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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Top 20 players of 2020: huNter- (13)

huNter- began his Counter-Strike journey already in the late years of 1.6, but at his young age, he didn’t have enough time to work his way up, as the game was succeeded by Global Offensive by the time the Bosnian was 16 years old. After the new version came out in 2012, he didn’t take much liking to it at first, but after a few years and with a lot of encouragement from his cousin Nikola “⁠NiKo⁠” Kovač, huNter- eventually gave it a real try and began to play more in 2015-2016 with some of his old teammates from the 1.6 days in GamePub, as well as with NiKo himself in The World Championships qualifiers as a representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“NiKo made me go back to CS:GO and told me how I could be good and that I would succeed. He knew that I was really good in 1.6 and he was pushing me to at least try CS:GO. He called me to play some local event in Bosnia with him and I was pretty good there, and everything started from there with me and CS:GO. He was the key factor in why I started with CS:GO.”

“It was really tough at the beginning because I didn’t start to play CS:GO since the beginning when everyone started, but I was getting better, working a lot to understand the game and to catch up with all those players who started playing on time. It all started with local LAN tournaments in Serbia, online tier-five leagues, open qualifiers for big events, same as most new players do now. What pushed me a little was the invitation from NiKo to the national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I played a couple of good games and where I showed that I was ready for tier two-three CS at that point, and that pushed me to work even harder to prove myself and justify his trust. After that, LETN1 decided to invite me to make a team together and so we decided on the next steps.”

After he started to make a name for himself again on the local scene, in 2016 huNter- was called up by Nestor “⁠LETN1⁠” Tanić to one of the most well-known teams in the Balkan region, iNation, and soon began to show that he had the talent for more than just local play. The then-20-year-old averaged a 1.14 rating in his first full year in CS:GO after competing in various regional and international tournaments and qualifiers, and he kept climbing the ranks from then on.

huNter- played his first international LAN with Binary Dragons at the Copenhagen Games 2017 BYOC qualifier

The next step in huNter-‘s career came in 2017, when the iNation roster signed with Binary Dragons and the Bosnian went full-time under the Russian organization. With the new backing, the team went on to attend as much as they could — more than 30 tournaments and over 200 maps in a span of eight months with the organization — to rack up some much-needed experience, and huNter- got the opportunity to play his first international LAN events, at the Copenhagen Games BYOC qualifier and at DreamHack Open Atlanta, though without success in either campaign.

“We worked a lot and tried to find an organization that would give us salaries to get the conditions to make a living from CS:GO, so we were really happy when we joined Binary Dragons. After we joined them, we just decided to play as many officials as possible on HLTV, to see where we stand, if we can go further, etc. In 2017 we played 310 maps officially on HLTV, without counting the beginnings of open qualifiers, which we played a lot, as well.

“The favorite moment in Binary Dragons was when we qualified for DreamHack Open Atlanta 2017, for sure. It was a great feeling, really, and after that we were always around the top 30-40, we were getting some invites at least for closed qualifiers, some LAN events, so yeah, this was a great second step for all of us in Binary Dragons.”

Before the year was over, the lineup was transferred again to Valiance, under whom they played a few more tournaments, most notably winning the local Vip Adria League Season 1 Finals in dominant fashion and placing second to Windigo at Esports Balkan League Season 1 Finals. Gaining some notoriety among the community for more than just the shared last name with his cousin, huNter- ended 2017 with a 1.24 rating and looked to progress even further under the Croatian organization.

“When I signed for Valiance, I realized that I could do something great in my career from then on. Everything went better, the team played better, my individual statistics were better, the conditions from the organizations were going up, so yeah, after I signed for Valiance I saw that I can go up more, of course with more work.”

By May of 2018, the Balkan squad broke through to the top 30 for the first time after they qualified for DreamHack Masters Marseille, placed in the top six at the year’s Copenhagen Games event, and reached the playoffs at Qi Invitational. But despite huNter- continuing to impress, Valiance began to stagnate in the latter half of the year, which eventually prompted the organization to overhaul the roster and reach beyond the talent pool in the Balkan scene with the addition of Imperial‘s star trio, Nemanja “⁠nexa⁠” Isaković, Rokas “⁠EspiranTo⁠” Milasauskas, and Otto “⁠ottoNd⁠” Sihvo.

