They achieved high results, created competition, changed the industry, surprised by their achievements, and left their mark in the history of esports.

Esports went on a vacation, but not for long. Very soon, teams will gather at bootcamps to begin preparations for the next season and new January tournaments. Some, like The Bucharest Minor, start on January 9th. We would like to note the successes and achievements of those people, without whom it is impossible to imagine 2018 in esports.

Alexander “s1mple” Kostylev

For a whole year there was only talk, who is the best player in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ? Nikolai “device” Reedz from Astralis or Alexander “s1mple” Kostylev from Natus Vincere? Analysts and statistics flooded each other with numbers, fans broke spears in the next battle on the Internet. 

Some may say that the 12 MVP awards from HLTV are the only thing that will allow you to stop any controversy. There are people who say that all this is clowning. In general, half of the Danish team deserves no less attention. And s1mple has an award from the Esports Awards. He was recognized as the best player on the PC. Is that worth anything?

To argue which of them is the best, you can endlessly. Football for 10 years has not figured out who is better: Messi or Ronaldo? I wonder how long these disputes will continue within the CS: GO community. 

Both esports athletes had an outstanding season. But between them, there is a difference. If device drops out of the game, four more people are ready to step up and carry on with the match. S1mple didn’t always had that luxury. Perhaps he therefore stands out among the rest of the participants of Natus Vincere. In 2018 there were a lot of matches, if not for Kostylev, who knows what the “born to win” would achieve.

Na’Vi can not be called a team of one person. But there is a star, “the final boss,” as the casters once called him. And this machine is capable of stably showing a fantastic performance throughout the year. 

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins

The idol of the western youth and the richest streamer in the world. $500 thousand – so much Blevins earns every month from Twitch subscriptions alone. When hundreds of thousands of people regularly watch you on Twitch, and YouTube videos collect from 2 to 5 million views, it’s easy to believe in this. And all thanks to Fortnite and one broadcast with rapper Drake. That stream set a new record on personal Twitch channels – 635 thousand people. 

Ninja has grown to the point that he talks about Fornite on NBC’s Jimmy Fallon evening show. New York Times, ESPN, and others are interviewed him. According to Esports Industry Awards, Blevins is both a persona and a 2018 streamer. Very soon, he will arrange a New Year’s party in New York in Times Square. Tyler plans to invite guests and entertain the audience for 12 hours straight.

Love him or hate him, his impact for the whole gaming industry in 2018 cannot be denied.

Sebastian “Ceb” Debs and Johan “n0tail” Sundstein

Whatever happened in the future, the tandem of Debs and Sundstein forever inscribed their names in the history of Dota 2 . Success at The International 8 is largely their merit. One former coach, the other is a born leader and a captain. Perhaps they would have nothing happened if it were not for one important event in his career. 

May 2018. Captain and co-owner of the team Tal “Fly” Isaic team leaves OG. And with him one of the smartest players in the world – Gustav “s4” Magnusson. Drama, intrigue, recriminations in the press. They were replaced by the young and inexperienced Tobias “Topson” Taavitsainen and the dusty Anatam “Anat” Fam. The Aussie was generally on a protracted vacation. Before the Dota 2 World Championship all analysts put OG on the last line. No one could believe tha, half-dead and battered, they could even leave the group.

And in the end came out strong and lifted the trophy high over their heads.

The grand final — OG vs PSG.LGD — match of the year. January 15, Valve will release a documentary about this confrontation. So impactful was this match for the scene. A special show will be held in one of the Copenhagen cinemas.

Joona “Serral” Sotala

The first player who is not from South Korea, who endured a whole year of big-name rivals in the biggest StarCraft 2 competitions. Nobody knows how to stop Serral. Sotala took five trophies in WCS tournaments. He first interrupted a series of 34 victories at the world championships. Joona is so strong that he is expected to repeat success next year. Ukrainian Starcraft legend Alexander “Bly” Svisyuk put it best in a recent interview:

“He showed that it doesn’t matter where you live. The main thing is how you approach the process, and Serral approaches the process of training very painstakingly. He did a great job on himself psychologically. So much to train, to sharpen a lot of things to do everything perfectly — it is necessary to break everything in yourself and build in such a way as to become the number one of the world. Serral could do it and I think that he would be the best in any game. He is one of those people who can.” 

Jack Etienne

2018 is the year of Cloud9. The American esports organization achieved the highest results in all possible disciplines. They won the CS: GO major in Boston, won the first season of the Overwatch League, performed a crazy comeback at NA LCS during the season and won the top 4 at the World Championships. And this is in addition to the achievements in the Rainbow Six Siege, PUBG and Rocket League. 

In addition to this, it turned out that Jack Etienne is able not only to assemble teams and build relationships inside but also to knock out investments and sponsorship contracts. A truly unique person that is helping the future growth of esports by leaps.

Dominic “SonicFox” McLean

Dominic McLean is best known in the fighting community. But his impact reaches far more than that, far enough to earn him an award at The Game Awards 2018, where he was recognized as the best esports athlete of the year.

McLean is a workaholic. He dropped out. But not because it is boring. Dominic wanted to develop his own games. Learning this at the Faculty of Computer Science was simply impossible. Therefore, he began to play seriously himself. 

In 2018, SonicFox was marked by two important victories. The first in the world championship in fighting – Evolution Championship Series 2018 in the discipline of Dragon Ball FighterZ. The second – at the World Cup in Injustice 2. And each time he prepared the heroes that were deemed to be weak. He came to the tournament and put all their feet forward. Such a success in fighting games is a miracle. 

By age 20, McLean had become the most successful player in the community. He occupies the first line in earned prize money too — $525 thousand. And this is far from the end.

Danny “zonic” Sorensen

In esports, they still cannot decide what role the coach plays, what he does, what responsibilities fall on his shoulders. Does he manage the process at all or does he carry water? In a big sport, such questions simply do not arise. There, the authority of a coach has long been clear to everyone.

Astralis’ newest member Emil “Magisk” Rafe had this to say after he joined the Danish team:

“This is a good question, I like to talk about zonic, because he is very good. Before this tournament, he told us the following: ‘Guys, this is the last championship of the year. I know that you are tired and exhausted, but we need to take the [BLAST Pro Series Lisbon 2018] cup home. Get victory, dedicate yourself 100%, and then we can go on vacation.’ He always pushes us forward. ”

The main merit of zonic is 10 victories at major tournaments, including the major ones. The gap in the HLTV ranking between Astralis and any other team is more than 500 points. No matter if they laughed at him, no matter what they say about him, Sorensen led the team to success. He managed to turn five amazing but struggling players into cold-blooded killers. Each of them is ready to work not on statistics, but on the result. And in this indicator, Astralis has no equal.

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