Dust2’s Pro TOTY 2022

Five players on North American teams and abroad have had record breaking years.

Another competitive year of Counter-Strike is in the books, and at all tiers of American CS, we saw high-level play throughout. Familiar faces at the tier-one level made their mark all year, while some fresh faces across the Advanced and Challenger stages of competition shone through the cracks as potential prospects for the future. As we break down the highest points of the year in our region, these are the players and coaches that made the most impact across the tier-one level of CS competition.

  • Brazil Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato (FURIA)

1.17 rating
Semi-finalist, IEM Rio Major
HLTV Top 20 (#9)

FURIA’s star had one of the best years of his career in 2022, and it could not have come at a better time as the team had a breakout performance at the IEM Rio Major in front of the home crowd. His 1.33 rating over ten maps of Major competition closed him out as the second-highest-rated performer, with his peak performances at the event coming against both Heroic and NAVI. His 2022 rating of 1.17 made him the highest-rated player in North America's tier-one competition, earning him a selection on our pro team of the year.

KSCERATO performances this year placed him in ninth in HLTV's Top 20 Ranking, his highest ranking since making his first appearance at #18 in 2020. Since his first HLTV match in 2018, the rifler has been touted as the next Brazilian star and has spent his entire career on FURIA. FURIA have continued to struggle to find trophies but no blame can be laid upon KSCERATO as he consistently puts up elite numbers in the big games, such as the semi-final at the Rio Major against Heroic where the rifler posted a 1.36 rating.

With the newest addition, AWPer Rafael "saffee" Costa now having plenty of time to gel with the team and tactics FURIA will be hoping to finally get their hands on some big titles in 2023. If not, one has to wonder if KSCERATO will take his chances lending his incredible firepower to an international side in the search for top honors.

  • Brazil Yuri “yuurih” Santos (FURIA)

1.13 rating
Semi-finalist, IEM Rio Major
HLTV Top 20 (#19)

Accompanying KSCERATO is his right-hand rifler, yuurih, the second half of the furious Brazilian duo. yuurih also showed out in front of the Rio crowd, staying inside of the top twelve for rating. Similar to his teammate, yuurih came alive at the most important parts of FURIA’s year. Ending the year with a 1.13 rating and earning #19 in the top 20.

yuurih might not be as flashy as his counter-part but his consistency is often overlooked. The Brazilian rifler has only posted negative numbers at four events in the past two years which shows that whilst he might not be able to reach the same ceiling as his duo, he has a high floor. However, unlike KSCERATO he went missing when FURIA needed him most in the Rio semi-final as he managed just a 0.95 rating across the three maps.

yuurih is the longest-serving member of the FURIA team, having been there for five years and it is extremely unlikely he would search for pastures new. It is unkown how the Rio loss will effect the team moving into 2023, however, one thing is for certain if FURIA want to take any titles home next year they will once again need yuurih's mega consistency.

  • Canada Keith “NAF” Markovic (Liquid)

1.13 rating
Finalist, EPL S16
Finalist, BLAST World Final

NAF continues to be one of the most consistent players in the region and in the world with just one negative rating across the 17 events he competed at. As Liquid continued to grow together following the addition of Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis, NAF was as well. The team managed two runners-up finishes at big events to close the year and strong individual play marks another solid year for an already impressive career.

Liquid kicked off 2022 with a revamped roster, retaining just NAF and EliGE from the 2021 iteration. Adding Josh "oSee" Ohm and Richard "shox" Papillon, while Nick "nitr0" Cannella returned to his former home, there were concerns initially with the roles in this new lineup. The French veteran's playstyle marked a striking resemblance with NAF's, however, the adaptability of the Canadian was evident in this period. When reflecting on the shox era of Liquid, NAF told Dust2.us that he had "a little bit more stardom freedom". When looking at the stats, it's hard to disagree.

Apart from his 0.90 rating at IEM Katowice, where he was still Liquid's best performer, NAF's event ratings never dropped below 1.12 for the first six months of the year with shox on the team. Despite NAF's consistent output in terms of stats in the star player roles, the main issue for Liquid was down to the fact that they simply were not winning. With shox averaging a 0.94 rating, the decision was made to cut the Frenchman after IEM Dallas.

The introduction of YEKINDAR at IEM Cologne resulted in yet another shift in roles for NAF. Moving into more passive anchor roles to accommodate for the aggressive natures of YEKINDAR and EliGE, NAF's production in the stats department would decline, but not crash. Never falling under a 1.07 rating, NAF adjusted quickly to being a third option for Liquid and more of a late-round player.

  • United States Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski (Liquid)

1.13 rating
Finalist, EPL S16
Finalist, BLAST World Final

Although the road was bumpy for EliGE, there was nothing stopping him from getting to his destination. His year was not as consistent as his fellow teammate NAF, but there were pockets of massive impact for Liquid’s long-standing star rifler, with some of his highest points coming at their final event of the year at BLAST.

