Coming in at number 14 in the Top 20 players of 2017 powered by EGB.com is North's star Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke, who makes the list for the first time as one of the best fraggers and most impactful players of the year, hitting high peaks in his team's deep runs.
As a very young player, Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke started out by playing small local tournaments in Counter-Strike: Source, but he never became known until CS:GO well and truly kicked off by 2015 when he first emerged with Reason under Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen's leadership.
Despite having played zero notable events, the Dane very quickly got a chance in SK — alongside Michael "Friis" Jørgensen, Asger "AcilioN" Larsen, Rasmus "SandeN" Sanden, and Casper "cadiaN" Møller — and attended his first LAN at DreamHack Open London in September 2015, making a good account of himself despite the team's early elimination. k0nfig was never officially announced as SK's permanent member and his tenure there didn't last long, as he received an offer from dignitas and joined up with Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen, Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye, Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel, and Jesper "TENZKI" Plougmann a month later.
"I tried playing small tournaments around my hometown in Denmark in CSS, but I wasn't good enough to get onto a team back then, or old enough."
"I actually don't really know how I became "known" in the danish CS scene, and I was just as surprised as everyone else when i joined up with Dignitas. 1 in a million and I just had to go for it."
The then 18-year-old began proving himself more than just a talent, namely with a great showing at one of the first bigger tournaments of 2016, GEC, during dignitas' runner-up finish.
"It was always a blast playing with Kjaerbye and Magisk in the team. It has impact when you play with good players, and I believe I learn pretty quick from others, that might be the thing that has helped me the most."
With the new lineup, dignitas took the scene by storm in September and October. Placing 3rd-4th at SL i-League StarSeries S2 Finals and DreamHack Open Bucharest, the Danes were on the rise and soon grabbed their first titles at WESG EU & CIS Finals and the highly contested EPICENTER: Moscow, with k0nfig putting up two MVP-worthy performances.
"We had something called 'the unknown.' When people played us, they didn't study us as much as they do now. I think that is what we need to find. The way to be a Rubik's cube, only a few can solve us, but not all."
While that level wouldn't last as dignitas sank towards the end of the year, they were still able to end 2016 by qualifying for the ELEAGUE Major while k0nfig was once again one of the best players of the Main Qualifier.
Despite some of his high peaks, he barely missed out on 2016's Top 20 players ranking due to inconsistency, while two of his teammates, Magisk and Kjaerbye, made the list after breaking out that year as well.
North began the 2017 season at the ELEAGUE Major in January. While it wasn't the best start to the year k0nfig could have imagined individually, the Danes scraped through to the playoffs despite going 0-2 at the beginning. In one of the group stage matches — the last, in fact — k0nfig did what he now perhaps jokingly considers his biggest regret in 2017, famously knifing Andreas "znajder" Lindberg in a 1v1 situation at 15-15 in the do-or-die scenario.
"[My biggest regret was] knifing znajder… [winks]"
Defeating GODSENT in the end, North scheduled a quarter-final matchup they had known very well from the September-October period of the previous year, Virtus.pro, who eliminated the Danes after a close series. It was at that time when MSL's men made their first lineup change of the year, as shortly after the Major RUBINO announced his departure while Philip "aizy" Aistrup took his place.
"Nothing was set in stone, but the problems with Ruben had been there for a while, and we just kind of waited for him to say it. I think I didn't play on my usual level because I really wanted to win, and that made me do some stupid decisions and hero plays which results in failure in the end."
k0nfig regained some of his old form in North's run to the semi-finals at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, their first tournament with the new player, but that was the furthest placing the new team gathered for months to come. Although the 20-year-old continued to play at a good level throughout groups at IEM Katowice, the Danish squad went out in quarter-finals to the Immortals squad that had just made a lineup change, starting their issues in favorable matchups that would last for two more tournaments from there on.
k0nfig played his part in groups again at StarSeries, peaking in a tight match on Cache against FaZe, but that time it was HellRaisers eliminating the Danes after the youngster's performance dropped in the quarter-final series. North's poor period ran its course at IEM Sydney, where the team took eventual finalists SK and FaZe to close matches but failed to make it past the biggest underdogs of the tournament, Chiefs, to finish 6th-7th.
"Those losses [to HR and Chiefs] was our own fault. There's nothing and no one to blame but ourselves. We switched roles on a few maps, and tried new stuff, and it didn't work out."
