The Best of the Rest
Recently, we made the bold claim that Finn “karrigan” Andersen is the Greatest IGL of all time – to which not everyone was pleased:
While this response wasn’t too surprising, the Four Majors Brigade will have a hard time saying that karrigan isn’t the best IGL in the world right now.
But who are his contenders for the top spot? Certainly not Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander. He’s too busy fighting his star players for their guns and roles.
The list does feature two Danes, although one of those names would have been unexpected at the start of the year.
Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer
Snappi’s ENCE enjoyed a steady rise in the back end of 2021, peaking at number seven on HLTV’s team ranking.
Although this peak saw them then slip down to 15th, Joonas “doto” Forss saw himself removed, and the Finnish organization capitalized on the disbanding of FunPlus Phoenix, signing Pavle “maden” Bošković.
ENCE has exploded since the addition of the Montenegrin, with his aggressive playstyle being a constant thorn in their enemies’ sides. The team now finds themselves second in the world after a string of semi-final and final appearances.
There’s also Lotan “spinx” Giladi, who is one of the best riflers in the world right now, and both Olek “hades” Miskiewicz and Pawel “dycha” Dycha are reaching levels they never have before.
But the man not earning enough praise for his role in all of this? Snappi.
At 32 years old, Snappi is one of the oldest players in Tier 1 Counter-Strike and by far the oldest on this list. But age doesn’t seem to affect him as much as it does for others, as snappi’s main attributes are found in his tactical mind, not his aim.
Although that’s not to say his aim is bad, karrigan has received much-deserved credit recently for improvements to his fragging department – his counterpart in snappi is better on almost every metric.
Similar to karrigan, snappi is also adept at aiding in the development of younger players, although unfortunately, this also comes with comparisons to Damian “daps” Steele.
That’s by no means an insult to the American. He’s responsible for the development of many of NA’s current and former stars, although those same stars have always kicked him – right as his hard work was beginning to pay off.
Snappi was somewhat the same. In his first stint on Heroic, snappi oversaw Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen, Patrick “es3tag” Hansen, and Jakob “JUGi” Hansen.
While niko has never been a star, it was on Heroic that he established himself as a stable role player. Es3tag, on the other hand, has tried to be a star many times, and after the failure of Cloud9’s colossus, he is finding his feet again on a NIP squad that continues to impress.
The only one of that trio who isn’t still relevant to Tier 1 is JUGi, although this is somewhat of a disappointment considering the level of potential he showed on Heroic. Unfortunately, moves to both OpTic and North didn’t pan out for him.
His stock was entirely diminished after he was part of the laughable seven-man Astralis roster and currently plays VALORANT for FOKUS.
Two of these players becoming Tier 1 mainstays, and the third being a victim of circumstance, at least to some degree, gives credence that ENCE is not just a fluke.
Maden might be to the credit of others and his ability, but the remaining trio never looked as good as they have since snappi came into their lives.
An info gatherer playing support for a team with the firepower to trouble even FaZe Clan, ENCE wouldn’t be half the team they are without the veteran’s tactics.
It’s a testament to the depth of this squad and the ability of snappi that they reached the final of IEM Dallas 2022 with a stand-in.
Who knows, if ENCE continue to improve as their talisman spinx returns and win tournaments, we could be calling snappi the best IGL in the world by the end of 2022.
Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov
Alongside the rest of his Cloud9 roster, nafany is one of the breakout stars of the Online Era.
Beginning the period on Gambit Youngsters, the squad had a string of impressive results after the addition of Major winner and Kazakh veteran Abai “HObbit” Hasenov.
By the end of 2020, Gambit promoted the team to their main squad, and the young roster returned the faith the org had shown in them by delivering four tournament wins in 2021.
As Gambit was banned due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine and their affiliations with Russian oligarchs, the lineup was subsequently sold to Cloud9.
After a disappointing first outing in the white and blue at PGL Antwerp 2022, where they were knocked out by Brazilian Last Dance Imperial, Cloud9 bounced back by winning IEM Dallas 2022 – made most impressive by their defeat of FaZe, the team that had previously been their nemesis on LAN.
This win signified the end of a forgettable period for the Russian team. Their failures on LAN had never really been the fault of nafany, more a failure of the individual pieces to transfer their form onto stages.
Now Nafany has his first big LAN win under his belt, however, and stars Sergey “Ax1Le” Rykhtorov and Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov finally look ready to do battle with the best on stage, there’s no doubt that if you don’t already consider nafany one of the world’s best IGLs, you will soon.
No slouch with a rifle, nafany is also one of the most impactful IGLs in the world, with a 1.1 Impact rating. Like snappi and karrigan, nafany strives to gather information for his team’s stars, trading his own life for intel that they can use to win the round.
It’s effective, too, with sh1ro becoming one of the best late-round AWPers in the world off the back of his captain’s information.
It also puts nafany in a position to clear out sites for his team on T-side, carving out holes in defenses more akin to a star than an IGL. His CT sides are impressive, too, epitomized by his penchant for multi-kills.
Unlike the others on this list, nafany is new to Tier 1. Nafany is in his first year of LAN events, and with a big win under his belt, I’d say he’s crushing it.
