The second place on our Top 20 of 2013 ranking by eSportsventure.com goes to Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg who had one of the best years of his career, helping NiP win nine international titles. He had a number of amazing tournaments, but his MVP-worthy display at Copenhagen Games stood out as the best in CS:GO's short history. He was also the most consistent player of the year and the king of pistol rounds.
Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg is probably the most experienced person among the top players in the scene, having started his international breakthrough in CS 1.6 way back in 2005. Back then he took the world by surprise by starring for a relatively unknown Begrip squad during their unsuspecting triumph at WEG Season 2 in South Korea.
He then moved to fnatic in 2006 in which he stayed until the end of 2010, having a number of successful seasons, especially the one in 2009 when his from then on teammate Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund joined and they dominated the scene.
During all those years he was always one of the best players in the world, grabbing awards left and right, and he also ended up in 6th place on our Top 20 of 2010. Later he also got 5th place in the Top 20 of 2011 following a great year with SK Gaming where they were neck and neck with the Poles of ESC in the battle for the best team of the year.
In 2012 they had some disappointing results by their standards, and the team was earlier than most rumored to have their eyes set on the new game, CS:Global Offensive. Lindberg and Alesund were some of the main supporters of switching to the new game, and they were among the first to do it, creating NiP in August of 2012 and beginning a new chapter in their careers.
Already in the first international CS:GO event, DreamHack Valencia, Lindberg showed he would do quite well in the new game, as he put in his first of many MVP worthy performances. From then on, together with Alesund, they ruled the world as the two best players while NiP went on a winning streak of 58 map wins in a row to end the year.
2013 continued in the same manner, with the Ninjas dominating the early part of the year starting with Mad Catz Vienna. As they beat the likes of Nostalgie, ESC Gaming and Anexis, Lindberg was as usual one of the best players of the event with 0.83 kills per round and a 1.31 rating, only trailing his teammate Alesund.
Starting the year off at Mad Catz Vienna
The deadly duo would continue alternating in their domination during the next several events, with Lindberg's time to shine coming at TECHLABS Cup Moscow and, more importantly, at Copenhagen Games.
In the warm-up for the Danish event that would attract all the best teams in the world, NiP attended TECHLABS Cup in Moscow where they had to fight off a rising Virtus.pro squad with 16-12 and 16-10 victories. The streak was extended to 70-0 while Lindberg put in his first definite MVP performance, having an amazing 0.96 kills per round in this short tournament.
But that wasn't the best he can do, as his play the week after at Copenhagen Games set up an impossible standard for anyone to repeat any time soon. As NiP notched up another 15 map wins and grabbed another title, Lindberg had a stunning year's highest 1.03 kills per round and a 1.61 rating, playing exceptionally well in every single match.
He particularly destroyed his former organization fnatic's squad in the upper bracket semi-final, having the best series anyone has had all year long with a 65:18 score and a 2.23 rating, including 39 kills on the second map.
f0rest's Man of the Match video vs. fnatic
Lindberg himself pointed out that match as one of his best memories of the year, although even he can't quite explain how it came to that performance.
"Well the thing that stood out the most this year was obviously our streak which was an unbelievable achievement and I believe all of us are really proud of that one.
But there is one other thing that stands out which was the game against fnatic at Copenhagen Games where I came up with some huge number and it was such an amazing match to play. I felt like the good old f0rest who could destroy anything. That feeling kept me going and wanting to improve.
I can't really remember if I did anything special that day or what kind of state of mind I was in, I guess it just came as a surprise to myself when I was able to rise to that kind of level. It was really incredible and I just felt like I could do anything during that game (which I pretty much could). Those games don't happen often, but when they do it's about to get nasty."
With two MVP-worthy performances behind him, Lindberg ended up on top of all the charts at their next event as well, SLTV StarSeries V Finals (1.22 rating), but this time it was not such a happy occasion. The big streak was ended at 87-0 by Virtus.pro, who later also beat NiP in the final (15-19, 14-16).
But after being knocked down for the first time, the team quickly got back up and won their next two events in April, RaidCall EMS One Spring Finals and ESEA Season 13 Global Finals. Lindberg had continued with his impressive form, concluding the February-April season with having a rating above 1.00 on 46 out of his 49 maps during those 6 events, and adding his third potentially MVP-worthy performance in Cologne.
Out of 49 maps on LAN until the end of April, f0rest had a rating above 1.00 in 46 of them
After that busy spring schedule, NiP were due for a break in May. But upon returning to practice they started recording some below standard results online, losing to Copenhagen Wolves and Western Wolves in the RC EMS One Summer cups, as well as to LDLC in Fnatic FragOut Season 2.
