Each year, HLTV.org publishes their list of the top 20 Counter Strike: Global Offensive players of the year.
It is a ranking that all CS:GO fans wait in anticipation for, although the top two spots are usually a done deal.
We have been treated to some fantastic action in 2022 and, although the usual suspects shined throughout the year, young stars emerged as potential number ones of the future.
Rather unsurprisingly, Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, to be the CS:GO - HLTV Top Player of 2022, is the runaway leader in the market. The Ukrainian was crowned the best player in the world last year and his antics in 2022 make him the overwhelming favourite to reclaim his spot.
It has not been the strongest year for his team Natus Vincere, winning only BLAST Premier Spring Final 2022, but s1mple snapped up a pair of MVP medals, including one in defeat at IEM Cologne 2022.
s1mple has not matched his 2021 rating of 1.35, but that was a remarkable figure and a 1.27 rating in 2022 is equally impressive. Although his odds might be a slight overreaction, there is no doubt that s1mple is the clear favourite.
Crowned the best player in the world in 2019 and 2020 before a second-place finish to s1mple in 2021, Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, 12/5 to be the CS:GO - HLTV Top Player of 2022, has been duelling with that rival for supremacy since he arrived on the scene.
His team, Vitality, massively overhauled their roster in 2022 and results have been inconsistent. ZywOo picked up an MVP medal at ESL Pro League Season 16 but that is unlikely to be enough for him to overhaul s1mple.
An average of 1.27 in 2022 puts him on a par with s1mple on bare statistics and, although he is massively outperforming the rest of his roster, second place is likely to be the best that ZywOo can hope for.
Perhaps the dark horse to dethrone s1mple and ZywOo at the top of the standings is Dmitry "sh1ro" Sokolov, 6/1 to be the CS:GO - HLTV Top Player of 2022. His rating of 1.28 puts him above them on bare statistics and the Russian has produced some staggering moments throughout the year.
He finished number four in the 2021 rankings but his team Cloud9 have not performed with the same gusto in 2022, which may hamper his charge somewhat. Victory at IEM Dallas was their sole big success and sh1ro did not take the MVP medal at the tournament.
His individual performances at many major tournaments will give him an outsiders chance of taking the throne, however.
Another entry from Cloud9 in the market, Sergey "Ax1le" Rykhtorov, 20/1 to be the CS:GO - HLTV Top Player of 2022, claimed that aforementioned MVP medal when his side won IEM Dallas earlier in the year.
Fifth behind sh1ro in last year’s rankings, Ax1le has been a quiet force on the Russian squad in 2022, posting a 1.19 rating. Although it does not match the heights achieved by the three in front of him, he has a 1.29 rating against top five opponents, which shows you just how vital he has been at the bigger tournaments.
Although sh1ro will be remembered as the heavy hitter from Cloud9 in 2022, Ax1le quietly went about his work and would certainly merit another spot in the top five.
Achieving his highest ranking of third in 2021, it has been a subdued year for Nikola "NiKo" Kovac, 28/1 to be the CS:GO - HLTV Top Player of 2022, with the lacklustre performances of G2 being a barrier to the true potential of the 25-year-old.
G2 won their first tournament of the year at the final available opportunity at BLAST Premier World Final 2022 this month. It was young star Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov who took the plaudits (and the MVP medal) at that tournament, though NiKo’s contribution cannot be understated.
A rating of 1.22 over the year puts him into the conversation for a top-five finish, but between G2’s struggles and NiKo’s inconsistent form, it would be a stretch to say he can challenge for the top spot.
There are several Player Specials markets that could be of interest, including which of ZywOo or sh1ro will place higher in the rankings. sh1ro has enjoyed a stellar year and, on bare statistics, there is an argument to be made that the Russian can usurp him to second in the rankings.
Elsewhere, the market for either NiKo or broky to finish higher could see broky stealing that accolade. broky has won two MVP medals this year and, with NiKo struggling for consistency on an inconsistent G2, there is a big argument for broky being ahead of NiKo.