With September's last two tournaments, ESL One New York and BLAST Pro Series Istanbul, done and dusted, it's time to present our EVP (Exceptionally Valuable Players) picks of the two $250,000 tournaments.
As ESL One New York and BLAST Pro Series Istanbul happened to take place on the same weekend, the top teams split up among the last two big tournaments of September, with mousesports, Liquid, FaZe, and Natus Vincere attending the former, while Astralis and MIBR opted for the Turkish event.
While Na`Vi and FaZe faltered in New York, mousesports seized the opportunity to secure their first title with Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski after fending off Liquid in the grand final. On the other side of the world, Astralis hoisted their sixth trophy since April, with MIBR taking the Danes to their limit in the grand final of BLAST Pro Series Istanbul.
Despite being on the losing side of the grand final, Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken claimed his first MVP award in the Big Apple after he outdid everyone with a 1.36 rating, while Nicolai "device" Reedtz received his fourth medal of 2018, propelling Astralis to the title with a tournament-leading 1.39 rating.
HLTV.org's EVP picks (by order) of the two tournaments are the following:
Securing his fourth EVP of 2018, suNny leads the list with his best tournament since ESL One Belo Horizonte, the event where he had last earned the nod, as mousesports' best player in their title-winning campaign at ESL One New York.
The Finn was among the strongest candidates for the MVP award heading into the final after keeping a consistent level throughout groups with 1.00 or higher ratings on six out of six maps in the close affairs against Gambit and fnatic, followed by a Player of the Map award with great play on the opening map of mouz's semi-final against NRG, Inferno.
Over the course of the whole tournament, the 24-year-old was mousesports' best damage dealer (82 ADR, fifth-most overall), fragger (0.75 KPR, fifth most), and he also finished the tournament with the highest KAST within the team (74%, fourth most).
The in-game leader and secondary AWPer of mousesports was significantly less consistent than his Finnish teammate throughout the New York event — both match-to-match and round-to-round —, but his numerous high peaks and overall impact in their wins put the Dutch player right behind suNny.
chrisJ had at least one great map in each stage of the tournament, starting with a PotM-worthy 2.22 rating on the deciding map in the group A opener against fnatic, Mirage, and a 1.29 rating in the team's comeback on Dust2 against Gambit. He then stepped things up further in the playoffs, earning two more PotM awards in the semi-final (on Nuke) and on the fifth map of the grand final, Mirage, while also putting up a great effort in another comeback on Dust2 in the same series.
His highly aggressive nature was a double-edged sword in New York, as he had the most opening deaths out of anyone (0.17 per round), but he also put up a lot of multi-kills and opening kills (0.15 opening kills per round, second most overall), which made him mousesports' most impactful player with a 1.25 impact rating.
oskar was another strong MVP contender before the grand final as his team's best player up to that stage with seven out of eight maps above a 1.15 rating, including one PotM in mousesports' climb from a 6-14 deficit on Train against fnatic in their opening match of Group A.
He continued well with another PotM from the first map of the grand final, Cache, but he dropped off during the next three maps before finishing strongly with solid play on the fifth, Mirage.
Those three underwhelming maps in the grand final, mainly in the close win on Dust2, are what cost the Czech a few spots on the list and potentially the MVP award. Nonetheless, he was a big factor in mousesports' successful campaign as one of the best players on the CT side (similarly to his aforementioned teammates) and clutchers, with six successful 1vsX situations (joint first) to his name.
With a career-high performance at ESL One New York, nitr0 has earned his first big-event EVP mention of 2018 and his second overall after cs_summit as one of Liquid's pillars throughout the $250,000 tournament.
Much like the rest of the team, nitr0 kept up a great level during the group stage, where he peaked twice — in the team's opening loss to NRG on Overpass and against G2 on Cache —, and he proceeded to put up a 1.60 rating in the semi-finals versus Gambit. Although he was less prevalent in the grand final, finishing the best-of-five loss with a 1.00 rating, he grabbed his third PotM award there with a 1.92 rating in one of Liquid's two map wins, on Nuke.
The in-game leader finished the tournament as his team's second highest-rated player behind the MVP, Twistzz, and the fifth-highest overall with a 1.19 rating. He was among the hardest to kill with only 0.56 deaths per round (joint second fewest) and put in five clutches, including three 1-on-2s.
The American led Liquid to first place in Group B alongside Keith "NAF" Markovic with four great performances in the maps the North American team won in groups and put up another in the one-sided semi-final affair with Gambit on Nuke as the opening map. Like nitr0, he faltered in the grand final with an overall 0.97 rating, but his play was among the biggest factors why Liquid secured two maps in the best-of-five, as he clinched his second PotM award on Inferno.
