Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Top 20 players of 2020: device (3)

The road to becoming “Mr. Consistent” of CS:GO has been long and arduous for device, who embarked on it as a teenager, in a previous version of the game. His first LAN experience dates back to 2009, when he played a local CS:Source tournament as a 13-year-old. Not long afterwards, device managed to reach the top of the Danish Source scene in its final years, linking up with Henrik “⁠FeTiSh⁠” Christensen for a short period before moving on to Global Offensive.

Early in his career, device was unable to stick in a team for long, either stepping down or being kicked, mostly due to a lack of motivation. FeTiSh had gone as far to claim that device was “wasting his potential” in 2012, but the two would play again at the start of CS:GO in CPH Wolves. That only lasted two months, however, due to device not showing up for practice regularly. At the end of 2013, he finally achieved stability, returning to CPH Wolves , who also featured Andreas “⁠Xyp9x⁠” Højsleth and Peter “⁠dupreeh⁠” Rasmussen, both of whom are still his teammates to this day.

device kicked off his career in CPH Wolves

A messy start to CS:GO meant that he wasn’t in contention for a spot in the Top 20 players of 2013 ranking, which ended up being the only one he has missed to date. However, under the tag of Dignitas in 2014, device started grabbing attention with his fragging output (1.11 rating, 0.77 KPR), which helped the team reach a number of playoffs during the year, including at all three Majors. Unfortunately, he also showed a tendency to go missing in the most important matches, which in turn resulted in the team being unable to secure a single trophy.

After sneaking into the best players of the year list in 2014 at No.20, device would reach new heights in 2015 after the team parted ways with FeTiSh and brought in Finn “⁠karrigan⁠” Andersen as their in-game leader. Now representing TSM, the Danes finally managed to get over the hump and win their first tournament, CCS Kick-off Finals, with device earning his inaugural MVP medal from the showing in Romania. The team won a total of five events during the year, in large part due to device improving his big-game performance, as he claimed a total of four MVPs in 2015 and placed third in the Top 20 players of the year ranking, behind two dominant forces in Olof “⁠olofmeister⁠” Kajbjer and Ladislav “⁠GuardiaN⁠” Kovács.

Newcomers to CS:GO might find it hard to look at device as anything else than an AWPer, but it wasn’t until he was 21 and playing for Astralis that he took on that role. Nicolaj “⁠Nico⁠” Jensen and René “⁠cajunb⁠” Borg were the ones wielding the “Big Green” ahead of him in previous teams, but when the latter parted ways with the long-lasting core in 2016, device took it upon himself to master a new role.

“I watched demos of all the top AWPers and tried to develop my own style, I made a google doc with which moves I needed to try on specific maps and sides, and then I evaluated which worked for me, and that would be my go-to. Then in the latter part of the year, I used a program that shows an overview heat map and then shows my tendencies and I tried to become more diverse, especially on the CT side.” – device about his role change

After linking up with karrigan, device started lifting trophies

device wasn’t completely inexperienced with the AWP, having played as a hybrid in 2014 (14.74% of total kills) and 2015 (22.69%), but nonetheless had another considerable obstacle to overcome. Despite the role change and the team being in flux, device was incredibly consistent in 2016. He flawlessly adapted to two significant roster changes in the team (cajunb and karrigan for Markus “⁠Kjaerbye⁠” Kjærbye and Lukas “⁠gla1ve⁠” Rossander) and managed to earn his fifth MVP at the end of the year, at the ECS Season 2 Finals. Following that event, he reached another milestone – rising to the No,1 place in the world ranking with Astralis for the first time.

While he still wasn’t able to contest with Gabriel “⁠FalleN⁠” Toledo and Marcelo “⁠coldzera⁠” David — due to lacking elite-level impact in the final games of tournaments —, device confirmed his class with another third-place finish on the top 20 players of the year list.

In 2017, new challenges arose for the Dane. After winning his first Major, ELEAGUE 2017, Astralis were put in the spotlight back home, and having so much media attention required adaptation. Nonetheless, device didn’t falter, and in his first full year as the main AWPer, he earned six EVPs from 12 events while picking up his level deep in tournaments by averaging a 1.13 Big event playoff rating. It wasn’t an amazing year for Astralis overall, though, as they were displaced by FaZe and SK as the best teams later on, and missed a chance to win their second Major after an upset loss to Gambit at PGL Krakow.

