to Astralis and Tenzki was clearly the weakest link on that lineup. This player, with the right leadership from MSL, could become a superstar. It’s a good thing for Dignitas that they have more time this year to prepare for the next Major, which is rumored to be in January 2017. 

Photo credit: HLTV

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