In a similar vein to NAF, the brunt of Liquid's fragging for the first half of the year fell to EliGE. With shox struggling to adapt in the Liquid system, the majority of the space in the team was afforded to the two players who survived the 2021 roster. EliGE struggled alongside the rest of the roster at IEM Katowice, bouncing back against regional competition as he dominated the PGL Antwerp Americas RMR and IEM Dallas Americas closed qualifier, being the highest-rated player at the latter with a 1.48 rating.

Completely disappearing at the PGL Antwerp Major Legends stage, EliGE shockingly posted the fifth worst rating at that phase with a 0.81 rating. The thing about EliGE is, he never seems to have two bad events in a row, bouncing back and returning to form at IEM Dallas. Following the removal of shox and the addition of YEKINDAR, EliGE played like a man possessed at IEM Cologne. Making playoffs at Cologne for the first time since the revamping of the roster, EliGE finished the event as the fourth highest-rated player and looked completely refreshed alongside his new Latvian teammate.

The final of ESL Pro League Season 17 is on that EliGE will want to forget, struggling to make an impact against Vitality across the five-map thriller. IEM Rio's Americas RMR marked another tour da force for EliGE, reminding the world just how dominant he can be when he's on form as he finished the qualifier as event MVP. Closing the year with yet another runners-up finish, unlike the EPL final, EliGE was the only player who left the server with little to be disappointed by on a personal level. The YEKINDAR addition may have caused EliGE to shift around slightly in his roles, however, the 25-year-old looks as crisp as ever. With a bit more consistency next year, don't be surprised to see him return to the HLTV top 20 after missing out for the first time since 2016.

  • Canada Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken (FaZe)

1.12 rating
Winner, PGL Antwerp Major
Winner, IEM Cologne
Winner, EPL S15
Winner, IEM Katowice
HLTV Top 20 (#11)

Twistzz’s 2021 move to FaZe continued to pay off in spades in 2022, as he reached the pinnacle of Counter-Strike, lifting a Major trophy in Antwerp. Despite a noticeable decline in FaZe's form for the latter half of the year, the high level of impact Twistzz delivered cannot be denied. With four prestigious titles and the 11th spot on HLTV's top 20, the Canadian scrapped the ceiling of his immense potential this year.

Opening up the year in flying fashion Twistzz and FaZe laid their hands on the first two prestige trophies of the year, first at IEM Katowice and followed shortly after by ESL Pro League Season 16. Despite not winning MVP at either event, Twistzz's role was imperative in the success of Finn "karrigan" Andersen's lineup, with the former Liquid player being recognized as an EVP in both victories.

After becoming the first North American to claim a Major trophy since Cloud9's famous victory in Boston at the beginning of 2018, Twistzz would follow up with yet another EVP at IEM Cologne where FaZe triumphed over NAVI. Besides claiming his third EVP and fourth trophy of the year, Twistzz also etched himself into Counter-Strike history with an iconic play to close the thrilling BO5. Diving off of silo on Nuke in a fearless feat, Twistzz's double entry at 14-14 sent the arena into a frenzy as well as sending FaZe to the podium.

While the victory in Cologne would mark the end of FaZe's winning ways, for now, 2023 promises the opportunity for Twistzz to continue making history. Faltering at IEM Rio postponed the seemingly inevitable Intel Grand Slam triumph for FaZe. Despite this, a finals appearance at BLAST Fall Finals toward the end of 2022 showed that the NA org are still a force to be reckoned with. IEM Katowice is just around the corner and that begs the question, will Twistzz become the first two-time winner of the prestigious award?

  • Canada Damian “daps” Steele (Liquid)

61% win rate
Finalist, EPL S16
Finalist, BLAST World Final

After joining the team, there was notable growth from the Liquid squad with daps at the coaching helm. Their flat 50% win rate grew to 61% under daps, with the Liquid coach’s chemistry with the group paying dividends. A 51-32 map record and two second-place big event placements meant daps was the only real candidate as our tier-one coach of the year.

daps joined the team in July after Liquid parted ways with long-time servant Eric "adreN" Hoag, who was coach for their iconic Grand Slam winning roster. The coach joined the Liquid side after he had a short stint returning in server as a player for his ECL project 'Orgless' who could only manage a 7th-8th placing in Season 40 of ESL Challenger League.

He joined Liquid along with YEKINDAR and whilst he was no doubt helped by the Latvians addition, it is important to give credit to the American tactician. Long touted as one of NA's greatest thinkers, the structure and philosophy that daps brought in has had an obvious effect on the team's play and has helped the previously struggling nitr0 on his return from VALORANT. daps has brought something different to the team inside and outside the server and the results speak for themselves, therefore daps inclusion as coach of the year was a no brainer.

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