Few players in the long history of Counter-Strike have dominated as has Ukranian star Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. But is he still the best in the world today?
Ranking the best pros in any competitive game is always contentious, even more so in a game as popular as Counter-Strike. But it’s hard to argue with s1mple’s form, and even harder to argue with his resume. He has achieved greatness in the game, and he continues to prove that out every year.
His career got off to a rocky start despite his obvious potential, but he has since become one of the biggest voices in esports as he has added plenty of hardware to a trophy case brimming with evidence of his victories.
Is s1mple the best CSGO player?
It’s hard to argue against s1mple being the best CSGO player in the world. It’s a title he has long held unofficially, with very few others being considered in the same tier over the last several years.
In those years, only one player has ever really threatened to knock s1mple off of his pedestal, and that’s French CSGO star Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut, who at his peak could seem unbeatable with an AWP in his hands. But s1mple seems to have outlasted ZywOo’s prime, and has once again asserted himself as the world’s best.
There was a time when the one real criticism of s1mple was that he couldn’t win the biggest games and tournaments. His teams, including Team Liquid and Natus Vincere, were similarly notorious for coming up short at or near the final hurdle of big events.
s1mple at the CSGO majors
CSGO majors were once the bane of s1mple’s playing career. As a member of Team Liquid, s1mple famously lost a close series to Luminosity Gaming at the MLG Major Championship in Columbus, Ohio, with both games in the 2-0 series loss being decided in overtime. Ironically, Luminosity would go on to defeat Natus Vincere in the final to become the first South American team to win a CSGO major tournament, and it was Na`Vi that would be s1mple’s next destination.
Switching sides to Na`Vi didn’t pay off immediately. While an ESL One New York victory was a nice early success for s1mple at his new team, success at majors proved more elusive.
Na`Vi made the knockout round at the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta, but failed to move past the quarterfinals. The team struggled even more at PGL Major Krakow later in the year, falling before the playoff stage.
s1mple and his teammates inched closer in 2018, with losses in the semifinals and then in the finals at that year’s two CSGO majors. Victory seemed obtainable, but again the side would come up short at majors in 2019. With no CSGO majors played in 2020, it wasn’t until November 2011 that s1mple would get his next real shot at the game’s biggest trophy.
It was then that Natus Vincere would break through at the PGL Major in Stockholm. Na`Vi did not lose a single game in the champions stage. The championship run appropriately included sweeping victories over Team Vitality and G2 Esports, squads keyed by star players ZywOo and Nikola “NiKo” Kovac, respectively. These were the two names to come closest to knocking s1mple off the mountain as the world’s best in CSGO, and neither could deny him his first major trophy.
Is s1mple on Twitch?
s1mple does stream on Twitch, and his are among the popular livestreaming platform’s biggest CSGO streams. The popular Ukrainian player boasts over 3.5 million followers on Twitch.
His popularity in streaming hasn’t always served him well. He has been involved in controversies surrounding potentially insensitive language being used on his stream. He has received several temporary Twitch bans, and the reasons for his bans include the use of homophobic language.
These weren’t s1mple’s first controversies, either. He faced discipline early in his career for other comments he had made, and was the subject of cheating accusations that led to his receiving a temporary ban from ESL.