2016 was a strong year for CS:GO. There were many events with a generally large prize pool for teams to compete in. Whilst many would have said that 2016 was the year of blatant oversaturation, it was arguably one of the best years for CS:GO so far. The wide variety of events had allowed for many teams to showcase their strong and structured team play. Simultaneously, it also allowed for players to showcase their individual skill that often shone above the team play element, and would be the talking point after the match and for many matches to come. There were many players that performed at a strong level this year. These players provided us with many amazing moments that kept us glued to our screens. Whilst there were many that impressed, there were players that stood out to me on a greater scale.

I would like to share my top 10 CS:GO players of 2016.

10. Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski

Team Liquid have had a very strange year. They placed in the top 4 for the MLG Columbus Major, losing to Luminosity in the semi-finals, placed 13th at Dreamhack Malmo, went out in groups at the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals, failed to make an impact in the first season of ELEAGUE, only to then place 2nd at the ESL One: Cologne 2016 major and in the top 4 for ESL One: New York.

Team Liquid had a strong start to 2016, only to have it waver in between before falling off a little bit. The player that stood out in particular, was EliGE. Looking back to MLG Columbus, EliGE seemed to be the consistency throughout Liquid’s tenure in the tournament. Whilst his teammates pitched in with strong performances in some matches, it felt like EliGE, alongside s1mple were consistencies within Team Liquid as they made their march to the semi-finals of the tournament. EliGE had many highlights such as this ace vs. Fnatic, a 12 HP 1v2 clutch and the double entry vs. Luminosity, just to name a few from that event. EliGE was also a consistent performer at ESL: One Cologne, putting in some strong performances against top sides.

After the departure of s1mple, when Team Liquid looked like they were struggling, it seemed like EliGE was able to perform on a consistent basis and string together some decent individual performances.

9. Kenny “kennyS” Schrub

EnvyUS had a shocking 2016, one that many thought they would never see from the prestigious French side. One of the better things to happen to nV was the resurgence of kennyS. kennyS was dubbed one of the greatest snipers to grace the game with his magnificent AWPing skills. However, at the start of 2016, we only saw glimpses of what everyone knew kennyS was capable of. His resurgence came around mid to late 2016, much to the delight of his fans and teammates, and to the dismay of his foes. We saw old kennyS come back. We saw the outstanding flicks and the carry performances return, most importantly, we saw old Kenny return. His performances in late 2016 dragged nV through matches kicking and screaming. His rise back to his old form and his ability to maintain that high level of play is incredible.

8. Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski

Virtus Pro have had a great 2016 overall. Whilst it was not strong initially, Virtus Pro managed to turn it around later on and finish in high positions at tournaments such as ESL One: Cologne, the victory at ELEAGUE Season 1, placing 2nd at ESL One: New York and placing 2nd at EPICENTER. Whilst the team overall performed on such a strong and consistent level, the player that stood out at times was Snax. He made himself do it all, he was able to pick up the AWP and use it successfully. A sample of Snax’s incredible talent is this 1v4 pistol clutch vs. Na’Vi at ESL One: New York. He made the almost impossible seem absolutely possible, and that is a fantastic attribute for a player to have. If a player is able to shake off the nerves and perform in high pressure situations like Snax did, they are an asset to any team.

7. Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom

ScreaM’s raw skill is phenomenal and is something that would make the players he comes up against literally scream in anger or frustration. ScreaM is an incredibly gifted aimer who made 2016 his year. Whilst Richard “shox” Papillon often overshadowed ScreaM with his impact and performances in their matches, without ScreaM, shox probably would have had a hard time carrying G2. ScreaM and shox were the super duo, the players that made it happen for G2 most of the time and were the driving force for the French team this year. Overall, his insane ability to “one tap” has won G2 some important rounds, most notably against Immortals in the major qualifier to grant G2 a spot at the major.

6. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo

FalleN is a joy to watch and a player that can do it all. He can in game lead, he can use a rifle and he is also a powerhouse with the AWP. FalleN is a player that has excelled across every possible category, and has lead the Brazilian side to many accolades, most notably back to back majors. FalleN’s mind for the game something to witness, his knowledge is simply outstanding.

As an AWPer, the way that FalleN is able to move, peek, hit a shot and retreat is something to behold, and any budding AWPer or in game leaders should look at how FalleN plays. He is one of the best at what he does, and watching him AWP is a joy. FalleN’s AWP is never wasted, and he is often picking off one or two players at a time, which makes his AWP very impactful, especially in defensive situations. The way he is able to gather information for his team with the AWP, which he relays to his team and then is able to make intelligent decisions truly means that one way or another, his AWP never goes to waste.