“I definitely feel like at one point their [FaZe and SK] ‘hunger’ was bigger than ours. It affected everyone on our team that we had a lot of media focus, that we had tried to win the ‘big one’ and been the best team in the world for a while. This is actually the toughest place to be in, since everyone has their eyes on the team to beat, and the team at the top usually does not have so many places to look for inspiration/motivation. We have learned a lot from this period, and I only think it has made us smarter as a team on how we are supposed to deal with this in the future.

“The loss against them at the Major was really heartbreaking because it felt like the moment we could get closer to solidifying what other great lineups had previously achieved by winning two Majors in a row. But no, I wasn’t that ‘surprised’ that we could not beat them since they were a really good team with nothing to lose in that game, but it was still the toughest game mentally that I feel like we lost in 2017.” – device about his 2017.

Unfortunately, device wasn’t able to finish out the year, as health issues saw him checked into a hospital upon the finish of IEM Oakland and forced him to take a sick leave after that. Learning to balance the lifestyle of a professional player with a hiatus hernia, an illness that gets worse with stress and travel, was the next task on his list.

“I am a bit disappointed that I did not take time to focus on my illness [earlier], because now I already feel like a new person,”, he said going into 2018, when the sniper reached a new level in Astralis‘ historic year, winning ten events in total – including their second Major. It was after the addition of Emil “⁠Magisk⁠” Reif that the Danes became an unstoppable unit, but as good as the rifler was, a lot of the success was down to device, who was one of the best “big game” players that year. He won seven MVPs in 2018, breaking Christopher “⁠GeT_RiGhT⁠” Alesund‘s record from 2013 for the highest number of medals won in a single year, in addition to six EVPs from a total of 17 events played. He also secured his first Major MVP, while averaging a 1.24 rating for the year.

However, despite his outstanding play in 2018, which would’ve been worthy of the No.1 spot in any of the years between 2014 and 2017, the AWPer had to settle for second place in the player ranking due to an otherworldly level from Natus Vincere star Aleksandr “⁠s1mple⁠” Kostyliev.

device broke the record for most MVPs in a year in 2018

That story repeated itself in 2019, when device continued to display his consistency both early and late in tournaments, securing three MVPs and winning six tournaments, including his third and fourth Majors. Lifting the trophy at StarLadder Berlin, exactly on his 24th birthday, saw his team go down in history as the first one with four Majors to their name, as well as becoming the only one with three victories in a row. While the year wasn’t as dominant as the previous one, Astralis again finished it as the best team in the world, winning three out of the last four Big events held.

device and his team continued breaking records, but one still eludes him – the No.1 spot in the player ranking. His 1.22 rating in 2019 was enough only for another third place on the list (sixth year in a row in which he was inside the top five), as this time it wasn’t just s1mple that placed ahead of him, but another prodigious talent in Mathieu “⁠ZywOo⁠” Herbaut.

The Astralis star continued his streak of incredible years in 2020, a difficult one for his team and the CS:GO scene overall. The Danes kicked things off with a slow start at BLAST Premier Spring Series, the event’s group stage, but then showed class at IEM Katowice by surging through the group stage. From the three series, all of which finished 2-0, device‘s worst map was a 1.05-rated Vertigo against Vitality, posting 1.30+ ratings in the remaining five. Natus Vincere were unbeatable in the semi-final, though, limiting Astralis to just five rounds on each map before going on to win the title.

The month-long ESL Pro League Season 11 Europe was next on the agenda. In the first tournament of the pandemic-caused online era of CS:GO, device seemed well adjusted to the “new normal”, going on to post a 1.20 rating, with that number going up to 1.32 when only playoffs are taken into account. Astralis played mousesports twice in the final games of the tournament, winning handily the group stage match but suffering a close defeat in the semi-finals, albeit device posted nearly identical ratings in both games – 1.33 and 1.32.

