Top 20 players of 2014: NBK (17)
Nathan "NBK" Schmitt is the 17th player on our Top 20 of 2014 ranking by Xtrfy. He was his team's second best during the Titan days, after which he went on to help LDLC win two titles, including a major one.
Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt has become a household name in the Counter Strike scene over the last few years, especially shining in 2013 when he was one of VeryGames' best players in the time when they competed with NiP for the title of the best team in the world.
We described his history in short over at our Top 20 players of 2013 ranking where he was placed at the 5th spot thanks to his several MVP-worthy performances in title-winning runs.
At the turn of the year NBK-'s squad formerly of VeryGames was signed by a new organization in the CS:GO waters, Titan. The expectations were set to the maximum, especially considering that the players had moved in together in a gaming house.
There in Antwerp, Belgium they prepared for their first tournament of the year, ESEA Season 15 Global Finals, which wasn't in fact very global as Titan were the only European team in attendance.
However, they still had competition as it turned out at the very beginning as they lost the first map to iBUYPOWER. The Frenchmen then won the other two convincingly as expected of them, and then barely edged out compLexity (16-14, 3-16, 16-14) to secure their rightful place in the grand final.
That's when the unexpected punch hit them, iBUYPOWER emerged from the lower bracket and won two best-of-three series to snatch the title away and leave Titan in despair.
In that 2nd place finish NBK- had the second most kills and assists in his team, as one of the only two above average performers with a 1.04 rating. He was perhaps even the most valuable for Titan, as he contributed more than others in the rounds they won, getting a kill or assist 78% of the time.
He was also their best player in the grand final overall, including a Man of the Match performance in the only map they won (35:23, 1.48 rating, POV).
After having a month to recover from what struck them in Dallas, Titan traveled to Sweden to take on NiP, fnatic and dignitas at the first DreamHack Stockholm edition.
This time they fared much better as they beat NiP 22-19 in the upper semi and then 16-10 in the grand final, as well as fnatic 16-8 in between that.
NBK- was one of the stars of the triumph, having the team's second highest rating (and his highest of the year) with 1.28 and contributing in an incredible 77% of the rounds.
NBK was in great form at the start of the year
At this time, considering their results in a six month period, Titan were still considered the world's best despite the loss at ESEA, and this win at DreamHack Stockholm cemented them as the main favorites going into EMS One Katowice, the first major of 2014.
Shockingly, they failed to make it out of the group stage for the first time ever in the team's history, courtesy of losses to Virtus.pro and more importantly HellRaisers in the 2nd place decider.
NBK- was one of the big underperformers there, especially in that last crucial match, as he was nowhere near the star they needed with only getting a kill in 39% of rounds for a 0.88 rating.
He bounced back at Copenhagen Games with a solid performance, but to no avail as the team again disappointed. They lost a big quarter-final battle to their countrymen LDLC and finished in 5th-8th place, marking the end of the lineup as the days after would show.
That happened only days before their next event, the 4-team SLTV StarSeries IX Finals, so there wasn't much time to prepare.
Initially they looked to be doing better already, as they got revenge against Virtus.pro in the upper semi, but then losses to Na`Vi and NiP followed which put them down at 3rd place.
Nevertheless, NBK- was the best player in the team and one of the best at the event, and he was even selected for the "All-Star" team in our Top players feature after the event. Particularly memorable was his performance in the first map against NiP which he almost singlehandedly won (32:10, 2.10 rating), while he was also the team's highest rated and most consistent player overall.
NBK's best match of the year, vs. NiP at SLTV StarSeries IX Finals
With a two month break until the next event, Titan had plenty of time to revitalize their gameplay with the new lineup, and it looked like they were doing well according to online results, having won the Hitbox Championship ahead of fnatic and coming in 3rd in FACEIT Spring League behind Virtus.pro and dignitas.
Come DreamHack Summer it was another story though, as they once again lost to HellRaisers in the group stage and then ran into NiP in the quarter-final. In a tough three map contest the Swedes knocked them out for the second event in a row, so the Frenchmen didn't seem any better off after the roster shakeup.
NBK- wasn't spectacular but he continued enjoying good form and was again one of the team's best players (including in the NiP loss) with a 1.09 rating for the tournament.
That resulted that the team which was the best in the world at the beginning of the year, now got placed 9th in our July world ranking.
But then they finally found some success at Gfinity 3 at the beginning of August. After solid group stage play where they only lost to dignitas and came out with a 3-1-1 score, they bested iBUYPOWER and the new fnatic in the playoffs to reach their first final since February.
NBK- played great second fiddle to kennyS in those matches, even putting in a Man of the Match performance against iBUYPOWER (51:34, 1.47 rating, 2nd map POV) and doing great in the semi-final against fnatic (60:41, 1.30 rating, map 1 VOD, map 2 VOD).
However, they got completely outplayed by Virtus.pro in the final where NBK- underperformed and only scored 0.50 kills per round.
Great play by NBK at Gfinity 3
Nevertheless, he was one of the stars of the event with a 1.12 rating thanks to his contribution in their playoff run, and in the group stage.
