Player stock shift: January
In the first article of our new monthly series, we take a look how players did individually throughout January and pinpointed those who performed well above and well below expectations, with their stock rising or falling depending on how they did in this month's tournaments.
Most of January was taken up by the ELEAGUE Major, with the three stages spanning just as many weeks, two in Atlanta with the Main Qualifier (New Challengers stage) and the group stage (New Legends stage), and one in Boston with the playoffs (New Champions stage).
As we are now well into February, we have also included Assembly Winter as a smaller tournament. The Finnish event took place last weekend in Helsinki, where HAVU clinched the trophy after a grand final against LDLC.
In the Player Stock Shift we do not only commemorate players who played well and criticize those who played poorly in general; we consider their usual level — what we've come to expect from them — and compare it to that of last month to decide whose stock rose and whose dropped.
You will find that we haven't mentioned the ELEAGUE Major MVP Tarik "tarik" Celik or any of the nine EVPs (some of whom would have likely qualified for the stock shift, such as Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham), as they were all covered extensively in our previous article. In the future, it's possible there will be some EVPs in the list, as multiple tournaments will take place throughout the month.
In Atlanta, Wilton "zews" Prado stood in for Lucas "steel" Lopes in the Liquid squad, with the coach making sure that he helped the team as much as possible, whether that meant dropping weapons left and right, going in first every chance he got, or taking over in-game leadership.
The last part certainly had a positive effect on Nick "nitr0" Cannella, who was freed from the shackles of leadership duties last month and put in his best performance since 2016, particularly in the New Challengers Stage in which he averaged a 1.33 rating across six maps, carrying Liquid to the next phase. While he dropped off in the New Legends Stage, he was still a stable performer and kept his place at the top of the charts within his team over both stages combined.
The three Major stages saw Richard "shox" Papillon return to a lurking role in G2 with an aim to become the star of the team, after he — one of the very best players of CS:GO history — had endured a disappointing 2017 following the creation of the current roster.
In Atlanta, the 25-year-old was back to his old self, starring for the French squad in the New Challengers Stage (1.42 rating, 1.70 impact rating) as well as in the main tournament (1.19 rating) with aggressive lurking, putting up 0.18 opening kills per round across the three stages.
Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson was the best player by quite some margin in fnatic's journey to yet another Legends status, earning an EVP mention along the way. But a very high level is something that we have learned to expect from the team's bearded star.
Instead it's Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson whose stock rose following the Boston playoffs. While he didn't have a particularly noteworthy New Legends stage aside from a 1.86 rating in a 16-2 thrashing versus Gambit, he played one of the best series of his career in the quarter-finals against SK, putting on a show on each of the three maps, averaging a 87.5 ADR and 1.24 rating, the highest in fnatic.
Alexey "Qikert" Golubev was expected to be AVANGAR's best player in the New Challengers Stage after he had shown an incredible level at the CIS Minor, playing the biggest part in the Kazakh team's victory in Bucharest in October.
While the 19-year-old played well throughout the first stage in Atlanta, where AVANGAR almost secured spot in the New Legends Stage, it was Timur "buster" Tulepov who took the tournament by surprise with a consistent contribution, averaging a 1.14 rating after seven matches.
AVANGAR's AWPer, Dzhami "Jame" Ali, was also a big contributor in his team's long journey in the first stage in Atlanta. Although the only Russian player in the squad was inconsistent, his peaks in AVANGAR's three wins and the highest kills per round with the AWP on the T side (0.41) out of all players competing in this stage proved that he is a player on the rise, especially if you consider that the tournament featured by far the toughest opposition the team has ever faced.
When you think of Space Soldiers, the first two players who come to mind are the main stars, Ismailcan "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş and Buğra "Calyx" Arkın, both of whom played well in the first two stages of the Major.
However, Ahmet "paz" Karahoca was Space Soldiers' most impactful player in the five wins they gathered across the two stages, and a lot of it was down to his superb displays in the 19-17 triumph versus MOUZ that pushed the Turks into the New Legends Stage, and in the victories over Cloud9 and BIG, later on.
It should come as no surprise to see Quantum Bellator Fire here. The lineup came from almost nothing at the beginning of January, and by the end of the month they were Legends at a Major. That alone is enough of a reason for the team's stock to go up, but, on top of that, each player had their say in the team's successful journey in one way or another.
Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov and Savelii "jmqa" Bragin led the way to QB Fire's three wins in the New Challengers Stage, while Nikita "waterfaLLZ" Matveyev woke up in the group stage. Gregory "balblna" Oleinick and Aurimas "Kvik" Kvakšys both had streaks of brilliance, with the Lithuanian AWPer playing a huge part in the team's comeback against MOUZ on Train, powering Quantum Bellator Fire to the Legends status.
Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov was another player who turned heads at the Major, to which Gambit had been invited as defending champions. While the team finished the New Legends Stage with a 2-3 record — a shorter journey than expected — the Russian veteran, who was the in-game leader at the time, surprised with a great show in three of Gambit's five matches at the Major, against Natus Vincere, Quantum Bellator Fire, and Space Soldiers, two of which they won.
Last, but not least, the only player on this list who wasn't at the Major is HAVU's Otto "ottoNd" Sihvo, who shone throughout Assembly Winter — a smaller tournament, but also one that has helped produce stars like Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye in the past.
On the way to the title, HAVU played a total of nine maps, with ottoNd putting up a 1.00+ rating on all of them, including in their two losses against North Academy and LDLC, outshining Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen with a 1.37 average rating. If we were to name the MVP of the Finnish tournament, it would be ottoNd.
Denis "seized" Kostin's stock dropped a significant amount around the end of 2016, when Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko exited Natus Vincere and the Russian player took up in-game leading. Even though he has rarely climbed out of the red zone since that time, he hit a particularly big low at the Major while he stood in for FlipSid3, who suffered a quick death after three matches.
It's possible that seized was simply set up to fail, playing for a team that clearly were not prepared for the tournament following a long hiatus from offline events. It seems that's how Gambit see it as well, as he has since replaced Bektiyar "fitch" Bahytov in the Kazakh-Russian squad.
We've come to expect a lot from Hobbit, who broke out in 2017 and placed 11th in the Top 20 ranking after practically no poor tournaments throughout last year, but he started 2018 on the wrong foot.
At the ELEAGUE Major, he only had one good map, in the 16-5 win against Natus Vincere at the very beginning of his team's short run. Then, he dropped into the red zone and never climbed back, finishing the tournament with a measly 0.88 rating as Gambit crashed out with a 2-3 record in the New Legends Stage.
At the ELEAGUE Major, fitch found a new low with Gambit, averaging his team's lowest rating at 0.76, similar to that from the PGL Major Main Qualifier, when he was still part of Tengri. His release from Gambit's active roster earlier this week, a decision in which his performance at the Major certainly played a factor, goes on to prove that his stock dropped last month.
In his career with North and Dignitas before that, René "cajunb" Borg was almost always a stable contributor, even if he wasn't the team's star by any means. However, the New Legends Stage saw the Danish hybrid-turned-AWPer record one of his worst performances to date, with a 0.73 rating across the team's three double-digit losses.
Talking about k0nfig, he has certainly hit a streak of poor form lately, starting with a couple of poor showings late last year at two Danish events, BLAST Pro Series and ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals.
It still came as a surprise to see him struggle after an extended break, however. He didn't revert to the star he had been for most of 2017 as he had a 0.96 rating in North's 0-3 run, which featured defeats to Vega Squadron, Astralis, and BIG.
Late last year, Nicolai "device" Reedtz missed three tournaments in a row after his health became a significant issue before IEM Oakland, as he missed the first match due to illness and was hospitalized shortly after the event. When he returned for the ELEAGUE Major, Astralis put him back in his old rifling role while Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen continued to AWP.
Whether his health was still an issue in Atlanta or the role swap didn't fit him, device was nowhere near the superstar we know him to be. He will have a chance to redeem himself soon enough with the new lineup infused by Emil "Magisk" Reif, who took Kjaerbye's place earlier this week.
The last player whose stock dropped in January surprisingly comes in the form of Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, whose SK fielded João "felps" Vasconcellos instead of Ricardo "boltz" Prass at the ELEAGUE Major and managed to reach the semi-finals.
Still, fer was far from the superstar that he had been throughout last year and that had earned him third place in 2017's Top 20 ranking, with only four good maps out of 10 at the Major. It's possible that the stand-in situation played a factor and that he can bounce back starting today, at cs_summit 2.