With DreamHack Masters Stockholm in the rearview mirror, we took a look at the numbers and determined which players did enough to justify EVP nods at the event.
The first Big Event of the new tournament season, DreamHack Masters Stockholm came to a close on Sunday with North coming out on top after winning an all-Danish final against Astralis, who still maintain their status as the No.1 team in the world.
As announced after the event, Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the competition for his impact in North's most important matches, including the grand final, his surprising AWP prowess and ability to open up rounds.
Now it is time to look further and reveal the Exceptionally Valuable Players (EVPs), players who stood out by performing consistently on a high level or by putting in great displays in important matches that led to team success. The two finalists, as well as and NiP, provide two EVPs apiece, while mousesports are represented by just one player on this seven-man roster.
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and Marcelo "coldzera" David all came close to making the cut, but their lacklustre performances in the quarter-finals ultimately saw them miss out on a place on this list.
HLTV.org's EVP picks (by order):
After several months in which it seemed like he had one foot out the door, Philip "aizy" Aistrup delivered the goods in Stockholm and silenced his critics with an average 1.17 rating - his personal best at a Big Event since ELEAGUE Season 1, when he was still plying his trade for FaZe.
In the Swedish capital, the 22-year-old stood out in his team's shocking 2-1 victory over Astralis in Group A's winners' match with a 1.19 rating - the only North player to finish that series in the green. His group stage performance against the No1. team in the world, which included a spectacular showing on Inferno (1.64 rating, +13 KDD and 104.3), helped him to finish as North's top-rated player in the group stage (1.24 rating), his closest suitor having been Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye (1.14).
When it came to the playoffs, aizy's rating dropped considerably (1.13), but he was still North's second-best player, behind Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså, raising eyebrows in the quarter-final series against Natus Vincere (1.64 rating, 98.7 ADR) and in the grand final, in which he was the team's best player on the first two maps.
aizy left Stockholm as North's leader in terms of clutches won (five), Impact rating (1.22), number of maps with ratings higher than 1.30 (five) and damage difference per round (+14). A performance truly reminiscent of his 2015 form and that gives North's fans some hope for the future.
With confidence running high after picking up an MVP award in Valencia, valde played a key part in North's title-winning campaign, averaging a 1.16 rating - his second-highest at a Big Event in 2018 after IEM Katowice (1.17).
After a slow start to life in Stockholm, with a 1.08 rating in the group stage, valde stepped up massively in the playoffs, in which he averaged a 1.21 rating - by far the best in North and the third-highest overall, only behind Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg's 1.23 and Robin "ropz" Kool's 1.22.
The 23-year-old led the charge for North against Na`Vi, destroying the Ukrainian team on Train (2.11 rating, 112.4 ADR), and against mousesports, with his team-leading Inferno performance (1.27 rating, 100.5 ADR) helping the Danes to recover from a 0-16 beating.
Despite his stunning playoff form and his high KDD (+40, the best in North), it must be pointed out that he had the second-lowest impact rating (1.01) in the team, which helps to explain why he features behind MSL and aizy on our list of top players from Stockholm.
Nicolai "device" Reedtz once again features as the top player for Astralis, though this time it was not enough for his team to pick up a title. His 1.25 rating in Stockholm was only his sixth-best at Big Events in 2018, which goes to show just how high his ceiling this year has been.
The Danish AWPer had an uncharacteristically low 0.99 rating in Astralis' 16-3 thrashing of Grayhound, but he pulled his weight against North and TYLOO, ending the group stage as the team's highest-rated player (1.28). He looked particularly sharp in the three-map series against the Chinese side, in which he put in his highest rating at the tournament (2.22, on Dust2).
device was Astralis' second-best player on both maps against MIBR (1.28 average rating) and the main instigator against NiP (1.39), though he had a bit-part role in the title decider against North, only standing out on Train as he picked up five kills on Dust2 and nine on Overpass. Still, he left the tournament with the highest playoff rating in the team (1.19).
The 22-year-old was in the top five in eight stats categories, leading in KDD (+63), total kills (263) and AWP frags (113). He had the highest impact in Astralis (1.23) and the highest rating in map wins that led to victories (1.38), and was ranked first in the tournament in terms of opening kill difference (+26). He was also by far Astralis' best player on the CT side, on which he averaged a 1.23 rating - his closest teammate being Emil "Magisk" Reif at 1.10 -, while on the Terrorist side he was ranked third in the team (1.24), behind Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth (1.30) and Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen (1.28).
Xyp9x returns to an EVP list for the first time since DreamHack Masters Marseille. After a couple of unimpressive showings, in Cologne and Atlanta, the 22-year-old posted a 1.17 rating in his team's Stockholm run - his second highest tournament rating at a Big Event in 2018.
He was the only player on Astralis to perform better in the playoffs (1.18 rating) than in the groups (1.16), averaging an impressive 1.29 rating against MIBR and NiP before barely finishing in the green against North in the final (1.02).
It is no surprise to see Xyp9x at the top of the clutch list, with ten 1vsX situations won, and he also featured in the top five in five other categories, including deaths per round (0.56), KDD (+56) and total headshots (116). A spectacular return to form from Astralis' anchor, which, unfortunately for him, did not translate into a title.
ropz earns his third EVP mention of the year, after StarSeries i-League Season 4 and ESL One Belo Horizonte, after contributing to mousesports' top-four finish in Stockholm with a team-leading 1.18 rating - his personal best at a Big Event.
The young Estonian looked a bit rusty in the group stage match against MIBR, which helps to explain why he finished this stage with a 1.14 rating - still mousesports' second-highest -, but he showed his true colours in the playoffs with a 1.22 rating (second highest overall), putting in a strong performance against North (1.28 rating, 81.9 ADR) that, however, was not enough for his team to prevent defeat against the eventual winners.
ropz did not particularly stand out in any stats category, only twice featuring in the event's leadearboards, for KDD and deaths per round, but his incredible 1.40 rating in map wins leading to victories is the perfect example of his contribution to mousesports' top-four finish in Stockholm.
After failing to impress at ESL One Cologne and at the Europe Minor, f0rest showed once again that he still has it as he inspired NiP to a semi-final appearance in Stockholm with a 1.26 rating - his highest at an event of this stature since last year's trip to Cologne.
From the beginning of the tournament, it was clear that f0rest and Fredrik "REZ" Sterner would be doing most of the work for the Ninjas, with the 30-year-old dropping a 30-bomb against NRG before being the team's second-best contributor on all three maps against Ghost, ending the series with an average 1.18 rating.
But the best had yet to come as f0rest delivered a real treat of a performance against Heroic, especially on Nuke (2.28 rating, 135 ADR). Against Astralis there was little that he could do to prevent his team from getting steamrolled in a one-sided series, which brought his playoff rating down to 1.23 - the highest overall.
After six Big Events, f0rest finally gets his first EVP nod of the year after impressing in several areas besides rating, including percentage of rounds with at least one frag (55.3%), kills per round (0.83) and headshots per round (0.52).
REZ rounds out the EVP list after putting in big numbers throughout NiP's semi-final run in Stockholm. While f0rest had huge peaks in the tournament, REZ was a bit more consistent, with seven out of eight maps with above 1.00 ratings and five with ratings higher than 1.30 - two more than his compatriot.
The IEM Oakland 2017 MVP holder, who stood out in NiP's group stage win over Ghost (1.32 rating) and in the quarter-final series against Heroic (1.54), ended the tournament in the top five in nine stats categories, including rating (1.28), damage difference per round (15.4) and clutches won (six). He was also the best at finding opening frags (0.17 per round) and had the highest percentage of rounds with at least one frag (56.3%).