Nicolai "device" Reedtz earned the third spot in our ranking this year—making it his second in a row—thanks to his prodigious consistency, unfailing statistics, and well-rounded play.
Nicolai "device" Reedtz started his career playing CS:Source in Denmark, a region which was full of talent in the game. His history dates back to 2009 when he attended his first local LANs. It wasn’t much later, in 2011, when he broke out playing for CPH Wolves and started placing high up at events like CPH Games.
In 2012 he was called up to the big leagues to compete in CKRAS, where he played alongside stars likes Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen and Bo "wantz" Vestergaard. At that time, device was juggling a career in badminton and education, and CS took a backseat.
When CS:GO came along, device joined players from CS 1.6 like Danny "BERRY" Krüger and Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer, but eventually ended back up in CPH Wolves where he teamed up with now longtime partner Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen. During 2013 device still had motivation issues, and kept falling in and out of teams.
By the end of 2013 after playing the first CS:GO Major in CPH Wolves with dupreeh, Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth, and his old mentor from the CS:S days, FeTiSh, device finally started to become more centered.
The young Maverick at CPH Games in 2013
In 2014 device made an incursion into HLTV’s top 20 for the first time, coming in 20th. During that time device and dignitas made several semifinal runs, including at two Majors, EMS One Katowice and ESL One Cologne. On top of that, he and his team also scored good results at other non-Major events, in which device was a big contributor.
With the advent of Finn "karrigan" Andersen to the team in late 2014, which would shortly after go under TSM, hit a new high. With five first places and a handful of second places, 2015 proved to be the breakout year for the Danish squad. Reedtz ended the year with a 1.15 rating and was named HLTV’s third best player of the year.
"2015 was very weird when I look back at that time. The first half of the year me and xyp9x were still attending school and lived a pretty stressful life managing all of that. It was fun though, like, it wasn’t that serious back then.
"Obviously, we played to win, but having obligations in school took the mind off of Counter-Strike because there were things you have to do. I feel like we won because we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves back then and we just played.
"When we finished school it all got more serious, there was more pressure and I think that hurt our confidence when we had losses—the toughest one being DreamHack Cluj-Napoca where we were favorites to win. The game against NiP did something to us as a lineup that I can’t explain. I think our problems started back then."
Having taken heed of device’s growth as a player and individual since his more untamed years until now we asked him to break down some of his evolution for us, which he did:
"I grew up playing badminton since I was young, so I have since then always cared mostly about my own performance—which was a really bad mindset to have, in hindsight.
"Since we started working with a sports psychologist I occasionally open some of my books when I am at home and just read a little since I get challenged by her a lot mentally.
"I run, I do a little fitness—I love exercising in general. I use it to get away from all of the CS thoughts that I feel like can take over in your everyday life. Also, I feel like challenging myself physically does something positive for me. After we lost at DH Cluj I started reading sports psychology literature and some sport biographies from 'regular sport' professionals.
"I think I used all that information to understand that there are a lot more aspects to being a professional than just playing. And I learned how an individual should deal with pressure from all the different angles that can affect you. The most important thing for me was to learn how a team functions in all aspects."
Moving into 2016 the Danish team found themselves without a roof after falling out with the TSM organization. Going under the name "?", the Danes went to their first event of the year, SL i-League StarLadder Season XIV. At the time they were ranked the 4th best team in the world per our rankings.
In Minsk, "?" went out in 5-6th place, which was their first blow of the year despite going out to the finalists Natus Vincere, as the Danes dropped a big advantage in the third map of the series. The next event of the year they attended, DreamHack Leipzig, would be a hallmark moment for the team as it was their first under their new organization, Astralis.
These two events were kind of quiet for device, who was just under a 1.00 rating in both, but moving forward he went on an absolute rampage for the whole rest of 2016 without going under 1.00 at a single tournament out of the following 16.
"I don’t think there were any disadvantages [to forming Astralis]. I have obviously heard all of the theories about us relaxing more because we felt “safe”, but I don’t think that is true.
"As I wrote before, I think our problems started after the loss at DreamHack Cluj-Napoca and how we tried to deal with them which was, in hindsight, very incorrect.
