Top 20 players of 2015: NBK- (9)
Number 9 on our top 20 ranking powered by EGB.com goes to Nathan 'NBK-' Schmitt who is returning to the list for a third year in a row. Schmitt's lynchpin role on EnVyUs this year has been instrumental to their continued success at international tournaments.
Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt's career began in CS:Source back in 2008 and merely two years after he started playing the game and attending events, the fifteen-year-old would be picked up by VeryGames in 2010.
The Frenchman was a key core of every iteration of that storied organisation, including its 2012 switch over to CS:GO and 2013 attempts to be the very best team in the world (which generally included getting thwarted time and time again by NiP, their arch-rivals of those days).
2014 saw NBK- continuing his journey with Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans's core, this time under the name of Titan and yet however success continued to elude the team for the most part. This frustration spilled over into the massive French shuffle of mid-2014 which saw the beginning vestiges of a LDLC lineup form that included NBK-, old teammate Richard "shox" Papillon, Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux from Titan, Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey, and perhaps most importantly Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer.
Starting the year as LDLC
That such a lineup would be considered the weaker one in the shuffle was quickly dispelled as LDLC put up results that included winning SLTV XI, placing second at ESWC 2014 and Fragbite Masters 3, and finally winning the last major of 2014, DreamHack Winter.
For his past efforts in guiding various French lineups to success via consistent and stable fragging ability, as well as being an overall high contributor in round wins, NBK- was ranked 5th in 2013 on our best players list and 17th in 2014.
With Happy as NBK-'s new guiding anchor, the player entered 2015 with a LDLC team that leveraged enormous individual skill and which had grown a name for itself as abusing the overpowered nature of pistols in the game (alongside other mechanics such as jumpscouting) so successfully that their prowess with pistols almost matched their rifle play.
At his first event of 2015, and his last under the LDLC organisation, NBK- and his team benefited from a weakened fnatic and the exceptional form of teammate shox to win the MLG X-Games event in Aspen which itself would begin a series of successful event wins in the spring for the team.
NBK- himself had a fairly muted performance at the event as a whole as he scraped together a 1.01 rating. In the grand final against NiP in particular, NBK- was rather absent and finished with a 0.91 while teammates Happy and shox gleefully wreaked havoc.
Schmitt and company became EnVyUs in time for Katowice
The lineup parted ways from LDLC and were one of the first to usher in an era of big name organisations from other games investing in CS:GO when they signed with EnVyUs, an organisation with roots in Call of Duty.
The Inferno Online Pantamera Challenge followed where EnVyUs made a strong account of themselves by going 3-2 in the group stage and then battling fnatic to a near loss in the semifinals. Like his teammates at the event, NBK- generally shone (he put in the strongest overall effort during the fnatic playoff game) and finished with a 1.16 at the event. A loss to Francophone rivals Titan, who topped the group and made the grand final, may have lightly stung nV however.
This storyline came through in NBK-'s interview with HLTV.org going into the first major of 2015, ESL One Katowice, where the player mused on a potential trap group. However, any chance of worries was set aside as EnVyUs topped their group in addition to edging out Titan in the tournament opener where NBK- had a 1.28 rating and a +7 kdd (kill-death differential). Furthermore, Titan bombed out of the group and added spice to the pie for nV, as it were.
nV's major run stopped at 3-4th place as the Boys in Blue went down in the semifinal to a resurgent NiP with Aleksi "allu" Jalli and where NBK- revealed something of a years-long mental block against the Ninjas with a particularly spotty 0.67 rating in the series, the lowest on the team. Overall NBK- finished the event with a 1.05 rating and +11 kdd.
In London, at the Gfinity Spring Masters I, NBK- had perhaps his best event of the year with a domineering +66 kdd and a 1.29 rating. There was also the pleasure of crushing NiP in the group stage and in the grand final, the latter of which saw NBK- throw up a 1.35 rating (his team's best) to help his team win their second event of 2015.
