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Top 20 players of 2020: stavn (12)

While he was young, stavn spent much of his time watching his older brothers play Counter-Strike after they were introduced to the game by their father and a family friend. He eventually started playing the game himself, and it was with one of his older siblings, Jacob “⁠dragonfly⁠” Lund, that stavn would start to take the game more seriously. The two made a team with some of dragonfly‘s friends called walkover and began to travel all over Denmark, attending grassroots tournaments across the country.

“It was all I dreamt about when I was young, getting to play CS and competing with my older brother. We did really well at those LANs and I remember we all thought we could get even better with more practice.

”There was one LAN in particular that made me think, ‘I can go all the way.’ It was back in 2016 when we attended PowerLAN. It was one of the bigger LAN events in Denmark at the time, but we obviously played the BYOC, while teams like Astralis, Heroic, Dignitas, Rogue and Tricked were invited to the main tournament. We did very well and at one point we were to face Tricked as they lost in their group at the main tournament. They were probably No. 3 or No. 4 in Denmark at the time, so it was a big match for us.

“We were playing in those big gym halls and we slept in the hall next to it, while Tricked were playing from their VIP area. We lost the game 1-2, but I had a really insane Dust2, and taking a map against them back then was a really huge deal to us, and also to the Danish community. I remember cadiaN sat behind me at one point, in the middle of Dust2, and watched me play. I will never forget that moment.”

walkover then got scooped up by Fragsters, the first organization the brothers played under, in October 2016, and stavn kept turning heads at the age of 14, when he became one of the top performers in his team’s Danish Championship victory in 2017. Fragsters kept performing well nationally and won WESG Denmark 2017, qualifying for the EU & CIS Regional Finals, where stavn was named one of five players to watch by HLTV, although he didn’t manage to shine at the event in Barcelona as his team floundered in the group stage.

stavn competing at PowerLAN 2016 at the age of 14, where he was spectated by cadiaN

Fragsters hit their stride with Lucas “⁠Bubzkji⁠” Andersen, Ismail “⁠refrezh⁠” Ali and stavn showing serious promise as players that could one day break into the top echelons of the game. The young Danes, who began 2018 with a 5-8th place in CPH Games’ B tournament, really took off halfway through the year, when they qualified for DreamHack Open Austin, an event they finished in 3rd-4th place with victories over Luminosity and eUnited.

They then made another DreamHack Open semi-final, this time in Valencia, again coming as the representative from the Europe qualifier. They beat Virtus.pro 16-1 and Luminosity 16-9 in the group stage before bowing out to North in the playoffs. At the end of the year they qualified for StarSeries i-League Season 6, where they made the playoffs and finished 5-8th, and attended another DreamHack Open in Atlanta, this time as invitees, but were only able to finish in 7-8th place with a stand-in as Bubzkji had to sit it out due to medical issues.

”Fragsters was the first organization I played under. It was a great organization, and the people behind it were close to us. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint the best memories of my journey in Fragsters, but I think the fact that my brother and I got to travel around the world together, while doing what we love, has to be an experience of a lifetime.“

The team parted ways with the organization and lost Bubzkji and refrezh at the beginning of 2019, but just three months into the new year, stavn, then 16, was offered a trial with Heroic. Not long after his announcement, Heroic won the GG.BET Sydney Invitational and qualified for the IEM event in Australia, propelling stavn to a new level, although the team went out in last place following defeats to fnatic and Grayhound.

stavn standing between his brothers, dragonfly and Lifedance (coach), at StarSeries i-League Season 6

Heroic kept struggling to break out at Big events and went through several roster changes that ended up with Johannes “⁠b0RUP⁠” Borup and Casper “⁠cadiaN⁠” Møller joining the team. It was finally with this constellation that stavn first won an international event, at the smaller DreamHack Open Atlanta. The youngster finished with a 1.12 rating in the Danish squad’s clean run with best-of-one group stage victories over Triumph and Illuminar and 2-0 playoff wins against Virtus.pro and Sprout.

“Winning DreamHack Atlanta meant a great deal to me, it was my first international LAN win and I will never forget it. It was especially a great win for the team, as we had just finished second at DreamHack Open Rotterdam a month earlier.”

Heroic fell back to earth with a 7-8th place at DreamHack Open Winter following losses to SJ and CR4ZY, and remained a step below the elite teams, finishing 13-16th at the ESL Pro League Finals, this time around following defeats at the hands of fnatic and 100 Thieves.

EPICENTER was yet another example of where Heroic stood in the scene at the time as they went out in 3rd-4th place after tallying victories against EHOME and forZe, while losing to two superior teams in Natus Vincere and Vitality.

“My journey in Heroic has had both ups and downs. I’m the last standing member of the team I joined as there have been a lot of replacements and I have had the pleasure of having many different teammates. I think that has helped me understand how a team works and how you need to create space for different kinds of personalities, and also different kinds of views on how each person sees the game. I’m grateful for my time in Heroic, I have learned a lot.”

