原文标题:TOP 20 PLAYERS OF 2022: NIKO (5)，发布于2023年1月13日。
NiKo has been a staple at the top of CS:GO since bursting into the scene in 2015 with MOUZ, when his exploits on the server earned him worldwide recognition following his move from iNation. It was alongside the German organization that the Bosnian star earned his first cap in the HLTV Top 20 players of the year ranking after he was named the 11th best player of 2016 following several excellent performances in a dysfunctional squad.
Nikola 从2015 年在MOUZ效力开始就在CSGO的top榜单上扎根，和表哥一样，他也有过在塞尔维亚队伍iNation的经历（Niko最早在1.6时期就在多家俱乐部打拼，可以说是名副其实的波黑雇佣兵~）。
It was not long until his efforts earned him a move to another team and almost two years after his arrival at MOUZ, NiKo received the call to join FaZe in 2017. It was with the European mix that the Bosnian rifler lifted his first trophies as NiKo powered his team to four LAN titles thanks to his immense fragging potential. This put him in the conversation for the best player in the world alongside Marcelo "coldzera" David and he barely missed out on the top spot due to the Brazilian's better record in big playoff matches.
NiKo's history in the Top 20 was only getting started and he appeared in the next four editions of the Top 20 list, twice again while competing for FaZe and two more times after his switch to G2 in 2020, for a total of six times, which is level with the likes of Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács.
G2 parted ways with Nemanja "nexa" Isaković and François "AMANEK" Delaunay in order to make space for Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen and 16-year-old prodigy Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov to restructure the team ahead of 2022. The new lineup was assembled with the aim of competing for trophies alongside Vitality, FaZe, and Natus Vincere thanks to its new leadership and the added firepower from m0NESY to help the already established duo of NiKo and his cousin Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač.
The first item on the 2022 agenda was BLAST Premier Spring Groups and NiKo kicked off the year firing on all cylinders in victories over Complexity and twice against Ninjas in Pyjamas before another 1.65 rating-worthy performance against MIBR. The rifler left the event with the highest average rating, 1.40, across the eight maps played, but his most impressive record was his 1.54 impact rating across the tournament, which emphasized his importance on the server dishing out entries and multi-kills.
The next challenge came shortly after as G2 tackled their first Elite Event of the year at IEM Katowice 2022, starting with a defeat to fnatic which knocked them to Group B's lower bracket. The European mix then proceeded to ride the gauntlet all the way to the playoffs with victories over Liquid, FURIA, and Astralis, in which NiKo excelled with not a single series rating below 1.44. Playoffs came next and neither G2 nor their superstar lifted the foot of the pedal as they swept both Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere to secure a place in the best-of-five grand final against FaZe.
Aleksib's men fought valiantly against Finn "karrigan" Andersen and company, bringing every map all the way to the 30-round mark, but it was not enough and FaZe emerged victorious at the end in one of the closest 3-0 sweeps ever. NiKo finished his Katowice campaign with an Exceptionally Valuable Player award, courtesy of his 1.26 rating across 16 maps and an outstanding 1.44 impact rating, the highest at the event thanks to his influence on the server with 79 opening kills (1st) and eight clutches (4th).
G2's great start to the year had the chance to become the basis for a great season, but at ESL Pro League Season 15, the team faltered and crashed out of the event in the group stage after suffering defeats to Entropiq, MOUZ, and a fnatic squad with two stand-ins on the server. It was an unfortunate situation for G2, who tackled the first four games without Aleksib, forcing NiKo to captain the team through the group stage, a factor which severely affected his performance as he left the tournament with a 1.08 rating, his second-worst LAN performance all year.
Shortly after the end of EPL came the PGL Major Antwerp Europe RMR and G2 successfully bounced back by brushing off an opening defeat to Anonymo before a streak of victories over Sangal, Bad News Eagles, and Astralis. NiKo topped the scoreboard in all three victories, helping his team qualify for the Challenger Stage of the Antwerp Major with a 1.26 rating.
The Major campaign started off perfectly as NiKo led the line in three consecutive victories during the Challengers Stage as G2 overcame Liquid, Spirit, and ENCE in rapid succession to reach the Legends Stage and secure their attendance at the next RMR event. NiKo was excellent during the first matches, but failed to maintain the same level of performance in the next phase and fell from a 1.34 to a 1.13 rating as his squad struggled through the second Swiss stage before being knocked out of the tournament after losses to Natus Vincere, Heroic, and FURIA. The superstar's overall performance at both stages of the Major was nonetheless incredible, recording a 1.20 rating and an even more impressive 1.36 impact rating, which dwarfed m0NESY (1.17) and huNter-'s (1.11) impact scores.