One of NBK's best performances of the year, 2nd map of the Gfinity Spring I grand final vs. NiP
EnVyUs kept up their streak of red hot performances in Kiev at the SLTV StarSeries XII finals and NBK-'s continued strong performance played a crucial role in the team's success yet again. At 1.20 and +25 kdd, NBK- was only outmatched by teammate Happy in the statistics department, and yet he stood out in other ways such as having the highest assists per round (0.24) and the fourth highest headshots per round (0.39), beating even his usually headshot-oriented teammate Dan "apEX" Madesclaire in the latter department.
Gfinity Spring Masters I saw NBK- as its MVP
nV were able to defeat Na`Vi 2-1 (and check that team's slow rise at the time with new addition Egor "flamie" Vasilyev) and then once again swipe aside NiP twice in two 2-0 victories to claim the event crown.
The ESL Pro League Winter 2014/2015 finals came next where EnVyUs finished 3-4th after a 1-2 semifinals loss to Na`Vi as the Eastern European team finally enacted revenge for numerous defeats. NBK- and HLTV.org discoursed at length about this loss and more in our interview with the player from Cologne at the time.
NBK- and his team still played strongly though and in the stats breakdown for the event, NBK- would oddly finish second again (1.17 with a +24 kdd), yet again trailing behind Happy who himself had the event's highest rating despite going out in the semifinals.
After a long string of consistent performances at events, NBK- went on something of a slump afterwards as May rolled around and three of his four next events would see him finish in the red.
The CCS Kick-Off Season finals were something of a shock for the team overall as things will always go poorly when shox is the worst performing player at the entire event. NBK- himself fared slightly better than his teammates with a 0.98 and a -2kdd, which can be chalked up to either stubborn motivation despite the level of play of one's team or to a career-long consistency that never went away.
Either way, EnVyUs lost 1-2 to NiP in their opener and were then brushed aside 0-2 by fnatic (who themselves had been stumped by TSM) to finish last place in the four team event.
After a few strong events, Schmitt had a dip in form
DreamHack Open Tours saw EnVyUs, one of the favourites to win the event, make it out of the groups in strong fashion (LDLC White gave a scare with a triple overtime game) and through the semifinals over dignitas before finally succumbing 1-2 to fnatic in the grand finals. NBK- put up a paltry 0.93 rating and -7kdd (Happy and kioShiMa had strong green finishes on the other hand) although the real story of the event was likely shox's continuing series of underwhelming performances which slowly began to fuel rumours of internal discord.
Gfinity Spring Masters II was a return to form for NBK- although rather famously, EnVyUs failed to advance from the groups after a three-way tie in their group saw Titan and Virtus.pro advance (nV had three rounds less in terms of round differential). While the best-of-two round robin system no doubt rankled nV, they left the event with at least the consolation of having beaten Titan and Cloud9 soundly, although they lost to Virtus.pro in turn. NBK- finished at 1.16 with a +38 kdd and had the highest survived kill or assist % of the tournament at 74.7%.
The slump continued however for NBK- for one more event, the SLTV StarSeries XIII finals which Na`Vi ultimately won. Here nV were famously shocked by GPlay and FlipSid3 with 14-16 losses in the group stage although the French team ultimately rallied and made the grand final. NBK- was much more muted than normal throughout the event (he went practically unnoticed in nV's easy point farm against GPlay in the semifinals) and his lack of consistent round contributions was a factor in the team’s 1-3 loss to Na`Vi in the grand final. NBK- finished 0.98 with a +3 kdd.
NBK- was quiet at StarSeries XIII but his team held form
Gfinity Summer Masters I was a strong tournament for NBK-, with the player picking up a 1.13 rating and +43kdd. Although behind the scenes EnVyUs were in rapid decline due to personal relations, the French team pulled it together for the event in London where, despite losing maps in series against Cloud9, mousesports, and dignitas, nV managed to make the grand final where they almost nonchalantly destroyed NiP 3-0.
