Top ten esports players of 2022
The world of esports isn't just one entity, it's a collection of wonderful sports and games under one umbrella, keeping out any old-school haters but welcoming anyone who wants to into its warm embrace.]
But throughout 2022, some players from their respective titles have continued to write their legacies, win trophies, and show the outside world that they are superstars in their own rights.
Although it's nigh-on impossible to accurately compare some of the dynasties and accomplishments set across different titles, we've attempted to take a look at the outstanding performers in esports throughout 2022.
10 - Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut
We're starting large. Yet not as large as in previous years. ZywOo has been tossed around as arguably the best Counter-Strike player of all time, and having only been on the scene for three years, this is quite the feat.
The last 12 months haven't all been as plain sailing as ZywOo would have liked though. In comparison to the trophy-filled annum prior, ZywOo has only placed one more piece of silverware into his closet, despite a lack of trying.
But, even with Vitality letting him down on many occasions in 2022, ZywOo has shone as an individual, maintaining a +895 K/D ratio for the year and another MVP award at ESL Pro League 16.
While team honours might not have been up to ZywOo's usual standard, with an AWP in hand, he's still managed to shine as one of the best athletes of the year.
9 - Neta "33" Shapira
Few people might expect someone that they've never heard of pop up on a list like this, yet 33 deserves to be respected for his year in Dota 2, specifically at The International 2022.
While operating under Tundra Esports, the Off Lane main became renowned for his brutal win rate on Visage, Beastmaster, and Tidehunter, and as the British organisation began to put their name on the map, success was found during a range of events throughout the year.
However, it was all topped off for 33 during TI2022, where he was dubbed as the unofficial MVP, pushing Tundra Esports to their first event win of the year and netting a casual $8 million in prize money.
8 - Evan "M0nkey M00n" Rogez
French Rocket League has always been prominent, but the soccer scene needed a refresh, and Team BDS' modern usurping of trusted legacies set by Team Vitality and Dignitas has been spectacular.
Having been dominant online throughout the pandemic, M0nkey M00n's 2022 test was whether the LAN performances could live up to this precedent.
Well, a Fall Split Major pre-dated the 2022 calendar, despite a championship win, and Rocket League then spiralled into absolute mayhem with super squads being formed left, right, and centre. While consistency was not to be found, anywhere in RL, every team eyed the World Championship for quality to shine, and here's where M0nkey M00n shone.
Becoming involved in 71% of Team BDS' goals at the World Championships, M0nkey M00n showed not only was he one of the most individually blissful attackers, but he was also a defensive shot-stopper too.
On the road to winning the first World Championship in Rocket League for three years, M0nkey M00n's defensive MVP award added the cherry on top of a very fruity cake.
7 - Matthew "FormaL" Piper
Multi-FPS World Champions are scarce, but FormaL had no problems in transferring his Call of Duty prowess back to Halo, the title which he originated from. After retiring from CoD following a ventured career, FormaL's Halo return kicked up quite a fuss.
The untapped skill drew attention from countless organisations, and despite being contracted to OpTic as a content creator, a loan deal was struck with Sentinels, where he defeated his parent organisation and reigning champions at a pre-season pro-series event.
But from here on, FormaL proved indispensable to OpTic, and was resigned to the team. This seemed to be a recipe for success, too, as a first championship win came with his Green Wall debut.
With FormaL back at the wheel in Halo, two major championship trophies were added to OpTic's shelf, and a Halo World Championship ring crowned FormaL as a multi-FPS world champ.
6 - S1mple
Probably the goat of CS:GO, it's impossible to talk about S1mple's 2022 season without mentioning the effects of the wider non-gaming world, specifically the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian-born superstar had already carried his national flag on his shoulders since becoming a CS:GO legend, but with 2022 being weighed with personal emotion for s1mple, he soon became a national icon.
Having armed himself with the Ukraine flag for many events in 2022, s1mple's on-field display only waivered from his dominance for a few weeks, and for the most part, the AWP has become his right arm once again.
Boasting two silver medals at PGL Major: Antwerp and Intel Extreme Masters XVII, respectively, it was clear to see that his chamber had recentered throughout the middle of the year.
It was the BLAST Premier Spring Finals where we saw s1mple return to greatness though, where he pushed his mentality to the absolute extreme to take home the championship, before admitting exhaustion.
