The best CS:GO player of 2021 is there no prize for guessing, but who have been the closest to the dominant s1mple?
In the past 12 months, fans observed many amazing moments in CS:GO. From astonishing upsets to dominating performances, the pro players gifted the scene with several impressive plays.
Some pros in the world consistently pulled off stunning performances, and as a result, claimed their place in our ranking of the best players of 2021.
Of course, one player who almost never misses a step is Ukrainian superstar Sasha ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, who has not only dominated statistically but also lifted multiple trophies, including the PGL Major Stockholm.
Always a bridesmaid, never the bride, electronic was often in Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev’s shadow in a historical year for NAVI, but he was still a key cog in their engine, especially when the going got tough on LAN.
The 23-year-old was never really in contention for an MVP award, such was s1mple’s brilliance, and oftentimes he saw newcomer Valeriy ‘B1T’ Vakhovskiy receive more attention from casters and analysts than him. But there shouldn’t be any doubt that electronic had a great 2021, even if s1mple’s feat and B1T’s rise to prominence have understandably demanded the headlines.
Electronic was as influential as ever throughout the year, but he lifted his game to new heights every time he stepped into an offline environment. His LAN rating was only slightly better than B1T’s (1.23 to 1.21), but his 1.27 Impact was miles ahead of the rookie’s and underlines his importance to the team in their quest to build an era.
In 2021 a lot of people said that the CIS region was the best one—and Na’Vi wasn’t the only reason. The PGL Stockholm Major winners became so tremendous thanks to the local competition, which was superb as well. We said G2 were one of the teams trying to catch Na’Vi, and Gambit are the second. Sh1ro was the most standout player on the CIS side. For his individual performances, he claimed three MVP awards this year—more than any other Gambit player. While there’s a lot of talk about how much can Gambit improve in 2022, most eyes should be turned towards sh1ro, since he has proven to be the youngster with the greatest caliber from the team.
For a few years now, when it comes to the top four players in the past 12 months, the same names appear. This time, once again, the third place in the ranking falls in the hands of NiKo: too far to fight with the top two, but good enough to simply outshine the rest. NiKo has been a part of G2 Esports for over a year now and solidified the European roster as a title contender. The team fell short many times against their nemesis, Na’Vi, yet the 24-year-old almost every time was G2’s best player on the server. And when playing against other squads, he simply outplayed basically everyone, proving that he’s still one of the best in the world.
2021 was probably one of the worst years of NiKo’s career. G2 struggled to find their rhythm and didn’t win a single tournament, losing the only two finals that they played, at IEM Cologne and PGL Major Stockholm, to the unstoppable force that was NAVI.
But that shouldn’t take away from what was an incredible showing from NiKo all year long. The Bosnian player was already a solid performer during the first half of the year, and then he stepped it up a notch as LAN events became a reality again.
NiKo was a joy to behold at the Major and one of the favorites for the MVP award before the grand final against NAVI. In a year when he averaged a sensational 1.28 HLTV rating on LAN and stood tall among AWP gods, NiKo truly deserved at least one big trophy. It’s a shame that his team couldn’t keep up with his brilliance.
For the past two years, the community talked about whether the Frenchman should receive the award for the best player in the past 12 months or not. In 2021, the case is no different. While ZyWoO once again has proven himself to be one of the best in the world, this time he fell short to claim the number one spot. Still, he put up spectacular performances across the board, being Team Vitality’s member the squad could count on in every single tournament. Since the team didn’t win many trophies this year, ZyWoO didn’t snag many MVP titles (with IEM Winter 2021 being the exception). Nevertheless, he was inches away from doing so many times, therefore ending up in the number two spot of our ranking.
It’s not like the French AWPer had been a non-factor since the start of the year, though. But for a player named the best on the planet in 2019 and 2020, not being able to contend for titles came as a huge blow. After a third-place finish at the BLAST Premier Global Final, Vitality struggled for form for months on end, a runner-up finish in ESL Pro League Season 14 the only high point of an otherwise tame period.
Everything changed after those remarks from apEX. He carried Vitality to the Major playoffs (1.25 HLTV rating against Evil Geniuses, 1.51 against Astralis and 1.49 against Entropiq) before they met their demise at the hands of NAVI after two closely-maps.
When it became known that Vitality would undergo changes at the turn of the year, the team broke free from the shackles and became a genuine threat with their carefree mindset and loose playstyle. ZywOo regained some of his best form at the tail end of the season, averaging a 1.32 rating as he helped the team to win IEM Winter and make deep runs at the two BLAST events, taking some big scalps along the way.
He ended 2021 with the second-highest Impact in the game – making one wonder what he would have achieved if his team had been a stable performer.
The GOAT. The Machine. The Ukrainian Powerhouse. While every Na’Vi representative played his part in securing countless trophies this year, s1mple’s contributions were clearly the most important. The 24-year-old secured a handful of MVP titles in 2021, receiving one for his impressive form during the PGL Stockholm Major, the first one in the organization’s history in CS:GO. After being outshined by ZyWoO in 2020 and 2019, s1mple had much to prove this year. And he overperformed in every single aspect he could, cementing himself as the best CS:GO player in 2021 and blessing us with some of the best performances in the game’s long history.
He has also equaled Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz’s record medal haul of 19 awards, and looks set to become the player with the most MVP honors in 2022.
In a year when he finally broke his Major duck, s1mple was head and shoulders above everyone else, and there was never a sign of a flatlining of form, not even during NAVI’s bumpy period in the first months of 2021. He was in a league of his own with a 1.35 HLTV rating and 1.43 Impact (1.45 and 1.55 on LAN), even surpassing the standards he had in 2018, when he was first named the best player in the world.
Three years later, s1mple is back to the Olympus of world Counter-Strike. No one knows what he will do to push himself to the next level in 2022. But there’s no doubt that he will continue to defy all logic.