In late 2014 a domestically well-known Norwegian talent Jkaem joined London Conspiracy in the wake of star players RUBINO and rain leaving, however he would then almost immediately join them as part of the famous Norwegian org LGB picking up the newly formed ex-London conspiracy squad. The relative expectations on this LGB squad were low and yet any semblance of hope would be gutted when the Kinguin super-team was formed and they took maikelele and rain. Jkaem was given the opportunity to finally step out of rain’s shadow and proved to be a decent player, having the highest rating on LGB until they disbanded and he was picked up by Copenhagen wolves. Continuing his streak of solid performance from LGB, he played well at both Dreamhack London and Stockholm, playing as the best player in the team, along with twist. Once it was announced that ScreaM had left G2, both twist and jkaem were put on trial as stand-ins for some FACEIT stage 3 games, both players had mediocre performances but it was clear that jkaem’s fellow Norwegian and former teammate rain, had influence over who was to be put into the squad. It was then announced the following week that jkaem would join G2, and would be ready for the major, Cluj-Napoca. With many critics looking down on taking jkaem over twist, jkaem had a lot to prove at this major, along with the G2 lineup as a whole. At Cluj jkaem seemed to have immediately increased his level of play, he was by far and away the best player on his team against mousesports in the deciding group Bo3, top fragging and with a rating of 1.32. Headed into the quarterfinals the odds were stacked against them, facing off against the polish powerhouse, Virtus.Pro. This was the series that the true talent of jkaem was shown to the world, completely dismantling the poles on cache, dropping 32 kills, and following this performance up with another 30 bomb on train, against the historical best train team in the world. It was clear that jkaem had hit an all-time high with his level of play, this wasn’t limited to the round-of-8 either, as in the semi-finals against the eventual winners of the major and the best team in the world, he played like a monster. The second map of this series is a strong contender for game of the year, it was a triple overtime game that had the entire G2 squad playing godlike counter-strike, with a career high performance from both fox and jkaem, despite their efforts however the pedigree and raw talent of the French side overpowered them and they ended up losing the series 25:21. Coming out of Cluj everyone had eyes on jkaem as to whether this incredible performance was simply a one-off fluke or the start of something great. He proved the latter at IEM San Jose top-fragging in both series against TSM and CLG, and playing especially well against TSM even in their losses. Although jkaem played in LGB so long without achieving a high level of play, Cluj-Napoca and San Jose were both teaser performances for what could be an all-star in 2016, and as such jkaem is definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Toxicity and talent are two words that seem inescapable from the persona of the Ukrainian superstar s1mple. When s1mple was a part of Hellraisers in late 2014/early 2015 he was clearly a talented, young prospect that regularly put in good performances, and was very consistent in his play. This consistency would be dwarfed however to the level of play he achieved once he left the Hellraisers organisation. After Hellraisers he joined dAT team along with markeloff, the dAT team lineup would then be picked up by the North American FlipSid3 org. As a part of FlipSid3 S1mple reached a superfluous level, being one of the few players in all of CS:GO to play at an extremely high level with all weapons, transcending playing a specific role, with a specific gun. On top of this s1mple seemed unfazed against all manner of opponents, with FlipSid3 regularly taking maps and upsetting top European teams (and Na’Vi) off the back of s1mple’s incredible play. Furthermore s1mple was in this god-like mode for a span of 4-5 months, a consistency that only superstars such as olofm and Get_Right have experienced. Once s1mple was kicked off of FlipSid3 due to him publicly criticising his teammates after ESWC, he floated around tier 2/3 CIS teams, occasionally standing in for Hellraisers and FlipSid3. Surprisingly at the very start of this year, North American org Team Liquid announced that they would be replacing FugLy for s1mple. This move is very exciting as it puts a player that had so much talent and skill in a team that can actually facilitate it, and work with a changed s1mple. Furthermore it gives a chance for s1mple to really flex his superior skill over lesser skilled North-American teams, and gives what used to be the second best NA team a very good chance to take to the top spot domestically, and aim for a similar spot amongst the rankings that cloud9 hit in the summer. S1mple moving to NA is one of the most hyped roster moves of the new year, and for good reason – he is a player I would definitely be on the lookout for in 2016.
Coldzera was a player that was on no-one’s radar when he joined Luminosity Gaming, alongside the ex-Keyd Stars squad. The reason cold joined the squad was to increase the total firepower of the squad, to complement their tactical approach to the game and help the star player fer. The first tournament he had to play in however was ESL One Cologne 2015, and for a rookie player to participate in the biggest CS:GO tournament to date, would be unnerving to say the least. However at the major he played incredibly, relative to his level of international LAN experience and to the top European names he was playing against. At the major cold’s team managed to beat the mixed squad Kinguin, take the runners-up of the major EnVyUs into overtime, and beat FlipSid3, before eventually losing to the eventual winners of the tournament, Fnatic. In between Cologne and Cluj-Napoca, Coldzera started to emerge as the second carry of the team along with FalleN. At Cluj Luminosity upset both Cloud9 and Fnatic in the groups, both of these were done off the back of Coldzera’s incredible play and aim, it was clear at this point that coldzera was an elite level player that clearly had more room to mature and grow, but at his current level could still compete with top European players. After Cluj coldzera consistently played at an elite level, putting in big performances against top European sides at CEVO Season 8, and online against North American teams, firmly cementing himself as the greatest rookie outside of Europe for the year, and a star player on his own team. The CEVO performance would pale in comparison however to Luminosity’s performance at Dreamhack Winter 2015; this tournament is why cold replaced roca on this list. Just before Dreamhack Winter it was announced the long standing player’s boltz and steel would be replaced by rookie taco, and legendary 1.6 mibr player fnx. This controversial and highly risky move would be punished by Fnatic in a 16-0 on the first day, and would set a pessimistic tone about how the team would perform against EnVyUs on the next day. Against envy however everyone on the team stepped up, fer was playing as a superstar player, with fnx clutching out rounds, TACO getting entries onto sites and cold being an omnipresent threat across the map, the Brazilians won 2-0 against the French side, in one of the biggest upsets of the year and in potentially the series of the year as well. This incredible display of form continued against both NiP and TSM, upsetting both top European sides in fairy-tale fashion, before narrowly being edged out by Fnatic to place runners-up. Cold at this tournament was a stand-out player being an incredibly consistent player that was unfazed by all manners of competition and situation. Cold was a revelation as a rookie this year, and was consistently incredible, despite regularly out-aiming legendary players he still has much more room to mature and grow making 2016 the year where cold can become a top 5 player in the world and really step into his own legend status.