Top 20 players of 2014: apEX (15)
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire is #15 on our Top 20 players of 2014 ranking by Xtrfy. He played for LDLC and Titan throughout the year and became one of the best fraggers and entry killers in the game. Most notably he had a world-class performance at one of the majors, ESL One Cologne.
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire's Counter-Strike story began 8 years ago with CS:Source, whereas he attended his first local LAN event as a 15-year old in 2008.
His big rise came in 2010 when he played for UBITEAM and scored some notable finishes at French LANs, which led to him becoming recognized as one of the rising stars in the scene. He even suffered through a scandal that year when he received an ESL ban, which was later revoked.
In 2011 the 18-year-old apEX got his first accomplishment at international events, finishing 3rd at Copenhagen Games with a 3DMAX lineup that also contained Richard "shox" Papillon, Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer and Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom.
Later that year he played with ex-VeryGames star Ludovic "Shokkk" Martin and finished in 5th-6th place in one of the games most competitive events ever, ESWC 2011.
That prompted VeryGames to sign him for the 2012 season, but after their disappointing 9th-12th placement at Copenhagen Games -- and some internal problems, apEX was removed from the team.
apEX at Mad Catz Vienna in 2013
They managed to reach the playoffs at AMD Sapphire Prague where NiP eliminated them, and then got picked up by LDLC in 2013 and scored another top8 finish at Mad Catz Vienna at the start of the year. On that occasion, apEX showed that he has the potential to be one of the best players in the game with his performance.
Soon after that together with kennyS he attended Prague Challenge in a mix team with Filip "NEO" Kubski and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, and there shocked the world by beating Natus Vincere in the final, while putting on an amazing show in the final.
In September the LDLC squad announced disbandment and he and kennyS went separate ways, with apEX joining Clan-Mystik and later managing to shock the world again by defeating VeryGames in the final of ESWC.
To finish of 2013 his new team failed to impress at the game's first major, DreamHack Winter, by not making it out of group stage while apEX barely missed out on a place in our Top 20 players of 2013 ranking.
It wasn't long into 2014 until apEX received an offer he couldn't refuse – to become a salaried player – so he left Clan-Mystik and became a parto of a new LDLC lineup together with his old teammates Happy and Maniac, as well as Clan-Mystik's star at the time Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian.
As they had three former Recursive players who made it to the playoffs at the previous major, LDLC automatically had a spot at EMS One Katowice which turned out being their first LAN event of the year.
With two hard fought 16-13 wins against Australians Vox Eminor and Danes 3DMAX, as well as a 7-16 loss to NiP in between, LDLC made it to the playoffs. But there awaited home crowd supported Virtus.pro who devoured them with a 3-16, 8-16 score.
That was still a success for the new team, as they were the only of three French squads to make it past the group stage.
apEX was the best fragger and assister of their campaign, while contributing with a kill or assist in 86% of the team's round wins, including the little resistance they put up against the Poles.
LDLC then won a relatively competitive Fnatic Fragout League 3 online by taking out fnatic and mousesports, so they marched on towards Copenhagen Games with high expectations – also after being featured in 8th place on our April world ranking.
At the Danish event they made it one step further -- the semi-final, again as the best French team, this time thanks to defeating Titan in a close quarter-final series (16-14, 16-12).
But then they ran into Virtus.pro again, and even though they fared much better by even taking one map, they still couldn't get to the final.
Could have done better at Copenhagen Games
Unlike in Katowice, apEX was the second best rated in the team with a 1.03 rating, far behind their star at the event KQLY. It was an average performance overall as he didn't stand out in the latter bigger matches against Titan and VP, but only in the earlier ones against Karnage and mousesports.
LDLC had to skip the next big event, DreamHack Summer, as it coincided with apEX's exams, so they were next seen at DreamHack Valencia in July.
Going in as favorites it turned out being a harder task than expected, but LDLC managed to win the Spanish event after being taken to three maps in all of their playoff series – against Germans Planetkey in the quarter-final, Portuguese k1ck in the semi-final and lastly their countrymen Epsilon in the grand final.
apEX was back to being a star, contributing similarly to Katowice in 83% of round wins with a kill or assist, and earning the highest rating in his team (1.15).
He was at his best in the closest series, against Planetkey (VOD), when he put in Man of the Match displays on the second (28:19, 8 assists and 8 entry kills) and third map (27:16, 6 entry kills) to put LDLC through to the next round. He also played very well in the grand final (58:43, 1.20 rating).
LDLC were in good form ahead of ESL One Cologne
Heading into ESL One Cologne, LDLC were ranked a very high 5th in the world in our July ranking, and they still managed to surprise thanks to some great play by apEX.
The French-Swiss team reached the furthest they ever went – semi-final at a major – and even took down Virtus.pro who previously knocked them out twice. However, Ninjas in Pyjamas beat them on map three of the semi in the closest manner possible, 14-16, and dispersed their dreams of a big final.
Nevertheless, apEX put on one of the absolute best individual performance of 2014, with Man of the Match displays in all three of LDLC's wins – against London Conspiracy (25:3, 2.36 rating, POV) and Na`Vi in the group stage (28:16, 9 assists, 1.43 rating, POV), as well as against Virtus.pro in the quarter-final (54:45, 15 assists, 13 entry kills, 1.18 rating, map 1 VOD, map 2 VOD).
