Despite Natus Vincere steamrolling the competition in Lisbon, and Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev claiming yet another MVP, several players still managed to stand out in BLAST’s first stage finals of 2022 — two more from the winning side, one from runners-up Vitality, and two from the semi-finalists, OG and G2.
ZywOo earned the top EVP spot in Vitality’s first playoff run of 2022
Thanks to high floors, high ceilings, or both, we have whittled down that list to five players, in order:
HLTV.org’s EVP picks for IEM Dallas (in order):
You’re probably familiar with the radar charts by now, but here’s a quick refresher: The outer rim of the polygon represents the maximum value recorded at the event, with the centre being the minimum. The more ‘full’ the octagon is, the better the player performed across our chosen metrics.
He may have lost his ninth successive series to s1mple‘s Natus Vincere, but ZywOo made a great account of himself in Lisbon. After a poor IEM Katowice (1.10 rating) and ESL Pro League (1.10) by his exceptionally high standards the mercurial Frenchman has turned it up a notch recently, with a 1.26 rating in Dallas and a 1.27 rating here in Lisbon.
The way he achieved that 1.27 rating is impressive, too. Posting just 0.25 AWP KPR — meaning more than two-thirds of his kills came without the big green — ZywOo still managed to post a kill in 53.2% of rounds (joint-2nd), an opener in 15% of rounds (joint-3rd), and deal 17.7 damage a round more than he received (2nd).
Unlike a lot of players in this meta, ZywOo maintained his form on T-side, too, with a 1.27 rating compared to 1.26 on CT. In fact, only he and s1mple managed to post a higher rating on T-side compared to CT whilst maintaining higher than 1.00 in both.
However, he never quite reached the consistency of his nemesis s1mple in this event, with poor maps against Natus Vincere (0.87) and G2 (0.85 in semis, 0.80 in groups) creeping in to ruin his near-perfect scorecard. He was never supposed to win the final against the Natus Vincere juggernaut, but to win an MVP on the losing side ZywOo needed to do more in the final. Still, he did more than enough to claim the highest rank among the EVPs.
In his debut event as Natus Vincere‘s captain it would have been expected, forgivable even, for electroNic to drop off slightly statistically. The move to IGL came with some role changes, such as him moving out of pit on Inferno, the position synonymous with his multi-kill anchor plays.
Some credit should go to Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy for making the transition seem so smooth, but take nothing away from electroNic and his 0.16 opening kills per round (2nd), 1.25 rating (4th), and 1.41 impact rating (2nd). Most of that rating came from his ridiculously high ceiling, posting one huge carry performance in each of Natus Vincere‘s playoff games: 1.89 rating against Vitality on Overpass, 1.99 against OG on Mirage, and 1.69 against FaZe on Dust2.
s1mple offered some perspective on how electroNic will lead: “When you are trying to lurk, get some info, come from behind them, or when you go first and die — I think that is wrong […] electroNic is trying to be somewhere between the two sides of the map to see what is happening, to understand and listen to all information we have.”
And it’s working — electroNic is free to make any play he likes, going off any information he hears instantly. Now, the challenge is to maintain his good reads and even better fragging.
NiKo, like ZywOo, has had his critics in 2022. Yet, he has only dipped below a 1.10 rating in one event this year, that being ESL Pro League when he had to in-game-lead in the absence of Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen. A lot of his best work, though, has been frontloaded in the group stages of those events and that was true once again in Lisbon.
Posting a 1.43 rating against FaZe and then 1.39 against Vitality in groups to carry G2 into the semi-finals, NiKo lost momentum just when G2 needed him most. After 21 kills in the first half of Dust2 in the rematch against Vitality in the semi-finals, NiKo could muster just four on the offensive half as G2 crumbled to a 13-16 defeat.
G2 recovered to win Inferno 16-8, with NiKo seeing little action as Audric “JACKZ” Jug annihilated Vitality. That excuses NiKo‘s 0.91 rating, but you have to wonder what the result would have been on Nuke if he had shown just 10% more than his 1.03 rating, on a map he usually dominates.
NiKo‘s story in Lisbon was that of his 2022: Sensational in groups, even against the best teams in the world, with better CT-side numbers than anyone in the world —1.41 rating (1st), 1.67 Opk rating (1st) — but unable to hit that unbelievable ceiling in crunch time.
When Natus Vincere are front running, more often than not it is b1t who is driving the superteam forward. He has struggled slightly in close playoff games this year (0.94 rating against G2 in Katowice, 1.04 against FaZe at the Major, and then 0.83 against FaZe again at Pro League) but there is a reason Natus Vincere seem to win so convincingly when their 19-year-old prodify is on song.
Like electroNic, he had his roles slightly tweaked in Lisbon, but you wouldn’t be able to tell looking at the stats: 1.29 rating on CT-sides, 1.24 rating on stage, and 0.15 opening kills per round at a 65.7% success rate in those opening duels. He topped the leaderboard for T-side opening kill rating (1.22) whilst posting 5 clutches (joint-3rd) — Counter-Strike’s new headshot king is a threat at all stages of the round.
b1t even outfragged s1mple and electroNic in the grand-final, and his 1.48 rating against FaZe is normally enough for far more than third-best out of his team. He is starting to collect these EVPs at most events; the next step is to change that E to an M.
degster, after he benched himself in Spirit because of the speed the organisation needed him to relocate from Russia, was in the shop window this weekend as a stand-in for OG, and he could not have given a much better account of himself.
Six of his eight maps this event were against tournament champions Natus Vincere, but he still recorded a 1.16 rating (6th), just 0.58 deaths per round (joint 3rd), and 71.1% success in opening duels (2nd). At the Major degster had similarly impressive numbers, but much of that came from him surviving in 20% of Spirit‘s lost rounds; in Lisbon, degster added more KPR (0.75 compared to 0.70) and impact (1.09 vs 1.03).
Given Natus Vincere‘s domination, not many other players were close to an EVP this time around. Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy had a solid floor and did his role well, but lacked the peaks to earn a mention. Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov scored six clutches (1st) but dropped off on stage, as did Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač. Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev, like Perfecto, also did his role well on trial for Natus Vincere, particularly when it came to surviving (45%, 1st) but did not do enough fragging (0.59 KPR, 26th) to put himself in contention.
At the end of the article, we’ll add some valuable context to the performance of the EVPs: That of the MVP.
s1mple, as he so often is, was peerless in Lisbon. His radar chart would be a perfect octagon if it was not for NiKo‘s stupendous 1.67 opening kill rating on CT-side, with s1mple topping the leaderboards in rating, KAST, KPR, and impact. It was a performance worthy of the greatest player of all time, and of breaking Nicolai “device” Reedtz‘s MVP record.
s1mple breaks MVP record with BLAST Spring medal