Beginning in early 2020, CS:GO went through its most significant change: a move to online-only in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemics. But as formats changed and crowds were forced to stay home, the fans still tuned in. Why? Because they want to watch the best players.
The idea of determining who the “best players” are is a daunting one. It’s hard to nail down exactly what qualifies a player to be the best. To answer this question, we first have to answer and ask a couple of other ones.
Who is the best CS:GO player right now?
To give a fair determination of who the best CS:GO player in the world is right now, we have to look at two factors. Those are statistics and success. Who contributes the most to winning a single map, across the entire pool, and throughout an entire event? At this moment, I believe there are three players in the conversation.
The young French star – ZywOo
Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut of Team Vitality has perhaps the strongest case. He is a reigning, two-time winner of the HLTV Player of the Year award, which is effectively the yearly MVP award of Counter-Strike. According to HLTV, his all-time player rating of 1.28 is the highest ever, across nearly 800 maps played. For those unfamiliar with the rating, it determines a player’s value, with 1.00 being the average. If you have a 1.00 after a single map, it essentially means you didn’t help or hurt your team at all.
Not only is he statistically the best player right now, and perhaps ever, his performance translates to wins for the team and accolades for himself. He’s amassed a trove of MVP awards at several events and has been pivotal in Vitality outright winning those events. The only criticism you can levy is that he’s never made a major’s playoffs, but he was only in two in 2019, and he was definitely the bright spot for an underperforming Vitality.
The Ukrainian CS:GO Sensation – s1mple
This brings us to another player with insane individual output, a ton of trophies to his name, but still that glaring omission of a major title, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. S1mple has been a dominant force at the top of the global leaderboard since 2017. He won the HLTV player of the year award in 2018 and finished second in 2016, 2019, and 2020. That 2018 campaign is one of the best years ever for a player and their representing org. While the win has eluded him, he’s still got an impressive collection of deep major runs. Three semi-final appearances, two grand finals appearances, and he made playoffs in two more.
The rising Russian threat – sh1ro
While the other two names have more sustained success throughout the past few years, the third name makes his case on recent performances. Gambit’s Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov has the third-highest overall HLTV player rating, behind ZywOo and s1mple, but is way ahead of them in the 2021 campaign. Not only do his statistics outperform the other two’s, so do his results. He was the MVP for the entire IEM Katowice tournament, which Gambit won.
The team also won some smaller events in Pinnacle Cup and Vulkan Fight Series and nearly won ESL Pro League had it not lost to Heroic. He has been the focal point of a team currently (as of April 13, 2021) considered the best in the world. A case can certainly be made that that makes him, right now, the best player in the world.
Who are the best CS: GO players ever?
Thankfully, some of the best CS:GO players ever are still playing today. That’s awesome. And to determine who truly the best are, we essentially have to look and see which players dominated specific eras.
The Danish Dynasty – Astralis
The first group to look at is the core of Astralis. Not only do the members of the Danish dynasty each sit on top of the all-time earnings list of CS:GO players, they have the big wins at the grandest events as well. Astralis is a four-time major champion and winner of the last three. While the pause on majors because of COVID-19 has allowed the team to lengthen their reign without proper challenge, they’re still considered a favorite at any event they’re at. Magisk and device are considered one of the best rifler-AWPer duos ever, and gla1ve is regarded as one of the most outstanding in-game leaders. When majors return in October 2021, one can hope that the top form of Astralis does as well.
The Golden Trio from Brazil – Coldzera, FalleN, Fer
Before Denmark dominated the CS:GO world through Astralis, legendary Brazilian players controlled the scene. Between their time on Luminosity and then SK Gaming, the trio of Marcelo “coldzera” David, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, and Fernando “fer” Alvarenga were unmatched. Fer was an entry fragging machine, one of the deadliest players in the opening moments of rounds for years. FalleN was a brilliant tactician and AWPer, whose strategy and sniping were a driving force for the team. Coldzera, like ZywOo, is a back-to-back HLTV player of the year (2016 and 2017) and was unflinchingly clutch and consistent.
Other names in the upper echelon of CS:GO
Numerous other impressive names can be placed in the echelon of “best.” Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson is a two-time major winner with Fnatic, the HLTV player of the year in 2015, and even had a career renaissance with FaZe after returning from injury. Nikola “NiKo” Kovač is one of the most technically gifted CS:GO players ever and has been considered a top-five talent since 2017. CS:GO’s history is also littered with legendary snipers, like Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács, Kenny “kennyS” Schrub, and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham. And this is just to name a few.
Putting together this list of names generates an appreciation for the tremendous list of historical CS:GO players. And more importantly, it should get you more excited for the return of majors. At PGL Stockholm, Astralis could cement their legacy as the greatest team and the greatest players of all time. Someone like s1mple, ZywOo, or NiKo could finally obtain that major title that’s eluded them and reassert themselves atop the mountain. Or someone we haven’t even talked about yet could take their first steps to establish their claim.
Hopefully, the best is yet to come.