The 2016 calendar is coming to a close, and that means that the coveted eSports player of the year will be decided. This year the voting wasn't even close as there was a clear victor in the polling for the award. That player was Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev who is an up and coming Ukrainian CS:GO star. He's proven his worth throughout 2016 while on Team Liquid and Na'Vi. s1mple has struggled to find a roster that suits him because of his behavioral issues on teams, but has finally found his footing currently playing for Na'Vi.
s1mple began his CS:GO career in early 2015 after being picked up by Hellraisers. After being on the roster for a month, Hellraisers went to DreamHack Winter 2014, the last major of the year. During Hellraisers run in the tournament, they won against Fnatic 16-14 topping the group unexpectedly.
Hellraisers later lost to Ninja in Pyjamas 0-2 in a blowout during the quarterfinals to end their dramatic run. Just two months after the competition, s1mple parted ways with Hellraisers due to an ESL ban from tournaments.
Being the talented player he is, s1mple ended up on FlipSid3 Tactics shortly after with some of his Ukranian counterparts. The young volatile player was quickly removed from that roster after five months due to internal issues that resulted from his behavior. He played at ESWC 2015 on a FlipSide roster that looked tattered.
Spencer "Hiko" Martin with no exposure to speaking Russian was a stand-in for the Ukrainian squad at ESWC 2015 and befriended s1mple while temporarily on the roster. During this tournament, FlipSide found great success and s1mple found himself in a similar fashion facing NiP in the quarterfinals. This time s1mple and company beat them 2-1 returning the favor to NiP.
There's no play maker in all of NA CS:GO, past or present, who can have the impact on a round s1mple can.— Thorin (@Thooorin) May 26, 2016
Even though s1mple was regarded as one of the most skilled players in CS:GO at this point, his behavior was an issue for most teams as they couldn't corral and harness his raw untapped potential. s1mple's ability to make an impact in any role is special, but he's always had problems with keeping his head on right.
Despite bouncing from roster to roster s1mple found his stride on the North American roster Team Liquid earlier this year. Team Liquid thought it was a time for change and took a chance on the raw skill of s1mple and brought him in to replace Jacob "FugLy" Medina.
Even though s1mple was a foreigner from Ukraine he fit right into Team Liquid, language didn't seem to be a big problem for the team. His relationship with Hiko help ease the transition of joining the American based organization. His lack of experience was worrying, but s1mple made it look effortless. Little did s1mple know that being on Team Liquid was a turning point in his career.
While on Team Liquid, s1mple had quite the tenure during the first major hosted in America. Liquid would top the groups 2-0 on top of the legendary roster Fnatic in the first major of 2016, capping a good start for the roster. Liquid ended up placing 4th falling to the eventual winners of Luminosity in the semifinals giving NA fans some hope in CS:GO.
During s1mple's trip to the major in Columbus, he was chosen for the NA All-Star team and was voted the MVP of the match against the best players around the world.
ppl thought I was hyping him, but s1mple is on a trajectory to becoming not just the best player in the world, but of all-time.— Thorin (@Thooorin) October 20, 2016
After leaving the team for personal reasons, he would eventually return for his next stint with the team at the following major in Cologne. The team once again put on quite the performance, steamrolling past Na'Vi 2-1 and Fnatic 2-0. These two teams were considered world class in CS:GO and Team Liquid won convincingly against both.
Liquid went farther than any North American team before reaching the finals playing Luminosity/SK Gaming. Once again, Team Liquid fell just short of history and lost 0-2 and took a respectable second place at the major.
Rejoining His Countrymen
After s1mple's final tournament at ESL Cologne with Team Liquid, Jacob "Pimp" Winneche finally joined the roster. s1mple was left without a home, but it was no surprise that he was quickly picked up on Aug. 4 and found a home with his fellow countrymen. Na'Vi made the move to remove the legendary in-game leader of Danlil "Zeuz" Teslenko and brought on the young superstar.
Na'Vi looked unstoppable after adding s1mple and instantly looked like the top team in CS:GO at the time. Na'Vi was plagued with getting deep into tournaments and not being able to finish, but that all changed at ESL One: New York 2016.
I don't know how but one day s1mple will be the star of Na'Vi. Mark my words. He's just too talented for it not to happen.— Thorin (@Thooorin) July 8, 2016
s1mple seemed to revitalize Na'Vi early on and only lost two maps at ESL One: New York. While there, s1mple beat his old team of Liquid and added impressive wins over SK Gaming and Virtus.pro. The finals included Virtus.pro a veteran team and one of the hardest teams to beat in CS:GO. Na'Vi made the finals, but seemed outmatched during the first map on Cobblestone. However, throughout the series s1mple continually showcased why he is the best player in the world securing the championship for his team at ESL One: New York over the Polish Plow
Since their win at New York, Na'Vi as a team have struggled to gain footing and momentum off their early performances with their new roster. Na'Vi has been quiet lately, but with the upcoming ELEAGUE Major in 2017, it's only a matter of time before Na'Vi is back in the spotlight.
Don't forget that s1mple is only 19 years old and will continue to grow into a dominate CS:GO player. After already making an impact at such a young age s1mple will be a force to reckon with in Counter-Strike for a long time to come. It seems as s1mple has finally learned his lesson and minimized his childish outbreaks.
After hearing his journey through CS:GO it's only fitting to see s1mple win the eSports player of the year. s1mple has been through so much in 2016 good and bad, achieving greatness in eSports. He will surely go down in history as one of the greatest players to ever play the game and as started to supplant some of the all-time greats.