CS:GO

Stuchiu: Best CSGO Players by Role in 2019

by Stephen Chiu

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With the 2019 season of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive all wrapped up, it's now time to take stock of the year in CSGO and decide who the best players were by role, and which players had the biggest impact on the server.

This list was made to acknowledge and celebrate the best players of CS:GO in 2019. Unlike a few of the other listings where there is a hard ranking, this will recognize 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, lurker, wildcard, versatile rifler, AWPer, leader, and hardest carry

Criteria:

  • 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 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 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. 
  • Only LAN results were taken into account.

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Best Support - Xyp9x

Dreamhack
Dreamhack

While the support role has entered the common lexicon, it’s validity is still argued by experts to this day. 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 resources 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. For that reason, none of the Liquid players were nominated for this role as none of them truly fit the categorization. Without further ado, The best support player this year is:

  • Winner: Andreas “Xyp9x” Hojsleth
  • Runner-up: Chris "chrisj" De Jong

This year, multiple support players stood out to me. I suspect this is because support players get more shine in tactical systems, and in 2019, we saw more tactical teams in general. The overall winner, though, was Xyp9x. He is the best support player in history and continues to be a rock for Astralis while giving them the extra luxury of winning way more 1v1s than anyone should expect. 

The runner-up was a closer race. The five other notable support players for me were: Chris “ChrisJ” de Jong, Nathan “NBK” Schmitt, Sami “xseveN” Laasanen, Jay “Liazz” Tregillgas, and Epitacio “TACO” de Melo. Among the five, ChrisJ and NBK stood out above the rest. In terms of consistency, ChrisJ was a bit more up and down than NBK, but I still favored ChrisJ. ChrisJ had to shuffle his roles to accommodate his teammates but continued to put a good had the consistency and the ability to carry. 

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Best Lurker - sergej

Dreamhack
Dreamhack

The lurker role has changed a lot over the years. The way it was played and conceptualized during Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund’s prime has died. In those days, the lurker was given the most resources and attention. While you can still be a star player from the role, you can’t construct an entire strategy and identity around the role. Lurkers have to switch between aggressive and passive stances, and sometimes help on entering into the site or helping their teammates. 

  • Winner: Jere “sergej” Salo
  • Runner-up: Emil “Magisk” Rief

There were three standout lurkers this year: Sergej, Magisk, and Robin “ropz” Kool. This was reasonably competitive between the three. Both Sergej and Magisk had somewhat comparable peaks and consistency across 2019. Overall though, I had to favor sergej as he was the primary star of ENCE during their 2019 run while Magisk is the secondary star of Astralis. Ropz got a nod as the third. Like sergej, he is the central star of Mouz but didn’t come into his own till the end of the year. 

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Best Wildcard - JW

Dreamhack
Dreamhack

The wildcard role is strange. Unlike the support role, everyone agrees that the role exists. The wildcard player is the X-factor. There is something about their playstyle that makes them different from your ordinary playmaker as they have a chaotic style or pull out the play in the exact right moment to turn the match. They are unpredictable, rarely the primary star, but they are the catalyst to some of the most exciting plays in the game.

  • Winner: Jesper “JW” Wecksell
  • Runner-up: Keith “NAF” Markovic

JW was the obvious winner of this award. He was the original wildcard of CS:GO history, and unlike the other nominees on this list, always plays the wildcard role. What’s more, JW reached vintage levels of play as he started to make surprising aggressive plays with AWPs and rifles. Outside of JW, the runner-ups were NAF and Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander. Both NAF and gla1ve have moments where they pull out ridiculous wildcard plays.

Between the two of them, I felt that NAF did it more often and at a higher consistent level across the year. Gla1ve gets the nod as third for some of the ridiculous plays he made in New York and Beijing. 

Most Versatile Player - s1mple

Adela Sznajder for DreamHack
Adela Sznajder for DreamHack

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.

  • Winner: Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
  • Runner-up: Jonathan “EliGE” Jablownowski

This year a lot of the superstar players had a good overall game. The three that stood out to me were s1mple, EliGE, and Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson. Among the three, s1mple played the most roles. In the Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko period, he was the primary AWPer who took on aggressive picks and won the post-plant/clutches. When Na`Vi moved on to their current lineup, s1mple became a rifler who played on the wings of the map. Considering the dramatic role change, s1mple didn’t lose much of a step in his new role and continues to play at a superstar level.

So even though Na`Vi didn’t play as many LANs as Liquid or EG, I had to give s1mple the nod here as the most versatile player of the year. EliGE was my runner-up as he was the superstar player for Liquid. While he specialized in the entry-role, his overall game was still excellent as he could play whatever roles or style was needed. KRIMZ got a nod for third, as he was the best player for Fnatic throughout the year. 

Best Entry - EliGE

Starladder
Starladder

The entry role is a hard role to define as it can be broken down into different categories. There are entry players who take map control and look for the first duels of the game. Second guys in are the entry players who have to ensure the trade kill. However, they can sometimes be the players who help set up the first player in with a flashbang (a notable example of this was the Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz-Fatih “gob b” Dayik dynamic back in 2018). 

While not as common, it can also denote entry duelists on the CT-side. Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin, in particular, is an excellent example of a modern-day CT-side entry. What’s more, it’s hard to pin down a player into a subset of these entry-fragger roles as they often switch out of them depending on form, situation, or strategy. As that’s the case, I picked out the two best players across the entire spectrum. 

