HLTV.org's Player of 2016 is SK Gaming's Marcelo "coldzera" David! He receives the number one spot in our Top 20 Ranking of 2016 powered by EGB.com as his consistency, fragging output and excellent form at the Majors were unmatched and proved crucial to his team's success throughout the year.
Rarely in Counter-Strike have we witnessed a case of a player who, in the space of just 18 months, has gone from virtually unknown to a worldwide phenomenon. But such is the story of Marcelo "coldzera" David, who less than two years ago was still struggling to go pro, and now finds himself on everyone’s top 5 list.
After playing for a number of Brazilian sub-top teams, such as Afterall, semXorah and Dexterity, coldzera was finally given his big break in July 2015, when he was asked to join the former Keyd Stars team as a replacement for Caio "zqkS" Fonseca. The Brazilian player had only one international tournament to show, the online South American qualifiers for the 2015 World Championship, and all of a sudden he was plying his trade for a team that had recently placed top eight at the ESL One Katowice Major.
"I started playing Counter-Strike when I was 12, together with some friends of mine who lived in my building, just for fun. My first team was Afterall (plx, myssen, r0, TACO and myself), back in 2014. When I played 1.6, my friends used to say that I had a lot of potential, so they asked me to play CS:GO. I decided to take the game seriously right from the beta to become a professional. Before that happened, the player I looked up to was olofmeister."
coldzera's first event for the team, who would join the ranks of Luminosity just 12 days after his arrival, was none other than the ESL One Cologne Major. It was a baptism of fire for the young player, but against all expectations he stood his ground, finishing the tournament with a 1.08 Rating - the same as veteran Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo - after finishing four out of five maps in the green.
"What I most remember from that tournament was a round in which I played with my in-ears in reverse. I was very nervous because it was my first international competition. The event showed me that I was on the right track and that I had made the right choice in my life."
In the months that followed, Luminosity attended several other international events, including another Major, DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, and coldzera delivered every time, ending the year with nothing but positive tournament ratings, a huge accomplishment for such a young player.
Still, he could not make the cut for our top 20 ranking of that year on the account that he had been playing internationally for just five months and, as such, had sat out of most of the event circuit. But everyone in the scene knew that his time was coming. And so did coldzera.
"My expectations for 2016 were just these three things: be the best in the world, have the best team in the world and win that year's Majors."
And that is exactly what would happen. coldzera's wild ride began in Minsk, where Luminosity attended the SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals. The Brazilians took third-fourth at the event, losing to fnatic 1-2 in the semi-finals despite coldzera putting in a 1.33 rating against the Swedes - the highest of the series. The 21-year-old, who curiously started the event on the wrong foot, with a sub-1.00 rating against G2, earned his first EVP award of the year thanks to a 1.21 event rating, 10% higher than the team's average, and a 77.5% KAST.
One week later, Luminosity travelled to Leipzig for the DreamHack Open event. Without fnatic to ruin the party, the Brazilians finished in second place, losing to FaZe in the group stage and then to Natus Vincere in the grand final. This time around, coldzera was ranked second in his team, with a 1.11 Rating, but he still scooped an EVP award thanks to his big numbers in multiple categories (81.5 ADR, 0.77 KPR and 0.66 DPR).
The next event on the calendar was the IEM World Championship, in Katowice, which ended up ruining coldzera's perfect streak. It was the first event - and the only one still to date - where the young Brazilian had a sub-1.00 tournament rating, more precisely 0.97, only the fourth highest in Luminosity, who, despite missing the explosiveness of their star player, still reached the final, in which they would be defeated by fnatic once again.
"What I remember from those first events was all the hard work we put into practice. Those were also the first tournaments where we started reaching the semi-finals and the finals, and with that we concluded that we could win titles. IEM Katowice was a very difficult event for me because I was going through some personal issues, lots of fights with a former girlfriend of mine, so I could not focus on the matches. It was a very tough and sad tournament for me."
MLG Columbus was the first Major of the year and also coldzera's first MVP event. The 21-year-old unleashed his inner beast and powered his team to win the title with big numbers (1.26 Rating, 11% above Luminosity's average, +84 KDD, 88.7 ADR and 1.21 Rating) and phenomenal plays, such as the double jumping shot on Mirage, immortalized by Valve with graffiti on the map and by coldzera himself with a tattoo on his right arm.
"I am a player who loves to play a Major, not because it is the most prestigious tournament or the one with the most money on the line, but because everyone prepares very well for it and I want to show everyone that I am the best."
The next event, DreamHack Masters Malmö, was one of Luminosity's low points of the year. Fresh off winning their biggest title ever, the Brazilians went down in the group stage to mousesports and TyLoo after unsuccessfully trying to add Cache to their map pool. coldzera cannot be blamed for that poor run, however, as he posted a team-leading 1.25 Rating (17% above the team's average) and had four out of five maps with positive ratings (all of them with over 20 frags).
After the Swedish fiasco, Luminosity returned to the United States to play at DreamHack Austin, which ended up being a walk in the park for them as they won four matches straight without dropping a single map. coldzera boasted a 1.35 event rating (a year high) and an Impact Rating of 1.31, earning his third EVP award of 2016.
The Brazilians went back to Europe for the ESL Pro League Season 3 finals, which turned out to be a huge success for them and also for coldzera, who picked up his second MVP performance of the year with a 1.16 rating (the second-highest of the team) and a +69 KDD showing (the best among all players). It is worth noting just how keenly contested this tournament was: Luminosity dropped a map to G2 in the group stage and one to Ninjas in Pyjamas in the semi-finals, and played out a spectacular five-game series against the Frenchmen in the final in what is described by many as one of the most exciting CS:GO matches of all time.
