CS:GO player of the year: S1mple-y the best
When it comes to picking the best player of the year, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) normally throws five, six, seven names into the ring and let the dogs rip each other apart until the accolade is tarnished and undecided. Not in 2021, though. As only one man can take the crown, walking out of the year as simply the best.
Having been a stalwart of the scene for years, Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev has finally netted himself a Major Championship in 2021 alongside a range of personal accolades, not only leaving him as the best player of 2021, but as many peoples shout for the greatest of all time.
Starting as he means to go on
Having been voted as HLTV's runner-up to the 2020 Player of the Year award, behind fellow AWPer Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, S1mple started 2021 off with a vengeance, hoping that this would be the year he finally broke the curse and became number one.
Natus Vincere had failed to win an S-Tier trophy throughout 2020, possibly due to the disturbances of the online era that had most teams scrambling for consistency, but less than a month into the new year, the Na'Vi squad began to purr behind S1mple, who made the BLAST Global Final look like a walk in the park.
Albeit being knocked into the lower bracket of the Playoffs, it wasn't long before Na'Vi found their rhythm, confidently dispatching of Complexity, G2, Team Liquid, and ZywOo's Vitality, setting up a date with Astralis in the Grand Final. Having dropped a casual 50-bomb throughout the series including 12 with the AWP, S1pmle and Na'Vi unravelled Astralis in just 17 rounds in Map 2, getting their hands on a piece of silverware for the first time in over 18 months. Trophies and MVP awards were set to be S1mple's destiny in 2021, and it took just 24 days to get both.
A single title wins nobody Player of the Year, even if a God-like performance level is reached - titles breed titles, and for S1mple, consistency had to be the key to enter the "GOAT" discussion.
Despite winning the first event of the calendar year, Na'Vi had to wait until May for their next Grand Final appearance, after dropping out of consecutive events before the Semi-Final stage. DreamHack Masters Spring would be their next chance at expanding their cabinet, although the likes of Gambit Esports were flying the flag for CIS in Counter-Strike as international events came back into play. A flawless run from Natus Vincere saw Mousesports, Virtus.pro, FURIA, and Heroic all feel the wrath of S1mple's keen snipes and savvy intuition, leaving their CIS rivals Gambit the last team standing in the wake.
Complimented well by teammate Denis "electronic" Sharipov, the Russian/Ukrainian duo notched up north of 140 kills between them, with a kill to death difference of 49, showcasing their inordinate ability to stay alive and pick off kills from a distance on a consistent basis. Gambit was left red-faced as Na'Vi pulled out the long-handled brush to sweep them out of the event, notching up their second event of the year.
With consistency as the desired recipe, it was once again ZywOo and S1mple who led the statistics for the event, although S1pmle's 1.41 rating spanned over 15 maps, compared to his French rival's 1.53 in just eight.
A field of gold
For the opening half of the year, Na'Vi had shown enough to pull up a seat at the conversation for the best team in the world whilst S1mple was in a 1v1 boxing match with ZywOo for the personal accolade, although this would become a more one-way brawl going into the seventh round.
Natus Vincere's second half of 2021 will do down in the history books as one of the most dominant spells of CS:GO glory, with many comparing their trophy haul to that of prime Astralis. From July to December, Na'Vi won the Starladder CIS (beating Gambit again), the Intel Masters: Cologne, Intel Grand Slam Season 3 Groups, ESL Pro League Season 14, the BLAST Premier Fall Finals and the major championship S1mple dreamed of so much with the PGL Major Stockholm.
In each and every tournament won by Na'Vi throughout their "dynasty" birthing, S1pmle was crowned MVP, taking home a stunning seven medals throughout 2021, including five in as many months in the latter half of the year. The personal awards saw him become the joint-top MVP earner of a year, matching Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz's record from 2018
As a team, Na'Vi controlled the calendar. As an individual, S1pmle shone, breaking records along the way. A Major. Six further Championships. Seven MVPs. One Player of the Year award pending...