Number 8 on our top 20 ranking powered by EGB.com goes to Vincent 'Happy' Schopenhauer who is returning to the list for his second year in a row. Schopenhauer's combination of in-game leading and highly impactful play made him a deadly force to be reckoned with in 2015.
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer's career, like that of the current ninth best player in the world and EnVyUs teammate Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt, kicked off in CS:Source back in 2007 and also saw him playing with the purported Godfather of the French scene Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans for a spell.
A switch to CS:GO meant a switch of aliases (he used to play under the alias ‘EMSTQD’) as well as Happy creating a team with Mathieu "Maniac" Quiquerez and Dan "apEX" Madesclaire that would become the LDLC of that time. A few roster shuffles and organisation swaps later, and Happy was on his way to the first major in CS:GO under the Recursive name alongside talent Kenny "kennyS" Schrub.
This first major already gave an inkling of the success that was to come Happy's way in the future as Recursive took down iBUYPOWER and Universal Soldiers to become the little French team that could and advanced to the playoffs, thereby guaranteeing Happy a high benchmark for 2014.
And 2014 was indeed Happy's year (who then was still using the appellation Cervoni, an alternate last name in his family) as the French leader brought his team to ever higher placings at successive CS:GO events and also managed to make the playoffs of both EMS One Katowice (before losing to red-hot event winners Virtus.pro) and ESL One Cologne (where a LDLC lineup with Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian nearly made the finals over NiP in a nailbiter). Happy also brought LDLC their first title at DreamHack Valencia 2014 that summer.
After Cologne, the great French roster shuffle occurred and Happy teamed up with NBK- and Richard "shox" Papillon to form a new LDLC lineup who immediately kicked things off on the right foot by winning the StarSeries XI finals.
The team, which also included Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey and Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux, continued to poll highly and achieve strong placements, until the major of DreamHack Winter 2014 which saw Happy put in a MVP performance to lead his team to winning the whole event (some quarter-finals controversy aside).
For his efforts in 2014 as in-game leader, and then as a player who blossomed into being a star in his own right by the end of the year, HLTV.org ranked Happy as the tenth best player in the world for 2014.
MLG X-Games Aspen was the first event of 2015 for LDLC and Happy did not renege on his upwards statistical and tactical progress (2014 saw the players' individual play only move up) by putting in a prodigious 1.31 rating and +62kdd. In a group stage clash with rivals fnatic, Happy pulled in an astounding 1.90 rating with a 29-10 scoreline.
Happy's efforts earned him the MVP of the tournament, for his second straight event in a row. He had the highest rating, highest kill-death differential, highest kill & assists per round (0.92), highest total kills (213), highest kills per round (0.88), and highest 1+ kill rounds at the event (54.3%), qualifying as a performance that may go down in history for Happy's part in bringing LDLC a gold medal at the event.
LDLC had clearly drawn enough attention as a team to warrant offers from bigger organisations in the world of esports and such a forthcoming offer from EnVyUs saw the Frenchmen apparelled all in blue and sporting Monster Energy logos.
Inferno Online Pantamera Challenge in Sweden was next where EnVyUs went out in the semifinals to fnatic in a match that continued a longstanding rivalry and where Happy was one of two teammates to achieve a positive result in the series (1.11 and +7kdd, the other teammate was NBK-). Overall for the event, Happy was yet again the highest rated for his team with a 1.19/+37kdd and had a number of other impressive stats despite the team's 3-4th place finish, though he led in none.
Time came for the first major of 2015 in ESL One Katowice and Happy yet again led his men to a playoffs run as the team managed to finish 3-4th before losing to NiP somewhat convincingly in the semifinal. Something interesting transpired however with Happy's play, and this tidbit would continue to pester him throughout 2015, which is that he unperformed overall at the major with a 1.00 rating/+1 kdd (fourth ranked in his team).
With shox as another nexus of fragging power for EnVyUs, Happy underperforming was not necessarily a gamechanger for the French powerhouse, however his disappearance from the major certainly did not help in nV's failure to win back-to-back majors at the time.
Gfinity Spring Masters I, which as previously mentioned was NBK-'s MVP event of the year, saw Happy step back more complacently into the IGL role as he led his boys to a second straight title in 2015 and himself put up a decent 1.11/+28kdd result.
It was at the next event, StarSeries XII finals, that Happy would yet again unleash his inner beast and pick up his second MVP performance of the year with a dominant 1.39 rating and +60kdd showing. The event in Kiev saw EnVyUs smash NiP in the grand finals with no contest (where Happy led the team with a 48-25 scoreline across two maps and a 1.64 rating) and win another gold medal, their third of the year.
Aside from leading in rating and KD-differential at the event, Happy was also an event leader in kill & assists per round (1.04), kills per round (0.96), 1+ kill rounds (63.4%), and survived, kill or assist %(77%).
Next up were the ESL Pro League Winter 2014/2015 finals where EnVyUs finished 3-4th place as well, losing to Na`Vi (a team who were beginning to warm up in 2015 due to the addition of youngster Egor "flamie" Vasilyev) 1-2 in the semifinals. Despite not winning the event, Happy again finished with the highest rating of his teammates, 1.23 with a +37kdd.