Heroic started off 2020 with trips to two LANs, DreamHack Open Leipzig and the ICE Challenge, in London. The Danes played two derbies and two local teams in Germany, losing to MAD Lions in their opener before beating Sprout and North to reach the playoffs, where they lost to BIG in the semi-finals. At the ICE Challenge, Heroic fared much worse, losing to Virtus.pro and once again to MAD Lions in what ended up being a last-place finish.

“It seemed like the gas was running out in early 2020 for our team. MAD Lions were our big rivals at the time and they had the upper hand against us. At the same time, our performance at the ICE Challenge was just not acceptable. Not because we lost, it was more in the manner we lost.

“Something felt off and we decided to do some changes after that event. We had different views on how we would like to approach the game, on the T-side especially. Snappi was a great in-game leader and we achieved great things with him, but we mutually decided to try out cadiaN as the in-game leader to try and find the spark again.“

Heroic then went to North America to play the first edition of the newly-minted Flashpoint 1 league in Los Angeles, where they were supposed to hit the reset button after agreeing to sign for one of the league’s founding organizations, FunPlus Phoenix. An offer for Patrick “⁠es3tag⁠” Hansen from Astralis threw a wrench into the negotiations between Heroic and FunPlus Phoenix in the eleventh hour, however, and despite having played their opening match under what was to be their new organization, contracts would never end up being signed and the deal fell through. The team was not allowed to continue playing the tournament and flew back home, leaving the players gutted.

“We saw the move to FPX as a good chance to start afresh after a few stagnant months. New facilities, a new banner to represent, and finally a safe spot in one of the franchise leagues. However, we all saw how that situation panned out. I think that when the move failed and es3tag went to Astralis, we realized that we needed to rebuild the roster and I think it was pretty clear to everyone in the team that something had to change. We were making role swaps in the team and the new roles didn’t add up in the end.

“The disappointment that we faced by travelling to the US in the middle of a pandemic, losing our ESL Pro League spot, losing the chance at Flashpoint, it would be extremely hard to bounce back without making major changes.”

Upon returning to Denmark, Heroic brought on René “⁠TeSeS⁠” Madsen and Nikolaj “⁠niko⁠” Kristensen in lieu of es3tag and Marco “⁠Snappi⁠” Pfeiffer, and signed Nicolai “⁠HUNDEN⁠” Petersen, who had recently been removed from MAD Lions, as coach. The renewed team wasn’t able to surprise right off the bat, going out in 9-12th place in DreamHack Masters Spring Europe, their first notable event since the coronavirus had hit the world, but stavn did manage to get impressive numbers, ending the tournament with a 1.23 rating in the team’s 1-3 run, enough to earn him a valuable player mention.

stavn became the longest standing player in Heroic at 18 after the roster changes in 2020

stavn wasn’t able to maintain such high numbers at the following events, cs_summit 6 and DreamHack Open Summer Europe, but Heroic did turn up the heat as a unit. The Danes beat ENCE, North and fnatic to earn a fourth-placed finish in the RMR tournament, and followed it up beating rivals MAD Lions as well as Endpoint and Complexity on their way to a second place in DH Summer Europe. Despite his more modest numbers, a 1.09 rating in cs_summit and a 1.04 in the DreamHack event, stavn was a valuable player in both competitions.

”Something just clicked after adding HUNDEN, TeSeS and niko. It was perfect. Our practice results were amazing from the get-go and everyone wanted to show the world how good we could become. The team chemistry was fantastic, and everyone wanted to improve. TeSeS and niko are both really skilled and they bring different skills to the table. TeSeS is a super mechanically skilled player, and when he is on fire I don’t think anyone wants to face him in a duel. Meanwhile, niko brings a lot of calmness to the server, you can always rely on him, although outside of the server he is quite the opposite [laughs]. He brings a lot of joy and humour to the team, sometimes maybe a touch too much, one could say, but he’s a great guy.”

Heroic kicked off the second tournament season of 2020 with a bang, taking ESL One Cologne 2020 Europe by storm. The Danes started off with two wins and a loss in the group stage, beating FaZe and fnatic while losing to G2. They then took out Complexity in the quarter-finals, exacted revenge on G2 in the semi-finals and brought it home with a 3-0 victory in the grand final against Vitality. stavn put in excellent performances throughout, finishing the event with a 1.17 rating, 1.28 playoff rating, and leading his team in the grand final with a staggering 1.22 rating across all three maps to earn a place among the EVPs.

“My best memory of the year has to be when we won ESL One Cologne. I remember running out to my mom with tears in my eyes and hugging her. A truly mesmerizing experience.”

Heroic then got a third-place finish in ESL Pro League, losing to the two best teams of the year, Natus Vincere and Astralis, in the upper bracket and consolidation finals, respectively. Despite sub-par showings in the team’s two aforementioned losses, stavn was still a positive force in his team’s run with a 1.10 rating.

The young Dane wasn’t able to repeat such performances IEM New York Europe, a less prestigious event than the previous two tournaments. He ended the event with a below-average 0.91 rating, one of his lowest of the year, as the team crashed out in 7th-8th place following defeats to FaZe and BIG.

