The first player to be revealed in our Top 20 of 2013 by eSportsventure.com ranking is also the youngest on the list, Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth. The 18-year-old Dane had his breakthrough in fnatic, and he continued improving in Copenhagen Wolves during the second half of the year.
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth entered the year as a 17-year-old whose only CS:GO experience came from playing in a mediocre Danish team CPLAY. Before that he only somewhat notably played CS 1.6 in Wikipediots, led by the experienced Danish in-game leader Timm "ArcadioN" Henriksen, who helped him make his first steps into the big leagues.
He showed signs of talent in the beginning of 2012 at Copenhagen Games, as well as in online matches, but the team, which also featured Morten "COLON" Johansen, and at one point even Martin "trace" Heldt, never managed to find an organization due to the demise of CS 1.6, so he was forced to wait for a long while for his next opportunity.
Switching to CS:GO in October 2012 he was a little late to the party, so he joined a less known squad featuring Allan "Rejin" Petersen and Ian "ANKK" Møller, which would later become CPLAY and go on to reach 4th place at NorthCon in December.
The real opportunity finally knocked at the beginning of 2013, when Højsleth was signed by fnatic together with Magnus "JOKERN" Barthel, marking his first ever professional contract. The duo replaced two big fnatic stars from 2012 who hadn't yet found their feet in CS:GO, Finn "karrigan" Andersen and Andreas "MODDII" Fridh, but who would later end up returning and joining Højsleth in a new incarnation of fnatic.
"[My best moment in 2013 was] I would say when I joined fnatic in early January, that was my first big opportunity to prove myself as a player and a really huge step forward." - Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth
However, the team was quickly deemed not good enough, as they crashed out of the first Fnatic FragOut CS:GO league in the group stage after heavy losses to VeryGames and Virtus.pro, so new changes were lying ahead.
Fortunately for him, it wasn't the youngest and least experienced member Højsleth on the way out, but instead it was Dennis "Rytter" Rytter and the other newest addition Barthel. The all-Danish fnatic was short lived, not even lasting two months, and it now became a true Scandinavian mixture with the Swedish star Fridh returning and bringing along Norwegian player Lasse "stingeR" Midtstue.
Having missed the first big event of the year due to those changes, Mad Catz Vienna, fnatic set eyes on Copenhagen Games as the new lineup's first target. The organization and his teammates were right to recognize the talent in Højsleth, as he quickly became one of their star players, already outfragging former CS 1.6 superstars Martin "trace" Heldt and Michael "Friis" Jørgensen in the online season of SLTV StarSeries V.
Despite a great run in StarSeries which included wins over Na`Vi and Anexis, a draw with Virtus.pro and a 16-14 loss to NiP, they failed to make it to the LAN finals due to losses by their old lineup at the start of the season.
Højsleth's team-best 0.80 KPR in that league testified to his talents, and he confirmed it at their first big event, Copenhagen Games. Although he trailed behind Fridh in the fragging department this time, he was the team's second best player on the way to a respectable 5th-6th place.
Xyp9x started his breakthrough year at Copenhagen Games
Their group stage campaign was somewhat hectic, with a three-map loss to Na`Vi and a similar kind of victory over Epsilon (who would end up becoming fnatic a few months later). Still as first in the group, they went on to record easy wins over Finnish Curse and Swedish Lemondogs in the playoffs, but then in the upper semis ran into a once-in-a-lifetime performance by Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg, who simply annihilated his former team and sent them to the lower bracket.
Rising stars and eventual 2nd place finishers, Western Wolves, awaited there and knocked fnatic out of the tournament with a 16-10 win, albeit featuring an excruciatingly long pause over a server crash. With 0.75 kills per round and a 1.09 rating, Højsleth fared quite well at his first big LAN and that began his breakthrough to the top circuit.
Upon their return from Copenhagen, fnatic secured a spot in the RaidCall EMS One Spring Finals, and then with only a week between the trips, headed to Birmingham, UK for the second Mad Catz event.