NBK- had a big part to play in many of these games, especially against Cloud9, but he was as always eclipsed by a teammate, this time shox who mercurially decided to show up to the event in some of the finest form he would show in 2015.
The $250,000 ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 finals are where nV were infamously shocked 13-16 by Cloud9 in their opener and where they then returned to the decider only to be beaten even more convincingly in a 0-2 fashion (12-16 on both maps) by the North Americans. Despite his 1.01 rating and +1 kdd giving the appearance of a steadfast hold by NBK-, and despite the losses often being billed over time to Cloud9's rise during the summer, clear-eyed observers could see that nV were floundering and perhaps even partying too hard.
By mid-summer, the EnVyUs lineup was in complete disarray
These observations came to a head at ESWC, the last iteration of this EnVyUs lineup and an event where some on the French team spent more time on the social circuit than on the server. The result of these backroom deals was ultimately a French roster swap, but the team also had a game to play and EnVyUs did manage to make the semifinals over relatively less experienced competition before going down 0-2 to Cloud9.
NBK- went a staggering -21kdd in that semifinals game, the weakest link on his team, although in the end, he did amusingly walk away with a 1.10 and +11kdd from ESWC due to many of the team's group stage matches having been an easy point farm.
The famous swap transpired and EnVyUs were suddenly invigorated with Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and apEX while Ex6TenZ's Titan lineup again were put on the back foot with the friend duo of shox and SmithZz, both of whom had slumped on EnVyUs in their own ways throughout the past few months.
The nV lineup that debuted at IEM Gamescom 2015 was by no means strong or ready to mesh yet to the level of a top team and there is the added excuse that the format was a little too quirky to extract much meaning from the event itself. However, EnVyUs did debut with an event win, which included beating the red-hot TSM lineup in three separate best-of-three's, in a grand final where NBK- had a +19kdd and 1.24 rating (his form for the event overall was 1.04 and +21kdd).
Never intimidated by crowds, Schmitt helped destroy TSM in the Cologne semifinals
nV's run at the major of ESL One Cologne is most famous for the implosion that happened in the grand final versus fnatic, however many equally forget the impressive feat of this new and untested French lineup making the grand final by virtue of sheer skill.
A favourable group draw against the then-untested Luminosity and Kinguin lineups meant that NBK- and his teammates made the playoffs (they struggled against the Brazilians though) where they once again stumped Na`Vi 2-0 in a major quarter-final and then continued a streak of defeating the Danes of TSM, this time in the semifinal where NBK- put in a massive performance for his team and pulled off a team-best 1.21 rating with a +15kdd.
Unfortunately, the grand final was where not only kennyS famously stumbled but NBK- as well with a -11 kdd and a negligible impact in a game where fnatic confidently asserted their dominance of the scene. As a result of this performance, NBK- actually finishes Cologne lightly in the red with a 0.99 despite a positive +9kdd.
One more poor result was to follow for EnVyUs before the team could truly rise and this result was ESL ESEA Dubai, where NBK- garnered the worst performance of his year with a 0.79 total rating and negative 23 kills in his kdd. An opening takedown of Cloud9 made no difference as nV were then disposed of by Virtus.pro and a reinvigorated NiP and in both games NBK- finished bottom of the table for his team in a uncharacteristically inconsistent display; partially as a result, nV ended up 5-6th place in Dubai.
The demons of the desert were quickly laid to rest afterward as the autumn saw EnVyUs make an ascent that by November's end would see us crown them as best team in the world in our Global Team Ranking. The first step in this gambit was DreamHack Open London, which EnVyUs won, sweeping all opposition with ease, including TSM in the grand final. NBK- clocked in a 1.16 rating and was +27 in kills; he placed second highest at the event in both categories and also had an incredibly high survived, kill or assist %.
