Top 10 best CSGO players of the decade

Dexerto

As CS:GO celebrates its tenth anniversary, we look back at the last decade and present a list of the best players that the game has produced.

Ten years after its release, CS:GO is stronger than ever. It remains one of the best and most-watched esports in the world, with top storylines, drama, and a swath of global superstars capturing the attention of millions of fans worldwide.

Over the past decade, the CS:GO community has witnessed many different eras. As the game has evolved, some players have disappeared into obscurity while others have risen to prominence. Some of today’s biggest names have been around the block for only a handful of years, but there are also cases of longtime players who have been able to mold themselves into perennially relevant contenders.

Ranking the top players of the last decade is by no means an easy task. Some elite-level competitors had to be left out (there are three honorable mentions at the end of the article), but these are the ten players who have stood out the most in the ten years since CS:GO’s release. Here’s to the next decade.

10. Peter ‘dupreeh’ Rasmussen

dupreeh was an integral part of the Astralis team that set a new standard of excellence in the CS:GO scene and won almost all there is to win, including a record four Majors. He was not the flashiest or the most talked about player on that roster, but he still had a vast portfolio of superstar-level performances. Moreover, he was the heart of the team and someone who didn’t mind letting others take the spotlight, as shown by the fact that he played a variety of roles, from entry fragger, to lurker, to primary AWPer, and reinvented himself based on his team’s needs.

But his impact goes much beyond the five-year period in which he represented Astralis. Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz, his former teammate, is the only player with more appearances in HLTV’s Top 20 year ranking. dupreeh may have only two MVP medals to his name, but he deserves to be celebrated as one of CS:GO’s greats.

9. Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer

olofmeister helped define an era of CS:GO as part of the fearsome fnatic team that bullied opponents and won back-to-back Majors in 2015 — which saw him named that year’s best player.

By then, the CS:GO scene was at olofmeister’s feet, but a wrist injury ruled him out of action for several months in 2016. He was never quite the same after that (though he still featured in HLTV’s top year ranking in 2016 and 2017), but he remained an elite-level competitor thanks to his experience and superb game awareness.

Between 2017 and 2021, he was in and out of FaZe’s starting lineup, with many of his teammates praising his contribution in the server, which did not always translate into stats.

8. Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovács

The Slovakian AWPer is perhaps the best CS:GO player without a Major trophy who can no longer win the prestigious event. After a slow start to life in CS:GO, caused in part by the lack of opportunities in his country, GuardiaN began to build the sort of flashy AWPer reputation that he used to enjoy back in CS:Source with Reason Gaming.

GuardiaN was a mainstay in HLTV.org’s Top 20 player of the year ranking between 2013 and 2018, featuring as high as second in 2014. During his first NAVI stint and his time on FaZe, he won eight MVP medals and numerous trophies, though a Major crown eluded him. He was on the losing team of a Major final on three occasions: DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, MLG Columbus, and ELEAGUE Major Boston.

His once-glowing reputation was damaged in 2019, when he was in such poor form on his return to NAVI that he was removed just four months into his tenure. But that shouldn’t take away from what he accomplished in the eight years prior.

7. Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David

coldzera took the scene by storm in 2015 when he came out of relative obscurity to help revitalize a struggling Luminosity team. That year, he showed flashes of his potential, but in 2016 he took his game to another level as he helped his team to back-to-back Major victories.

Between 2016 and 2017, coldzera was at the top of the pile in terms of fragging output and consistency, winning eight MVP medals. A vital cog in the aggressive machine that was LG/SK, he was capable of moments that bordered on the sublime, such as a jumping AWP shot at the MLG Columbus Major that has been immortalized in-game.

At the end of 2016, coldzera stated his ambition of being “the best and most consistent player in the world for many years and create a legacy.” But just like the rest of his Major-winning team, he has fallen off the radar in recent years, though he remains the highest-rated player at CS:GO Majors. His spells with MIBR, FaZe, and Complexity (as a stand-in) were largely unsuccessful, and he’s now trying to find his feet again by leading a new generation of talent as part of 00NATION.

6. Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub

“I felt like they did it for me, they did it because of me,” kennyS said in a reference to the AWP nerf in 2015. He was a dominant force in his prime, but when Valve limited the movement with snipers while scoped, he was one of the players hit the hardest.

As the 1.6 and CS:Source professional scenes converged when CS:GO was released, there was a great deal of expectation surrounding kennyS. And he lived up to the hype with his fearless style that forced opponents to be on their toes every time they faced him. Between 2013 and 2017, he won a series of international trophies, including one Major.

Despite the AWP nerf costing him some of his explosiveness, kennyS had two more good years. However, mental health issues and a “really weird mindset” ended up taking their toll and pushing him out of CS:GO royalty. The general consensus seems to be that his style doesn’t fit the modern game.

With his future still a mystery, kennyS remains tied with Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund for the third-most MVPs in CS:GO history. His is a story that still feels incomplete, but there’s no denying that he was one of the most influential players of the past decade.

5. Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov

Every Batman needs a Robin, and electroNic has always been there to support Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev and help carry some of the load. The Russian player broke through as a rising talent on FlipSid3 Tactics before earning a move to NAVI, where he has developed into one of the finest players in the world.

Between 2018 and 2021, electroNic never ranked below seventh in HLTV.org’s top 20 players of the year list, yet he has only one MVP medal to his name — which shows how hard it is for someone to step out of s1mple’s shadow.

João Ferreira/Dexerto
s1mple casts a long shadow, but electroNic is a top-tier player in his own right

Despite his lack of individual accolades, electroNic remains one of the best and most consistent players CS:GO has seen. 2021 saw him finally win a Major title, and he’s now taken more responsibility on himself as NAVI’s new in-game leader.

4. Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut

Never before had a player had such a profound impact on the game in his first full year as a pro. After shining for French minnows WySix and aAa, ZywOo — rejected by G2 Esports — signed with Vitality in October 2018 and quickly showed what all the hype was about.

ZywOo was named the best player in the world in 2019 and 2020 as Vitality rose to the top of the scene. He has become one of the faces of French esports, and his role as the cornerstone of the team earned him a four-year contract at the end of 2020.

In recent years, ZywOo has been able to battle with s1mple for the title of the world’s best player — a duopoly that no one seems to be able to break anytime soon. But for all his talent, which has translated into 12 MVP medals (though six of which came from online tournaments), ZywOo is still missing big trophies in his cabinet; at Majors, for example, he has never gone farther than the quarter-finals. This, more than anything, is what puts him behind three other players on this list.

3. Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač

According to Fatih ‘gob b’ Dayik, it took only one practice session for him to realize just how talented NiKo was, back in 2015. By then, the Bosnian prodigy had long outgrown his surroundings, but a lack of opportunities meant that he had to wait until Nikola ‘LEGIJA’ Ninić suggested his name to MOUZ’s team to finally get the chance to prove his worth internationally.

The rest, as they say, is history. For the last six years, NiKo has been at the top of the game, putting in big performances time after time, even when his teams have failed to perform. An amazing rifler in an AWPer’s world, NiKo is also very competent with the ‘Big Green’ and has dabbled in in-game leadership duties (a controversial topic in the scene).

NiKo setting up PC at PGL Major stockholm CSGOJoão Ferreira for Dexerto
NiKo has been at the top of the game for the last six years – but he’s still chasing his first Major crown

NiKo sometimes doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves because his record pales in significance when compared to that of s1mple and dev1ce. His reputation has also been harmed by the perception that he runs his teams and tries to overthrow an in-game leader if things aren’t going well. (Remember what happened with Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen in 2018?)

The lack of a Major title has for years been a stick with which to beat NiKo, especially since his Boston Major heartbreak, but he still has plenty of time to cross that achievement off his list. One thing is clear: he shows no signs of slowing down.

2. Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz

How can a player with the pedigree, résumé, and star quality of dev1ce be underrated? But that’s exactly what FaZe’s Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard told Dexerto when asked for his opinion on the Danish player, who has been an ever-present figure in every top 20 ranking since CS:GO came out.

An all-rounder who eventually morphed into a dedicated AWPer, dev1ce is a case of substance over style. He may not be the flashiest AWPer out there, but few others come close to him in terms of reliability in big-pressure moments — a trait he developed over time. Astralis’ success story would not have been possible without ‘Mr. Consistent’, the MVP in two of the team’s Major victories.