A shaky start with a loss to fm.TOXIC and a draw against Reason was outmatched by victories over Dignitas and Western Wolves, which put fnatic through the group stage after all. Højsleth was the one to thank most for that as he top fragged in both of those crucial wins.
It didn't stop there though, as he then had his first big performance in a big match, top fragging in the semi-final against Western Wolves, thus getting their revenge for Copenhagen and taking the team to the final.
They were easily outplayed by VeryGames there though and had to settle for 2nd place, but the young Dane was now already becoming the first star of his team, leading the way with the whole tournament's second-most 220 kills.
fnatic with their 2nd place cheque at Mad Catz Birmingham
Only a week later a new challenge was awaiting, RaidCall EMS One Spring Finals, and both Højsleth and fnatic repeated their success – the team reached the final (albeit with an easier looking bracket, defeating Richard "shox" Papillon's mix team Imaginary and Markus "pronax" Wallsten's Absolute Legends), whereas the Dane himself once again led them in the fragging department.
On this occasion NiP were the ones who outmatched them without problems in the big match, but at the same time Højsleth went a step up and managed to record the most kills at the event out of all players (132), as well as most entry kills in the tournament, showing that he also has a talent for winning those big duels. In addition to that, he would never be as valuable to his team as he was at this event, influencing 74% of fnatic's round wins with at least 1 kill.
two 2nd places in a row wasn't a bad start for the youngster's career
After a month long break, the team returned only to get hit by a loss to a completely unknown team Sprintfox in the first online cup of the next RC EMS One season. Only days after, fnatic's CGO Patrik "cArn" Sättermon announced another lineup change which saw Finn "karrigan" Andersen return in place of the Norwegian Midtstue, citing a need for an experienced in-game leader.
However, despite showing early promise by defeating NiP to top their RC EMS One Summer group and qualify for the Summer Finals, the team would end up being short-lived, not least thanks to the their first big event.
And that was DreamHack Summer, surely a tournament everyone in fnatic would prefer to delete from their memory, as they failed to make it past the group stage at the hands of Marcus "Delpan" Larsson's first CS:GO team, Lemondogs, who they lost to twice (2-16 in the opening match and 16-19 in the 2nd place decider).
The second, and last chance for this fnatic squad came two weeks later, at the very end of June at RaidCall EMS One Summer Finals. The team played better this time, defeating DH Summer semi-finalists LDLC.com in the opening match, and finishing 3rd-4th after a tight loss to VeryGames in the semi-final (17-21 and 11-16).
Højsleth was back at his best, top fragging in both series for his team, including a stellar display in the loss to VG, and ending up as the event's second best player with 0.86 kills per round and his year-high 1.24 rating.
"I would say I always performed stable at the EMS One events with Fnatic, they have a really nice setup, and I especially remember the match versus VeryGames in the semi-final at EMS Summer, where we basically destroyed them on dust2 and were in a big lead, yet we managed to lose that map, and lose the series 2-0.
Even though the team was in the midst of splitting up at that time, I think that if we didn't have that in our heads, we would have won that game and gone into the finals, so I felt a bit disappointed."
And split up they did only days after, when first Fridh left the team, and soon after that fnatic disbanded the entire CS:GO squad. Martin "trace" Heldt decided to retire from the game, while Højsleth and Jørgensen moved to Copenhagen Wolves in what turned out being a transfer in the making for a while.
"It was really a mix of everything, people couldn't put in the right time for it, and some (including myself) got offers from other teams who were performing better and more stable at that time.
I really miss fnatic, they have always been trustworthy, and delivered everything on time." – Højsleth about what happened to the last fnatic lineup he was in, and his time in fnatic as an organization.
After a summer break, the start itself with Copenhagen Wolves was not what the new team hoped for, as they got knocked out of Mad Catz Invitational by VeryGames, and then crumbled in the group stage of MSI Beat it European qualifier at the end of August and beginning of September after losses to n!faculty, LGB, Astana Dragons and NiP.
However, only a few days later the team proved its potential in the first RC EMS One cup of the Fall season. This time they defeated VeryGames in the semi-final 16-14, and then played a marathon match against NiP in the final, eventually losing after putting up a great fight (16-14, 22-26, 6-16).