The CCS Kick-off Season finals would represent the first true disappointing finish for EnVyUs in the year (excluding the inability to win Katowice as previous major champions) as the team finished in last place in Romania after losses to both NiP and fnatic. This time around it was only Happy and his teammate kioShiMa who stayed above the 1.0 rating waterline, with the former player pulling in a 1.04/+5kdd.
We finally managed to interview the leader in 2015 at this event, where nV finished in last place, and Happy spoke frankly about the losses as well as about the increasingly level playing field at the top of the scene.
At DreamHack Open Tours, EnVyUs struggled somewhat in the group stage (going into a triple overtime against LDLC White) as well as in the semifinal (going into a close overtime against dignitas on one map). nV lost the grand final 1-2 to fnatic to finish 2nd and Happy was rated highest in his team, 1.10/+22kdd.
At Gfinity Spring Masters II, nV failed to advance from their round robin group due to a three-way tie with Virtus.pro and Titan (nV had three rounds less in round differential) and even more interestingly for Happy, he achieved a 1.40 rating/+66kdd, his highest rating in 2015 and second best kill-death differential of the year.
Although EnVyUs failed to exit the groups of this event, Happy had the highest rating at the event, the second highest KD-differential, the highest kills & assists per round (1.00), the highest kills per round (0.95), the highest amount of 1+ kill rounds (59.1%), and the highest success in opening duels (89.3%).
Therefore, some of Happy's success as a leader clearly comes from his ability to play as a one-man army even when his teammates are underperforming, an ability which is also facilitated by his overall tendency to be a passive player and not feed kills to his opponents on either side.
The next few events for Happy were a little muted as the summer rolled around, starting with the StarSeries XIII finals where EnVyUs survived a shaky group stage (losses to GPlay and FlipSid3 included) and ultimately lost to a very strong Na`Vi outfit 1-3 in the grand finals. Here Happy was second best on his team overall with a 1.08 rating and +36kdd, including leading his team in the grand final and finishing the event with the lowest amount of deaths per round (0.60).
At Gfinity Summer Masters I, EnVyUs battled their way through opposition such as Cloud9, mousesports, and dignitas (giving up maps in all three series), before pulling away to an unreachable level in the grand final against NiP and winning 3-0. Happy was outperformed by two teammates this time around (shox stepped up to the plate in particular) and finished at 1.11/+48kdd with the highest amount of 1+ kill rounds (55.5%).
HLTV.org conducted a text interview with Happy after the win (their fourth of 2015) at Gfinity Summer, where he seemed to suggest that NiP were severely underperforming in that grand final and also spoke of the team's upcoming gruelling event attendance plans for the summer.
The summer definitely got off to a wrong foot as Happy and his team finished a tepid 5-6th at the ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 finals, which at $250,000 was supposed to be one of the premium events of the year. Happy was the second best performer for his team (1.07 rating/+12kdd) in a run that is mostly famous for double losses to Cloud9, first in a best-of-one and then in a best-of-three. Rumours flew of late nights and late arrivals afterward.
The poor showing at EEPL Season 1 and an overall sense of frustration within the team boiled over at ESWC 2015 in Montreal, where EnVyUs went out in the semifinals after yet another loss to Cloud9. While finishing within the top four may seem par for the course with nV, anyone watching that game and seeing the French team buy P90's on gunrounds rather nonchalantly may have been a little suspicious about the team's coordination as a unit.
Happy himself performed fourth best on his team with a 1.08 rating/+24kdd but much of nV's strong statistics from this event come from a fairly weak group stage which the Frenchmen topped with ease.
The swap happened and saw shox and SmithZz out of the team and kennyS and apEX brought in from Titan. Happy, who was no stranger to both big swaps such as these as well as to playing with kennyS and apEX in previous outings in 2013 and 2014, was suddenly cleared of internal tensions in the team and free to steer his new lineup towards a more skill-leveraged future.
The new EnVyUs lineup had a few weeks to recuperate and mesh and they debuted at IEM Gamescom, an Intel Extreme Masters stop that featured a somewhat wacky format of teams choosing match-ups and maps for other teams.
Happy was clearly feeling happy (no pun intended) with his new lineup as the player put in his final MVP performance of the year, clocking in a masterful 1.33 rating and +71kdd. He also topped the charts in kills & assists per round (1.00), total kills (231), kills per round (0.95), 1+ kill rounds (60.2%), and survived, kill or assist% (73.4%).
nV walked away with some pride in having taken down TSM in three best-of-one's in the quasi-final, since the Danes were currently being billed as a team making a gambit for best in the world. This confidence carried forward into the second major of the year, ESL One Cologne, as Happy himself told us that the team had a chance to win the major.
With minimal practice and a loose playstyle that allowed his newfound stars kennyS and apEX to shine, EnVyUs were able to make the grand finals of the major and defeat two rivals in the form of Na`Vi (2-0) and TSM (2-1) along the way before finally being taken down rather convincingly by fnatic in the grand final. Much of nV suffered in the grand final, although Happy did perform best in his team with a 1.14 rating.
