Top 20 players of 2023: broky (10)

Helvijs “⁠broky⁠” Saukants, a product of the FACEIT Pro League to international team pipeline, is now firmly established as one of the game’s best snipers with back-to-back top ten appearances on our list.

The 22-year-old’s big tier one break came when he moved to FaZe on trial as a supportive rifler in 2019 after being talent spotted by Nikola “⁠NiKo⁠” Kovač in PUGs. By early 2020, broky had embraced full-time AWPing and started to find a niche for himself.

His specialization was rewarded with a No. 20 spot on 2021’s list, where he was already finding a knack for performing best in the biggest events and against the toughest opposition. That skillset would find a perfect platform in 2022 around Finn “⁠karrigan⁠” Andersen as in-game leader and new late-round partner in the form of Robin “⁠ropz⁠” Kool as broky had his best year yet.

The Latvian laser found an MVP as FaZe won IEM Katowice with a stand-in, before collecting EVPs at subsequent success at Pro League, PGL Major Antwerp and IEM Cologne. It was enough for him to place 6th on our list for 2022 as the highest-ranked player in the team of the year.

You can read a more in-depth look at broky’s career in his previous appearances on the top 20 list:

Top 20 players of 2021: broky (20)
Top 20 players of 2022: broky (6)

After FaZe‘s blistering start to 2022, they were just one notch off claiming the Intel Grand Slam. But, after the summer break, the same FaZe did not emerge. Failure at the IEM Rio Major was most damning, exiting the second Major of 2022 humiliated with an 0-3 record.

This meant that FaZe had a clear goal for the new year: securing that fourth and final notch. IEM Katowice was another chance squandered, after tight losses to G2 and Liquid led to a group stage exit.

ESL Pro League was their next chance, their fourth attempt at securing the illustrious prize. Groups started well, but in their third match they would bottle a 14-1 lead against Vitality on Anubis, ending the series with an 0-2 defeat in two overtime affairs. Playoffs had been secured, but it was hardly a confidence booster.

Luckily, one was on the way. “Around 1 hour before the match [against FURIA in the round of 12] Valve announced CS2, I still remember how the mood changed in the team and no one could stop smiling,” broky tells HLTV. “That definitely helped us carry over the momentum for the rest of the games in Pro League.”

Wins followed over FURIA, FORZE, and old rival Natus Vincere to set up a grand final against Cloud9 — a team that always stepped up when it came to matches against FaZe.

FaZe finally completed the Intel Grand Slam in Malta

This time, however, FaZe stood tall. Sergey “⁠Ax1Le⁠” Rykhtorov, who had so famously denied them at IEM Dallas 2022, was quiet. FaZe‘s star duo of MVP ropz and EVP broky had no such issues, and starred in a 3-1 win to finally secure the Intel Grand Slam. The cathartic moment, 252 days after their last trophy at IEM Cologne, was “more of a relief than anything else” for broky, an end to a long road.

FaZe were now free from the pressure of the Grand Slam, but could not relax yet. Next up was the RMR qualifier for the Paris Major, an event full of banana skins in a situation where failure was not an option.

But, broky and company slipped dangerously close. Three consecutive losses to Natus Vincere, Bad News Eagles (who had knocked them out of the IEM Rio Major in 2022), and MOUZ would normally have meant that FaZe would miss the Major.

broky’s side could have missed the Major after a tough RMR

They were handed a lifeline, a last chance qualifier with one last spot on offer. And, naturally, CS:GO’s master procrastinators came alive.

“I have played in many finals where the pressure is very high and scores are very close, where making a mistake could cost your team first place, but I have never felt the amount of stress I had during the Last Chance qualifier for Major,” broky tells us.

It was not an enviable situation, but it was one that FaZe looked comfortable in as they smashed past Aurora and Cloud9 to earn the 24th seed at the Major.

Despite the Grand Slam, and the trophies in CS2, it was this moment that broky named his best of the year, and the one that summed up FaZe in 2023 on Global Offensive; late to the party, but always the most fun.

