Top 20 players of 2013: Nico (14)
Nicolaj "Nico" Jensen spearheaded Western Wolves to early success at Mad Catz Vienna and Copenhagen Games, and later came back to make an impact in Copenhagen Wolves. As the Best AWPer of the year the Dane takes up the 14th spot in our Top 20 of 2013 by eSportsventure.com.
Basic info and history
Nicolaj "Nico" Jensen has no shortage of experience, as he started his rise to the top several years ago in CS:Source, but it was only in 2012 that he made his breakthrough when he returned to Copenhagen Wolves and finished 5th-6th at that year's Copenhagen Games, one of the most competitive events in the history of CS:S.
Later he teamed up with some of the best known Danish players such as Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen and Bo "wantz" Vestergaard in a new incarnation of the Wolves, but in September of 2012 when the organization decided to refocus on CS:GO, he was the only one from the lineup willing to switch.
Together with Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander he formed a new squad which went on to top their group at DreamHack Winter 2012. However, a convincing loss to British side mousesports followed in the quarter-final, and later the team failed to make it through the group stage at THOR Open, so in December they were released from the organization.
Jensen and Rossander quickly found a place in Jacob "Pimp" Winneche's Anexis, who had also been underperforming at that time. While Jensen himself had shown potential with the big green back in CS:S, as well as in those first few events in CS:GO, his AWP would finally come to prominence with this lineup in the early events of 2013.
They started by finishing fourth in Fnatic FragOut CS:GO league, only behind NiP, Virtus.pro and VeryGames, and then in preparations for the first big event they won a local title in the Gaming.dk league.
Those were both good signs ahead of Mad Catz Vienna, where the team was placed in a group with VeryGames, ALTERNATE and logiX. They beat the two German teams with second-half comebacks, and then to everyone's surprise overran VG 16-4 to top the group, with Jensen leading the charge (22:8, 1.61 rating, 14 AWP kills).
After disposing of another German team in the quarter-final, TCM-Gaming, they ran into VeryGames once again in what was expected to be a swift revenge by the wounded Frenchmen. But the Danes came out on top again, now beating their opponents in a best-of-three series to move on to the final (16-12, 9-16, 16-13).
They couldn't match the invincible NiP though, losing to the Swedes 13-16, 5-16, but Anexis had shown what they are capable of. As the team's primary weapon, Jensen's AWP was the main reason they made it that far, as after an impecable group stage, he put up 26 AWP kills in the series with TCM, 32 in the semis versus VG and another 19 against NiP in the final.
Nico (farthest on the left) with his first notable CS:GO cheque
In total he had the event's highest 122 AWP kills for a 0.46 per round average, which ended up being one of the best single event AWP displays throughout the year.
Just after returning from Vienna, the team couldn't agree on contract terms with Anexis, so they went on a search for a new organization. That search would end three weeks later when they found a home in Western Wolves, just in time for the biggest event yet - Copenhagen Games.
With a much harder task this time of proving that the previous 2nd place wasn't a fluke, the Danes set out to top the group ahead of plan-B from Norway and two Danish teams, Copenhagen Wolves and Server-Forge.
And surely enough, without dropping a map, they were in the playoffs. However, after beating Epsilon (10-16, 16-6, 16-8) they got knocked down by Virtus.pro in what was an exciting upper quarter-final clash (15-19, 16-3, 8-16).
A long way was ahead of them in the lower bracket, but slowly Western Wolves started knocking teams out, first Temp.no, and then mousesports and fnatic. In the lower bracket final they met VeryGames and it seemed this time it really had to be the end of the road, but the Danish fairytale continued as they once again stomped over the French team 16-4.
All this while, Jensen himself had been playing amazing, putting up double digit AWP kills in 11 of their 16 maps, and he continued doing so in the consolidation final against Virtus.pro. With another 11 AWP kills from him and a big comeback from the team, they got their revenge (16-11) and moved on to another grand final where NiP awaited.
