The MVP award for a CSGO tournament is a contentious topic, not least because what we mean by MVP and the criteria for MVP never reach a consensus. This is an intriguing topic to me. I came from a 1-v-1 game background, so the MVP award didn’t exist in the games I followed (beyond random popularity IEM votes). So what does being the MVP entail and what are the criteria for determining it?
For my part there are three criteria to consider: who had the most carry performances throughout the tournament, who had the most consistent impact across the tournament, and the context in which that performance happened. For instance, I give Nikola “NiKo” Kovac more credit for carrying mousesports to the quarterfinals of DreamHack Malmö than any other player at that tournament. Several names might have had better individual performances in the group stage, but they didn’t have to contend with the disarray and lack of outside contribution that defined Mouz at that point. Without NiKo’s broad shoulders, the German squad would’ve never made it past Liquid, let alone the star-studded Luminosity lineup in the winners final.
In basic terms, a player’s performance is magnified by the opponent as well as the player’s teammates. At the first StarLadder i-league Invitational last year, my MVP was s1mple. Despite the fact Worst Players finished 5th-6th, they owed whatever meager success they garnered from his efforts. Team-wise, Worst Players was one of the weakest teams at the event. Their placing qualified as overachievement, and it was all thanks to their star player.
Even with these criteria, deciding an MVP remains unclear. Most people work under the assumption the best performing player on the winning team deserves the honor, as the finals are the most important series of the tournament. Others seem to think it is the best performing player at the event who should get it. A third option could be which player had the most impact for his team at the event; who was most essential to the team’s success. Each perspective has its own merit and each will produce very different MVPs for each tournament. I’ll make a list of each recent Tier 1 tournament and my MVP pick determined by said criteria. Here is a run down.
Best player in the finals: Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye
He had a super hard carry performance in the finals against Virtus.Pro and was the primary reason why the series went all three maps. Although it was a team effort, Kjaerbye showed the most impressive play during the finals.
Most impactful player on the winning team: Kjaerbye
Not only was he was a complete monster in the finals, Kjaerbye was also pretty good to great throughout the group stage and Astralis’ series against Natus Vincere and Fnatic.
Best overall player: Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz
Up until the finals, I thought dev1ce was the clear MVP of the tournament. He had amazing impact and consistency throughout the entire tournament, including games where Astralis’ tournament life was on the line.
Player who had the most impact for his team: Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, SK Gaming
Astralis and Virtus.Pro were two of the strongest lineups going into the event, and at the event itself, both performed well as a team. By contrast, SK had a stand-in with Ricardo “fox” Pacheco and dealt with Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo’s miserable shape. It fell to Fer to initiate most of the aggressive tactics, which he did and more. Combine that with the stand-in situation and I think he was the most critical player for his team at the Major.
DreamHack Las Vegas
Best player in the finals: Marcelo “coldzera” David, SK Gaming
This was a very complicated tournament to for which to determine the MVP. Among all of the players in the finals, coldzera had the best performance among them. At the same time, I also think he was the single best performing player at the tournament because of his consistent on-point decision making. But I don’t consider him the most important player on his team during this event.
Most impactful player on the winning team: Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski, Virtus.pro
Snax was the best player on Virtus.Pro and the superstar of the team at Vegas. The sheer amount of impact he had for the team up until the finals was why many had him pegged as the MVP of the tournament.
Best overall player: coldzera
There was an argument made as to whether or not coldzera or Snax was the best player at Vegas. I contend that it was coldzera because I value coldzera’s consistency and finals performance slightly over the sheer amount of nutty plays Snax pulled off.
Player who had the most impact for his team: Fer/NiKo.
Here is where things get complicated. I think coldzera was the best player of the tournament, but for my money, Fer was the most important player in relation to his team’s success. At Vegas, SK ran a loose style that relied on Fer and felps’ aggression spearheading their offensive. Fer’s performance was once again incredible. I’d contend Fer was slightly more important than Coldzera for SK’s success because of such a style lives or dies on the advanced player creating opportunities.
But if you asked me for a single player performance that meant the most for his team, the crown would go to NiKo. Oddly enough, Mouz was pretty good this tournament as a whole so it wasn’t a traditional one man army show from NiKo. Despite that, his carry performance far exceeded logic. NiKo had accessed another level to his play and was regularly opening entire sites by himself. His team as a whole was worse than both SK and VP, meaning he had to do even more work. It nearly succeeded as he almost demolished VP singlehandedly for one map.
Best player in the finals: Peter “dupreeh” Rothmann, Astralis
Going into the finals of IEM Katowice, there were a lot of different candidates for MVP. NiKo was having a pretty good tournament for FaZe Clan: in fact, NiKo’s heroics were the only reason FaZe made it out of the group stages alive. Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth did the exact same thing for Astralis. Dev1ce was pretty great through the playoffs, but it ended up being Dupreeh who had the biggest performance for Astralis in the finals.
Most impactful player on the winning team/Best overall player: Xyp9x
Known as the most overqualified support player in the world. Xyp9x showed that he could carry from a support position. For Xyp9x, stats are basically a lie. Because of the role he takes, he usually won’t have insane ADR or frags, but he often gets the critical clutch 1-v-X victories that secure critical rounds of the game. At this particular tournament he routinely did it to the point that he was the best player on his team, and for my money the best player at the tournament, in both impact and consistency.
Player who had the most impact for his team: Henrique “HEN1” Teles, Immortals
Hen1 is a feast or famine player. Well, more like feast or famine and famine. He isn’t consistent in any sense of the word and at times, it feels like he’s more likely to hit the 10/10 difficulty shot than the regular 6/10 or 7/10 shots you expect from an AWPer. But when he is on, he can carry his team to heights far above what it could usually achieve. This is what happened here. Without Hen1, I don’t know if Immortals gets out of groups, much less beats North in the playoffs.
Best player in the Finals: dev1ce/Fabien “Kioshima” Fiey
This is where things get very weird. If we only look at who the best player was on the winning team in the finals, then Kioshima earns that spot. This was one of those finals where everyone had their moment, but Kioshima in particular clinched it for FaZe on the second and third map.
Now if you were to ask me who the best player in the finals was regardless of result, I’d pick dev1ce. The reason is that he had better consistency and impact than any other player in the finals. In addition to that, both Dupreeh and Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander somewhat underperformed, but dev1ce compensated for their weakness at a crucial time.
Most impactful player on the winning team: FaZe as a whole
I don’t see this as a case where the best player on the winning team should get the MVP. NiKo really saved FaZe in the group stages but beyond that, everyone else played amazingly when necessary. The other four players all had carry performances or critical moments where they stepped up as well.
Best overall player: dev1ce
In terms of consistency and impact, dev1ce was unmatched during this tournament. Having said that, I don’t think he was the most impactful player for his team. That award goes to someone else.
Player who had the most impact for his team: Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Natus Vincere
That was the s1mple I expected to see when he joined Na’Vi. The only person close to him in terms of sheer carry performance was Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs. I wasn’t surprised when someone asked NiKo who he thought the MVP was, he debated between s1mple or GuardiaN.
These are just a few examples of how varied the MVP award can be depending on what criteria you use and what you mean by MVP of the tournament. The MVP award is important because it marks a great performance regardless of team result and carries its own meaning therein. That’s why clearing up what we mean by MVP is important when acknowledging the best players of a tournament.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner SPorts/ELEAGUE and ESL, illustration by Slingshot