For a man with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, looking for an escape from reality while watching him play, s1mple has been admirable, and still exceptionally brilliant.
5 - McArthur "Cellium" Jovel
There's not a single player on this list that has managed to do what Cellium has: become a season-long MVP without actually winning an event. Yet, even without his rotten luck in grand finals, Cellium has been untouchable in Call of Duty esports, and cannot be snubbed as an esports giant in 2022.
Atlanta FaZe became a permanent fixture on the runners-up podium during the CDL season in 2022, and at times, it was all down to Cellium dragging them up there on his own. Despite having a powerhouse squad, the pacing seemed off with FaZe in 2022 - forcing in a post-season roster change. Still, Cellium claimed the main AR position and here he thrived.
Posting up a season-high average 1.24 K/D, Cellium's AR change proved quite successful, and he also came in clutch at huge times during the season to push FaZe into respectable positions. Often overlooked by a split-long phenom, Cellium was finally honoured respectfully and was crowned MVP.
4 - Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu
It was dubbed as student and master. The passing of the baton. Home ground David vs Goliath. The League of Legends World Championships 2022 saw school friends Faker and Deft go toe to toe for the first time on a world stage, and two Korean gamers caught the attention of esports fanatics worldwide.
Previous years saw Deft's career stagnate, having battled with Faker for MSI titles (2015) and LCK playoffs (Spring 2014, Summer 18). But a revival was offered for Deft, having been rescued from Hanwha Life Esports by DRX.
Here, Deft pushed DRX to the world stage after scraping qualification, and it quickly became a catalyst for the best story modern esports has seen. Miraculously, DRX turned into a well-oiled machine reverse sweeping holding champs EDG on their way to unseating the aforementioned record-breaking T1 in the grand finals, finally beating Faker and hoisting the Summoners Cup.
3 - Dmitriy "sh1ro" Sokolov
As the third and final CS:GO pro on this list, sh1ro deserves the plaudits, breaking into a two-horse race for the CS:GO player of the year and pipping them both to the post. Playing for both Gambit Esports and Cloud9 in 2022, sh1ro has become the best T-side player for the last 12 months.
Tangible success has come in spurts for sh1ro, with Gambit's early Funspark ULTI win and Cloud9's Intel Extreme Masters XVII victory bolstering a trophy cabinet that was bursting throughout 2021.
Yet sh1ro's attacking prowess has been startling all-year long. In a side that isn't notorious for being exploited, a whopping 1.25K/D throughout the whole 12 months is quite incredible, and leads this category by .09.
It's not all business in the front and party in the back either, as sh1ro also leads the K/D department in CT too, with a 1.79, showing that he's a jack-of-all-trades.
2 - Lee "Faker" Sang-Hyeok
We're all familiar with the works of Faker, but it had been a while since we saw the Unkillable Demon King in action on the main stage. As a stalwart at T1, Faker's role has been reimagined, and while he still possesses that dynamite solo ability, he's made that veteran transition that all greats must; he's now a leader.
Forming a T1 side alongside four outrageous young talents, Faker has blossomed in his tutelage role, with the organisation banking a first-of-its-kind unbeaten LCK Split run, winning every single game throughout groups and playoffs. The win streak saw Faker rise to the top of LoL again, setting a 24-win streak record.
The only sour taste in Faker's year comes with a silver medal hat trick. The MSI Grand Final loss was echoed by an LCK Summer runners-up placing, and with a fourth Summoners Cup beckoning, second place at Worlds stung a lot. However, Faker's year has been incredible, placing top two at every event, and leading his rabble of rookies to all kinds of success.
1 - Yay
VALORANT was begging for someone with the X-Factor to finally step onto the main stage. Some superstars have come and gone, but none managed to stick around for more than a few events. Sentinel's TenZ and Acend's cNed stole the show at respective events, but it was yay that came in to push the boat out.
Following Envy's merger with Optic, yay became a part of the infamous Green Wall and was finally unlocked in a roster that rotated like clockwork. With yay at the wheel as the flashy Jett and Chamber main, his OP skills and inordinate clutches came to immediate effect in Masters 1, where the OpTic man won two MVP medals on the way to a first championship.
Despite this trophy being his only, a string of silver medals were placed around his neck for the remainder of 2022, proving that yay was always at the elite level, and even earned himself a leadership role in the new VCT franchised league, after Cloud9 pulled in a ring of world-class talent to pool around his shot calling.