Player stock shift: December
December may not be over just yet, but with all notable international tournaments of the month having already taken place, we decided to release 2018's last edition of the Player stock shift a bit earlier than usual.
The top-tier scene is heading into a well-earned break after a busy season, which came to a close earlier in December with the last big event of 2018, BLAST Pro Series Lisbon, where Astralis grabbed their second title this month alongside another triumph at ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals.
Only one other international tournament played a factor in this month's stock shift; the PLG Grand Slam, which took place in Abu Dhabi and saw fnatic raise the trophy after a win over G2 in the grand final for a $70,000 payout.
In part due to December being cut short by the break, ergo less crammed with events, only eight players made their way to the list, with four rising and four falling after the aforementioned three tournaments.
Here they are:
To go back to previous editions of 2018, see the following list:
This month at ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals, Renegades made it to the playoffs of a big event for the first time since IEM Sydney in May after coming back from an opening loss to HellRaisers all the way through Group A's lower bracket, beating ViCi, BIG, and G2 en route to the quarter-finals. There, they ultimately fell to mousesports, but not before taking the European side to their limit in a three-map series.
jks led the tournament in overall rating (1.35) after not only playing consistently well but also peaking in key moments, in Renegades' map wins against BIG and G2, as well as in their narrow Mirage loss to mousesports in the playoffs, which helped him lock his first big-event EVP mention.
Though he was missing some of the same peak performances, jkaem also played a big part in his team's success with similarly consistent play, which made the Odense event one of his best in 2018.
Astralis won both big events of December, with the first, ESL Pro League S8 Finals, led by Nicolai "device" Reedtz, while Magisk ended up missing out on an EVP mention as the lowest-rated player of the team in Odense, but he made up for it (and then some) in Lisbon the following week.
At BLAST Pro Series, the youngest member of the Danish heavyweights arguably played the best tournament of his career, as he led Astralis to the title with an MVP-worthy showing, which saw him record the tied-highest rating of the tournament (1.39) alongside teammate Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen and the second-highest of his career.
We hadn't seen the Brazilian sniper at an event of such stature since then, up until this month's Pro League Finals, where INTZ ended up placing last after losses to BIG and G2, with kNgV- recording a respectable 1.20 rating across four maps played. The 24-year-old didn't have a particularly impressive showing against much lower competition at PLG Grand Slam with a 1.07 rating there, but combined with Odense, his performance in December was miles away from his level in Brazil six months ago.
After xccurate was featured three times from March to May, we decided to wait for him to stop blowing hot and cold before including him in the stock shift again, which he did for three events in a row in July and got on the list as a rising player once again.
Over the past five months, the Indonesian AWPer has looked more down than up at tournaments both big and small, with only three above-average events out of eight, and so he falls for the third time in his fifth appearance in the monthly series.
REZ was a rising player in August, when he led NiP to the semi-finals of DreamHack Masters Stockholm alongside Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg after an up-and-down period earlier in 2018, which saw him record two of his worst events.
The Swede has been fluctuating again over the past few months with comparatively underwhelming tournaments as well as a couple of brighter ones at BLAST Pro Series Istanbul and at ECS Season 6 Finals, so we're putting him back where he had been towards the middle part of the year.
Edward was on the upswing in June after a couple of promising tournaments before he returned back to his usual level only a month later, where he more or less stayed until after BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen at the beginning of November.
Over the course of the three events that followed, IEM Chicago, ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals, and BLAST Pro Series Lisbon, the veteran was at his worst level of 2018 on average, but especially in Lisbon.
karrigan closes out our short list of December as one of the rare players whose level has gradually decreased over the course of the entire year, which puts him in a similar position to his now former teammate Håvard "rain" Nygaard, who fell back in August, but a tier below.
When compared to the first four months of 2018, when FaZe were a top-two team in the world, the Dane's average rating over a three-month period has dropped by more than one decimal point, below 0.90, as seen in the graph above.