Not being in top shape coming into the next big event, DreamHack Summer, almost cost NiP the tournament, as they barely survived the group stage thanks to a hail-mary move from Richard "Xizt" Landström against Publiclir.se.
Lindberg's performance was never the issue though, and as once again the most impressive player of the event with 0.91 kills per round and a 1.33 rating, he led NiP to another title as they bested Copenhagen Wolves, Virtus.pro and Epsilon.
"After our streak ended I felt that it was a huge relief, now we can actually see what we can improve in our game rather than just running around winning no matter what we did.
We did take a break from events trying to focus on DreamHack Summer, I do believe teams got a lot better during that timeframe and the fact that they saw that we could be beaten really got them going I think. We did come in to the tournament feeling well prepared and focused on the task ahead of us.
It did not go the way we planned by being destroyed by Western Wolves on nuke 16-2 then playing the deciding match against Team X (Publiclir.se) which was proven to be one hell of a match to play and one freaking amazing comeback. Since we managed to proceed to the playoffs after having a shaky group stage, we did feel like we could take this home if we just got our s*** together, which we finally did."
But then two weeks later at RaidCall EMS One Summer Finals another hickup would hit NiP, losing to Virtus.pro in the semi-final (16-11, 11-16, 14-16). For the first time in the year Lindberg had struggled in a series in those two maps they lost, but he still ended up with a good 1.10 rating for the tournament.
f0rest's entry kills couldn't save NiP in Cologne
And it was by no means a bad display from him, as he had one of his best entry killing performances of the year this time, with a 15:3 score on the T side even though he usually isn't the team's main attacker.
"friberg does also like to play aggressively and we need to balance it out so we don't have two guys dying the at the same time which would instantly cost us the round. So we like to try and take turns on who's gonna try and go for the pick. I still try and go aggressive mid-rounds though cuz that's just the way I like to play"
The team got their revenge at SLTV StarSeries VI Finals, this time defeating Virtus (9-16, 16-10, 19-17) and later edging Na`Vi in the final. They would then have another one month long break before returning in August for ESEA Season 14 Global Finals.
As the only team from Europe this time, NiP didn't have a lot of problems taking home another trophy, although compLexity did take a map from them in the final (16-11, 13-16, 16-10). Lindberg was back to his flawless self, doing great in every map, although still ending up second best to his teammate Alesund with a 1.31 rating.
In September they would win their ninth and final title of the year, conquering DreamHack Bucharest. It would also be the last chapter in their domination over VeryGames, as they beat the French in the quarter-final 16-10, 16-2, and later got past Astana Dragons and Lemondogs at the last two steps.
f0rest showcasing his impressive aim in the semi-final against VeryGames
After that, the rivalry with VG would complete reverse, with the Frenchmen winning on the next occasion when they met online in MSI Beat it European Finals (7-16, 8-16), as well as on LAN at SLTV StarSeries VII Finals (14-16, 6-16).
Even though Lindberg again played well in almost every map, NiP ended up losing to two different teams at the same event for the first time in their history, seeing Astana Dragons later knock them out after a thriller in the consolidation final (16-7, 12-16, 20-22).
At the next event which was RaidCall EMS One Fall Finals, Lindberg's great play in the semi-final vs. Copenhagen Wolves (71:44, 1.47 rating) pushed NiP through to another final, but again VeryGames defeated them (16-5, 14-16, 6-16).
Pistol round vs. Na`Vi at RC EMS One Fall Finals
Just like at most other events, Lindberg was one of the best players in pistol rounds at RC EMS One Fall Finals as well, and it seems that he particularly enjoys those rounds.
"I love playing the pistol rounds, they are the rounds with the least grenades, everyone is on even terms with weapons. I just love those rounds and I do play them quite randomly cuz that is probably the only round it can actually work 9/10 times and it's just my type of gamestyle, being overly aggressive really going all in trying to kill them all in the shortest amount of time required.
That makes for sweet plays and funny moments, just like my 1 deagle headshot on to rattlesnake on nuke which had me burst out in laughter, as well as my team."
Next up was ESWC at the end of October, but despite a good start and a convincing win over compLexity in the quarter-final (16-6, 16-2), NiP then lost to VeryGames for the third time in a row in the semi-final (13-16, 16-19).
"The hardest defeat against VeryGames was for me the one during ESWC, and it was the third time they beat us so I took that one pretty damn hard and I think it showed on the whole team as well.
Knowing that they have improved a lot managing to beat us 3 times in a row really had us thinking about our gamestyle and what we need to improve on."
With that in mind, the Ninjas turned their full focus to the biggest and final event of the year, DreamHack Winter, where it was imperative to finally stop the Frenchmen.