Add in the Online wins, and it’s an awe-inspiring record for an IGL who is still all but a rookie.
Future GOAT candidate, I’m hearing?
Casper “cadiaN” Møller
The only AWPer on this list, cadiaN is somewhat a relic of a bygone era. A veteran in the game, cadiaN is the last bastion of the meta that the great Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo proved could be so effective in 2016 and 2017.
Although he may have not yet enjoyed the same peak as the Brazilian, cadiaN has associated his name with a host of big moments. Most notably, this incredible 1v4 to crush nafany’s then-Gambit and win ESL Pro League Season 13 for Heroic.
Say what you will about cadiaN’s AWPing; there’s been far worse at the top level. He’s better than FalleN towards the end of MIBR and on Liquid. Better than Kenny “kennyS” Schrub before he was removed from G2. Better than Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács in his pitiful end to his time in Tier 1.
CadiaN hasn’t just outlasted all of these veterans. He’s overtaken them.
Karrigan might be getting all the plaudits for his grind back to the top, but what about cadiaN’s? The best IGL in the world isn’t the only Dane to have gone over to NA.
CadiaN joined Rogue for his second stint in 2017, his first being a year earlier with a much different European roster. Rogue was now an NA team, featuring legendary American player Spencer “Hiko” Martin… who was now considered to be in the fall of his career.
That being said, cadiaN steadily grew his Rogue roster. As soon Hunter “SicK” Mims and Ricardo “Rickeh” Muholland joined, Rogue would impress everyone as they qualified for the FACEIT Major 2018 by finishing second in the Americas minor.
That achievement earned cadiaN a move to North, the team he was knocked out by at the FACEIT Major. Although that move didn’t pan out as intended, as he was benched eight months later.
He didn’t have to wait long until Heroic picked him up, though, and it’s on Heroic where he has become one of the best IGLs in the world.
Martin “stavn” Lund was soon brought in, and René “TeSeS” Madsen would join them a year later. While the latter has become a consistent rifler for the Danish squad, the former is now one of the stars of the Danish, having improved massively under cadiaN’s leadership.
Much like nafany and Gambit, cadiaN and Heroic were some of the biggest rising stars of the Online era, consistently punching above their weight as they won a string of high-profile tournaments, including Pro League and IEM Cologne 2021.
However, the return to LAN environments has been a different story, and they are yet to claim a trophy as Cloud9 now has. However, hope is not lost.
The team still gets itself into good positions against its opponents. Many of their losses come as chokes, with Duncan “Thorin” Shields calling them “bigger chokers than TSM/Astralis.”
But is this cadiaN’s fault? Or the fault of a young roster, still getting used to the big stage events they’re now faced with. CadiaN’s personality and social media presence could also have a part to play, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Where cadiaN is an anomaly is that even if he needs to be removed as the team’s AWPer (the best teams in the world all have star AWPers), he is too important and irreplaceable as the team’s IGL to be removed entirely.
That says enough about cadiaN, who, for my money, is only a change away from winning a tournament.
An IGL who’s fought his way to the top, has won multiple (Online) events, and who can develop talent? CadiaN is one of the best IGLs in the world.
Hampus “hampus” Poser
Another outlier in this list. Unlike the other two rifling-IGLs, hampus finds his aggression, impact, and information through lurking.
With a ridiculously high impact rating of 1.15, hampus has an innate ability to find holes in his opponents’ defenses and crack open a round for his team.
After the arrival of Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin, he and the Swede now find themselves two-thirds of one of the best rifle cores in the world – the other member being Fredrik “REZ” Sterner.
How many IGLs can say they’re one of their team’s stars?
This isn’t without hampus pulling off nothing short of a miracle too.
Eventually, he got his chance, as NIP benched Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson at the beginning of the Online era and brought in hampus as his replacement.
NIP’s roster hasn’t been stable since – not that it had been for a year prior anyway – yet the organization has continued to yield impressive results under the circumstances. Why? Because of its tactician.
When I wrote my karrigan article, one of the main points I used for holding him in higher esteem than gla1ve was his ability to call while having stand-ins – something hampus has also shown proficiency in doing.
Even with the blockbuster signing of Nicolai “dev1ce” “Reedtz – yes, I know how it turned out – that was meant to catapult NIP to new heights, the stand-in problem has remained as hampus has seen more of Erik “ztr” “Gustafsson and Love “Phzy” “Smidebrant than the GOAT Danish player.
Despite this, NIP has always remained in HLTV’s top 10. They’re also consistent playoff contenders, which is a win when you take him never having a complete team into account.
Hampus will have had to chop and change his tactics multiple times, constantly ripping up his playbook and starting again to factor in all these changing faces. But he does it, and he does it well.
That being said, according to hampus, NIP’s roster is now complete in his eyes. I don’t think es3tag AWPing entirely convinces anyone. For it to work in the long run, the rifle core of hampus-brollan-REZ will need to be on the top of its game the whole time.
Es3tag will never be a star. Likely, he won’t even be a cadiaN. In the best-case scenario, he would be the supportive element, and dev1ce would AWP – but that’s never going to happen.
So hampus will use what he has and use it well.