Early in the process of composing the year's top ten list, it was quickly realized that ten slots were not enough to honor all of the fantastic players that exceeded the high standards set by their peers. There were too many fantastic players to honor just ten. As a result, the Honourable Mentions were conceived wherein a group of players just outside the truly elite level would still be honored for their exemplary performances throughout the year.
Each Honourable Mention award is considered equal to every other, the awards are presented without any hierarchy. Names are listed in alphabetical order of each player's alias.
Matthew "Achieved" Solomon
Achieved's success on TSM (and Excelerate Gaming) has been nothing short of remarkable. Famous as the player who participated in every single season of Challenger League from its creation in Season 4 through Season 8, he was never able to break through to the top level and was never targeted by a better team as a rising talent. Instead, he continued to grind. When he finally got there this year, he was exemplary, leading his team with steady improvement to finally end up ranked #2 in the world after the Six Invitational.
We asked Achieved about his hard work to get to the top:
After playing in Challenger League for so long, you finally seem to have solidified your place among Siege’s elite. What was it like working for so long to achieve this, and do you think it has affected you as a player?
Playing two years of challenger league definitely affected me mentally, but in a very positive way. Going through the ups and downs of 5 Challenger League seasons helped me learn the importance of a work ethic, and how essential it is to get better as a player and teammate every day. Everyday I show up to practice and am excited to improve because I know it's just as hard to stay at this level as it was to get here.
Achieved's Year 4 Highlights:
Ben "CTZN" McMillan
CTZN is one of the most impressive newcomers to the scene, going from Challenger League unknown to Pro League Champion and MVP. In many other years, his remarkable initial trajectory would have earned him consideration for Rookie of the Year honors, but the plethora of young talent this year (Dan, Beaulo) made it difficult for him to stand out. Even so, CTZN's year was commendable.
We asked CTZN about Navi's sharp ascent followed by a regression:
After a championship in Season 10, the team seemed to take a step back, with a poor PL performance and group stage exit at the Invitational. What changed for Navi?
I think complacency and personality clashes made it very hard to play as a team, as you could see from everyone's faces at the Invitational. There were internal issues that had been around for a long time but got glossed over and we started winning. As we got further on it got harder to play with each other because of the constant arguing.
CTZN's Year 4 Highlights:
Bryan "Elemzje" Tebessi
Elemzje quietly had himself a fantastic year outside of the spotlight. Secret itself often flew under the radar due to poor Pro League performances but managed to succeed in the Major/Minor circuit nonetheless. Elemzje also holds the interesting honor of being the only player to earn a top-four placing at both Majors this year (Raleigh and the Six Invitational) due to his switch from Secret to BDS.
We asked Elemzje what it was like to transition teams right before the year's biggest event:
You’ve had a lot of success on Secret throughout the year and then finished strong with BDS at the invitational. What do you think has allowed you to be successful with both teams?
I know what I can do and I know what I can bring to a team. With Secret I think that the experience that I brought helped a lot the team. For BDS, I have teammates who trust me completely in my ideas and in my game. Suddenly I feel very free and I can better express my game.
Elemzje's Year 4 Highlights:
Paul "Hyper" Kontopanagiotis
Hyper has been known as one of the best pure fraggers in the world. Despite being an online powerhouse, Darkzero was often criticized for not being able to deliver on LAN. After Hyper joined the team, those problems were over. DZ has now proven that they can make deep runs internationally, and Hyper is a huge part of that success.
We asked Hyper about how he fits into the Darkzero system:
Since joining DZ, the team’s performance has been steadily improving with you on the roster. What do you think the reason for this is, and how do you fit into the system the team has built?
Joining DarkZero was such an easy transition, I fit into their culture very easily. All this team needs is 5 people with the same vision and improvement is endless.
Hyper's Year 4 Highlights:
Gabriel "LaXInG" Mirelez
LaXInG is the rock that holds Team Reciprocity together. Despite never having a truly impressive run on LAN, he was still one of the top performers throughout the entire year. LaXInG often plays more passive roles that aren't conducive to getting highlights and large volumes of kills, but he still manages to deliver consistently solid performances.
We asked LaXInG about how his team can break through to elite status:
What are you going to work on to improve your success next year?
Every year that I’ve competed, I’ve always made sure that I’m being the best player/teammate that I can be inside and outside of the game. But I will say consistency is one of my biggest things that I preach as being a top player but also just being a competitive player in general. Consistency is key and everything above it so with that being said I’ll keep doing whatever I can in order to be successful and compete!
LaXInG's Year 4 Highlights:
André "Nesk" Oliveira
Nesk is the greatest Latin American player of all time. Despite being out-performed by his teammate Paluh, Nesk continued to deliver on his tremendous legacy this year, being a key contributor in all of Liquid's international and domestic successes. His stats are some of the best of any player in the world, let alone the honourable mentions list.
We asked Nesk about his changing role in Team Liquid:
Individually you were less of a star than in previous years, but still enjoyed a lot of team success. How has your approach to the game changed, and what role do your teammates play in Liquid’s success?
It didn't change honestly, I still with the same thought and still with the same focus on helping my teammates.
Nesk's Year 4 Highlights:
Niclas "Pengu" Mouritzen
Perhaps the greatest player in the history of Siege, Pengu's high level of performance is remarkable despite a tumultuous year for G2. Always a rock for his team, he is able to consistently contribute to rounds even if he is not always top-fragging. Through different iterations of the G2 roster and mixed results online and on LAN, Pengu was still a standout performer.
Pengu had a lot to say about his team and individual situation this year:
Year 4 represented a down year for you both individually and as a team. What do you think contributed to this, after two years at the top?
I think everyone at the top will have a period of downtime when you get complacent, when success becomes the norm and you seek comfortability over hard work, and when you begin to feel the pressure to stay on top.
Meanwhile, as all of these things are happening you see a lot of newer teams, younger players, hungry and driven by the same passion we once had, with no pressure to win, and everything to gain.
Every team studied us immensely to try and figure out "why we were so good" and EVERY team wanted to take down G2, that’s the ultimate goal, right? So while we weren’t operating at 100% most other teams were, and sure every team has their battles but most teams don’t HAVE to win. We did. This is something we have been working on throughout the last year, and I think we've finally started understanding it.
On a more personal level, I had doubts in myself as a player, not knowing exactly what my role should be, what is needed of me, and how I can provide the utmost value consistently. I had games where I had the most confidence ever and would go to have an incredible game with fragging power. I would have games where I did nothing but drone/IGL and I had games where I practically did nothing. This was below my own standards of play, and my team deserved better. I have been working very hard on this issue throughout the last two months as well as upping my headshot percent.
Pengu's Year 4 Highlights:
Artur "ShepparD" Ipatov
The best pure support player in the world, ShepparD was able to contribute to Empire's run of success both on the stat sheet and off it. Despite playing the roles most unfriendly to individual accolades, he still managed consistently strong performances throughout the year.
We asked ShepparD about his tremendous performance at Raleigh:
The highlight of Year 4 for you was the Raleigh Major, where you were crowned both champion as well as MVP. What went right for you at that tournament, and do you think you can repeat it in future tournaments?
I think it depends on your mental state. Our mission in Raleigh was to win against G2, everyone did their best to do that and I just had a good day. It's a game, so it might be another day that I’ll perform, as could anyone else on my team.
ShepparD's Year 4 Highlights:
Stay tuned for the number one player of the year, 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!