Top 20 players of 2014: friberg (14)
Despite a lot of ups and downs throughout the year, Adam "friberg" Friberg earned the 14th place on our Top 20 players of 2014 ranking by Xtrfy with an MVP performance at ESL One Cologne and with his superb play in big matches.
Formerly a CS:Source player who began his career in 2009, Adam "friberg" Friberg quickly rose to stardom when CS:GO came out, as he won a plethora of titles after teaming up with Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg in the revitalized Ninjas in Pyjamas.
We described some of his history on last year's occasion when he was placed 11th on our Top 20 players of 2013 ranking.
After struggling in the latter parts of 2013 to regain their number one status back from VeryGames, NiP ended the year with a devastating loss in the DreamHack Winter final against up and comers fnatic.
It took until February before we saw them in action again, which is when they attended DreamHack Stockholm Invitational together with Titan, dignitas and fnatic.
The Ninjas managed to get revenge on fnatic and beat dignitas, but their big rivals ex-VeryGames, now named Titan, beat them both in the upper semi-final and in the grand final.
friberg had a Man of the Match performance in the grudge match vs. fnatic with a 29:15 score (1.61 rating, GOTV demo), and played well against dignitas, but he didn't get much done in the Titan matches.
In the end he was ranked fourth in the team by rating with a very solid 1.11, and was actually second in rounds they won (1.08) so it was an overall good performance.
Soon after came EMS One Katowice, the first major of the year, and NiP were well prepared. They dominated on their way to the final, except against compLexity who gave them a solid fight, with the whole team playing well.
friberg didn't stand out but he still played well in Katowice
friberg was actually the least impressive as all of the NiP members except him stood out in some map, but that didn't mean he was underperforming. In fact, when push came to shove as they got annihilated in the grand final by Virtus.pro, he was the one putting up the biggest fight.
Nevertheless, he ended the tournament with a barely above average 1.01 rating, not being one of the stars.
However, that changed at their next event Copenhagen Games, which they went into as back to being number one in the world according to our April world ranking thanks to the 2nd place and Titan's failure in Katowice.
The same opponents as last time stood in their way at the two final steps, dignitas in the semi-final and Virtus.pro in the grand final. And while they had some more trouble against the Danes, this time they defeated the Polish team in the final 2-1 to grab their first title of 2014.
And on this occasion friberg was a real star. Despite not being the MVP – an accolade that went to his teammate GeT_RiGhT – he was a close second as outlined in our Top players article after the event.
He did very well against Reason in the quarter-final and dignitas in the semis, but his biggest contribution came in the final when he stepped up on map two and put in a Man of the Match performance (26:12, 1.73 rating, POV) that evened out the series at one apiece.
First trophy of 2014 at Copenhagen Games
A couple of weeks later at SLTV StarSeries IX Finals NiP were set on starting a streak of first place finishes in the new year, but they ran into an in-form Natus Vincere squad who took the event by storm and put the Swedes on the second place podium again.
friberg had an inconsistent and average performance (0.99 rating), having a few good matches and a few bad ones. Despite that he ended up as the second best in the team and actually contributed a lot in their round wins (1.11 rating), most notably in a 2-1 win over Titan in the consolidation final (map 2 VOD).
The Ninjas came back strong at their next event and defeated Na`Vi in the final of DreamHack Summer to grab their second title.
It was another inconsistent display by friberg, who was nowhere to be found in the quarter-final against Titan, but he resurfaced when it was needed more.
His play in the semi-final against HellRaisers was one of the year's highlights as he put in Man of the Match displays in both of NiP's map wins, firstly on Nuke (23:14, 7 assists, 1.45 rating, POV) and then on map three Dust2 (25:19, 8 assists, 1.30 rating, VOD) where he also had the match winning 4-kill round:
He finished the tournament as the 4th in his team with a 1.01 rating, but he had once again given his biggest contribution in a big match that helped NiP overcome a tough opponent.
Only twelve days later they went to ESEA Season 16 Global Finals where they failed to reproduce the form that brought them to every final until then in the first six months of 2014, as they lost best-of-three series to compLexity and Virtus.pro and finished in 5th-6th place.
Aside from his solid play in the easy win over Manajuma, friberg was underwhelming as he scored a kill in only 62 out of 156 rounds in their other two matches. That resulted in his until then lowest tournament rating of the year, 0.90.
However, he then played even worse at Gfinity 3, only managing an above average rating in 1 of NiP's 7 maps as they struggled to make it out of the group stage with losses to Epsilon, fnatic and iBUYPOWER, and then got demolished by dignitas in the quarter-final.
It was actually an alarmingly bad performance as he ended up with his career-low 0.77 rating, scoring only 0.54 kills per round and being of almost no help in the tough losses.
