(With a couple glass of wines down the blood vessels of course)
So here goes: my list of CSGO players to watch in 2021 in no particular order
#1 Valeriy "B1T" Vakhovskyi
Make no mistake, when Na'Vi promoted B1T to the main team, it seemed like the team would run as a six-man roster, as he was only supposed to replace flamie on Inferno.
Yet in the real world, this ended up with B1T replacing flamie in every match, starting with the Blast Premier Global Finals in January 2021. So what does the young Ukrainian bring to the CIS powerhouse? Certainly not experience. Yet, despite clues that he has lots to improve in the communication department, B1T has been a key factor in opening bombsite and being a first man entry to play either the hero should he get the kills, or an effective decoy for electronic, s1mple and Boombl4 to play off.
We've often seen youngster with great and promising talent play in a star role in order to unlock situations and give teams options to play with, but B1T has been one of the keys that unlocked Na'Vi's potential in middle-round situations, and this despite being the team that field one of the best all-around individual players in s1mple.
#2 Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke
Long gone is the time where k0nfig was touted as the next danish star that would sweep the CSGO world with his aggressive plays in the server, and with his abrasive and arrogant personality outside the server. Yet the year is 2021, and k0nfig is one of the most aggressive, but also one of the best players at being successfully aggressive.
He might not be your most well-rounded player but don't you dare challenge k0nfig on Vertigo or on Mirage. In an era where most teams try to lean towards the most efficient, most calculated play, k0nfig still detonates with a persona that isn't afraid of taking aim duels, in a manner where he has absolutely no doubt he will win those. One could criticize the dane for this 50/50 approach where it all relies on aim and situation awareness, but it's hard to be picky given the spectacle that he offers.
In the face of cold, calculated plays, k0nfig still offers the hotness and the flashiness of a player that threw all the complicated odds and calculations out of the window, just because he knows the next duels that awaits him is a win in his book.
#3 Dmitry "Sh1ro" Sokolov
Sh1ro is an odd one. Looking at Gambit, you'd be hard pressed to look at anyone else than Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov relentless yet effective aggressive and flashy playstyle, or at Abay "Hobbit" Khasenov and his incredibly crisp rifling that, at times, reminds you of the Gambit that won a Major in 2017. But no one can deny the force that Sh1ro has been since he landed on the scene in quite a dominating fashion during his tenure on Gambit Youngsters, where he helped his team to wins over Virtus.pro, GODSENT, MIBR, LDLC, forZe, which carved themselves a place within Europe and CIS most promising teams.
Sh1ro's playstyle is interesting to decompose. One can see the sort of consistency players look for in icons like dev1ce, but he also has flair to its game, whether on rifles (AK or AUG), or on pistol with a cheeky deagle that can make the difference. His playstyle has the unpredictability and the consistency you'd expect from an accomplished awper. It's no small feat that he accumulated, over a 91 map run in the last three months, a 1.27 average rating, clocking only 11 maps with a below 1.0 rating.
But sh1ro also has some brazen element to his style that pushes him beyond unprecidtable, into the realm of an outright nightmare that can take even your most seasoned players off-guard on the defensive just like on the offensive. It's impressive how one player can combine some of the most consistent performances alongside high-risk / high rewards plays into a single approach to Counter-Strike, yet that is sh1ro's daily life, and that's how he rolls.
I've tried to put the emphasis on rather non-obvious picks akin to s1mple, ZywOo, dev1ce, Twistzz, or overall players that make you forget about the consistent, talented players that do not land the flashiest of highlights, the most insane clutches or multi-kills, but are still fueling the engine of their respective teams, propelling them to heights they would otherwise not be capable of reaching, despite the talent they line up.
Hopefully this gives you some insight into a few players I feel are sometimes overlook by their peers or their teammates.
Feel free to mention your own non-obvious picks to watch!