Dan's year began in earnest when he was acquired out of the blue by Team Empire towards the end of the online portion of Season 9. He had previously played on a few low-level Russian teams, most notably forZe, but that name was not nearly as powerful as it is today. forZe was still a tier-three European team, unable to reach CL. Still, Empire saw potential in Dan and made the move weeks before they were set to appear in the Season 9 LAN Finals.
This event was a particularly great opportunity for Empire, who had recently fallen short to G2 in the grand final of the 2019 Six Invitational. G2's online form had been lagging and they had not earned enough points to qualify for the event, and so Empire was entering as the presumptive favorite. Still, a roster change with so little time to reintegrate was something to be widely questioned.
Despite the questions, Dan delivered on LAN. In their quarter-final match against Darkzero Esports, he stood out for Empire, topping his team in terms of rating and kills. However, his most memorable play of the tournament came on its very final round, where the new addition clutched a 1v2 against Evil Geniuses to secure the title for the Russian side. Because of this play and many others, Dan was awarded the MVP of his first-ever LAN event.
Dan continued to be a solid performer for Team Empire after winning Pro League Finals, but would once again have a chance to prove himself at the Raleigh Major. Dan was a critical piece of the machinery here, being the team's top-rated player in three out of Empire's five matches at the major. Most critically was his performance in the team's scare in the quarter-final against Faze Clan, where Faze famously took Club House (then one of Empire's strongest maps) 7-1. Dan was the only member of Empire to have a positive rating or kill differential in that match, and without his performance, it may have been an early exit for Team Empire.
Dan seemed to be a lock for a second consecutive MVP award, but after a pedestrian performance in the grand final ShepparD was able to narrowly pass him. Instead, Dan settled for an EVP award, which would still build on his already-impressive resume.
Throughout the remainder of the year, Empire took a bit of a step back, and while Dan continued to play well, his best performances always remained on LAN. He would only get another opportunity once: at the Six Invitational. Despite Empire's underperformance, Dan still managed to be the joint-top rated player on his team, one of only two with a score above 1.00.
Here are each of Dan's performances this year:
|S9 Finals||1.12||76-64 (+12)||2 1vX Clutches|
|Raleigh Major||1.13||142-111 (+31)||0.88 KPR|
|PL S10 EU||1.13||135-114 (+21)||25-14 OK-OD|
|PL S11a EU||0.98||49-49 (+0)||3 1vX Clutches|
|SI 2020||1.04||69-60 (+9)||3 1vX Clutches|
We also had a chance to speak with Dan about his performance this year:
Team Empire came on so strong at the beginning of the year (even doing enough to earn Team of the Year honors), but fell off toward the end, with an especially disappointing performance at the Invitational where you were considered favorites. What do you think the reason for the decline was, and how are you looking to fix it going into Year 5?
We just were scared to lose. That’s why we played not aggressively like we usually do. Mentality is the most important thing in this game, so we will be working on that.
In addition to your team honors, you also have had great success as an individual. Immediately after joining a top team you were the MVP of Pro League Finals in Milan. How have you managed the success and what has your mentality been like this year?
When I only joined Empire I wanted to prove myself so I was just having fun and playing my game. But after the Major mentality changed because of the status. Everyone believed that you must win and etc and that puts a lot of pressure on you. You are scared to make mistakes and lose. That’s why I had a rough first half of Pro League and the Invitational. I hope I will find a way to fix the pressure.
This year we saw the ascent of the CIS region to prominence with Team Empire’s run as the number one team, as well as Forze making top four at the Major and qualifying for Pro League. What do you think the future of the CIS region looks like in Siege?
I know many great players from the CIS region, I think in the future we will see more teams from CIS competing on a high level.
How are you feeling about the future of Siege as an esport?
If developers will make the right decisions and listen to pro players more, the future is going to be bright.
What are you going to work on to improve your success next year?
As I already mentioned I am going to work on my mentality. Cause it is the most important thing
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and the wider Siege community?
I would like to thank everyone for the support. Without you, we would be nothing. Much love!
You can also watch Dan's best plays of the year in the fragmovie below:
Stay tuned for more of the top ten players, you can check out the full list in the awards hub and make sure to let us know what you think about each one on social media!