2nd place at Cph Games is the highlight of Nico's career so far
It was again too big of a task and the Ninjas prevailed 16-2, but Western Wolves had proven that Vienna was no accident, and that in that moment they were the number two team in the world. Their best player, Jensen, also proved to be the finest AWPer in the game after putting up 216 kills with that weapon, which ended up being by far the highest amount anyone would reach at a single event all year.
"Obviously it would be with Western Wolves as we've had a surprisingly good run in the beginning of 2013. I would say Copenhagen Games in April means the most because of the level of competition.
But I've had countless good memories CS-wise throughout the year - such as cadred users voting me as MVP at MadCatz Invitational Vienna, also receiving a 2nd place MVP at Copenhagen Games next to f0rest, who I consider to be one of the very best throughout the history of CS - so I was flattered and also surprised which might be why I'd say Copenhagen Games meant the most to me." - Jensen's best memories from 2013
However, things would start going downhill from then on, as a loss to fnatic in the semi-final of Mad Catz Birmingham (8-16, 16-10, 4-16) caught Western Wolves by surprise and saw them finish in 3rd place.
3rd place at Mad Catz Birmingham was below expectations for WW
A month later, at the beginning of May, Nichlas "Nille" Busk left the team, so they used Sebastian "isenb0" Riising as a stand-in for a local event called The Blast #5. After a disappointing 3rd place there, rumors about their disbandment started appearing, but soon Busk would come back to reform the previously successful lineup ahead of the next big challenge, DreamHack Summer.
The team was doing well online in the lead up to the Swedish event, snatching Cup #2 of the RaidCall EMS One Summer season, and later topping their group to qualify for the LAN finals of the event in Germany.
And DH Summer couldn't have started better for the Danes - they topped their group after finally defeating NiP, and at the same time inflicted the biggest LAN defeat to the Swedish team in their history, 16-2.
Finally notched up a win over NiP at DH Summer
However, some other Swedes then surprised the confident Wolves, the youngsters of Epsilon, who wound up going on their own rise to the top similar to the Danes earlier in the year.
It was a 12-16, 11-16 loss in the quarter-final that knocked them out, and they would follow that up with another 5th-8th place at RaidCall EMS One Summer Finals ten days later, when NiP got their revenge with ease (6-16, 10-16).
The end was near for the team, even though they tried hanging on by adding Peter "Inzta" Kragelund in place of the now definitely departed Busk after their summer break at the end of July. But the new lineup's loss to the former Epsilon (who had meanwhile become fnatic) in Mad Catz Cologne semi-final was the final drop.
Mid-August, Western Wolves announced the disbandment of the lineup, while Jensen himself decided to become inactive together with Rossander.
"I think certain people in WW didn't want to start practicing at the same time, which led to a bit of hate towards each other if you can say it like that.
I believe that Nille was the main reason for the disbandment, as he told us a week before we were meant to go to TheBlast that he couldn't go because of personal problems, so we had to make a quick change, picking up isenb0 - then shortly after changing isenb0 with Nille again.
This led to me - at least - getting very unmotivated to play, and not long after I decided to quit. With me quitting gla1ve didn't want to move on and that was it." - commenting on the disbandment
Unlike Rossander who quickly returned to play in a mix-team and later join n!faculty, Jensen stayed away from the game for almost three months. But then a call from his old organization, Copenhagen Wolves, and their new rising squad made him change his mind.
"I honestly never thought I'd return after I said 'I quit!' because it just seems like "He wants the attention", but I couldn't resist the offer of going to the biggest event I've ever been to (prize-wise) and ultimately playing with the boys in Copenhagen Wolves.
As I've told countless other people I wouldn't come back for 'nothing'. I needed to know that we had the potential to achieve something and at the time I thought that only CW fulfilled my 'demands'."
The occasion was the upcoming $250,000 DreamHack Winter tournament, which was only weeks away from when Jensen and Nicolai "device" Reedtz joined to replace Jacob "Pimp" Winneche and Michael "Friis" Jørgensen.