João Ferreira/Dexerto
‘Mr. Consistent’ had the most MVP medals until recently

dev1ce’s numbers speak for themselves: 30 international trophies, 19 MVP medals (the second most overall), and a record eight consecutive appearances in HLTV.org’s Top 20, six of which are in the top 5. But as shocking as it is, he has a ‘bridesmaid but never the bride’ record: he has never ranked higher than second in a Top 20, not even at the height of Astralis’ powers in 2018, when he racked up seven MVP awards in a historic year.

In many ways, dev1ce is a remarkable story of triumph: he overcame performance struggles and health problems to become one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise. Unfortunately, mental health issues have kept him on the sidelines for the better part of the last year, but his position in the pantheon of CS:GO gods is unassailable.

1. Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev

“s1mple can come back from hell all the time.”

Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire laid it out perfectly. One defining quality of all-time greats, be it in traditional sports or esports competitions, is that they shape key moments to their will, and s1mple is the sort of player that you can never write off, not even if he’s seemingly having the worst game of his life. All it takes is one flick, one good round, for him to get fired up, and then opponents know that they’re in for a world of pain.

Controversy used to follow s1mple during the early days of his journey, from an ESL ban for cheating, to controversial on-stream remarks, to spats with teammates. Despite his obvious immense talent and production, he needed to grow up to realize his potential, and a successful formative experience — albeit trophy-less — with Team Liquid set him on a path to greatness.

Later that year, he signed with NAVI, where he became the sun around whom everyone orbits. Since then, he has racked up 21 MVP medals and countless trophies, though he only ended his long quest for a Major crown in 2021 at PGL Major Stockholm.

s1mple performs with a polish and presence that few others have. “That kind of fear puts a little bit of hesitation and just constantly a little bit of stress and worry in the back of your head when you’re competing against him,” commentator Jason ‘moses’ O’Toole told Dexerto.

s1mple is as fierce a competitor as there is in the game, and he still displays a large appetite for self-improvement. After losing the title of the best player in the world to ZywOo two years in a row, he dug deep and — somehow — has found new ways to elevate his game and reach even higher peaks. No one knows how high his ceiling is, and that’s part of the fun of watching him as he continues to share his genius and redefine excellence in the game.

But beyond his in-game achievements and wizardry, s1mple’s journey of personal growth is also a key part of his legacy. He is not just a very talented player, but a star who has blossomed into an icon and a standard-bearer for what esports should represent.

Honorable mentions

Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo: The ‘Godfather of Brazilian Counter-Strike’ played an integral role in putting his country on the map, both inside the game and outside of it with his Games Academy project. He led his Luminosity/SK team to back-to-back Major wins in 2016 and was one of the best players in the world for two years in a row. However, he hasn’t been able to find success since 2017, and his performance levels have dipped considerably.

Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund: The Swedish player carried his spectacular 1.6 form over to CS:GO and was practically in a league of his own during the first two years of the game, when NIP were the dominant team in the scene. However, it must be noted that the general level of play was fairly low at the time. As a new class of players took over in 2015, GeT_RiGhT and his NIP team began to fall behind. Still, his legacy in the game is untouchable.

GeT_RiGhT playing for Ninjas in Pyjamas at Dreamhack Dallas 2019DreamHack
GeT_RiGhT was one of the most influential players during the early days of CS:GO

Janusz ‘Snax’ Pogorzelski: It may seem like a distant memory now, but Snax was one of the best players in the world in the mid-2010s and a key part of the ‘Virtus Plow’ team that could strike fear into the hearts of opponents and won a number of international tournaments, including the EMS One Katowice 2014 Major. He came close to adding a second Major to his resume three years later before Virtus.pro lost the Atlanta Major final to Astralis.

Snax’s career has taken a nosedive in recent years, but while he’s not as explosive as he used to be, he’s a serviceable veteran who can hold his own against the best in the world. In 2018, he won ESL One New York with a struggling MOUZ team, and earlier this year he helped ENCE to the IEM Dallas final.

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