Player stock shift: July-September
The penultimate edition of 2019's Player stock shift series is here with a total of 21 movers — the most we have had ever since starting the series in January 2018.
Although we are considering a three-month period in players' performances this time, the increase in events hasn't been as noticeable due to the month-long off-season, during which no significant tournaments took place as the top teams went on a break in preparation for the StarLadder Major.
Apart from one of the two biggest tournaments of the year, where most of the 21 movers played, the July-September period hosted a staple competition in ESL One Cologne alongside several other notable events which were in consideration for this edition of the stock shift. That includes two BLAST Pro Series stops in Los Angeles and Moscow, IEM Chicago, the V4 Future Sports Festival, and ESL One New York, all of which had their say in at least one of the last three months' rising and falling players.
Xyp9x's individual level suffered a big blow after Astralis ended their dominant era with a win at BLAST Pro Series São Paulo, as a period of struggles for both the individual and the team followed, resulting in the clutch minister's stock falling back in April. He didn't take long to recover, as his streak of below-average events came to an end at ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals, with the 24-year-old earning three EVP mentions at each event Astralis played at since: ESL One Cologne, StarLadder Major, and ESL One New York.
With Jame putting in some impressive performances such as at last year's EPICENTER or earlier this year at the IEM Katowice Major — for which he earned a place as one of the rising players of April —, it was only a matter of time before the Russian AWPer became an MVP holder. He reached that goal earlier in September, when he followed up an EVP-worthy showing in AVANGAR's surprising run to second place at the StarLadder Major with even better play at BLAST Pro Series Moscow, earning his first medal in the process.
Though missing a physical award for his efforts, buster played a big part in the Kazakhstani team's huge success, as well, playing a sidekick role and at times even outperforming his teammate over the course of the two tournaments.
While we're on the topic of the StarLadder Major and BLAST Pro Series Moscow: forZe might have missed out on a spot in the New Legends stage, but we still saw xsepower fulfill his undeniable potential with some flawless play in Berlin, putting up 1.00+ ratings across all seven maps the team played there, and add a respectable tournament on top while the Russian side made it to the final in their home country.
Another entry from the Berlin Major, the in-game leader of Grayhound turned some heads in the New Challengers stage in Germany while the team had their last hurrah with Erdenetsogt "erkaSt" Gantulga, playing some of the best Counter-Strike we've seen from him at such a level as they just missed out on a spot in the New Legends stage with a close loss to Vitality, in which dexter carried the Aussie side to a map victory on Overpass.
CeRq was last a part of the stock shift at the end of 2018, in November, when he showcased some of the form we had seen from him earlier in the year. Throughout 2019 he has fluctuated a bit as NRG's secondary to tertiary star, but we believe he deserves a bump up again after the team's latest tournaments: the StarLadder Major, where the Bulgarian was close to earning an EVP, and ESL One New York in particular, as he put up a career-high big-event rating with a performance rivaling Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte's under the Evil Geniuses banner, in the end losing the MVP race to his teammate.
As one of just three players on the list not to play at the StarLadder Major, one of the recent Complexity additions, blameF, makes his first appearance on the stock shift after impressing while he was still a part of Heroic, leading the Danish squad both tactically and on the scoreboard throughout their run to a top-eight finish at ESL One Cologne and at IEM Chicago, where they challenged the likes of ENCE and Vitality.
Another one is Bubzkji, who has looked like a completely different player under Tricked's banner compared to his time with Fragsters in 2018. After putting up some good numbers on the lower tier lately with Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen & co., the 21-year-old showed up in great form at the V4 Future Sports Festival to earn his first MVP award, helping the team surprise the competition and hoist the trophy in Budapest.
Although NIP have hardly looked stable over the past few months with roster issues plaguing them up until the recent addition of Simon "twist" Eliasson, Lekr0 has been able to recover from a poor first half of 2019, during which he couldn't break the 1.00 rating barrier for seven events in a row. Since ESL One Cologne, the Swede has looked improved despite the team's horrible showing at the Major, putting up better numbers overall and some especially impressive maps at BLAST Pro Series Moscow up against AVANGAR and Natus Vincere.
I know, it's difficult to imagine s1mple falling, a player that has been an absolute benchmark for what an individual can do for almost two years now, but that is where he currently stands. It's not as dramatic as the Ukrainian definitively losing the status of the best player in the world, we aren't there yet, but he has certainly shown signs of slowing down over the past few months, not hitting his incredible peaks as consistently and even putting in his lowest-rated event in years at BLAST Pro Series Moscow. Though it was still a respectable 1.06 rating, we simply hold the Na`Vi superstar to much higher standards than most.
Speaking of difficult-to-uphold standards, the case of Magisk has been similar in the second-to-third quarter of the year, as the 21-year-old used to contend for the highest accolades around the brink of 2018 to 2019 with MVP medals from BLAST Pro Series Lisbon and the IEM Katowice Major, but he hasn't quite looked like the same dominant player since despite still playing at a very high level.
Aerial's stock has already fallen once this year after his level dipped around April, and despite an MVP-worthy performance at BLAST Pro Series Madrid in what was the Finn's career-best event, he continues to deteriorate as the year progresses, dropping below the 1.00 rating mark over the last three months due to a particularly underwhelming BLAST stop in Moscow and a rather unimpressive run at ESL One New York.
FaZe found themselves in the worst shape all year long after the long period of uncertainty around the roster, which resulted in two changes as Helvijs "broky" Saukants and coldzera took Filip "NEO" Kubski's and Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács's places on the lineup. NiKo hadn't been at his best before he welcomed two new teammates to the roster, and things have so far only grown worse as the Bosnian hit the lowest point of his career at ESL One New York.
Just as shockingly, coldzera put up a career-worst event of his own in his first stint with FaZe, adding on to the underwhelming last tournaments with MIBR. Meanwhile, rain was back in good shape in the first half of the year, but the last few months have seen him dip into the red zone again, so he falls too.
Vitality's success during the second quarter of the year saw apEX and ALEX often step up to play the second star to Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, but more recently both players have been putting in significantly lower numbers while the French side struggled to keep contending for titles despite managing deep runs, with both the entry fragger and the in-game leader striking out with poor showings to end the previous season at IEM Chicago.
MOUZ got off to a good start half a year ago on the back of the young talents' fragging power coupled with an improved individual output from the elders, chrisJ and karrigan. However, the promising beginnings have now dwindled away as the European side failed to make it to playoffs at ESL One Cologne and at the StarLadder Major and couldn't live up to the status of one of the favorites at V4 Future Sports Festival, while the two veterans have reverted to their pre-2019 form.
EspiranTo was featured in the stock shift three times in the first half of 2018 when he was still playing for Imperial, showing a lot of power as a potential future star. However, it is way past time we recognized that he simply isn't a star player in CR4ZY, as he shows up in peak form much less consistently than before while others like Nemanja "nexa" Isaković, Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač, and Otto "ottoNd" Sihvo tend to outperform him.
Similarly, XANTARES has been nowhere near the same star player we've come to know from previous years, as in BIG the performances we've come to know the Turkish player for during his time with Space Soldiers have been far too scarce throughout 2019 while the German-majority team went through multiple changes.