He was second best at the event as a whole (1.02 rating and +5kdd), however the storyline that was revealed overall for EnVyUs is that the new roster had potential but had not fully capitalised on it yet, something which would still undergo one more trial by fire (one of the team's overall weakest results in 2015).
This trial by fire aptly took place in the scorching locale of Dubai where Happy recorded his only placing in the red for 2015 (0.88 and -13kdd) and was only beaten by NBK-, who equally struggled. nV finished 5-6th place and seemed lost as a reinvigorated NiP was the straw that broke the camel's back and brought the elite team back to the drawing board.
IEM Gamescom and ESL One Cologne had shown that the roster had potential however, and Happy was by no means ready to begin a slump in his career.
The turnaround was already underway in autumn's beginning at DreamHack Open London, an event which nV masterfully won including in a grand final where Happy's men obliterated TSM and where Happy himself got our play of the year by using a Desert Eagle on a force buyround to disastrous effect against the Danes.
Statistically, Happy once again took a backseat role and allowed kennyS to shine in London (where the AWPer was MVP of the event), and the team's leader finished third best in his team with a 1.11/+18kdd.
The Gfinity Champion of Champions event brought together the four previous major winning organisations and it turned out to be another gold medal secured for EnVyUs after the past weekend's run at DreamHack, as the Boys in Blue were able to narrowly win against Virtus.pro and fnatic in 3-2 series apiece. Happy was back in the lead of his team this time around with a 1.13/+37kdd showing and narrowly missed out on being the event's MVP himself.
With six tournament wins now under his belt, Happy no doubt felt even more confident than he had previously been before Cologne as EnVyUs geared up for the final major of the year: DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca.
The first piece of business the team undertook after surviving the group stage was dispatching fnatic in the quarter-finals (where Happy was the team's second best performer) and sending one of the event favourites out of the tournament and home early. Happy reflected on this victory and on the strength of Luminosity in that event in our interview from Cluj-Napoca.
After narrowly defeating G2 in the semifinals, nV stood in the grand final against Na`Vi who had made such a high major ascent for the first time in CS:GO. The day was meant for Happy and his team though as they managed to show up in a big way to win CS:GO's seventh major.
Cluj-Napoca was important for Happy because a common storyline of 2015 had been his underperformance at the biggest events (or at least deviating from his overall offline average), and this major was finally an opportunity for Happy to make a big impact for his team when it mattered as the he brought in a 1.14 rating and +41kdd.
In the final two events of the year, EnVyUs are commonly seen as beginning to list while at sea, as the team finished 7-8th at the $250,000 FACEIT Stage 3 finals at DreamHack Winter and were unable to defeat Na`Vi in the semifinals of the $250,000 ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 finals, thereby finishing 3-4th place.
Oddly enough, Happy was undaunted at FACEIT Stage 3 despite his team's struggles against NiP and a red-hot Luminosity and achieved a team-best 1.23 rating/+16kdd, unusually high for a team that goes out of a tournament after two lost matches. In Burbank, California for EEPL Season 2, Happy finished second best at 1.06/+11kdd as the team did manage to take down fnatic and Liquid with 2-0 scorelines before Na`Vi enacted revenge in the semifinals.
Why is he the 8th best player of 2015?
Happy's 2015, as well as his previous career form in 2014 and 2013, make the succinct case that he is a player who rarely ever missteps at events, regardless of how his team ends up placing.
His tendency to often finish first or second highest in rating at events and a bevy of statistics make the case for someone who could be ranked a top five player in the world: third most kills per round (0.80), the highest KD-differential in 2015 (+624kdd), the second highest kill, assist or survive percentage (68.7%), the second highest pistol kills per round (0.18), and 85.7% of his maps this year have seen him with above a 0.85 rating, making him the world's best in not having bad games.
However, he has slumped in other areas, most notably he is one of the players whose kills overall made the least impact on a game: Happy has the highest rating in rounds lost out of all players in the top 20. And in the largest events ($250,000 in prize money or majors), his overall performance was below his yearly average except at DreamHack Cluj-Napoca as previously mentioned.
Regardless, Happy has been a driving force behind EnVyUs' success this year and in more ways than just as an in-game leader of some of the game's premium talent (in either lineup). His three MVP titles this year show that he can contend and excel on his own terms, and is not just the puppeteer behind highly talented puppets.
Happy's determination to continue steering the ship of the most successful French team, coupled with his hands-off style of leadership, stand in stark contrast to Ex6TenZ whose teams have been unable to attain the same degree of success abroad.
As far as in-game leaders go, Happy is a potent force. He will rarely play poorly or make mistakes in games and instead allows the action to come to him, using a deep gamesense and spatial awareness on the map to exploit other team's weaknesses. He is able to send his teammates out onto the battlefield to wreak havoc, while also weaving in-and-out of their successes and cleaning up the rest of the enemy.
Happy stood in front of EnVyUs and led the charge to the team's multiple event wins this year, rather than engineering from the backline, and is thus the eighth best player in the world this year.
What did you think of Happy'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.