FalleN is an all round phenomenal player, and without him it seems highly unlikely that the Brazilians would have been as successful as they have been this year.

5. Nikola “Niko” Kovac

Niko was a fantastic player throughout the course of 2016. Most of his plays had spectators glued to their screen as they watched Niko take on one, two, three and so on. It would have been ridiculous to consider mousesports a contender for any big championship, but the fact that Niko was seemingly always on top of his game made mousesports a team that people generally enjoyed watching, and that other teams feared. Whilst he may have fallen off toward the end of the year, Niko’s individual talent shows that it sometimes can only take just one player to elevate a team into looking like they may just succeed. Niko is a player capable of turning heads with any weapon, from Desert Eagle to AWP, and made a lot of his matches his own highlight reel. Niko is truly a fantastic talent to have within the scene.

4. Nicolai “device” Reedtz

This year was quite strange for Astralis, but also quite strange for device. It often felt like device would just fade away during big games while the rest of his team performed at a relatively decent level, or when device was performing well, his team was not able to back up his strong performances. This changed when Astralis saw karrigan off to FaZe clan and recruited gla1ve. In such a short amount of time, Astralis have risen to be one of the best teams in the world because of the addition of gla1ve but largely due to device. From a statistic standpoint, device is superior to the rest of his teammates, pulling in a 1.17 HLTV rating, with the next player being Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen with a HLTV rating of 1.10. This rating was tallied up throughout the year where Astralis had rather lackluster results considering the caliber of the players they had available.

Device had a really tough initial segment of the year, but he truly started to shine like a proper star player with the addition of gla1ve, and they had the ELEAGUE finals appearance as well as the ECS title to back it up.

3. Richard “shox” Papillon

Shox is the guy that can do it all. An in game leader, a great pistol player, rifle player and AWP player, shox was the main engine that helped G2 secure some play off spots throughout 2016 and win ECS Season 1. The other half of the double S duo (with ScreaM), shox’s consistently strong performances throughout the year had put G2 into some decently strong finishes at top tournaments. Even when the team had seemingly fizzled off, shox was able to continue his strong performances and carry G2 forward.

2. Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev

2016 was s1mple’s year. A player that has gone from team to team, likely due to attitude issues is one of the best players in the world. Wherever he goes, he is able to bring that team up to another level. He is able to go toe to toe with all of the best teams in the world, and no matter who is around him, he is able to put in top tier performances that are unmatched by his teammates.

s1mple was one of the major reasons that Team Liquid saw success at the MLG Columbus Major 2016 and ESL One: Cologne 2016. His hunger for success and desire for victory saw him pull Team Liquid to a semi-finals and a grand finals spot at both majors, something that had not been done by a North American team. He then went to Worst Players, and played contrary to the team’s name – at a phenomenal level. He then headed over to Na’Vi, which almost seemed like his destiny, and it was there that he was able to temporarily satisfy that winning hunger by helping Na’Vi claim their first big international title at ESL One: New York.

Statistically s1mple is super. A very strong player, but it also reflects in the game. It is not just a one off either, it’s consistent, which makes him such a great player. His attitude and team play could use some tweaking, but as an individual talent he is already there. s1mple is such a deadly player, and his consistently amazing performances give the opposing teams a headache or two.

1. Marcelo “coldzera” David

Coldzera is a beast. A magnificent player to watch that will more than likely crush any opposition that stands in his way. Deadly, efficient and dominant. That is the best way to summarize his performances throughout the year. Due to his performances under FalleN’s leadership, the Brazilians have been branded a dominant international force, the best team in the world, so to speak.

It’s kind of like once he gets unhinged, he’s unstoppable. Truly a consistent beast, a terrifying opponent and a teammate most players would love to have. Even when the Brazilian side started to fall off from their dominance in the second half of 2016, coldzera’s performances did not fall off. Whilst everyone else on the team had their ups and downs, it was coldzera’s performances that held the team together and made them look like a threat at every tournament they attended. The chance that coldzera had a bad map was next to nothing, and it was almost unbelievable. How could a player be such a monster in the server all year around? We will never know.

coldzera is a crucial component to LG/SK’s success as a team, a fundamental part of their core. On his own he could be dubbed as the player that most teams would want, but none can get. He is the piece that you would build a championship winning, championship defending squad around without a doubt.

As an all round talent, you could describe coldzera as phenomenal, fantastic, astounding and amazing. The list goes on and on. If I had five words to describe coldzera, they would be:

The best in the world.