  • Winner: Jonathan “EliGE” Jablownowski
  • Runner-up: Denis “electronic” Sharipov

In mid-2019, EliGE rocked the world as Liquid’s superstar player. His tandem with Jake “Stewie2K” Yip let him rip open any team on the T-side of the map. Stewie2k’s space-making alongside EliGE’s consistent spray made the two a nightmare to stop. While not as often, EliGE could also be equally aggressive on the CT-side. His overall consistency throughout the year made him the natural pick for this category.

My runner-up was electronic. Outside of EliGE, no other entry-fraggers had some of the ridiculous peaks that electronic had throughout this year. Electronic was also reasonably consistent, given his role as well. Unfortunately, team success and Na`Vi’s decision to play in less LANs meant that he had fewer chances to shine compared to EliGE. 

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Best AWPer - ZywOo

This is relatively straightforward. Who was the best at wielding the big green gun?

  • Winner: Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut
  • Runner-up: Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz

The big three AWPers of the year were ZywOo, dev1ce, and s1mple. ZywOo was the clear winner as he had the highest peak and best consistency. As for dev1ce and s1mple, I favored dev1ce as he was an AWPer for the entire year while s1mple switched roles later on in the year. That along with Na`Vi playing fewer games than Astralis favored dev1ce more. Other notable AWPers in this category were JW, Kenny “kennyS” Schrub, and Aleksi “allu” Jalli. JW was never consistent enough to challenge s1mple’s spot. I feel that kennyS was underrated this year as G2’s superstar. While G2 suffered, kennyS hit extremely high peaks with surprisingly high consistency. As for allu, he was good for most of the year and in the first half was a top 10 player, but once he became the in-game leader, his form fell off, so I couldn’t put him over s1mple either.

Best Leader - gla1ve

Adela Sznajder for DreamHack
Adela Sznajder for DreamHack

This year, the in-game leadership role was the most packed. It is also the hardest to judge. We don’t know what the leaders are saying or doing behind the scenes or how much we attribute to them can be attributed to their teammates or coach. Leaders also require multiple skills, whether it’s tactical, social, strategic, or a teacher. For this one, I measured it based on a combination of those factors.

  • Winner: Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander
  • Runner-up: Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen

While I have gla1ve and Aleksib as the winner and runner-up, it was a close three-man race as Finn “karrigan” Andersen was right behind them. The reason I had gla1ve at the top was for three reasons. His overall tactics were still some of the best in the world. I was particularly impressed by how Astralis sprang a tactical trap to win the StarLadder Berlin Major. While it required some luck, Astralis pulling out the Vertigo pick against Liquid was right out of a sports movie script. The second reason was that Astralis resurrected their form by shifting their map pool. In 2018 they were playing Inferno and Nuke as their home maps. While Inferno is still a calling card for Astralis, they started to use Overpass, Train, and Vertigo. They’ve also started to rebuild their nuke. The final reason is that he was able to resurrect Astralis and lead them tactically and emotionally back to being the best team in the world again. While they aren’t peak Astralis, they are still the best in the world.

Aleksib is my runner-up as he also pulled out a historically great run. ENCE didn’t have considerable firepower or great experiences (outside of Allu), but he was still able to lead his team into a top 3 spot in the world for a prolonged period. ENCE were at best a plucky darkhorse before 2019 started. By the middle of the year, ENCE looked like the best tactical squad in the world. So even though he didn’t play for the last part of the year, I had to give him the nod as the second-best leader of 2019.

Karrigan did a fantastic job building up Mouz across the board, whether it’s tactically, emotionally, strategically, or through their map pool. By the end of 2019, he made Mouz a top 5 team in the world. While Karrigan only made third on this list, this is still one of the most impressive runs I’ve seen a leader make in all of CS:GO history.

Outside of those three, there were multiple honorable mentions. The three that come to mind are Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella, Alex “ALEX” McMeekin, and Aaron “AZR” Ward. Nitr0 did a great job with Liquid this year. ALEX shined as another rookie in-game leader, and the Vitality system made the most of ZywOo’s talents. AZR did a great job with 100 Thieves considering that the team didn’t have prodigious amounts of firepower, but they had reliable results. Those results came mainly from their tactics and team play. What’s more, 100 Thieves rebuilt their playbook after it had gone stale. While AZR’s raw results don’t rank up with the rest of the list, the quality of the work he did was worth an honorable mention.

Hardest Carry - ZywOo

Adela Sznajder for DreamHack
Adela Sznajder for DreamHack

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 were quite clear. 

  • Winner: Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut
  • Runner-up: Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev

ZywOo’s K-D differential is so ridiculous that every month, it gets reposted on social media, and I’m still left astounded at the raw numbers. Beyond the raw numbers, there are other qualitative reasons why ZywOo wins the award. Neither iteration of Vitality have the same amount of firepower as a majority of their rivals, so ZywOo is often given the biggest burden to carry. His consistency, peak, and amount of games he played at those heights outshined everyone. While he was one of the most pocketed players in the year, he consistently delivered at levels far higher than should be expected.

My runner-up is s1mple. There was no other choice as even though Na`Vi didn’t play that many LANs, s1mple still did play almost half the year with both Zeus and Ioann “Edward” Sukhariev. He then played with Zeus for another three months. While people praise ZywOo as the best player in the world, it wouldn’t surprise me if s1mple took back that honor in 2020.