“We knew early on that Lukas (gla1ve) would need a break, so Emil (Magisk) took over gradually and already called during ESL One: Road to Rio so it didn’t feel like an abrupt change. Everybody on the team always contributes and pitches in with ideas, I mainly keep track of the economy in the game, so in that way, things didn’t change much for me, but of course, it was very different playing without Lukas and Andreas (Xyp9x). We tried to keep our roles and I think we adapted fairly well, but for the players who came in, it was a bit tough as they weren’t playing their optimal roles. But because of that, I think it made it way easier for us to re-integrate Lukas and Andreas once they got back.”

Astralis couldn’t handle NAVI on the stage of the empty Spodek

After settling for top-four finishes in the first two events and earning EVP mentions from both, device kicked his game into a higher gear in ESL One: Road to Rio – Europe, the first Regional Major Ranking tournament. After another grueling format that saw them play 24 maps in total, Astralis were crowned champions, having breezed through the playoffs without losing a single map against G2 (16-13, 16-7; 16-6, 16-2) and FaZe (16-12, 16-7). With an outstanding 1.58 playoff rating and an incredible 1.38 impact rating for the event, device earned the MVP award from the tournament – the 16th of his career.

That result ensured Astralis‘ return to the No.1 spot in the world rankings, having briefly lost it after an uninspiring start to the year. Although, they wouldn’t keep it for long, as changes to the active roster would hinder the Danes heavily.

First, it was gla1ve who stepped down from the line-up, and then, shortly afterwards, Xyp9x also requested some time off. At the time, it was unclear what was happening with the team. Patrick “⁠es3tag⁠” Hansen was signed as their sixth, but he unable to play initially due to his still-active Heroic contract, while Jakob “⁠JUGi⁠” Hansen and Marco “⁠Snappi⁠” Pfeiffer came in as a part of an “extended roster” but ended up being little more than glorified stand-ins.

“Playing during the pandemic has been tough, no doubt. It has been tough for everybody. We are used to spending a lot of time together, preparing, planning, coordinating and just hanging as a team, and everything changed overnight.

“[Regarding health issues being easier to handle in 2020], I rarely have issues travelling nowadays, as long as we plan for it and the tournament schedule allows for rest. So for me, it is not an advantage to stay at home because I live in Stockholm, far from the office and the other guys, which made a lot of the time at home very lonely this year.”

device stuck to his roles during the two tournaments they played with the makeshift roster, and despite underwhelming team results, remained consistent. In DreamHack Masters Spring, an Elite event, he posted a 1.23 rating, topping the scoreboard in three of the four series Astralis played en route to a 9-12th finish. He was the best player of his team in the BLAST Spring Showdown as well, but Astralis were unable to qualify for the Spring Finals and decided to skip cs_summit 6 to go for an early player break.

The most successful five-man lineup in CS:GO was broken up as gla1ve and Xyp9x took time off

Two new members were introduced to the fold during the summer, es3tag, who was finally out of his contract with Heroic, and former MAD Lions star Lucas “⁠Bubzkji⁠” Andersen. Again adapting to a new constellation of players, device performed admirably in ESL One Cologne Europe and excelled in opening up rounds (0.18 opening kills per round, 0.06 opening deaths per round), but wasn’t up to his usual level in the playoff series against NiP (0.95 rating) as the team faltered against the Swedes for a 5-8th finish. Worth noting is that this was second and last time in 2020 that he wasn’t the best-rated player for Astralis at a notable tournament, topping the charts for his team in the remaining nine they played.

“[gla1ve and Xyp9x taking medical leave] was tough because you know how the other guys are feeling. You need to be a professional, but of course, you think a lot about your teammates in a situation like this because we regard each other as close friends.

“I do think the guys we brought in did extremely well under the conditions they were put in though. We maintained a respectable level throughout a very tough period, but when you are used to the consistency, it is very hard to constantly re-adjust, I think especially for Emil with the IGL situation. It did help that we were openly speaking about the struggles we had with the situation over this period, and I am super proud that we managed to get both players back from the break and back into the team.”