Xyp9x's amazing P2000 ace in RaidCall EMS One Fall Cup #1
It was a great prelude for the team's LAN debut at DreamHack Bucharest, but unfortunately only 24 hours before the event in Romania, it was announced that the team's in-game leader Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen would not be able to attend due to personal reasons, being replaced by stand-in Søren "socN" Falke.
"I feel it's pretty much the same aside from the leadership. We probably lacked leadership in fnatic since none of us really had any experience in being the strat caller or the tasks which that role included. We even changed the strat caller 3 times or so.
FeTiSh has been a strat caller for many years and he has the experience for it, and also has experience for leadership outside of the game." – Højsleth about differences between playing in fnatic and in Copenhagen Wolves in a pre-DH Bucharest interview with HLTV.org.
Wolves ended up topping their group without their leader anyway, but the new Na`Vi lineup was too much to take on at that moment, so they had to pack up early after a 16-8, 16-13 loss in the quarter-final.
Højsleth was seemingly still unable to find his place in the team, not putting up the numbers from fnatic, even in Wolves' online matches, and the event in Romania confirmed it as he had his worst LAN record of the year on that occasion.
One thing did carry over from fnatic though, and that was making lineup changes. Only days after Bucharest Nicolai "device" Reedtz left the team due to personal issues, and his replacement was found in former Western Wolves star Jacob "Pimp" Winneche.
Everything was finally going well from the start as they won Cup #4 in EMS One Fall, qualified for the Finals and also qualified for ESWC. At the end of October, Højsleth found himself in Cologne, Germany for the third time in the year for RaidCall EMS One Fall Finals in what was another first big test for his fifth different lineup.
This time he improved a bit individually, and even though he still scored a below average 0.94 rating, it was mainly due to losses to the eventual finalists, VeryGames in the group stage and NiP in the semi-final. They did manage to take a 1-0 lead against the Swedes, but ended up faltering and finishing in 3rd-4th place, and more importantly, that secured them a spot at the $250,000 DreamHack Winter event.
A solid performance from Xyp9x's Wolves at EMS Fall included defeating his old team fnatic and former teammate MODDII in a match then secured them a spot at DHW
They took revenge on VeryGames a few days later in group stage at ESWC, but topping the group brought them little luck as they met Astana Dragons and once again went out too early for their liking, in 5th-8th place after a 16-5, 16-13 loss.
After the event in France, more lineup changes ensued as Reedtz was brought back and Winneche removed. At the same time Højsleth had to say goodbye to his only constant teammate throughout the year, Jørgensen, who was replaced by Nicolaj "Nico" Jensen in the squad's attempts to conquer DreamHack Winter less than a month later.
The new lineup brought out the best in Højsleth at the biggest event of the year, as he ended up as the most dominant player in Jönköping, and 5th best rated overall (1.18). But still, it wasn't enough for Copenhagen Wolves who once again faltered against VeryGames in the quarter-final after topping their group over Astana Dragons and SK Gaming.
Copenhagen Wolves at DreamHack Winter
Individually though, Højsleth was continuously improving event after event in his new team, and was finally topping the charts in the Wolves' jersey. That came as a result of his great display in victory over SK in the group stage and even better play against the Frenchmen in what was probably his most important match of the year.
One week after DreamHack Winter the team announced that they were unable to reach an agreement with Copenhagen Wolves about next year's contracts, so they left the organization and embarked on a search for a new one.
"Cph Wolves had a record of meeting NiP/VG in the quarterfinals at literally any event before I joined them. And after I joined up with them, we still ended up playing mostly VG in the quarter-finals (besides DH Bucharest, where we had socN as stand-in instead of FeTiSh, and also ESWC). It was just us surprising and getting first in the group, when VG came second in their group. It's not an excuse though, but I felt we could have had a better placing with a better route through the playoffs than just the boring 5th-8th place.
