Player stock shift: February
Our monthly series 'Player stock shift' continues as we have analyzed players who took part in international LAN tournaments throughout February and found out whose stock rose and whose fell based on their performances last month.
Four tournaments were considered for this edition of Player stock shift, ordered by importance: IEM Katowice, StarSeries i-League Season 4, cs_summit 2 and Play2Live Cryptomasters.
In the end, we found 16 players whose change in performance last month, up or down compared to our expectations of them, was noteworthy enough to warrant a spot on the list.
We have previously presented the MVPs of the bigger tournaments and the EVPs (Exceptionally Valuable Players) of IEM and StarSeries, some of whom have found a way here as well, due to an unexpectedly high level throughout February.
In case you missed it, here is the previous Player stock shift:
From his time with Renegades, it was already clear Keith "NAF" Markovic has been picking up speed, as showcased by his MVP-worthy play at SL i-League Invitational Shanghai and a great individual showing at IEM Oakland.
Since he joined up with Liquid in early February, the Canadian star has shown the ability to keep up that level with incredible consistency when the stakes, as well as the competition, are high. NAF is the most decorated player of the month, with an MVP medal from cs_summit after firing Liquid to their first title ever, and two EVP mentions from the big events, StarSeries and IEM.
After he returned from a lengthy break due to health issues, Nicolai "device" Reedtz's stock dropped last month when he put in one of the worst performances of his career at the ELEAGUE Major, with a 0.91 rating in the group stage.
In February, he returned to AWPing and looked more like the device we know, particularly at IEM Katowice — where he was more stable than at StarSeries —, earning an EVP nod as Astralis' best player in their run to semi-finals following series wins over SK and Liquid.
Another player whose stock had fallen in January was Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, who had dipped to average numbers at best at the Major. It's only fair we put the third-best player of 2017 back where he belongs, as he was back in form in February despite SK's struggles.
StarSeries stands out as fer's best tournament of the month out of the three SK attended, as his EVP from the Kiev tournament suggests, but he was among the team's best players at cs_summit 2 and IEM Katowice as well — as he should be.
Even though StarSeries went poorly for fnatic as a team and for Robin "flusha" Rönnquist individually, he certainly deserves a spot amidst the rising players of February for his amazing play at IEM Katowice.
Although flusha has been a solid performer since late last year, Katowice was by far his best tournament since the old fnatic split up in 2016 at the very least, perhaps even since his MVP-worthy display at ESL One Cologne 2015.
As one of Denmark's most intriguing prospects since he joined up with Heroic in early 2017, Jakob "JUGi" Hansen would have probably been part of such a list before, had we featured the Player stock shift last year.
February showed that the 20-year-old AWPer is still on the rise with a 1.16 rating across 11 maps (seven against top-10 teams) at StarSeries, as well as a few other key performances throughout the month, particularly in Heroic's series versus NIP at cs_summit 2 and against Na`Vi in Kiev.
Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså's streak of poor form running from October to January has come to an end; instead, he has become North's main star following the changes the Danes made after the Major, bringing in Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye and Daniel "mertz" Mertz.
Although the team has so far failed to improve their results in any significant manner, valde was one of February's best-rated players. He recorded a 1.32 rating at cs_summit 2 thanks to two great series against Vega Squadron and SK, and a 1.17 rating at IEM Katowice, where his heroic effort against NIP wasn't enough to carry North to playoffs.
We once again give a mention to the best player of a smaller-sized tournament, after Otto "ottoNd" Sihvo had made his way to the list of rising players, powering HAVU to the title at Assembly Winter in January.
Towards the end of 2017 there was little doubt Ricardo "boltz" Prass was a fantastic addition to SK, as he helped the Brazilian squad win three titles in four tournaments with an average 1.12 rating, which helped him secure the 18th spot in 2017's Top 20 players.
After missing the Major, boltz returned to the team as a completely different player, dropping to below-average numbers in all three tournaments in which he competed in February, cs_summit 2, StarSeries, and IEM Katowice.
Another player whose form seems to align with his team's struggles is William "RUSH" Wierzba. Although he started the month with an EVP-worthy performance at cs_summit, things didn't go well in the more prestigious tournaments.
While Cloud9 finished 9th-11th at StarSeries and 5th-6th at IEM Katowice, RUSH fell to measly ratings due to a handful of poor displays against some the world's best teams, such as FaZe, SK, and Liquid.
It would be unfair to put blame on Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro when it comes to G2's losses that prevented them from placing higher at StarSeries and IEM Katowice, because some of his teammates went missing in those matches as well, and the difference in those cases was comparatively more noticeable.
Nonetheless, the 21-year-old's average level in February was low enough to justify his stock going down, especially when looking at how he had played at the ELEAGUE Major, in January.
Hansel "BnTeT" Ferdinand has been the consistent star of TYLOO ever since he joined, in early 2017. That changed in February, when he had his first bad individual tournament at StarSeries, recording 1.00+ ratings in only two out of eight maps.
His return to form at IEM Katowice the following week suggests Kiev was only a stumble, but we should still keep an eye on the Indonesian in TYLOO's next tournaments to see whether he truly bounces back.
There is no question that Virtus.pro have been failing as a team for a long time now, which is why none of them appeared in the January stock shift. With another month having passed, Filip "NEO" Kubski and Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski now clearly stand below the rest with 0.82 ratings over the last two months — even though they had been able to hold their own in some of the previous tournaments —, with no real change following the addition of Michał "MICHU" Müller.
Although we've grown used to an unimpressive level from Bence "DeadFox" Böröcz in the new HellRaisers team, who have transferred AWPing duties to Özgür "woxic" Eker while the Hungarian is now mainly a rifler, it's hard not to see StarSeries as a big low for the second-longest standing member of HR.
Throughout the Kiev tournament, DeadFox only had one good map — against MVP PK, the biggest underdogs — out of 11. Given the level of opposition (no top 10 teams at the time) and the sample size, StarSeries may in fact have been his worst tournament to date.
In the January Player stock shift, we featured AVANGAR's AWPer as one of the rising players after he had impressed in the ELEAGUE Major's New Challengers Stage, pushing the Kazakh team further in the competition despite being heavily outmatched.