And after getting through their group, and a tough match against LGB, they met VeryGames in another semi-final clash.
"What we learned from those matches [against VeryGames] was that it was about time we started to study teams, and study them a lot. So we were watching a lot of demos of them playing and we managed to get an idea of how they played which helped us tremendously during DreamHack."
More prepared than ever, Ninjas in Pyjamas clinched the series this time (16-13, 6-16, 16-5), and moved on to the biggest final of the year.
But to everyone's surprise, the much less experienced fnatic managed to defeat them and grab the $100,000 cheque in front of their noses (14-16, 16-6, 2-16).
"That win against VeryGames at DreamHack felt like a tournament victory, we drained ourselves both emotionally and mentally, we really gave everything we had that game. In the end I think we were too focused about VeryGames and forgot about other teams. But that match was very important for us to win as a team and we proved a lot to ourselves."
Although he was once again one of the best players of the event, and his team's top rated member (1.13 rating), Lindberg wasn't happy with how he played in the deciding map of the final.
"I am really disappointed with my performance versus fnatic at the DreamHack final. I didn't manage to do a whole lot during that game especially on train when it felt like my team needed me the most, so I took that game very hard and I'm gonna practice to make sure that doesn't happen again, losing another final that is."
Even though they ended the year by not winning their last four international tournaments, Ninjas in Pyjamas were certainly the most successful team of 2013, and Lindberg is very proud of what they accomplished.
"This year was by far the best year achievement wise, I am really proud of what we managed to achieve and hopefully we can keep that going. It feels really good that I can still perform fairly well during these days since I'm starting to hit the age when people talk about retiring in CS (25-26), and the fact that I am able to keep up with others just makes me wanna see how far I can push this.
Individual wise I think I would rate this year 2nd after my performance in 2009 which I am really proud of, it might even share a spot with my 2006 performance, both of those were incredible years for me and I'm starting to feel like I can hit that kind of level again and help my team even more."
Despite now being a true veteran in the scene with over 9 years of top level experience, Lindberg still has motivation to keep it up in 2014.
"What keeps me going throughout all these years is that I see myself improve and really not falling behind other players in terms of skill / reflexes. CS:GO does have a huge part in why I still play, it came as a fresh breeze of air at the exact moment when I needed it the most.
The game keeps growing, e-sports in general are growing unbelievably much these past years and it won't seem to slow down in the near future. I hope that I can prove that just because you hit that magical 25-26 age it doesn't mean that you should retire, nor starting to feel bad about still playing. The youngster needs to prove me wrong if they want me out of the picture.
The f0rest and GeT_RiGhT duo still as strong as ever
After spending the last 5 years in the same team with Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund, Lindberg still isn't sure why the duo works so well, but he hopes that the partnership will continue to flourish.
"GTR and I do indeed seem to work incredibly good no matter what team we end up in and we have created something unique that I hope we can cherish throughout our carriers. I don't really believe we complement each other too well as we often seem to be holding different bombsites on maps, I don't often go with him as T either.
But it must be something we do right and I won't think about it too much, as I believe what we have is just something we should keep rolling with, but we tend to make incredible 2vX situations with each other without talking, could be that, could be nothing.
Nonetheless he is by far the best player I've ever played with and I hope I can keep playing with him for years to come."
Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg had one of the best, if not the best, years of his career, and it was the kind of performance that would if it happened in some other time almost certainly guarantee him the title of Player of the Year.
He truly did everything right – played well at every event he attended, had a number of MVP-worthy performances that helped his team win titles and was the most consistent player of the year.
But even though that made him a serious candidate for the first place, far ahead of most of the other players on the list, it ultimately wasn't enough.
Also worth noting is that he was by far the best player in pistol rounds, and he was one of the most successful players in T-side entry kills (55% duels won).
Na`Vi's youngest member, Denis "seized" Kostin is the one who impressed Lindberg the most in his short time in the scene, and he also reminds him of an old teammate from the Begrip and fnatic days.
Denis "seized" Kostin
"I think seized has grown a lot as a player after joining Na`Vi and in the later stages of the year he's been really stepping up, proving himself and even during scrims he's an absolute monster, destroying people.
He reminds me a bit of Tentpole, the way he holds the B site on inferno and his overall playstyle, really being smart about his choice before going into battle."
What did you think of Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg's year? Did he maybe deserve first place? Was it the best year of his career?
Even though all of you should know by now who will end up in first place, stay tuned for the full article and a lengthy interview with the winner tomorrow. In case you missed some of the places on our list you can check out our main article with links to all of Top 20 players of 2013 by eSportsventure.com.