Another ESL Pro League season awaited Astralis in September. They topped their group before crossing paths with Heroic in the first round of the playoffs, losing handily (16-7, 16-7) and falling to the lower bracket. Following an uninspired match against his countrymen (0.75 rating), device elevated his game as Astralis made the lower bracket run to reach the grand final. There, he was the best-rated player of his team and inspired a BO5 reverse-sweep against Natus Vincere, securing the Danes their second trophy of the year.

gla1ve returned to the lineup for that win, but Magisk was still calling the shots, as was he when Astralis attended DreamHack Open Fall. A showing that would be considered remarkable for almost anyone else (1.10 rating, 1.20 impact) was statistically one of device‘s worst ones of the year. He had a tough time in the initial game against Heroic and only finished 58.8% of maps played with a 1.00+ rating, but was still the best performer in his team and earned an EVP mention in their third-place finish.

“I am not really the person that regrets a lot of stuff. There are so many what-ifs, what-could-have-happened moments, and I think diving into that mindset, you will always be able to find excuses. Although the hardest moment this year was definitely being by myself so much. I was used to socializing and travelling for so many years in a row and it abruptly stopped, that really messed with my head.”

Before IEM Bejing-Haidian, which took place in November, Astralis reassembled the roster that won three Majors in the row, with es3tag leaving the team and Xyp9x returning from a four-month hiatus. device had a field day in the groups against mousesports and ENCE, posting his highest group stage rating of 2020 (1.45), but his whole team was shut down by Natus Vincere in the quarter-finals, whose trio of s1mple, Denis “⁠electronic⁠” Sharipov, and Ilya “⁠Perfecto⁠” Zalutskiy all posted 1.40+ ratings across the two-map affair.

The squad was back together for the final events of 2020

Throughout the year, including only teams he played five or more maps against, device was least effective against Natus Vincere (1.08 rating), Heroic (1.06), and NiP (1.05), significantly below his average 1.20 rating.

“It’s hard to say exactly why you perform better or worse against some teams, but if I recall correctly, NiP has always been a hard team for me to play against. If I had to give an educated guess as to why it is, I would say their aggressive playstyle and individual level is very high when they are at their peak as a team.

“Heroic (cadiaN) has always been a little bit more problematic for me to play against – I think last year was both his and his team’s best, and when we faced them earlier I would say cadiaN would win the AWP duel, so that’s my guess [why I had a tougher time].

“And last, but not least, NAVI. They are just one of the best teams in the world, with a style where you kind of know what their plan is, but because of their individual talent, they can still win even if you prepared perfectly for them.

“I don’t know how big the sample size is with all these teams, but I would actually also think it has something to do with the map pool we have against these teams. Maybe those are not my strong maps.”

As the final series of tournaments was approaching, gla1ve was reinstated as the caller of the team, and Astralis hit their end-of-year stride, just like the previous two years. device was the spearhead of their success in DreamHack Masters Winter, recording just two below-1.00 rated maps and standing out in series against North American opposition (1.66 rating vs. FURIA, 1.60 vs. Liquid), and in the grand final against mousesports (1.37 rating). The tournament was device‘s best of the year in many categories, including overall rating (1.34, +21% of team average), ADR (89.9), and kills per round (0.86), with impeccable playoff rating (1.42) and impact rating (1.36) to boot.

“This year it was about really digging deep. Up until the last three tournaments, I’d say we had a decent year and actually did rather well when you consider the player changes, transfers, swapping IGL twice, re-integrating the two players, not being able to prepare as much as we prefer to, and all that stuff.

“Being decent is nowhere near what we expect and desire, so Danny (zonic) had some individual talks with some of the players in which he would push us to play more, do better in practice, take the right decisions inside and outside (sleep schedule, workout, diet) the server.

“That really gave me some perspective, I think I was somewhat tired and lost in a mindset waiting for LANs to happen, being unhappy with my level and I really wanted to end the year on a high note.”

device picked up three MVPs in the year, reaching 18 in his career

Another lower-bracket run all the way to the title match was pulled off by Astralis in the BLAST Premier Fall Finals, but after taking down mousesports, G2, Natus Vincere, and BIG in convincing fashion, the Danes were unable to overcome Vitality in the grand final. device posted just a 0.88 rating in the last BO3, but was above par in all the other series for an average rating of 1.19, which earned him another strong EVP to go alongside the silver medal.

