Top 10: Most Influential Players...For Old People
There are professional gamers, and then there are influential gamers. Players who pushed esports forward, made an impact, and touched hearts and minds. These players are not always the best in their respective esports, nor have they necessarily won the most money. But their impact is undeniable.
We each have our favourite players. The ones who mean the most to us. But there are players that tend to mean something to all of us (or at least a large portion of us, some of you are weird). Here are my picks for the Top 10 Most Influential Players...For Old People.
Cooller - Unsung Hero
I don't think Cooller would feature in too many people's Top 10 Influential Gamers lists, but to me he is a must have. Cooller has done an incredible amount to push forward esports and duel style games for a very long time. Have there been better players? Sure. CZM and Zero4 come to mind, but in terms of skill, charisma, and unique play style, Cooller is the obvious choice.
I would also argue that without Cooller, the esports scene in general would not have developed as well as it has in Russia and the surrounding region as he was the ultimate gamer to look up to for so long. Taking that a step further, without Cooller I don't think we would have seen the phenom talents av3k and Cypher.
Spirit_Moon - The Fifth Race
Few players earn the respect and reverence of not only all of the players in their own respective esport, but also pros and fans from other esports. Spirit_Moon (yes, Im using his old handle, deal with it) had such a monumental impact on the esport of Warcraft III that he earned the title "The Fifth Race" (Wc3 has 4 races: HU, UD, NE, Orc. Thus his nickname, The Fifth Race). He also slightly resembled the stereotypical archetype of an alien in his formidable years making some fans comment that he himself was not human, because he was so good.
It was even rumoured that professional Starcraft teams in Korea wanted to recruit him due to his ability to macro and micro so well. Not to mention his strategic prowess. Don't believe me? Just watch how he dismantles WE.Sky, a 2-time WCG Champion.
Ksharp - America's Finest
Ksharp is a strange one. Most other players in this top 10 have very unique circumstances that illustrate just how influential they were. Ksharp however does not, unless you consider his phenomenal AWPing capability. But there have been and will be plenty of great shooters in Counter-Strike. What makes Ksharp so special is just how much of an impact he had in North American Counter-Strike, he was hands down the biggest name and commanded the most fans. He gave the community hope and inspiration to compete on a global level, not just regional to North America.
He must have been the most popular player outside of Europe. Maybe even including Europe. He was everyone's favourite player.
HeatoN - Bad Boy Gone Good
The steward of Swedish Counter-Strike, HeatoN has done it all. From professional player to world-renowned team owner, HeatoN has pushed Swedish Counter-Strike to the top and kept it there.
HeatoN single handedly created one of the most revered brands in Counter-Strike and esports at large - Ninjas in Pyjamas. A brand that has stood the test of time, and brought us some of the most prolific and talented players the game has ever seen, such as f0rest and GeT_RiGhT.
ThresH - The First Pro Gamer
Arguably the "original pro gamer", ThresH had a limited career as a pro, only lasting two years. In that time however, he won John Carmack's Ferrari at the Red Annihilation tournament, which if you equate that to a dollar amount, made him the pro gamer with the highest earnings for quite some time.
ThresH also went on to create gamers.com and Xfire. More than just a legend in esports for his Ferrari prize, he actually contributed a great deal to esports in the early and mid 2000's thanks to his out-of-game efforts.
Grubby - The Friendliest Orc
When you think of Warcraft III, you likely think of Grubby. One of the most prolific players the game has ever seen, he was a true rival to both Spirit_Moon, and WE.Sky. That said, Grubby has contributed more than just skill to the game - he is a genuine ambassador for Warcraft III and esports at large.
One of the more well spoken and charismatic pro gamers you will ever meet, Grubby is a true role model for esports fans to aspire to, even if he does play Orc.
Fatal1ty - Jack Of All Games
Fatal1ty receives a lot of grief today for pushing the boundaries of what "World Champion" actually means. However, back in the early 2000's he was looked at as the best gamer in the world by many, and has numerous 1st place finishes across multiple PC titles - one of the only people in history to have such success. Fatal1ty was also the only person in the world at the time, able to push esports and gaming forward in the mainstream in a positive light due to his success.
The title of "Godfather" is thrown around a lot in esports, often willy-nilly. However, I firmly believe that if anyone has earned such a title, it is Fatal1ty. Heck, despite his irrelevance today he is still able to sell/promote high-quality branded gear to gamers all around the world. To gamers who have likely never watched him play a single professional match, nor even remember some of the titles he was known for cough painkiller cough.
Daigo - Untouchable
Daigo is an impressive pro gamer. Numerous titles, dominance streaks, and consistently at the top of his respective games, he commands respect.
That said, the reason he has been so influential and talked about since 2004 is because of one moment in history. At EVO in 2004, Daigo faced Justin Wong and was up against the ropes and made a Godlike series of parries in order to comeback and win the match. Daigo gives hope to all gamers that the seemingly impossible is actually possible and to never give up. A very valuable lesson.
SpawN - Everyone's Favourite Player
Ksharp is definitely one of the most talked about and loved players in Counter-Strike history. However, SpawN is THE most talked about and loved players in Counter-Strike history. SpawN is so well liked throughout the entire community that even CS:GO players who never saw him or even knew esports existed back then, want to play with him.
SpawN also happens to be one of the best players in history, shaping how people play Counter-Strike today. Had he kept playing into CS:GO, who knows what the game would look like today?
SlayerS_BoxeR - The Emperor
They don't call him The Emperor for no reason. For crying out loud, he was such an important fixture in youth culture the South Korean Air Force made an esports team so he could still compete and have a career/inspire and uplift younger generations. He was the epitome of the words "role model".
Oh yeah, and he was good. The original bonjwa. He made esports in South Korea what it is today. No one has ever disputed his place in history or the impact he has had on the game of Starcraft, the country of South Korea, and the industry of esports as a whole. No matter what esport you come from, you knew who he was and respected what he had accomplished and done for esports.
Some careers short, some long. No matter the length, their impact was great and continues to last. Esports is a great equalizer, where no matter your income or earnings, or career length, you can do something truly special.
Although I expect to receive many "are you an absolute moron?" messages/comments about the players and ultimately some of their ranks, I think we can all agree that SlayerS_BoxeR is #1. If not...well then the rooms with the padded walls are this way.
Player photograph credits: HLTV.org, Shoryuken, Venturebeat.