As we progress further down the list, it is time for Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg, who deserved the 16th spot due to his tournament-wide consistency, ability to open up rounds, and impact on NiP's round wins.
Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg is the second most seasoned player on our list of top 20 players of 2015 after Filip "NEO" Kubski. The 27-year-old has been around the professional Counter-Strike scene for more than a decade, having started in 2005 with Begrip.
After joining fnatic in 2006 and becoming one of the best players in the world, in 2009 he first came into contact with who would become his long-time teammate, Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund, in the same organization. The two players then left for SK Gaming in late 2010, and in 2012 created NiP Gaming for CS:GO who would go on to break records.
The Swede has established himself as a legend, as he's been one of the best players each year of his 10-year journey. This year he shows up outside of the top 10 for the first time in the five-year history of our top 20 players rankings; he placed 6th in 2010, 5th in 2011, 2nd in 2013, and 7th in 2014.
f0rest kicked 2015 off with a second place with NiP—who fielded Mikail "Maikelele" Bill at the time—at MLG X Games Aspen. He didn't put in a very significant performance there in terms of statistics, although no one from the team did in the double-digit results in most cases, even in wins.
His best event rating-wise came at ASUS ROG Winter 2015 in Helsinki, which was also the only tournament NiP have won in 2015. His 1.23 rating was the 2nd best within the team (3rd overall at the event) behind Maikelele, which can also be said for his grand final performance. In their 16-14 victory on de_cache versus Titan, he and Maikelele were the big swing vote, as both recorded 1.30+ ratings, which was also one of the few times f0rest has had a great showing in big matches.
By then the first major of 2015, ESL One Katowice, was around the corner. There the first signs of struggles in big matches started showing up for f0rest. He had a solid showing in the group stage, although it was up against Keyd Stars and CLG, who weren't supposed to pose as much of a threat at the time.
f0rest's quad-kill highlight from ESL One Katowice quarter-final versus TSM
The TSM encounter in the quarter-finals also went quite well for him, same goes for the EnVyUs semi-final, but map three of the grand final against fnatic, de_inferno, was one of his worst in 2015. A measly 0.52 rating in a 13-16 loss—in the decider of a grand final—was a bitter pill to swallow for NiP, who were very close to another major title.
Whether that map had an effect on him in the coming month or so is uncertain, but the fact is, his only two individually bad tournaments of the year followed at Gfinity Spring Masters 1 and CCS Kick-off Season Finals. A couple of 0.90 ratings at those two events were one of the few cases in which f0rest was not at least the 3rd best within NiP.
In between the two disappointing events he did quite well at SLTV StarSeries XII Finals, to the extent that he actually played his best map all year against TSM in the consolidation final. He definitely lived up to his de_nuke reputation by scoring 23:7 in the rounds NiP won, nearly half of which were opening kills (11). With that he carried his team to victory despite having to overcome a 3-12 deficit.
POV from de_nuke, map two against TSM in the consolidation final of StarSeries XII
What's interesting about this period for f0rest is that his drop in form mostly comes from matches against one particular team: EnVyUs. Over the course of the three aforementioned events NiP played 13 maps against the Frenchmen, 10 of which they lost, by a big margin. At that time f0rest underperformed significantly in the match-up, with the exception of one map, the quadruple overtime de_dust2 battle at CCS Kick-off Season Finals.
FACEIT Stage 1 Finals also wasn't very fruitful from the Swede despite his 1.04 rating there, as a lot of it is due to the fact that he met Immunity on four maps in the group stage, three of which were 16-5 blowouts, or worse. It has to be said that the remaining one—the first one, actually—was a 30-round de_dust2, where he carried his team with a 30-16 scoreline.
