Who is CS:GO's player of the decade? It's s1mple

CS:GO's player of the decade s1mple holding a big cup.
(Image credit: s1mple)

The Ukrainian AWP master Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev has been named CS:GO player of the decade by the ESL (formerly known as the Electronic Sports League and one of the biggest esports bodies out there). He is one of the most individually successful pro players in Counter-Strike history—though didn't win a major with Natus Vincere until 2021—but his utter domination with the AWP (Counter-Strike's expensive one-shot glass cannon and a weapon that can win and lose matches) has resulted in countless legendary performances.

S1mple's pro career began with the brilliantly named Ukrainian team LAN DODGERS in 2013, before moving into the big leagues with HellRaisers. He would have a spell with Flipsid3 Tactics and a few other teams before a move to Team Liquid, and a semi-final spot at MLG 2016.

Na'vi has been s1mple's CS:GO team since 2016, with the player recently re-signing through until 2025. The big prize unfortunately came at an inopportune moment, with s1mple receiving the award just after the Na'vi team suffered a surprise upset in the IEM Rio major and was eliminated. But in a way, this echoes elements of s1mple's career: he's an outstanding and consistent individual performer, but CS:GO is a team game and that's where the prizes are won.

Per the CS:GO liquipedia, s1mple's has won "a record 21 HLTV MVP medals, a Major and an Intel Grand Slam trophy, among other numerous S-Tier trophies, and has been crowned as the best player of 2018 and 2021, and a runner-up for the best player of 2019 and 2020."

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Speaking after the award, s1mple reflected that ten years ago "I'd been banned for cheating" and made a face, before saying "The game changed my life. I just want to play, play, play." The player later took to social media to acknowledge the wider context of his career and the award:

"I know guys," writes s1mple."Now gonna be a lot of memes, a lot of bad words and good words as well but that’s the difference between me and other—I don’t care, I will lose, I will win—I know this, nobody can break me, never ever, just don’t forget that I’m from [Ukraine] and I’m strong enough.

"And don’t forget to support my country, we need this more than anything else, thank you for everything, thanks to ALL of you."

Perhaps s1mple's most iconic moment came at ESL Cologne 2016: a 1vs2 situation where he was a sole AWP against two Fnatic players rushing the Cache B bomb site. Here's the ESL video about this play:

S1mple approaches the site and, against all CS:GO wisdom and orthodoxy, proceeds to jump off the top platform and no-scope the player below him while falling, before no-scoping the second player in the distance almost immediately afterwards. It is coughs simply incredible. "You can't do that s1mple!" the commentator shouts, "This is not FPL [a CS:GO minor league], this is a major!"

This play became so celebrated that Valve added graffiti to Cache in CS:GO celebrating it—which s1mple then got a tattoo of.

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Here is a Na'vi documentary from last year going over s1mple's first five years with the team. The IEM Rio major concluded this weekend, with Outsiders comprehensively beating Heroic 2-0 in the grand final, and here are the highlights.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."