That 2nd place improved Titan's stature going into the second major of the year, ESL One Cologne, but they were in for another disappointment. After losing a double overtime battle against Cloud9 in the opening match, the Frenchmen were destroyed by dignitas 1-16 in the match that decided their group's second place, resulting in another early exit.
NBK- was again a big reason for their failure at the major, as he put in his worst performance of the year (0.74 rating) and was the team's worst player, especially in the two losses.
A few weeks after Cologne reports came in about Titan completely revamping their lineup, which saw NBK- leave the team after Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom and Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux were removed and create a new one together with shox and Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer.
Despite a good start at their first event, DreamHack Stockholm in September where they beat NiP and Titan in the group stage, they were defeated by his old team in the grand final.
NBK- had an average performance (1.01 rating) but he put up solid resistance in the final and played very well in the dominant win over NiP (18:10, 1.57 rating).
4 kills against NiP at DH Stockholm
The next month they recovered from the loss and came to SLTV StarSeries XI Finals with a vengeance. The new team picked up its first title while destroying Titan in the process (16-4, 16-6 in the upper final).
All five players of their players were superb, while NBK- was one of the MVP candidates with great performances in the first match against Na`Vi (45:29, 1.38 rating, 10 entry kills) as well as in the blowout against Titan (41:20, 1.52 rating).
NBK- didn't really do well in the final against Na`Vi initially, but then he resurged to put in a Man of the Match performance on the last and deciding fourth map (23:12, 1.48 rating, 4-0 entry score, POV video).
Not a week later they were in Milan, Italy at the FACEIT Season 2 Finals, but after a flawless group stage with four wins against Virtus.pro and Cloud9 they were upset by iBUYPOWER in the semi-final.
iBUYPOWER got the best of NBK & co. at FACEIT S2 Finals
NBK- had another solid event individually, right on par with his year average rating of 1.07, with a couple of standout performances in the group stage one of which came against the Poles (27:14, 1.60 rating, VOD).
At the next event, ESWC, he seemed to have taken on a different role within the team, having the most "support" rounds in the team (with no kill, but with an assist or surviving) – 20% overall and 30% in their round wins.
LDLC once again ran over their local rivals Titan, this time in the quarter-final, but ended up losing to fnatic in the grand final. While NBK- had the least direct impact in the team, he still had a very solid event by contributing overall in the most rounds (67%), and that's despite his bad play in the semi-final against Na`Vi.
Continuing their hectic event circuit, LDLC then attended Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals, but once again found themselves with the 2nd place cheque courtesy of fnatic. NBK- was this time clearly the team's worst player mainly thanks to underperforming in the grand final, scoring only 0.52 kills per round over the four maps.
It wasn't the best sign going into the final major of the year, DreamHack Winter, but LDLC managed to overcome all obstacles and take their first big win. They beat NiP in the group stage, then witnessed fnatic forfeit the match in the quarter-final, outplayed Na`Vi once again in the semis and finally won on overtime in the third map against the home crowd's favorites Ninjas in Pyjamas to take the $100,000 prize.
NBK- was finally able to put his stamp on a major and he was one of the team's best this time with a 1.07 overall rating. He actually had the best rating in the rounds they won (1.06) but he didn't stand out with any big performances, only by chipping in throughout every match. Perhaps most important was his play in the third map of the grand final when he was top rated in LDLC (27:19, 1.23 rating).
NBK's highlights at DreamHack Winter 2014
LDLC's last efforts of the year saw them secure a place at the MLG X-Games Aspen tournament, but not without problems. In the first qualifier they lost to dignitas in the final, so they had to do it from the second attempt when they outplayed ESC for the spot.
Why is he the 17th best player of 2014?
Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt had two very different parts of the year, spending the first 8 months in Titan where he was the team's second best player - although without much success, and then switching to LDLC where he found more success but made less impact individually.
He was one of the most decorated players in 2014, grabbing 3 titles – one of which was a major – 5 second places and 2 third places for a total of 10 podium finishes in 14 tournaments.
He was never a superstar during those title winning runs, but he always made good contribution, especially on the terrorist side as one of the best in the world (7th with 0.97 rating) and more so as one of the most successful T-side entry killers (5th with 46.4% entry duel rate).
His best tournaments were smaller ones, DreamHack Stockholm #1 where he had an MVP-worthy display, as well as two of the SLTV StarSeries Finals he attended. He was also one of the best players at Gfinity 3, and he played very well at DreamHack Winter where he got his first major title.
However, he severely underperformed at the first two majors of the year where his Titan failed to make it past the group stage. That caused him to have the worst rating in majors out of all Top 20 players (0.97), and thus slightly brought down his place in the ranking.
He also didn't excel in big matches, sometimes doing well and sometimes underperforming for an overall 1.01 rating.
On the other hand he was one of the better players at 11 of his 14 tournaments, so he was on his way to the Top 20 ranking throughout the whole year. That consistency along with his great T-side play earned him the 17th spot.
Also notably NBK- was one of the best aimers in 2014, scoring 0.37 headshots per round with 51% headshot rate, good enough for fourth overall. He also ranked third by rating on Cache, although from only 7 maps.
What is your take on Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt's performance in 2014? Was it enough to earn a place in the Top 20? Should he have been higher?