But with the next major around the corner friberg and NiP had to put that performance behind them and focus on doing better at ESL One Cologne.
friberg was at the center of success in Cologne
It didn't look well in the group stage as they once again lost to Epsilon after beating Indian team Wolf, so their playoff-fate was down to the last match against HellRaisers.
First he was once again Man of the Match in the all-important win against HR to move on to the playoffs (30:18, 1.67 rating, POV), and then he was either NiP's second best or best in the incredibly close 2-1 wins over Cloud9 and LDLC, recording a number of highlight worthy and match winning rounds in the process.
Most importantly he was the Man of the Match in the third map of the semi-final vs. LDLC in what was a 16-14 win (24:18, 1.23 rating, POV) that sent NiP to another major final.
friberg's ace in the ESL One Cologne final vs. fnatic
In the end he had a 1.14 rating, the highest in NiP, and was almost inarguably the MVP of the year's second major.
But after what was surely the best performance of his career, friberg put in the worst one, 0.74 rating with only 0.53 kills per round at DreamHack Stockholm #2. There the Ninjas didn't even make it out of the group stage courtesy of the new lineups of Titan and LDLC.
The story repeated itself at ESWC, only this time the Swedes even lost to a lesser known French team Platinium, as well as HellRaisers and Titan again, and exited the tournament in their worst ever 13th-16th place.
friberg again underperformed and ended up with another very low 0.80 rating, but it was the team's overall performance that sounded even more alarms than that.
As a reaction to their poor form a few days after their return to Sweden, Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson announced his retirement and the Ninjas made their first lineup change since the start of CS:GO, bringing in Mikail "Maikelele" Bill in his place.
The new squad had around three weeks to prepare for the final test of the year, DreamHack Winter, which they this time didn't go into as one of the favorites due to the struggles at previous events.
After some problems in the group stage which included a loss to LDLC and then a tough win over ESC to reach the playoffs, NiP flew past HellRaisers in the quarter-final.
Then came a clash with their big rivals Virtus.pro in the semi-final, and once again friberg showed that he was the king of semi-finals by putting up another Man of the Match performance for NiP.
The Swedes somehow took the first map to overtime and eventually won it 22-20, while [friberg] had his best performance of the year (46:24, 1.62 rating). Then they lost the second one 9-16, but with another great performance from friberg (21:13, 1.48 rating) they clinched the win on the third 16-8 and advanced to their fourth major grand final in a row.
friberg's POV vs. Virtus.pro in the DreamHack Winter semi-final
Unfortunately friberg was then the worst player of the grand final as NiP lost it on overtime in map three, so he ended up with a slightly above average rating of 1.04 for the tournament.
Why is he the 14th best player of 2014?
Adam "friberg" Friberg had quite an inconsistent year with a few very big lows, but his peaks more than made up for it as they always let to NiP's success.
His MVP performance at ESL One Cologne was one of the year's highlights, and so were some of his displays in big matches, such as the semi-final of DH Summer against HellRaisers or the semi-final of DH Winter against Virtus.pro.
Copenhagen Games, where NiP won their first of three titles of the year, was also a superb event for friberg as he was one of the MVP candidates.
He won another two titles, ESL One Cologne and DreamHack Summer, and also finished 2nd on four occasions – including both of the other majors – EMS One Katowice, DreamHack Winter, SLTV StarSeries IX and DreamHack Stockholm #2.
On the other hand he had a few terrible displays at events where NiP even failed to make it out of group stage, so he ended up with individual statistics which normally wouldn't warrant a place in the Top 20.
Namely he had a flat out average 1.00 rating for the year and he contributed in a barely above average 62.9% of rounds with a kill, assist or by surviving.
Also unlike popular belief, he wasn't a very good entry killer, ending up with 0.10 entry kills and far more, 0.14, entry deaths per round for a below average success rate of 43%.
Looking at only the T-side though where he is one of the most aggressive in the world (#4, involved in 27.8% of entry duels), he did get a good amount of entry kills (0.11, ranking 12th) but his success rate was still a mere 38%.
friberg enjoys playing in big matches
Nevertheless, friberg did stand out in one of the most important ways -- in big matches, where he was one of the best in the world.
To be more accurate, he had 0.74 kills per round in semi-finals, grand, consolidation and upper finals of tournaments, ranking 5th in the world among those who played over 20 maps of big matches.
His value to the team in those kind of matches is best described by the fact that he had shared-best rating in the rounds NiP won – 1.13.
That kind of stepping up in crucial moments during NiP's successful campaigns and his impressive MVP performance at ESL One Cologne propelled friberg all the way up to the 14th place, but he couldn't have gone further due to his inconsistency and some severe underperformances.
What is your take on Adam "friberg" Friberg's performance in 2014? Was it enough to earn a place in the Top 20? Should he have been higher?