Outstanding performances against top-tier teams and an extraordinary skill set secured sh1ro his third consecutive spot on our prestigious Top 20 Players of the Year list, powered by 1xBet.
Introduction to the Top 20 Players of 2023:
Dmitry "sh1ro" Sokolov secures a place within the top ten of our HLTV Top 20 Players of the Year rankings, showcasing another remarkable year as a consistent force for Cloud9, despite the team grappling with title contention.
Initially part of Gambit's online dominance alongside Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov, sh1ro's debut at No. 4 in the 2021 Top 20 players list was followed by a shift to Cloud9 in 2022. Despite the team's struggles to clinch titles, sh1ro maintained the highest rating throughout the year, excelling at Elite events and in significant matches. However, Cloud9 secured only one major LAN trophy at IEM Dallas, unable to consistently close out tournaments even when favored. The disappointing finish to the IEM Rio Major playoffs marked a turbulent end to the year, with sh1ro named the third-best player.
Cloud9's lackluster 2022 performance prompted roster changes, including the departure of Timofey "interz" Yakushin. The team sought replacements, testing players like Igor "Forester" Bezotecheskiy and Sanjar "SANJI" Kuliev, ultimately settling on Timur "buster" Tulepov to fill interz's role. Doubts arose about the effectiveness of the changes, especially concerning the leadership of Vladislav "nafany" Gorshkov.
The absence of a BLAST partner spot allowed Cloud9 ample time for practice with the new roster before their first challenge, IEM Katowice. Despite strong performances from sh1ro and Ax1Le, Cloud9 faced consecutive losses to Natus Vincere and IHC in the top-16 stage, exiting the tournament prematurely.
Continuing their efforts in ESL Pro League Season 17, sh1ro and Ax1Le showcased excellence, raising hopes for a title. However, their momentum faltered in the grand final against FaZe, resulting in a defeat and missing the Intel Grand Slam.
Cloud9's prowess in online tournaments, evident in wins at BetBoom Playlist Urbanistic, IEM Dallas qualification, and the BLAST Spring Final qualification, contrasted with their struggles at BLAST.tv Paris Major Europe RMR. Despite sh1ro's standout performances, Cloud9 fell short, facing defeat at the hands of FaZe once again.twit_1646893838534070282
The IEM Rio provided a glimmer of hope as sh1ro's exceptional performances secured a playoff spot, although they ultimately fell short against eventual champions Vitality. The absence of a Major and a poor showing at IEM Dallas left Cloud9 with a quiet May.
Returning to offline play at IEM Dallas, Cloud9 faced challenges as defending champions. Sh1ro's peaks remained high, but unexpected losses to FaZe and an early exit raised concerns about the team's performance.
Cloud9's struggles continued at BLAST Premier Spring Final, resulting in a joint last-place finish. Ax1Le and sh1ro's impressive ratings couldn't secure victories against G2 and Vitality, intensifying discussions about Cloud9's trophy drought.
Nafany acknowledged uncertainties about potential off-season changes, leading to Cloud9's acquisition of Denis "electroNic" Sharipov and Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy from Natus Vincere. The revamped roster, dubbed the Russian super-team, generated anticipation and high expectations.
However, challenges persisted as Ax1Le missed IEM Cologne's group stage due to technical issues. Although Cloud9 rebounded in the lower bracket, their journey was halted by Vitality in the playoffs. Ax1Le's late return raised questions about the team's cohesion and performance.
The ESL Pro League Season 18 marked a low point for Cloud9, exiting the group stage with three consecutive losses. A change in leadership, with electroNic relinquishing duties to HObbit, provided a temporary solution, leading to victory in an online event.
Heading into IEM Sydney, Cloud9 faced uncertainties about the AWP's efficacy in CS2. Sh1ro's lowest-rated event in years and elimination by Complexity in 9-12th place added to the team's woes. Shockingly, sh1ro announced his departure from the active roster shortly afterward.
As the year concluded, sh1ro joined Spirit, expressing faith in rising star Danil "donk" Kryshkovets. Sh1ro's achievements and contributions secured him the 8th position on the Top 20 Players of 2023 list. Despite missing some events and facing uncertainties, sh1ro's individual brilliance, trade kills, and consistency were undeniable, placing him among the year's top performers.