Another first in the form of a Minor attendance came in early 2019

“nexa and I always wanted to play together, because whenever we played together, that team always looked good. nexa did not want to play in the full Balkan roster at that moment, and I also saw that we reached the maximum with that Balkan team and that it was time for the next step, which was a complete success. We did our best and at that time with LETN1 as a player, emi as the coach, and of course the support from Valiance, we decided to bring in the great trio from Imperial at the time, ottoNd, nexa, EspiranTo.

The new roster was an almost instant success, as Valiance qualified for the IEM Katowice Europe Minor within a month of the new roster’s existence. They went on to place fourth there at the beginning of 2019, with the Bosnian putting up impressive performances one after another as the team beat mousesports twice in the groups and just missed out on the all-important top three due to a loss to Vitality in a nail-biting series.

Despite starting from zero after the core change, the team quickly made it back to the top 30 and went on to climb as the months went by. A top-four finish at DreamHack Open Rio and a grand final appearance at DreamHack Open Tours put the European project at a peak No. 14 spot in the ranking ahead of the organization’s rebranding to CR4ZY, and the best was still to come.

The second Major cycle of the year rolled around, and this time, huNter- & co. succeeded in the excruciating qualifying process as they made it to the European Minor again and placed second there to advance to the StarLadder Major’s New Challengers Stage. Although it had already been an achievement in its own right to make it there, CR4ZY continued to surprise in their Major debut, progressing through the first phase with a 3-1 record and picking up two more wins in the New Legends Stage, including a bittersweet one over NiKo‘s FaZe, before losses to Natus Vincere and Astralis ended their phenomenal run.

“It was simply a hit and that team was constantly advancing, and we achieved our dreams by going to the Minor, then after to the StarLadder Major, and the result we achieved at the Major. I think we could have done a lot better results if that team had stayed together, but I also think it was the right time for my next step.”

huNter’s and nexa’s time with CR4ZY ended after the fantastical rookie run at the StarLadder Major

The next step huNter- refers to is, of course, his and nexa‘s surprising transfer to G2 less than a month after their campaign in Berlin. The transition to the French-majority squad was tough at first, as in their early days the lineup had to find ways past communication barriers with the French core and barely had the chance to practice while they attended several events back-to-back, but despite all the challenges the new European project managed to pick up some impressive results by the end of the year.

With huNter- earning his first individual award as he was named the Most Valuable Player of the event, G2 placed second at cs_summit 5 in a run that is now mostly remembered for the fashion in which the French-Balkan squad lost the grand final, to a mousesports featuring a stand-in and the coach playing on the deciding map. After traveling back to Europe from Los Angeles, the Bosnian went on to carry his new team at their final tournament of 2019 just a few days later, clinching his first international trophy in an undefeated campaign at the Champions Cup Finals.

“When I signed for G2, we immediately decided to play all events we could from October 1 til the end of the year. We really travelled a lot and we played at all the events we could. We weren’t at home almost at all, which was normal for the beginning of the teams, I would say. We decided to get to know each other better, to play as many LAN events as possible to gain experience as a team, as nexa and me as players didn’t play that many tier-one LAN events before we joined G2. It was a hard but successful journey for all of us. I enjoyed it.”

The 2020 season began early for G2 as they played in the IEM Katowice closed qualifier a week into the new year. After they managed to pick up one of the three spots on offer at the Polish event after a couple of difficult matches, they reserved the following month or so for preparation and a long bootcamp ahead of BLAST Premier Spring Series and IEM Katowice itself.

In London, huNter- was in great shape as usual while the nexa-led side went undefeated in their group at BLAST, taking down 100 Thieves and OG twice to advance to the Spring Finals, and he carried over that impressive form to the first Big Event of the year in Katowice at the end of February. G2 dominated the group stage there, with a second convincing win over the Australian side and another up against mousesports putting them through to the playoffs. They went on to pass Liquid and fnatic in the bracket stage looking hard to beat while huNter- continued to put up great numbers, before their unbeaten run came to a painful halt in the grand final at the hands of a scary Natus Vincere side.