After making it to the grand final of StarSeries i-League Season 5 earlier this year, NRG surprised once again at ESL One New York by making it out of a group that included Liquid and FaZe. This time, it was neither Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov nor Ethan "nahtE" Arnold who led the North American squad to the achievement, with Brehze taking the helm in New York.
He started off with a PotM performance in NRG's overtime win on Overpass against Liquid, and even though he couldn't stay on that level for the rest of the series, the 20-year-old made up for it in the remainder of the group stage.
With four great maps, including his second PotM in the elimination match versus FaZe, he shot up to the top as the most impactful player of the group stage with a 1.43 impact rating and a 1.27 rating over the course of the first three days of the event. Brehze then dropped off in the semi-final loss to mousesports, but he still made an effort to keep NRG afloat in the series with a respectable performance on Inferno.
After being the top EVP among Astralis' players at the FACEIT Major, dupreeh is once again the highest Danish pick after putting in a 1.25 rating in Istanbul, his third best of the year at a Big Event, after the ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals (1.31, which landed him the MVP medal) and ESL One Cologne (1.26).
The 25-year-old began the event in blistering form and dominated the round-robin stage, in which he was joint-top with Xyp9x in terms of rating (1.42). He was able to carry that form into the first map of the final, where he had a 1.61 rating, but he fell off on the other two maps, which brought his series rating down to 1.02.
But despite somewhat struggling in the final, dupreeh still left Istanbul with some impressive numbers: two Player of the Map (PotM) mentions, a 79.6 ADR, a 1.19 Impact rating and a 1.45 rating on the CT side, making the stats leaderboards in nine different categories.
Xyp9x picked up where he had left off at the Major and powered Astralis to another title after averaging a 1.26 rating - second only to device's 1.38 and one of his best of the year at Big Events, only behind DreamHack Masters Marseille (1.29).
Just like dupreeh, Xyp9x was a joy to watch in the round-robin stage, in which he had 1.20+ ratings in all five games, peaking against Cloud9 (1.74 rating, +17 KDD). He was not exactly stellar in the final but still held his own, finishing the series with the second-highest rating of his team, 1.04.
The 23-year-old support player is known for his clutching ability, but, curiously, he was the only Astralis player who did not win a 1vsX situation in Turkey. He made up for that with his remarkable consistency, though, finishing six out of eight maps with ratings higher than 1.15, averaging the highest T side rating of the entire tournament (1.39) and the highest damage difference per round (+22.3).
gla1ve gets his sixth EVP nod of the year after another impressive showing for his team in Istanbul. The Danish in-game leader enjoyed a great start to the tournament, with good ratings against Virtus.pro (1.57) and Space Soldiers (1.35), but his level dropped in the remaining round-robin matches, which saw him finish this stage with a 1.24 rating - the lowest on the team.
The Astralis in-game leader recorded seven maps with above-average ratings, five of those higher than 1.15. He also featured in the leaderboards in five different stats categories, finishing second to Xyp9x in deaths per round (0.49) and to Magisk in support rounds (25.4%).
The two-time Player of the Year was a massive contributor in the round-robin stage with a 1.29 rating, with his next closest teammate being Jake "Stewie2K" Yip at 1.11. He was also the team's highest-rated player in the grand final against Astralis, standing out on Inferno, where his 1.33 rating helped the Brazilians to push the game all the way to the 30th round.
coldzera was by far MIBR's best player on the CT side (1.35 rating) and had the most PotMs picks (2) and the highest ADR (79.8) on the team. He was in the top five in six stats categories, leading in total headshots (81), and topped the charts in terms of map wins that led to victories (1.37), which shows just how important he was to the team's deep run in Turkey.
Magisk rounds out the EVP list thanks in part to his heroics at the start of the event, putting in 1.50+ ratings in Astralis' first three matches, against Virtus.pro, Space Soldiers and Cloud9. He was in the red in three of the next five matches that the Danes played, only really standing out on the last map of the final as he recorded a 1.18 rating to help his side to come out victorious.
Despite having the lowest rating in map wins that led to victories (1.22) of the team, he was still an important cog in the Astralis machine, finishing the event with the highest KAST (79.8%) and percentage of support rounds (26.4%). He also had the highest percentage of traded deaths of the team (26.2%), while he stood out on the offensive with an average 1.33 rating - the second-highest overall.