LDLC's winning moment against Virtus.pro at ESL One Cologne
He was also amazing in the NiP series with 0.90 kills per round, doing everything in his power to will the team to win including a 1-on-3 clutch, but it wasn't enough in the end.
apEX finished the event with an incredible 1.38 rating, highest in Cologne and tied-highest in all of the majors to date.
However, despite their greatest success yet as a team, two weeks later LDLC's lineup came to an end. apEX, KQLY and Maniac got an offer from Titan and decided to join Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans's new project instead of continuing their current one.
Even though they came out second from a group with NiP and the new LDLC squad, Titan managed to defeat fnatic and LDLC and clinch the 1st place in their debut event.
Winners of DreamHack Stockholm #2
apEX was not the star in this new lineup, but he was still one of the best players in all of their wins and he ended up with a very good 1.12 rating for the event.
However, he followed that up with a relatively poor performance at SLTV StarSeries XI Finals, where Titan lost to Natus Vincere and LDLC, and finished third out of four teams.
apEX had his year-low 0.83 rating, mostly due to playing badly in the LDLC upper final where he got a kill in only 13 of 42 rounds, seeing Titan demolished by their new rival in the process.
He played much better the next time these two teams met, in the ESWC quarter-final, as the best one in Titan, but it didn't make a difference as they still lost 7-16, 10-16.
He was also great in key group stage wins over NiP (22:8, 2.23 rating and a pistol round ace) and Copenhagen Wolves (22:12, 1.56 rating, 6 entry kills). In the end apEX had a 1.16 rating at ESWC, third in a dominant trio after kennyS and KQLY.
A few weeks later in midst of Titan's preparations for the upcoming major, DreamHack Winter, scandalous news of KQLY's VAC ban hit them. They were immediately removed from the tournament, and apEX was forced to miss a major for the first time.
I have no words except that i'm so disappointed ... We worked a lot for this event, and someone broke my dreams ...— Dan (@Titan_apEX) November 21, 2014
Titan still had one more event until the end of the year, ESEA Season 17 Global Finals, where they traveled to with the team's analyst and apEX's former teammate from Clan-Mystik – Jeremy "ioRek" Vuillermet.
The weakened roster ended in 5th-6th place, but they put up a great fight especially against fnatic, as they were eliminated after third-map overtime losses against both the Swedes and iBUYPOWER.
While kennyS was the star of the team, apEX was a great number two with a 1.06 rating and contributing in 81% of their round wins with a kill or assist, just like back in LDLC. He was also the second best entry killer of the event (0.17 entry kills per round, 55% success rate).
Most notably he excelled against fnatic, especially on the first map which Titan won as he had a 30:17 score, whereas 27 of those kills came in rounds they won (POV).
At the end of the year Titan tried to secure a spot for MLG X-Games Aspen, but didn't make it in either of the qualifiers after being eliminated by dignitas and ESC.
Why is he the 15th best player of 2014?
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire didn't attend as many tournaments as the other members of our Top 20, but he still left a lasting impression on 2014 as one of the best players of the LDLC and Titan lineups he was a part of.
He grabbed two titles, both at DreamHack events - in Stockholm and in Valencia - and added three bronze finishes - at SLTV StarSeries XI Finals, Copenhagen Games and most importantly ESL One Cologne.
He also made the playoffs at the other major he took part in, EMS One Katowice, as well as at ESWC.
During most of those accomplishments he was always one of the best players in his team, but nothing was more impressive than what he did in Cologne.
His performance during LDLC's semi-final run was one of the greatest of the entire year, maybe even in CS:GO history, as he was the team's best player in every single match and he recorded the tied-highest rating of the majors so far (1.38).
He was also LDLC's best player during their title run at DH Valencia, and he played very well at DH Stockholm when his new team Titan clinched the title.
Additionally, apEX was the main reason LDLC made it to playoffs in Katowice, and he was actually the highest rated player (1.27) and the best fragger (0.91 KPR) of the majors overall, although he attended only two out of three.
apEX was one of the best fraggers and assisters of the year
On average, he actually had the second most kills per round in 2014 (0.80) and the third most assists per round (0.20), while no one contributed with a kill or assist more often than him (60.6% of rounds).
On the other hand, his brute force style resulted in 0.73 deaths per round, by far the most among the top players, but it also led to 0.15 entry kills per round that rank him 3rd in the world. Finally, he was one of the best players on the T-side with a 0.97 rating (6th).
The main reason these impressive stats didn't bring him higher up the ranking was that the sample size was one of the smallest in the Top 20, only 8 tournaments and 1562 rounds - of which a big part came from the least competitive event considered, DH Valencia (11 of his 60 maps).
And not only did he play the least tournaments, he was also one of the best players of an event the least times (6), and he wasn't even an MVP candidate during his more meaningful title-winning campaign at DH Stockholm.
What is your take on Dan "apEX" Madesclaire's performance in 2014? Was it enough to earn a place in the Top 20? Should he have been higher?