“When we won against mousesports in Katowice and secured the playoffs in the Spodek Arena was a great moment. Unfortunately, we later found out that we would not be playing in front of an audience, but still, it was a great memory at the time.

“The Katowice run helped [our confidence] a lot. We had a difficult bootcamp at the beginning of the year to prepare for the BLAST group stage and, most of all, for Katowice at that time. We had great results at the beginning of the year, we had a lot of confidence, we were enjoying playing with each other, being together, and all of these things.”

The Bosnian earned his first Exceptionally Valuable Award of the year in Katowice, and that set the stage for him in the following few months when the competition moved online. huNter- immediately added another EVP to his tally at ESL Pro League Season 11 as he topped the charts despite his team’s elimination in the first group stage, where they didn’t make it through to the second stage with a 3-2 record only because of a three-way tie with OG and FaZe.

After winning his first international trophy at the end of 2019, huNter- also appeared in his first big-event final at IEM Katowice

huNter-‘s third and fourth consecutive EVP awards came at the month-long ESL One: Road to Rio and at DreamHack Masters Spring. After the stumble in Pro League, G2 were back in title contention with back-to-back grand final appearances but ultimately missed out on the highest honor again when Astralis handed them a tough beating in the former event and BIG stopped them one round away from securing the title at the latter.

“A lot of things affected the fact that we couldn’t win any of the tournaments and finish at least one tournament in first place. The opponents and the results were different in each final. In some matches we didn’t have a chance, and in some matches we had a few match points but we didn’t manage to bring the match to an end. I don’t know what the reason was really, but we will talk about that for sure before we start with events in 2021 and try to improve it for this year.”

Although huNter- maintained a solid level in June, G2 faltered as the first part of the season was drawing to an end. Just a few days after the run to the grand final at DreamHack Masters, the French-Balkan side ran into some tough opposition in the opening stages of the BLAST Premier Spring Finals double-elimination bracket and couldn’t close out some close maps against Vitality and Natus Vincere. A week later, their campaign at the second Regional Major Ranking tournament of the year, cs_summit 6, ended early again, this time after losses to GODSENT and fnatic in groups.

G2 only briefly returned to the playoffs stage after the summer break with a semi-final placing at ESL One Cologne, where the team secured a top-two finish in their group over Heroic but ended up losing a close rematch to the Danes in the bracket phase, before Casper “⁠cadiaN⁠” Møller & co. went on to win the whole thing.

It was around this time that rumors began to spread about the team’s interest in NiKo, but the move wouldn’t come to completion until much later, after G2 played at three more tournaments with Audric “⁠JaCkz⁠” Jug and François “⁠AmaNEk⁠” Delaunay. The European squad still looked in good shape when they started their run in ESL Pro League Season 12 with a 2-0 record in early September, but over the following two weeks they were dealt five consecutive losses, including two to big underdogs ENCE and AGO, and suffered their first in three consecutive early exits.

The second came at IEM New York, with two tight series against Complexity and fnatic seeing G2 bomb out in last place in one of huNter-‘s lowest points of 2020 — still good enough for a 1.04 average rating. The third followed at the year’s last RMR event, DreamHack Open Fall, where the 25-year-old put up some of his usual star performances against some of the tournament favorites like Heroic and BIG, before the team was eliminated from the tournament in the opening stages of the double-elimination playoffs.

That marked the final event G2 played with the French-majority roster, as NiKo‘s transfer from FaZe came through in late October and the Kovač cousins finally united under the same organization, which was a dream come true for huNter-.

“My favorite moment of 2020 was for sure when our manager, NiaK, informed me that NiKo had signed a contract with G2 and that we would finally play together.