IEM Global Challenge was the final event of the year, and a lot was on the line. The neck-and-neck race between Vitality, Natus Vincere, and Astralis for the first place in the world rankings would essentially be decided by this event. Eliminating the Frenchmen in the group stage (device with the tied-best rating in the team, 1.16) did wonders for them in that regard, but the sniper pushed his level even further in the playoffs. Across the two series against Natus Vincere and Liquid, the AWPer averaged a 1.32 rating, earning himself his third MVP from the team’s fourth tournament victory (the only one missing, from EPL S12, was claimed by s1mple on the losing side).

“My favorite moment of 2020 was definitely the first time we met up as a team at the office after Lukas and Andreas had come back from their sick leave, and then also playing the IEM Global Challenge from the office and winning was amazing. It had that real tournament feeling to it, actually.”

In the end, winning IEM Global Challenge not only ensured Astralis would go into the new year as the highest-ranked team (fourth time in five years), but it also meant that they edged out Natus Vincere and Vitality for the title of the team of 2020 – repeating that success from 2018 and 2019.

“I think we as humans always have the possibility to grow. If we allow ourselves to get too comfortable and satisfied, I think it will affect anyone for the worse. That is the biggest motivational factor for me.

“Seeing other AWPers flourish — and as a player that analyzes a lot —, I was very inspired by the likes of syrsoN, for instance. Which really led me to believe there were a lot of possibilities inside game where I could improve.

“As I grow older, I am also able to relax more and detach myself from the individual results or games. It does not mean I have become a better loser, but I have become better at dealing with each game and focusing on what is important. What I can change. We are all about improving and becoming better and we have a lot of goals we still want to achieve.”

Why is device the third-best player of 2020?

This was perhaps the spot that was first locked in this edition of the HLTV Top 20. device had such a good year that there was no doubt he should be above everyone that was ranked below, and at the same time, he was never really in contention for one of the top two spots, through little to no fault of his own.

His 1.20 rating and most of his other stats do a solid job of illustrating what a great year he had. He was the third-highest rated player and was ranked fifth for kills per round (0.77), opening kills (0.14 per round) and multi-kills (19.5% of his rounds). Moreover, he also had a very low death ratio (0.62 per round, the 11th-best).

device was inside the top 5 in the player ranking for the sixth time in a row

As we’ve gotten used to over the years, his consistency was once again almost unmatched as he put up at least a 1.10 rating at every event, and had a bad game very rarely, with 91% of his maps being rated 0.85 or higher.

When it came to the most competitive events, he was still superb, averaging the third-highest rating (1.19 from 116 maps), and despite a few notable playoff series in which he could have done better, he was still excellent in the big matches with the fifth-highest rating (1.21), a slight improvement on his overall rating.

He had three MVP and six EVP awards from 11 events, with two EVPs from Elite events being particularly strong (EPL S12 EU and BLAST Fall Finals). The high level of his individual awards, combined with the sheer number of them, was more than enough to give him ample separation from players below and put him in a tier of his own.

“Listen, these guys [ZywOo and s1mple] are insane and they deserve every honor they get and more. I might be able to improve my stats and have a slightly better chance of disrupting the top two, but I am not sure that the changes to my game I’d have to make would help my team. Being a consistent part of the top-five players in the world is something I am extremely proud of, but having four stars — and potentially five — on my jersey [indicating Major wins] means so much more.

“I would love to be No.1 on this list before I am done with CS, but if you talk about goals for 2021, the fifth star on the jersey is much higher on that list.”

Bold prediction

Young Ninjas‘ duo Tim “⁠Mann3n⁠” Isak and Erik “⁠ztr⁠” Gustafsson are device‘s picks for players to watch out for in the coming years. The four-time Major winner was impressed with them in Swedish pick-up games, and thinks that playing for NiP‘s academy can only help.

Sweden Tim “⁠Mann3n⁠” Isak
Sweden Erik “⁠ztr⁠” Gustafsson

“I am going to go with Mann3n and ztr, the newly-signed players for Young Ninjas. They are really talented with a great work ethic and I have no doubt that they will be able to pursue a great career. I have played with and against them in the Swedish FACEIT (esportal), and they have really impressed me.

” I also think the development we have seen, where organisations pick up talent teams and develop their own players, will be exciting to follow. The next hidden gem will be much easier to find when these young players play against each other more often.”

As we close in on the revelation of the full Top 20 players of 2020 ranking list, 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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