Abracadabra Alakazam - The Magic of The Magician
HLTV’s Top 20 players is a really clean way to answer the question ‘who was the best player of this year?’. However, what it doesn’t say, is who is the best player, or even the best 20 players, right now. If a player was in a slump at the start of the year, then, tough luck, you don’t make it, even if you’re a top 15 player at this moment in time.
Russel ‘Twistzz’ Van Dulken might not make top 3 in HLTV’s Top 20 this year. His side’s continued misfirings at crunch time might have cost the Magician his spot at the top of the tree, but I’d be loathe to cut him out in discussions of the best player in the world right now. His mid-year resurgence has catapulted him into the stratosphere and since ESL One Cologne, he hasn’t had a sub 1.19 rating.
Okay, s1mple hasn’t had a sub 1.19 rating since 2017, but Twistzz could legitimately stake a claim as the second or third best player in the world, at the moment of writing. That’s solely looking at numbers, but delve a little deeper and you see the touches of genius that earned him the nickname ‘The Magician’.
All too often, in CS, we get bogged down with talk of statistics. Yes, they matter, yes, they’re very important, but you rarely hear talk as black-and-white in traditional sports. Twistzz brings magic to the table. I maintain that nobody in the world has first bullet aim as good as Twistzz. Seriously, watch him entry onto a site, or hold an angle on the CT side. Flawless crosshair placement combined with some of the most outrageously accurate flick aim make for a monumental fragging engine, and recently, Twistzz has found a style to complement that.
You can put a number on it if you’d like - 64.4% headshot ratio over the last six months on LAN - but numbers only succeed in sterilising the beauty of magic. Twistzz was always the guy who wouldn’t always put up consistent big numbers, but he had the round-changing aim, the bullet which swings a round in your favour. Elige and NAF were the fraggers whilst he was the guy described as the ‘X-Factor’, and that’s nothing to do with him looking like a pop star.
Now, he’s combined the magic which enchanted those who watched his crosshair with the cold hard numbers that make even the non-believers stand up and take notice.
Even without trophies, Team Liquid have impressed many this year. Their seeming inability to get over the line is stunningly Tottenham-esque (or Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX-esque, more literally), and without trophies to show for their improvement, it becomes harder and harder to argue for Twistzz as a top three player. Players shouldn’t only be judged solely on success, but it’s hard to look past it as an argument against RVD. It’s that that holds him back from critical acclaim from all corners, but in a purely subjective debate, one can say that it’s despite Twistzz, not because of him, that TL can’t seem to get the trophies their play deserves.
So, where do we place Twistzz in terms of the best players in the world? My heart says he’s the second best player in the world, but there’s a case for either device or dupreeh being second also. I love dupreeh, I think he’s the star of Astralis as he’s the guy who gets them into the positions that they invariably win from, but device is the fragging power of that team, so either of them have a claim to it.
Neither device or dupreeh have the same intangible feeling of magic, to me, though.