The 27-year-old recovered from the bad period fairly quickly, it was his only one this past year, and it only lasted about a month. At the second Spring Masters everything turned around, as his 1.21 rating was the best within NiP (5th overall). He also had one of the highest kills per round (0.85, 3rd overall), survived, kill or assist percentage (71.0%, 4th) and success in opening duels (65.1%, 3rd) at the event, all of which in spite of a 5th-6th finish.
f0rest's poor form only lasted a short while
f0rest returned to his average level in time for DreamHack Open Summer and Gfinity Summer Masters 1, which was enough for the team to pick up a 3rd-4th and a 2nd place, respectively. Apart from a solid 1.19 rating at ESWC, he had a somewhat insignificant first place in the headshot percentage with 60.6%. NiP's result there was the first of three shared fifth places during July-August, but in their infamous loss to FlipSid3—who featured Spencer "Hiko" Martin as stand-in—f0rest had a solid showing, especially on the decider, de_overpass (1.37 rating).
The other two early exits came in at FACEIT Stage 2 Finals at DreamHack Valencia and the second major, ESL One Cologne, which was the first time NiP didn't get to a major final. Both tournaments were along the same lines as most of the year: the Swede played consistently, but not to his superstar level.
At ESL ESEA Dubai Invitational he showed up in very good form in an overtime battle against Cloud9 in the elimination match, as well as on one of the maps of each of their EnVyUs and TSM best-of-three encounters. He was the best or the second best player in the matches that mattered.
At Gfinity Champion of Champions, where NiP only played a best-of-five against fnatic, f0rest was the main reason his team made the series close by winning de_inferno and de_dust2, both in overtime.
NiP likely wouldn't be standing there hadn't it been for f0rest
A similar case could be made for major number three, Dreamhack Open Cluj-Napoca. He certainly showed up in the group stage, where he was by far NiP's best player, and was surely the biggest reason they even made it out of the scary group featuring Virtus.pro, Titan and Liquid. When play-offs came around, he fell off significantly, especially during the TSM series in the quarter-finals. That wasn't such an issue, since NiP managed to advance after two comfortable maps without him starring. The Na`Vi semi-final was, simply put, a landslide with no survivors, and this time f0rest couldn't save the day, as he—the same as everyone else—disappeared from the server.
Overall the last major was still a good tournament for him, and towards the end of the year he stepped it up. At FACEIT Stage 3 Finals he was NiP's second best player behind Aleksi "allu" Jalli, which was also an event where he picked up three of his personal tournament highs: Most rounds with multiple kills (25.0%), most AWP kills per round (0.28), and most rounds with at least 1 AWP kill (16.7%).
Finally, to end the year at Fragbite Masters Season 5 Finals, he carried NiP to another silver medal against his long-time rivals from fnatic, before he fell off quite a bit in the grand final itself.
Why is he the 16th best player of 2015?
f0rest made it into 2015's top 20 especially due to his tournament-wide consistency. During 2015 he very rarely had a bad tournament overall; only in two cases, at Gfinity Spring Masters 1 and CCS Kick-off Season Finals.
His aggression played a significant part in his placing as well. On both sides combined he ranks 8th at opening kills per round (0.13), which also often had an impact on round wins for NiP. 18.2% of NiP's round wins came after his opening kills, which is good for 10th most in the world. Plus, as we can see on the graph below, that percentage increased to 20.7% at the majors, which is where he made a lot of impact in general by helping NiP remain "Legends" throughout the year.
He was his team's most impactful player when looking at the difference of NiP's round win percentage when he got a kill (67%) and when he did not (37%). Apart from that, f0rest was one of the best fraggers at all three majors with 0.75 kills per round (highest in NiP, 8th overall).
And last but not least, he stood his ground in the pistol rounds. In that department he stayed at the top with 0.86 kills per pistol round (9th overall).
While his consistency was one of the best in the world having only two of nineteen tournaments with below average rating, he didn't stand out, as rarely was he one of the best players at an event. His track record in big matches (semi-finals, upper bracket finals, consolidation finals and grand finals) overall and in grand finals only was the lowest out of everyone in the top 20 (0.96 rating in big matches, 0.88 in grand finals only); those are the main reasons he couldn't be placed higher on the list.
What do you make of f0rest's level across 2015? Which position in the top 20 did he deserve according to you, if any at all? Let us know in the comments below.
Stay tuned to our Top 20 players of 2015 ranking powered by EGB.com and keep track of the list over at the Introduction article.