With IEM Chicago behind us, we took a look at the numbers to choose our nine Exceptionally Valuable Players (EVPs) of one of the most stacked tournaments of 2018.
The first Chicago stop came to a close on Sunday, with Astralis picking up their seventh trophy of 2018 and their third Intel Grand Slam win following a 3-0 triumph over Liquid in the grand final of the $250,000 event.
Nicolai "device" Reedtz was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after leading his team to the title, and now it's time to present our Exceptionally Valuable Players, or EVPs, of IEM Chicago.
The majority of players featured as EVPs were the finalists, including four Astralis members and two hailing from Liquid. The semi-finalists provided the remaining three players, with fnatic's duo making the list alongside a single one from FaZe.
fnatic's Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin and LDLC's François "AmaNEk" Delaunay, both of whom played only the second big event of their careers last week in Chicago, ended up falling just short of a mention on the list.
The full lineup of IEM Chicago EVPs is the following:
HLTV.org's EVP picks (by order):
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth
Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken
Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen
Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander
Emil "Magisk" Reif
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač
Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson
Jesper "JW" Wecksell
Keith "NAF" Markovic
All of Astralis' players were in contention for the MVP medal, as all five contributed to their triumph almost evenly, with the quintet ending the tournament between 1.08 to 1.15 ratings overall and 1.18 to 1.26 ratings in victories. device received the highest accolade in the end as the champions' best player, and Xyp9x now follows him as the first on the list of EVPs following a great tournament.
The "human cyborg" may have ended the tournament as the lowest-rated member of Astralis, but that is due to some inconsistency and poor play in the team's losses to FaZe and fnatic, which ultimately did not prevent the team from succeeding. He was a standout player in the playoffs especially, with key performances in at least one win of each bracket stage, most notably in the semi-finals against fnatic, in which he was pivotal during Astralis's comeback from a 9-15 deficit on Inferno, the deciding map.
Otherwise, the 23-year-old stood out in the ways he often does, as one of the hardest players to kill (0.58 DPR, 2nd fewest) — which helped him rack up 24.8% support rounds — and with eight clutches (the most out of everyone), including a 1v5 ninja defuse against North on Nuke and a 1v3 against fnatic on Dust2.
Having grabbed his first MVP medal in New York less than two months ago, Twistzz continues a run of great form with another strong showing at the following tournament organized by ESL, IEM Chicago. Though the Canadian didn't start the tournament particularly well in the team's win against Luminosity and the first map of the group's upper semi versus mousesports, he quickly recovered with two of his best maps of the event against the European team to push Liquid to the playoffs.
After an unsuccessful first-place decider, the young star added two more fantastic maps to his resumé in the playoffs, a 1.83 rating in a 16-14 win on Cache against LDLC and a 2.35 rating in a 16-1 win on Mirage against FaZe, in both of which Liquid's tournament life was on the line.
In part due to the nature of Astralis' run, during which all of the Danes were nearly at even ground, Twistzz was the leading candidate for the medal before the grand final, in fact. However, the former TSM player dropped off at the final hurdle, on the second and third map of the best-of-five affair against the Danish powerhouse, which cost him the MVP medal, after all.
dupreeh kicked off IEM Chicago in amazing form, securing three Player of the Map awards in a row after the group's opener against MVP PK and the upper semi-final versus North, with which Astralis locked their spot in the playoffs.
Although he dropped off from that point with five unimpressive maps out of the next seven, he had another flawless series in the grand final, just like the rest of Astralis, which helped him finish the event as his team's highest-rated alongside device. The lack of decisive performances in the latter half of the tournament put the 25-year-old out of the run for the MVP, but he was recognized as a strong EVP nonetheless after racking up above-average numbers in almost every regard.