And surely enough, as Jensen's teams usually did throughout the year, Copenhagen Wolves escaped the group of the first CS:GO major unscathed, defeating SK Gaming and Astana Dragons, with the AWP star already putting up his old numbers in form of 21 kills with the big green on those two maps.
Nico's clutch against Astana Dragons at DH Winter
However, the quarter-final clash with VeryGames didn't go as Jensen was used to, since this time the French were the ones to come out on top after an intense battle on the third map (6-16, 16-5, 12-16).
"There have been too many [tough losses], but the most recent one must have been versus team VeryGames at Dreamhack.
I sincerely thought we had the game in our hands, leading with a comfortable 8-2 score, but then we just threw it away. VeryGames showed us why they are considered a top 2 team in the world by simply having a wider grip on the game than we had - since device and I had only played with CW for 3 weeks, there were a lot of flaws and small misunderstandings that essentially sent us packing."
Nevertheless, Jensen was back at the top as the best AWPer of the biggest event yet, recording 0.37 kills per round. He also never recorded less than 0.35 AWP kills per round at any of his other events in 2013, which overall made him by far the best in that category.
"I don't think anything special separates me from other AWP players. I believe it's between you and your team members to get the most out of everybody - and if you (the awper) cannot cope with the way your team usually plays, you simply tell them how to make the most of you.
That and having the in-game sense, knowledge, positioning - whatever you want to call it, comes with the responsibility of playing "your type of awping". I believe that most of the top awpers around all have different playstyles and that is what makes every one of them interesting.
For example I could have studied how Fifflaren has been playing on different maps, and then meet someone like kennyS who plays much more freely and does most of what he believes works. The diversity with how you can awp is what makes it interesting for me to play it.
I don't believe that an awper naturally has to get the first kill of the round or the entry kill when you're pushing a site or whatever. As long as I can stay alive, get the kills needed and secure a round by being more defensive than offensive then that's what I do. If it is needed for me to peak to open up a site or be a bit more offensive than usually - I'll happily comply and do so - hopefully all in all, I support the team and do what's needed." - Jensen on what separates him from the other AWPers and what his AWP actually does for the team
After DreamHack Winter, the team unsuccessfully negotiated contracts for the new year, so they left Copenhagen Wolves and embarked on a search for a new organization.
Under their temporary name, über G33KZ, they competed in Fragbite Masters in December and managed to get some sweet revenge over VeryGames in the quarter-final, but NiP was determined to win the tournament and the Swedes ended up stomping them in the semi-final.
Jensen & co. have now turned to 2014 aiming to establish themselves as one of the world's best.
"I believe we can go as far as we want to. If we put in the time and work needed we can compete with the very best teams in the world - I already believe after such a short time together that we are "up there" but with more time and effort I believe that we can stay on top - at least that's my hope for 2014."
Why is he the 14th best player of 2013?
Nicolaj "Nico" Jensen was by all accounts the Best AWPer of 2013, with incredible performances in that role at his and his teams' best events - Mad Catz Vienna and Copenhagen Games - earning him two silver medals.
But despite that individual award, he remains without an international title with either of his teams, and he also missed out on a good chunk of events in the second half of the year, so he ended up in the 14th place on our ranking, even though he showed potential to go much higher.
As far as the AWP performance goes, he recorded the highest per round average at international events.
Additionally, his two best performances rank among the top 10 of the entire year.
Jensen didn't stray from his teammates' predictions about the future star, sticking to the n!faculty youngster.
Rasmus "raalz" Steensborg
"Honestly, I don't have a clue since I haven't been around for some time and haven't really had the time to watch matches or play mixes lately, so I'll stick to my fellow teammates and name Raalz as the bold prediction. Simply because I didn't know about him before n!faculty took him in - yet he has done a good job with them already."
Was Nicolaj "Nico" Jensen deserving of the title Best AWPer of the year? Is the 14th place the right one for him?
As always, feel free to let us know what you think and stay tuned for 13 more players on our Top 20 of 2013 ranking by eSportsventure.com.