North finally got back on their feet in May, when it was time for ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals. In the journey to the grand final against G2, which included mousesports, Natus Vincere, OpTic and Liquid, k0nfig was by far the team's best player and one of the best at the entire tournament, particularly excelling at fragging overall (0.82 kills per round) and opening kills (0.15 per round) to earn his first EVP mention in 2017.
"I felt really confident whole tournament, and I felt like we had everyone under control. Before the matches we just knew what we went into, and we were never really surprised against teams. We had the perfect antistrat and everyone knew on the team what they had to do if there's a certain smoke that lands or gets thrown from somewhere."
Despite solid play on the CT sides, k0nfig then put up his worst showing when it came to Terrorist sides at ESL One Cologne, where North got eliminated in 9th-11th place after losses to SK and FaZe.
That proved to be only a stumble in what was his best period of the year, however, as he was back to his impactful self throughout the PGL Major group stage. There, North once again became Legends following a 3-1 record in the Swiss format but — yet again — fell to Virtus.pro in the quarter-finals, after a lopsided series.
Swapping Magisk for Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså during the off-season that followed the second Major of the year, North went into the first tournament of the second part of the year reinvigorated. With a new star at his back, k0nfig was at his best at DreamHack Masters Malmö, powering his squad to no small feat, a series win against SK in groups. Defeating Immortals and Gambit with relative ease in the playoffs, North set up another G2 rendezvous in the grand final and the title eluded them once more, in spite of k0nfig's heroic efforts on Inferno.
Nonetheless, the star settled for another EVP and proceeded to grab an MVP at a medium-sized tournament DreamHack Open Montreal, which ended with the infamous one-map grand final versus Immortals.
Following a favorable route at ELEAGUE Premier that included fnatic, Immortals, and Heroic, North placed 3rd-4th in Atlanta, losing to FaZe in semis, as k0nfig added another solid event to his resumé.
The Atlanta tournament ended up being his last good showing in 2017. It was of little consolation that North's star finished the next one, EPICENTER, as the team's best-rated player, as it was an average 1.02 rating that got him there — largely affected by an extremely one-sided series against G2 that played a part in North's group stage elimination.
The worst was yet to come, to add insult to injury, at the two Danish tournaments that closed out the year for North, BLAST Pro Series and ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals. While k0nfig dropped below a 0.90 rating at both tournaments, North only garnered a win and two ties in Copenhagen and a single win in five matches in Odense, which included losses to Misfits and NRG.
"I was stressed out, I felt like the ending of the year was a bit hard for me personally. I was really exhausted after these two tournaments, and I slept longer than ever. I couldn't find my form at these two tournaments, really unlucky, but sometimes you can't get what you want."
Asked about his wishes and goals for 2018, k0nfig simply replied that he prays for a title or two, which eluded him throughout 2017 aside from the smaller win in Montreal:
"That we'll get a win or two under the belt. That is my biggest wish. And I'm praying everyday for a tournament win."
Why is he the 14th best player of 2017?
k0nfig earned his first entry in the Top 20 players ranking as one of the best fraggers of 2017 overall and North's top fragger at nine of their 14 notable events, posting 0.74 kills per round on average (ninth most).
Thanks to high numbers in opening kills (0.13 per round, ninth most) and multi-kills (in 19.2% of his rounds, eighth most), the Danish star was also one of the most impactful players of the year, averaging a 1.20 impact rating (ninth highest).
While k0nfig's sole MVP medal came from a medium-sized event, DreamHack Open Montreal, his EVPs in North's campaigns at ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals and DreamHack Masters Malmö eclipsed the award as some of the best non-MVP performances of 2017.
Outside of the aforementioned runs, however, k0nfig mostly did his damage in group stages and had a few sub-par performances, namely at the ELEAGUE Major, BLAST Pro Series and ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals.
Another factor keeping him from a higher placing was that he often died in vain due to over-aggression, as shown by only 16% of his deaths being traded (second fewest out of players in the top 20), 0.12 opening deaths per round, and 68.4% KAST (second lowest out of the top 20 players).
"My gamestyle is ofcourse a risk-taking one, but I didn't know about my deaths being traded, I'll get MSL or someone to follow me a bit more around the map, when I'm on the hunt for enemies. These numbers will be better for next year I believe."
"I think our new danish youngster stavn is going to show the world how to play CS newstyle. He's only 15 and probably the biggest star in the Danish scene at this moment."