“When he decided to leave FaZe, our goal was to play together 100%, it didn’t matter that much where. We had some options, but, of course, first I talked to G2 because I was and I am really happy in G2. I didn’t want to leave one of the best organizations in the world if they could bring NiKo there. I said ‘if you can bring NiKo here, I will be the happiest person in the world,’ and that happened. Playing with a brother in the best organization in the world is a dream, but as you can see, it is achievable.

“It meant everything to me, literally. That has been my goal since I started playing CS:GO, because he is the biggest reason why I started playing, as I said before. He is a big, big part of why I am where I am now. My goal wasn’t to win the Major, to win 10 events, MVPs or whatever, my goal was to be good enough to play with him and do it with him together. He helped me a lot in my career from the beginning, and I just want to help him now and to show what he is capable of.”

But to make room for the former FaZe superstar, the team had to figure out who to let go out of JaCkz and AmaNEk and used the rest of the year to try out the two options one by one. Although the situation was far from ideal, it quickly became apparent that NiKo‘s addition reinvigorated the roster. With AmaNEk, the new G2 immediately succeeded at BLAST Premier Fall Series by winning their group, featuring FURIA, Astralis, and MIBR, and continued to do well when JaCkz stepped in for IEM Beijing-Haidan as his trial yielded a top-four finish.

The lack of stability and constantly changing roles eventually took their toll, however at the last two tournaments of 2020, when AmaNEk was brought back for DreamHack Masters Winter and BLAST Premier Fall Finals, where two similar paths to the one at the Fall Series saw G2 eliminated after back-and-forth encounters with FURIA and two losses to Astralis. Meanwhile, huNter- dropped into the red zone for the first and only time in 2020, putting in just one positive map in eight at the latter tournament.

“Player changes, trying different things and options that we had ahead of us and also a very difficult year for all of us in the team, with not enough time to prepare for the last tournaments and not enough time for some small rest to recover from fatigue of the individuals. That contributed to some bad results at the end of the year, but it didn’t hit us hard, we were ready to improvise, to see what the best option was for us.

“I had some personal problems at the end of the year, as well, which shook me a little and killed my will for some things. But now everything is okay, everything is solved, and I am ready for new challenges next year. […] Now there aren’t many excuses for 2021. We are where we are. I don’t like to promise things about results, but the only thing I can promise you is that we will do our best to be as good as possible and the results will come if we deserve them on the field.”

Why was huNter- the 13th best player of 2020?

In his first entry in the ranking, the 25-year-old stood out in many ways due to his sheer firepower, as he put up remarkable amounts of damage (81.2 ADR, seventh-most), plenty of kills (0.73, 13th most), as well as multi-kills in particular (in 18.8% of rounds, eighth-most), which helped the Bosnian record an impressive 1.18 impact rating (12th highest).

One of the main factors that went a long way towards setting him apart from those who placed below him in the top 20 ranking was huNter-‘s string of big early-year performances, which saw him clinch four consecutive EVPs at IEM Katowice, ESL Pro League Season 11, ESL One: Road to Rio, and DreamHack Masters Spring. Thanks to those highlight displays and a solid level throughout the rest of the year, G2‘s star rifler belonged to the best players when it came to 2020’s most important tournaments, recording a 1.11 rating at the “Elite” events alone.

A string of award-worthy performances early on helped huNter stand out

On the other hand, what kept huNter- from placing higher in the ranking was a somewhat unremarkable 1.06 big-event playoffs rating, which ranks lowest among all players who made it to the top 20. However, he generally played against better opposition than most players below, so it also couldn’t pull him further down the list.

“My only wish is to start playing LAN tournaments again and my goal is to be as good as possible and to help the team achieve the goals we set together.”

Bold prediction

For his bold prediction of a youngster who has the potential to reach the top level in the next few years, huNter- picked out a name outside of his home region, heaping praises on 17-year-old Israeli player Shahar “⁠flameZ⁠” Shushan, who currently represents Endpoint.

Israel Shahar “⁠flameZ⁠” Shushan

“I think flameZ can be a big surprise in the next few years if he continues to work, as he did this year. Every time I joined deathmatch, he was there — and I’m playing a lot of DM, as well, so you can’t imagine how much he played. He has great aim for sure, so everything is up to him.”

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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