"We didn’t have open conversations about obvious things that made our team drift apart. I think we were all shying away from conflicts that could’ve kept us together. Instead we became 5 individuals."
The next event on the schedule was the GEC Finals in Lithuania. At the GameShow studios device put on a stellar show and ended with a 1.22 rating, the first of several over 1.20 ratings of the season. Despite going out in the semifinals after losing to EnVyUs, device was named an EVP of the tournament.
Astralis got a second place at ESL Barcelona, one of their better finishes at the beginning of the year. At the convention center in Barcelona, a mere hundred meters away from the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, device signed a masterpiece of his own, ending the event with a 1.19 rating and earning his second EVP award in a row. At both of these events, device had over 1.30 impact—which values multi-kill rounds, opening kills, and winning clutch situations.
At IEM Katowice and Counter Pit Season 2 Astralis were still hanging on. They were no longer on the cusp of their game, but 2nd and 3-4th place finishes at those events weren't catastrophic. In Katowice, device had another outstanding performance, but one of his two dips in performance throughout the year came in Split. At Counter Pit he ended with a 1.02 rating, last in the team.
The first Major of the year was next, MLG Columbus, in which Astralis had a bitter semifinal placing. With a 1.17 rating after the event, 80.5 ADR, and 75.2% KAST, device was starting to make a case for himself at the Majors as a whole, despite a few blunders in their semifinal match against Natus Vincere.
"Obviously the MLG Major was probably the toughest for me, since I thought I had skewed away from all of the 'choke' reputation and so on, but I had a really tough semi and that tore me down for a day or two. Eventually I just accepted that it will always be a part of who I am, and how I will be remembered as well.
"I think having so many tournaments just took your mind off of the disappointing results since there was always just another one, you know? There was no time to be sad—move on and try even harder at the next event."
Up next was DreamHack Masters, in Malmö, where one of the biggest disappointments of the year for Astralis came. The Danish side went out in groups after losing a best-of-three against their nemesis, NiP, and missed out on a crowd full of Danes who then had to put their hopes on dignitas to try and reconquer Scania.
After Malmö, the Season 3 Pro League finals in England came around—another heartbreak for the Danes who went out in 7-8th place. That event would also mark the end of an era with cajunb being replaced by the young gun Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye. In London, though, device still managed a 1.27 rating with a staggering 93.2 ADR and 1.43 impact, and put on a memorable display against eventual winners Luminosity.
"The way we arrived at changing cajunb was done wrongly. We didn't really have open conversations about how we were or weren’t evolving.
"But there was an opening to get the biggest Danish talent, and we took it. We never really performed under the karrigan’s leadership with him and we didn't really have that ‘team feeling/chemistry’ that we got almost instantly with gla1ve."
ELEAGUE Season 1 was the event at which Astralis played the most maps, 13. For device, it was time to wreak havoc. To kick the group stages off, Astralis stomped their way to a first place finish ahead of the playoffs.
DreamHack Summer should have been a nice respite from a stacked year full of high-level tournaments, but losing to NiP in the playoffs once again didn’t do much to help the team’s already flimsy morale from weaning results. That notwithstanding, as had come to be the norm, device’s numbers were astronomical.
Another lose two and barbecue for Astralis came at the ECS Season 1 finals, again in London. In the three maps played—all lost—against TSM and Cloud9. In spite of that, device still managed to hold his own.
After ECS Season 1 came one of device’s most meaningful performances of the season. With Kjaerbye unable to play at ESL One Cologne and Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander as a stand-in, and dupreeh out after just two matches due to illness which made Danny "zonic" Sørensen have to step into the server, device laced up his boots and ran the war paint across his face going on to deliver an absolute master class in CS securing his team’s presence at the next Major.
He left the second Major with a 1.22 rating, 86.6 ADR, 1.35 impact, and 73.9% KAST, becoming the second highest rated player at Majors this year.
Back in Atlanta for the ELEAGUE Season 1 Finals, Astralis closed out the event in 5-8th place after a quick 2-0 loss to mousesports. Personally, device ended the event with a monstrous +85 KDD, 92.3 ADR, and a 1.29 rating in his team’s run to the quarterfinals.
