It just had to be Paluh.
The Brazilian titan has journeyed a long way to reach the top. After joining Team Liquid in 2018, the team had its fair share of ups and downs -- sometimes looking unbeatable in tournament wins and other times crashing out in groups despite enormous potential.
For Paluh, individual acclaim came slowly, despite his exemplary play.
When he was named the fourth-best player of Year 4, many fans were perplexed that he had made the list over his teammate Nesk, who has long been hailed as one of the world's superstars. Few realized that Paluh had actually outperformed Nesk that year in essentially every statistical category.
Nevertheless, Paluh quietly continued being one of the very best players in the world without much acclaim, even into Year 5.
|BR6 2020 Stage 1||1.28||191-124 (+67)|
|August BR Major||1.40||106-61 (+45)|
|BR6 2020 Stage 2||1.21||178-133 (+45)|
|November BR Major||1.28||74-42 (+32)|
|BR6 2020 Finals||1.07||51-44 (+7)|
|BR6 2021 Stage 1||1.25||97-64 (+33)|
|Copa Elite Six Stage 1||1.41||128-65 (+63)|
|Six Invitational 2021||1.26||280-185 (+95)|
He was the best player in Brazil through the first stage of 2020 and reached his peak in the August Major. Paluh would post a 1.40 Rating, his highest of the year, while Liquid would only manage third-best in the region.
In the November Major, Paluh would earn redemption with another impressive performance, an event win, and MVP Medal for the Brazilian star. He would finish the year in strong form, with his worst performance of the year coming across just six maps at the BR6 2020 Final. Still, he would secure a 1.07 Rating there, good for sixth in the tournament.
At the Six Invitational 2021, Paluh was once again a force to be reckoned with. Liquid advanced through the group stage to the upper bracket, but suffered an upset against MIBR in the first round.
As such, they were forced to work their way through the entire Lower Bracket in order to make it to the Grand Final. In this process, Paluh would rack up 280 kills and a staggering +95 kill differential.
He would finish the event in the lead in four major statistical categories (one of them tied), and tied for second place in a fifth. Due to this pure statistical domination and Liquid's near-perfect lower bracket run, Paluh would become the first player to win the SiegeGG MVP for a tournament in which he finished as a runner-up.
If Paluh can maintain his level of play, Team Liquid will continue to be an international contender in Year 6 and has a good shot at the Caber atthe Six Invitational 2022, with Paluh potentially on-course for a second SI MVP award.
The above is number one in our Top Players Year 5 series. Click here to view all of the awards, the announcement schedule, and their winners. Check back in each day for new awards to be announced!