The disappointments for G2 did not end in Antwerp and the European squad traveled to IEM Dallas looking for their first trophy of the year shortly after the conclusion of the Major. The group stage was again a mixture of highs and lows for NiKo and company who bounced from losses against an incomplete ENCE team with Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski to convincing victories over Astralis and Vitality in order to drag G2 over the finish line.
It did not take long for the European squad to fall short once again as FURIA knocked them out of a tournament for the second time in a row despite NiKo's extraordinary form. The Bosnian star's early playoff exit put an end to his 1.25 rating run and included highlights such as his dismantling of Movistar Riders and a near-flawless performance against Vitality, which were rewarded with his second EVP award of the year courtesy of a 1.39 impact rating and his defensive mastery (1.53 CT rating) which overshadowed anyone with a similar sample size at the tournament.
NiKo的特点就是永远能保持稳定的状态，IEM达拉斯，NiKo在面对当时的残阵ENCE中落败，在败者组轻松击败A队和小蜜蜂后，他们又一次被巴西黑豹拦住了去路。没错他们在图二的大厦狠狠的choke!!! 这也是今年Niko最为人诟病的痛点，CT方的NiKo在默认控制能力上有所下滑。但这不影响他成为这个赛事的出色选手。这次IEM达拉斯，NiKo以1.39的impact rating和1.53的CT rating掌控着雷电。
BLAST Premier Spring Finals came around and G2 finally seemed to have found their rhythm, defeating Vitality and FaZe to secure a top-four spot in Lisbon and their second semi-final appearance of the year. NiKo had another fantastic group stage performance as he registered a 1.39 rating against Dan "apEX" Madesclaire's French-Danish mix before a 1.43 rating against his old teammates Håvard "rain" Nygaard and karrigan, but that's where G2's success at BLAST would end.
Vitality successfully recovered and reached the semi-finals to secure a rematch against NiKo and company, but this time they came out on top as Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut and apEX topped the scoreboard with 1.21 ratings while no other player cracked above a 1.07. Despite NiKo's performance drop in the playoffs, his work in the first phase of the tournament was enough to earn another EVP award, his third before the summer break.
G2 looked to close the first half of the season on a high and IEM Cologne appeared as the perfect opportunity to do so, but once again the European squad was unable to perform at their best consistently and lost the opener to Movistar Riders following a flat 0-2 performance. NiKo powered his team to a sweep of their own against ENCE, but it was just a consolation prize as shortly after, G2 were eliminated by Ninjas in Pyjamas, leaving the event in 9-12th place and entering the tournament break with a sour taste in their mouth. The only individual highlight for NiKo was his nuclear performance on Ancient against ENCE in which he accumulated a 33-15 K-D while registering a 1.95 rating and a 131.7 ADR.
"’m not really sure what to say about this, but the team just didn’t feel right, we just didn’t click as a team. Our practice has been very poor, it felt like we were not improving at all, and the more we practiced the more problems we had. Maybe if we won Katowice, then probably ESL Pro league would have worked out better as well, and then it might have been a different story."
Firepower was clearly not an issue, so the organization decided to take a new direction with the squad, removing Audric "JACKZ" Jug and Aleksib to bring in Danish in-game leader Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen and Australian rifler Justin "jks" Savage ahead of the season's restart at BLAST Fall Groups. The addition of the Dane came with its share of controversy and both fans and analysts alike were unconvinced that his fragging capabilities wouldn't hold down the team in important moments.
Their first test was BLAST Fall groups and it was relatively uneventful for G2 as they went winless in the group stage and only claimed a win in the single-elimination bracket against BIG before their first notable win over Vitality in the Last Chance Stage. NiKo's 1.24 average rating at the event helped his team reach the Finals, but it was m0NESY who shined the brightest with a 1.34 rating as he started to show signs of rapid improvement under his new IGL.
Next on the list was ESL Pro League Season 16 in Malta and that's where the new G2 showed a glimpse of what they were capable of, reaching the semi-finals of the event after an undefeated run through Group B with victories over FaZe, BIG, and Outsiders. NiKo averaged a 1.29 rating over the course of the round-robin phase and continued to perform admirably as G2 knocked Natus Vincere out of the competition in the quarter-final, registering a 1.31 rating in the 2-1 victory. NiKo's campaign at EPL ended in the semi-final against a ZywOo-powered Vitality, putting an end to a series of great performances by the Bosnian rifler, which earned him a fourth EVP award this year.