After Dubai, EnVyUs went on a tear thanks in part to Schmitt's play
The Gfinity Champion of Champions event, which pitted the four previous major winners against each other, was another success for EnVyUs as well as for NBK- as the former edged out Virtus.pro and fnatic to enact revenge for previous losses and to win the event and the latter put in a team-best 1.13 and +23kdd. NBK-'s dominant role in the grand final in particular went a long way to helping nV win.
With the United Kingdom acting as something of a bulwark for NBK- in the events he's played there, it was then time for him to both step up at a major after tepid results in doing so in 2015 and also help his team perform elsewhere in Europe.
NBK- did just that during the final major of 2015 at DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca. While not the lodestar of his team during the event as that honour goes to AWPer kennyS, NBK-’s 1.14 total rating and +33kdd reflects the key role that he played in helping EnVyUs advance through their groups, defeat longtime rivals fnatic in the quarter-finals, survive a scare from G2 in the semifinals, and continue to punish Na`Vi as their other rival in the grand final.
The blue hair was no good luck charm in closing out the year
While NBK- did stumble in certain games such as in the G2 semifinal, his overall contribution which included helping almost singlehandedly shut down Na`Vi on de_cbble in the grand final, went a long way to gaining the Frenchmen the major victory.
Unfortunately for NBK-, his performance, which is so often in lockstep with his overall team's median rather than being similar to that of a carry player, took a downturn in nV's final two events of 2015. At FACEIT Stage 3, where EnVyUs finished 7-8th, and at EEPL Season 2, where EnVyUs finished 3-4th, NBK- pulled in 0.79/-19kdd (his second worst result of 2015) and 0.93/-7kdd respectively.
Such a strange finish to 2015 hardly tarnishes NBK-'s excellent contribution to his team as both a playmaker, lead sustainer, and overall extremely dependable player who does not underperform except under the most desperate of straits.
Why is he the 9th best player of 2015?
NBK- has the grace to somehow not often be the MVP of events despite being one of his team's top performers quite frequently, instead he often makes way for a teammate who will top the event's statistics and instead settle for a less flashy and yet more stable role of helping to ensure victory.
He is a versatile utility player whose statistics reflect that being the case: above average in kills, assists, deaths, ranked sixth in assists per round (0.17), ranked seventh in headshots per round, and ranked tenth in rounds with a kill, assist or surviving (66.6%).
When NBK- gets a kill in a round, his team has won 70.6% of those rounds, which is the fifth highest of all players. In addition, he is one of the most efficient players in opening rounds on the T side (his team win 79% of rounds where he gets the opening kill) and he was the highest contributor (in terms of round win shares) in the round wins of the first EnVyUs lineup (the one with shox and SmithZz).
Ever trying to live up to the moniker of 'NBKing'
As that final statistic may suggest, NBK- was arguably more impactful in the first iteration of EnVyUs than in the second iteration as it could be argued that apEX replaces the player's role in several aspects. However, NBK- has continued to play solid and consistent Counter-Strike when it is needed of him and certainly is not out of place on EnVyUs v.2.
In tournaments, NBK- was arguably the MVP of Gfinity Spring Masters I and Gfinity Champion of Champions, the former more so than the latter. Yet the performances are nothing astronomical and several other players did manage to turn up in good form at those events.
He fails to place higher on this list due to a slight downturn in performance at the biggest events (the $250,000 ones in particular) and hence why his strong role in Cluj is all the more commendable. NBK- was mediocre in the first two majors of 2015 and had especially rough goings at ESL ESEA Dubai and FACEIT Stage 3 where his performances were either the worst or second worst in his team and tied for his worst showing in 2015 overall.
As a whole though, NBK-'s 1.07 rating in large playoff matches and 1.10 rating in grand finals speak most volubly about the player in 2015: he was unafraid to show up when the pressure was high and when solid performances were in demand.
This steady playstyle and ability to deliver when it counts, coupled with NBK-'s hand in EnVyUs' overall success in 2015, make him the ninth best player of the year.
What did you think of NBK-'s 2015? Where would you have rated him? Let us know what you think 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.