"I started out the year being the primary AWPer and I felt like it was going really well. It was fun and challenging, but when we brought in Kjaerbye and had major preparations with gla1ve I got back to rifling for a short period, so I've been swapped around a few times this year.
"I watched demos of all the top AWPers and tried to develop my own style, I made a google docs with which moves I needed to try on specific maps and sides and then I evaluated which worked for me, and that would be my go-to. Then in the latter part of the year I used a program that shows an overview heat map and then shows my tendencies and I tried to become more diverse, especially on CT."
SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 came after the summer break, and Astralis went out in 5-8th—something which had now become the rule rather than the exception—and device still managed to put up solid numbers.
ESL New York was a moment of flux for Astralis. After another 7th place exit the team decided to make changes, benching karrigan and bringing on gla1ve to start calling for the team. In New York, device had the odd "bad" tournament, in which he rated 1.00.
"The adaption to a new IGL was the toughest part for me, since I liked the way karrigan did his leading. He was very impulsive and had very good reads whereas we now rely more on playing directly as we do in practice in our official games. I think that gives us more stability even though I can see the positives in both ways."
The inclusion of gla1ve gave new life to Astralis. At IEM Oakland Astralis ended in the top four of a big tournament again, and the Danes were able to then reach a final at the ELEAGUE Season 2 Finals in Atlanta, where they had finally beaten their bête noire, NiP, during the group stage. At both events, device scored a 1.14 rating, and in their run to the finals at ELEAGUE he was awarded his third EVP award of the season.
Ending on a high note at the ECS Season 2 in Anaheim, California, Astralis won the last event of the year—going out with a bang ahead of the ELEAGUE Major. With a 1.34 rating, 88.1 ADR, 1.49 impact, and a 75% KAST, device not only got to lift a trophy but was also given an MVP medal.
"Obviously, winning ECS is the most memorable and also the latest tournament memory. It felt really great to showcase what we worked the entire year to achieve. Also, losing the final at E-League and then huddling up—sharing the loss together was a nice feeling.
"I think we learned throughout the year to stick to a philosophy, game-wise, being open with communication within the team, and all in all just believing that we have what it takes to be the best in the world again."
"I just wish to grow, to learn new aspects on how to perform better as a player and a teammate. And then I also want to win a Major.
"We don’t have the same feeling we had at DreamHack Cluj, it's kind of hard to explain. We feel ready, like we have what it takes. We can play any map, we feel confident in the team and that it's absolutely possible. But all of the 15 other teams have prepared immensely well too, and they all have what it takes to outperform each other. If we peak at the right time, then we will win."
Why is he the 3rd best player of 2016?
Reedtz was an EVP at two medium events, ESL Barcelona and GEC, at a larger event, ELEAGUE Season 2, and was eventually named MVP, at ECS Season 2. While some players had more standout events, what characterized device’s year was his ability to leave a mark at big events like IEM Katowice, IEM Oakland and—more importantly—, both Majors. At the Majors, the apex of CS:GO, device had the second-highest rating of the year, 1.20.
The name of the game for device was consistency. Only the two first events of the year was he not able—barely—to get a 1.00 rating. Just as staggering is the amount of good maps he had, with a 1.00 rating 73% of maps (#2) and an astonishing 52% of maps with over 1.15 (#3).
At 1.28, device’s impact rating was the second highest of all—a direct result of his abilities as an all-around player; getting multi-kills in 20.6% of his rounds, #4; opening kills, 0.13 per round, #8, with a 57% success rate, #7; and winning 51 1vsX situations, #3.
His weapons also tell a story. With the AWP, device has 0.31 KPR and is #13, while with the rifle he had 0.25, leading ahead of the rest of AWPers. This versatility further backs the notion of device as a well-rounded player.
While his numbers seem to be those of somebody who could be even higher than the #3 in our ranking, device’s 1.05 rating in big matches, the lowest in the top ten, and the aforementioned lack of stand-out events kept him from climbing the only one or two positions possible.
"Well I think that the Swedish player 'draken' could sneak on the list if he continues to develop. He is a strong AWPer as well, and could be in the next Swedish shuffle for a spot in one of the top teams they can create."