Other than that, Astralis' in-game leader played a key role in several of the team's wins, most notably on both maps against North in the group stage, as well as on Train versus mousesports in the quarter-finals and on Nuke in the grand final facing Liquid. All in all, gla1ve led his team in ADR (78.7), in part thanks to dealing the second-most utility damage out of everyone at the tournament (7.7), while also having the most assists (0.17).
Magisk was also recognized with an EVP mention as the last remaining player of the winning side. Just like most of his teammates, the 20-year-old gathered three out of his four sub-par maps in the three map losses the team suffered throughout IEM Chicago, while the fourth was the opening map against MVP PK.
Although he was the least impactful member of Astralis with an average 1.00 impact rating, Magisk contributed well to their wins with four key maps, including two in the grand final, which made him the highest-rated player of the best-of-five affair and cemented his place on the list of EVPs.
As the only FaZe player featured as an EVP at IEM Chicago, NiKo adds another great tournament to complement an already impressive resumé in 2018. The Bosnian, who is also currently in-game leading for the European squad, was FaZe's best player namely thanks to the peaks he recorded in every stage of the tournament.
Three of his five peaks came against the eventual finalists of the tournament: Astralis, whom NiKo & co. defeated in the upper bracket final of their group, and Liquid, against whom FaZe won the first map of the semi-final on the back of a 1.81 rating from the 21-year-old before the North American team replied with two convincing wins.
With a 1.51 rating on the CT side, NiKo was by far the highest-rated player on the defense, and he appeared on several leaderboards of the tournament, such as rating (1.24, second highest), ADR (86.7, fourth most), kills per round (0.79), and opening kills per round (0.14), while also leading his team in impact rating (1.33).
With his first award-worthy performance since DreamHack Masters Marseille, KRIMZ has earned his fourth big-event EVP mention of 2018 after leading fnatic to the semi-finals at IEM Chicago, their first event with Brollan and Simon "twist" Eliasson in the roster.
In the Swedes' run to their best placing since the aforementioned French tournament took place in April, the 24-year-old got off on the right foot, with a 1.82 rating in the opener against BIG, and continued to play consistently well against eUnited and Liquid on the way to first place in the group stage and the semi-finals. Although it was in a losing effort, he kept a steady level in the best-of-three against Astralis, too, as one of the best players of the series.
Overall, KRIMZ tied NiKo for second place in rating (1.24), led the tournament in ADR (92.8), and appeared in a few more categories of the leaderboards, including kills per round (0.80, fourth most) and KAST (74.4%, fifth most).
His teammate JW recovers from a string of underwhelming tournaments dating back to ELEAGUE Premier at the end of July with an admirable showing at IEM Chicago last week. Upon returning to the AWP role, the Swede started off well in wins against BIG and eUnited in the groups, but the largest portion of his impact came when fnatic reached the top-eight stage.
There, JW played a pivotal part in fnatic's win over Liquid in a group stage match for a semi-final spot and, like his aforementioned sidekick, kept it up in the playoffs versus Astralis with two more great maps before ultimately losing the narrow battle in overtime of the deciding map, Inferno.
NAF closes out the list of EVPs as a key contributor to Liquid's fifth runner-up finish of 2018. Like his teammate Twistzz, the Canadian performed very well in the North American's team's successful run and mainly in their wins, starting from the first series against mousesports in the group stage that put Liquid in the playoffs.
After losing the first battle for semi-finals to fnatic, NAF helped his team overcome a tough opponent in LDLC in the bracket stage before the team as a whole put on a dominant showing against FaZe. Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski and Nick "nitr0" Cannella were in the running for an EVP award before the final, as well, but poor showings in the best-of-five put both out of contention, unlike NAF, who added another great map to his resumé in a narrow loss on the opener, Mirage.
NAF ended the tournament as Liquid's second-best player in a few ways, including overall rating (1.10) and rating in wins (1.34). His main strength was the Terrorist side, where he averaged a team-high 1.21 rating compared to 0.98 on the CT side, and he led his team in ADR (79.9).