Luminosity kept up their streak of red-hot performances in Atlanta in the group stage of ELEAGUE Season 1, topping their group, which also featured Cloud9, Renegades and Team Liquid, with a sensational 10-1 record. coldzera was the third-best performer of his team, with a 1.25 rating and a 1.21 impact, but he would not able to test his skills against the league's best sides as the team would soon be disqualified as a result of their transfer to SK Gaming.
The Brazilian team's last event under Luminosity was the ECS Season 1 finals, in London, where they were defeated by G2 in the grand final after topping their group and easing past TSM in the semi-finals. coldzera was the team's second best at the event (1.09 rating, +19 KDD), with the heavy loss against the Frenchmen on Overpass really hurting his numbers.
Now playing under SK Gaming, the team travelled to Cologne for the second Major of the year, hosted by ESL. Once again, coldzera put up an MVP performance, helping SK to advance through their group, defeat FlipSid3 in the quarter-finals, survive a three-game thriller against Virtus.pro in the semi-finals, and edge past hometown favorites Team Liquid in the grand final. coldzera was the top player in eight different stats categories, including Rating (1.31), KDD (+89), ADR (88.4), KPR (0.89) and percentage of rounds with 1+ kill (59.2%). His impressive form can be seen from the fact that he did not have a single sub-1.00 map rating throughout the tournament and was SK’s top rated player in both the semi-finals and grand final.
"In my opinion, my best tournament was ESL One Cologne because I was more experienced [than in Columbus] and also better psychologically ready and focused to win the tournament."
ESL One Cologne spelledthe end of SK's dominant run. After the Summer break, during which teammate Fernando "fer" Alvarenga underwent nose surgery to fix a breathing problem, the team was not able to replicate the same level of form shown during the first months of the year. At ESL One New York, the team finished second in the Swiss group but then went down in the semi-finals against Virtus.pro. For coldzera, this was his second worst event of the year, with a 1.02 rating (only the third highest in the team) and a 1.00 impact. One more semi-final run was to follow for SK, who also took third-fourth at EPICENTER, with just one victory from five matches. With a 1.09 rating, coldzera ranked second in the team, but his 0.93 Impact was a year low.
"fer’s injury did affect us, because the time we had to practice for tournament ended up going to waste because we were playing with a stand-in. Moreover, some internal problems started affecting the team and the players psychologically due to lack of motivation."
Despite some shaky results, SK were still red-hot favorites for the ESL Pro League Season 4 finals, which took place in São Paulo. But even with the support of the home crowd, the Brazilians faltered at the final hurdle as they collapsed against Cloud9 in the title decider after a solid run that had seen them top their group ahead of the North Americans and Ninjas in Pyjamas. coldzera was back to being the nexus of fragging power for the team, ending the event with some solid numbers (1.09 Rating, +32 KDD and 83.7 ADR).
"It was wonderful to play in front of a Brazilian crowd, I had never seen such an amazing support. To be honest, I never expected to lose against Cloud9. Perhaps fatigue from the tournament played a role in our defeat."
SK remained in North America for the remainder of the year, attending three events: the ELEAGUE Season 2 finals, IEM Oakland and the ECS Season 2 finals. In all three of them, coldzera was SK's top performer, especially at the ECS finals, where his 1.11 rating was 16% higher than the team's average. But it was at IEM Oakland that his qualities really shone through as he inspired SK to a second-place finish with a 1.19 rating (the second highest among all players), +71 KDD, 1.22 impact and 75.1% KAST, getting his hands on yet another EVP award, his fourth since the start of the year.
And while coldzera was able to achieve all the goals he had set for himself at the start of the year, he admitted to having some regrets, one of them being his controversial remarks about Gustavo "SHOOWTiME" Gonçalves when the 19-year-old was subbing for the team in fer's stead.
"There are two things that I really regret: the first one is about SHOOWTIME. I acted without thinking because I hate losing. The second one is about playing poorly at IEM Katowice and not practicing with my team in a proper manner because of personal problems."
Why is he the best player of 2016?
First and foremost, it is worth noting that coldzera was the only player with three MVP awards. Two of them came at Majors, where he was the best by a long shot, while the third one came at the ESL Pro League Season 3 finals, one of the most exciting and keenly-contested big events of the year.
Additionally, he was named EVP on four occasions, the last of which at an event (IEM Oakland) where he came close to getting the MVP award despite being on the losing team in the final.
To put it simply: coldzera was most consistent player of the year in every regard: he was first in the world in number of maps with ratings above 0.85 (88%) and 1.00 (74%), first in terms of contribution (74% of his rounds ended with a kill, assist, survival or a traded death), and he was by far the best player at Majors, with a whopping 1.28 rating.
He was also joint second best in terms of kill consistency (0.80 KPR) and joint best when it comes to the percentage of rounds with at least one kill (52.6%).
"What separates me from the rest is that, unlike some, I am not satisfied by just practicing my role. I want to know what everyone on my team is doing so that I can learn from them and also play any role that I am asked.
"I want to do something that no one else has done and be the best and most consistent player in the world for many years and create a legacy. I am working towards being the best again this year, and I aim to surprise everyone with something different."
There is more to him that just firepower, though: he survived 38.6% of his rounds, which means he was one of the hardest players to kill, and he also showed nerves of steel in 1vX situations, winning 46 clutches, the fifth-highest record of the year.
Overall, his impressive consistency and top fragging ability, the fact that he delivered when it mattered most and took a leading role in all of his team's greatest achievements help to explain why the 22-year-old finished the year with the #1 spot in our ranking.
"You will hear a lot about this young guy called felps!"