下一个大赛是ESL Pro League 16，G2在这个比赛中收获了许多出色表现，Niko在这一小组赛中的平均rating 为1.29，他们在四分之一决赛击败了NAVI并最终输给了小蜜蜂，但Niko获得了这次赛事的EVP，四次EVP的成绩让Niko今年早早就内定了TOP10级别选手的位置。
The qualification campaign started as well as possibly imaginable with a 16-0 wipeout of ECSTATIC on the first day before the situation started to fall apart when Cloud9 relegated the Europeans to the 1-1 pool. The following two days weren't kinder for NiKo and company as 1WIN took their turn to beat G2 in a best-of-one match, sending them into the elimination series. The real heartbreak for HooXi's team came against GamerLegion as the young mix took down the demoralized giants in a best-of-three series, stopping their Major ambitions.
"Not qualifying for Rio Major was definitely one of the worst memories I have ever had in my career, not just this year...but it also gave me time to reflect on myself and see what I did wrong and what led us to fail at the RMR."
G2 had to wait more than a month before their next challenge due to their elimination from the RMR and in late November the European squad traveled to Denmark to compete at BLAST Fall Finals. The opening match against Liquid ended in defeat and relegation to the lower bracket, a loss that immediately put the Europeans on the back foot. A consolation victory over Fluxo was the only success G2 experienced in Copenhagen as Heroic knocked them out of the competition in the next stage following a 2-1 victory in the first round of playoffs. NiKo played a solid event individually, posting a 1.21 rating, barely surpassing m0NESY's 1.20 score over the course of seven maps played by G2.
纵使休赛了一个月，在BLAST 秋季总决赛中，G2的表现依旧很差，Niko在比赛中拿下了1.21的rating，帮助G2安慰性的拿下了Fluxo，然后在淘汰赛中被Heroic 轻松击败。
BLAST Premier World Final was the last Big Event of the year, and G2 were expected to close another trophyless season, especially after their defeat against FaZe in their group stage first match. Once again a single victory was enough to qualify the squad to the playoffs, this time against Outsiders as the Major champions failed to replicate their success from the Brazilian event. NiKo was the best performer in the first match with a 1.27 rating in the first match, and while he would continue to perform admirably for the rest of the tournament, it was m0NESY who stepped up for the biggest occasions.
The young AWPer was outstanding against Outsiders and Vitality as well as the last to series against FaZe and Liquid, propelling G2 to victory and their first LAN trophy since DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017. NiKo's young teammate was the one to claim the MVP for the event while the Bosnian superstar secured his fifth and last EVP nomination of the year. The 25-year-old rifler excelled in several stats throughout the tournament despite not being the best overall performer, for example, his 75.7% KAST (#2) and 1.22 impact rating (#4) appear as outstanding when taking into consideration his role as a rifler and his significant contributions as an entry (28.4% of opening duels taken, #4).
Why was NiKo the fifth-best player of 2022?
NiKo broke into the 'Big Five' thanks to remarkable all-round statistics, with 1.31 Impact rating (No. 2) and 87.2 ADR (No. 1). He was stunning in opening duels, finding the first kill in 15.0% of all rounds and 21.2% of G2's round wins (No. 2 in the Top 20) and recording the highest Multi-Kills of any rifler (19.5%).
He is part of a handful of players with five EVPs, his performance at IEM Katowice was as close to MVP-worthy as you can get without leaving with the medal. He was in the top five for four MVP races out of those five EVPs which shows just how high his ceiling can be, and he scored at least a VP award in every event he played in.
At BLAST Premier World Final, G2's best event of the year, NiKo had a chance to take an MVP and move up the list but fell down to a lower-tier EVP after having less impact in playoffs than his teammates. This was a bit of a theme for the year; NiKo's 1.17 rating in big matches is still impressive but falls short of those above him.
Niko今年的排名十分准确，他的Impact rating仅次于小森，ADR更是冠绝群雄，这让他轻松稳坐top10，他的首杀和步枪连杀都相当出色，今年他拿了5个EVP，纯纯大哥，如果说Niko有什么缺点，那就是他年纪有点大了，现如今的Niko正在逐渐向突破手转化，借助经验和枪法延长自己的职业巅峰。最后的world final由于小孩统治级的表现让他错失了MVP的机会，rating为1.17。