I would rate that period as 'we could have been better with that lineup', yet we felt we didn't have the raw talent, and we had some internal problems in the team which caused the changes that we made (Friis, Pimp) with the addition of device and Nico." – On his time in Cph Wolves and their lack of success.
As he was never able to get that elusive title or at least a competitive final match, there was much left to be desired, but the year wasn't over for him yet. His chance to get a title came in form of Electronic Sports European Championship, a competition between national teams, in which Denmark reached the grand final.
They would end up meeting France on LAN in Belgrade, Serbia in December, and Højsleth would finally win his first international title after a 3-1 win. Not only that, but he was named the MVP of the final for his excellent display in the match (he had an incredible 93:53 score, 1.36 rating).
"[My best] accomplishment [in the year] I would say was 1st at ESEC, and MVP of that tournament."
A few days before that, über G33KZ, as his team is called at the moment, managed to beat VeryGames in the quarter-final of Fragbite Masters, the biggest online league of the year, but then ended up getting crushed by NiP at the next step.
Still, it was a good advertisement for potential organizations as the team confirmed its potential and ability to hang with the very best.
"I don't like giving predictions or talking standings in general, but I really think we have a team which belongs in the top 3 now. We have the skill and the experience, and we think we got the solutions for the missing parts.
I won't make any notable changes for me as a player, I will just continue playing like I always did, maybe some extra hard work, now that the game attracts more sponsors and viewers :)" – about where he sees the team in 2014 and what he plans to do to improve himself as a player.
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth turned 18 in September making him the youngest member of our Top 20 ranking, and his career has only just begun. What marked the last year for him was getting into his first professional team, fnatic, and becoming their best player in front of some experienced stars like Martin "trace" Heldt and Andreas "MODDII" Fridh. Later he transferred to Copenhagen Wolves where it took him some time to adjust, but in the end he still finished the year as that team's best player at the biggest stage, DreamHack Winter.
He managed to finish on the podium on several occasions, less so in the second half of the year with Copenhagen Wolves, but even despite his title with the Danish national team, he remains without that one big international win that can skyrocket his career.
Overall he did more than enough to earn a place in the ranking, but the lack of titles combined with some subpar displays at a few events kept him at the 20th spot.
Nevertheless, 2013 was his breakout year in which he continuously went forward, and there is no reason to expect he will stop improving in 2014.
A few interesting stats came out of his performance this year, and the main one is that he had the best KPR (kills per round) with the AK47 of 0.37, making him the most lethal wielder of that weapon, just ahead of VeryGames' duo of Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom and Richard "shox" Papillon.
Seeing as no other player used the AK so much (51%), since he tends to pick it up even on the CT side (24% of his AK kills were as CT), it should be no surprise that he holds the first place. But interestingly, he is also one of the best rated players on the Terrorist side for the whole year (9th best rating of 1.02), a side which proved to be overall much harder to win rounds on at most maps.
In addition to that he was the second best player on de_mirage (including both versions, _ce and the current one) with an excellent 1.22 rating (14% above his average).
One more new feature that this Top 20 series will have, in addition to player's comments throughout the article, will be called "Bold prediction".
Every top player on our list had to start from somewhere, and for some of them it wasn't so obvious they will one day become a star. We therefore ask everyone to make a bold prediction about which player, who is currently not recognized as a star, will become one during 2014 and perhaps find his way to our next year's ranking.
Højsleth's choice is a fellow Dane who currently plays for n!faculty:
Rasmus "raalz" Steensborg
"This is a tough prediction, I mean who would have thought of me being in the top 20 this year? Not many at least. But a player like raalz is for sure gonna be one to look out for in the new year.
Even though he was good in 1.6, he didn't transfer to CS:GO immediately, and he barely has any CS:GO hours compared to others. If he puts in the time there is no way he is not gonna be on this list next year. Don't get me wrong, he is a good player now, but will be so much better in the new year."
What did you think of Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth's performance in 2013? Did he deserve a place in the Top 20, and would you have placed him higher? What do you think about his bold prediction?
Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned to our Top 20 Ranking brought to you by eSportsventure.com as we continue the countdown with one name per day!