“Losing HUNDEN was very, very tough. We had just won ESL One Cologne, the biggest trophy of our careers. The fact that we didn’t even get to celebrate that, and that some people thought our win was not legit, hurt. It also hurt that we lost a good friend and that he, as many other coaches, didn’t manage to avoid using the bug when they had the chance to. It also meant that the responsibility that he had in timeouts, in the middle of the game, etc., had to be taken by others. We were no longer six players in the server, which is a big advantage, especially in online CS, but we proved that we can still win trophies.”

stavn and Heroic ramped things back up in DreamHack Open Fall, in which a wonky group stage, with losses to Astralis and G2 and victories over Endpoint and North, gave way to an incredible lower-bracket run in the playoffs. The Danes took down North, Sprout, BIG, NiP and Astralis in do-or-die matches on their way to the grand final, in which they beat Vitality 3-2. stavn earned his second EVP of the year thanks to a team-high 1.22 rating, the fourth highest of the entire event, and a 1.27 rating in the lower-bracket run.

“Winning ESL One Cologne and DreamHack Open fall was nothing less than amazing. I will never forget it. Ever.”

stavn stayed in shape heading into the last few events of the year, accruing a 1.17 rating in IEM Beijing-Haidian Europe, in which Heroic had a clean run in the group stage with wins against NiP and North before falling to the team they had just beaten in a grand final, Vitality, in the last-eight stage. But it was in DreamHack Masters Winter where stavn really shined, amassing his highest rating of the year, 1.34, despite his team not being able to make it past the quarter-finals. The 18-year-old was named an EVP for the last time in 2020 after excelling in all three of his team’s matches against c0ntact, Spirit and GODSENT, ending the tournament with a 96.7 ADR and a 1.40 impact rating.

stavn lacked consistency at times in 2020, but showed up big for his team in crucial playoff matches

Following their two quarter-final finishes, Heroic slipped up in the season’s culminating tournament, IEM Global Challenge, a stacked eight-team event to close out 2020. The Danes were eliminated in last place following defeats to Liquid and FURIA, with stavn posting his lowest rating of the year, 0.85, amid all-around poor performances in the team’s two losses.

“We were one of the teams that grinded the hardest this year. We started practising early after the summer break and we decided to give it all we could. Every single one of us put so, so many hours into the game. We wanted to show that we were the real deal so badly. Then, coming into the last month or two, and I think I can speak for everyone on the team, it was very draining mentally. I think we should have skipped a tournament or two somewhere between the summer break and the end of the year. It’s always easy to say it in hindsight, but I think everyone on the team agrees.

“We will try to work on a better schedule this year. I believe it’s also very hard to consistently play and perform at your top level. The competition is so tough nowadays, and that’s why I admire Astralis for what they have managed to achieve in the last few years. Nothing but respect for them.”

Why was stavn the 12th best player of 2020?

stavn had the tenth-highest damage output with an 80.4 ADR, was a solid fragger for his team with 0.72 kills per round (18th-highest) and had a well above average KAST (72.1%) and impact rating (1.11), which resulted in the Dane being the 14th highest-rated player of the year (1.13) in notable competitions.

More importantly, he excelled when it mattered most, as he had the eighth-highest rating when taking only the most competitive events into consideration (1.12 rating at Elite events). What definitively separated him from the players below was how he performed in big matches, which he ended with an impressive 1.15 rating (seventh-best) in a very solid sample size of 50 maps in Big Event playoffs.

stavn was his team’s best player in both of their title-winning campaigns

Despite not getting any MVP medals and being among the EVPs only three times, the joint-fewest awards in the top 20, he was in the running for MVP in ESL One Cologne Europe and DreamHack Open Fall as Heroic‘s best player in their title runs.

“My goal for 2021 is to improve. It always will be. There will always be room for improvement. Both in life and, of course, in CS.”

Furthermore, he had a number of solid events that were just shy of an EVP mention, such as IEM Beijing-Haidian Europe, ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe and DreamHack Masters Spring Europe. To be higher in this ranking, he would have needed a few more eye-catching performances or slightly better consistency, as he had a couple of disappointing events, namely IEM Global Challenge and IEM New York Europe.

Bold prediction

stavn named Thomas “⁠TMB⁠” Bundsbæk as a player to watch in years to come. The 18-year-old Dane showed his prowess in smaller tournaments with AGF throughout 2020, notably averaging a 1.29 rating in the team’s 3rd-4th place run in DreamHack Open November.

Denmark Thomas “⁠TMB⁠” Bundsbæk

”He showed good promise in 2020 in AGF. He also had a great match against us, and top teams have already shown interest in him, from what I know.”

Stay tuned to our Top 20 players of 2020 ranking and take a look at the Introduction article to learn more about how the players were selected. This year’s ranking is supported by:

Xtrfy – Built on experience
GG.BET – Online betting and odds on sport and esports

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