More classic FaZe ensued at the Major itself, falling to Heroic and the Brits of Into the Breach to go 0-2 down in the Legends Stage. But the brighter the lights, the more FaZe excelled.

broky excelled in Paris with an EVP at the last CS:GO Major

First up was 9INE, “smooth sailing,” broky says. But their nemeses, Bad News Eagles, were next.

“The BNE game was rough. Starting with a very bad loss on map one, we managed to collect ourselves and finish 2-1 in a very close game. I still remember coming back to the practice room after the BNE game and rewatching 14-15 on Mirage, ropz saved our asses for another day. He starts the round with 25hp without seeing anyone and gets 3 kills with insane timings, I still can’t believe it to this day.’

But the going was only going to get tougher. They had seen off their kryptonite, but now it was Natus Vincere, the core they had fought against in so many tournament deciders in 2022, that they had to beat. A thriller ensued.

“I felt like everything was falling apart after Overpass, but as always we play better with more pressure, so we had to make the game more entertaining and take it to the third map, where another classic FaZe comeback happened.”

The scene for the decider was Anubis, with FaZe 15-9 down. NAVI had 6 match points to eliminate them, but there was nothing they could do as they fell to a 19-22 defeat. broky had come alive in the Major, and this was his finest hour: a 40-bomb, and a full 0.36 rating points off the nearest competitor.

Making the Major was broky’s best moment of the year — but getting eliminated there was his worst

It seemed to be a classic FaZe fairytale, overcoming hardship and providing entertainment to level up as the tournament went on. Heroic were their quarter-final opponents in the Accor Arena, and map one followed the script — almost.

Heroic, a team with a reputation for losing the sort of games FaZe loved to win, raced into a 14-5 lead on map one. Slowly but surely, however, FaZe clicked into form.

Frag by frag, and round by round, karrigan‘s crowdplay helped FaZe come back until it was 15-14. Overtime beckoned, but somehow, someway, Heroic rallied and threw the script away. FaZe had left themselves too much to do.

Bouncing back on their pick of Overpass meant little as FaZe were swept out of the Major by a rampant Heroic 16-6 on the decider.

Making the Major was broky‘s best moment of the year, and getting knocked out of it was his worst: “When we made so many incredible comebacks, it felt like we could come back no matter what the score was. But in the game against Heroic on Nuke, we came back from 5-14 to 14-15 and lost in the last round.”

broky‘s efforts earned him another EVP, and he followed it up with another at IEM Dallas as FaZe made another top four finish. After the summer break, like in 2022, FaZe were lethargic. They slumped to joint ninth-placed finishes at Cologne, Gamers8, and ESL Pro League Season 18.

But, their eyes were on a different prize. CS2 had sparked some motivation when it was announced during Pro League Season 17, and as the transition away from GO approached FaZe started to move their eggs into a new basket.

“It’s hard to say if CS2 killed motivation for other teams at the end of CSGO, even though it was in the back of my head, I still tried my best and practiced as usual,” broky said. “We started grinding CS2 [individually] already during EPL18, and a few days after we were eliminated we started practicing as a team. I think the biggest reason why we won was because of our ability to adapt to the new game faster and put in more hours than usual.”

broky starred on CS2 at IEM Sydney, narrowly missing out on a MVP

IEM Sydney was the first test for FaZe‘s renewed motivation, an event they were flying into fully fuelled despite Russel “⁠Twistzz⁠” Van Dulken telling the team he would depart at the end of the year.

The AWP was supposed to be weaker in CS2, but broky, an able rifler and a specialist in combat sniping, showed no sign of any decline. He sparked FaZe‘s run to playoffs as the Europeans steamrolled the competition. Their run to the final was, for their standards, without drama. It was simply a display of better preparation for the new game than their competition.

Complexity offered their toughest test, making a comeback of their own in the grand final decider from 10-3 down to secure overtime, only for FaZe to deny them in classic fashion.

broky came inches away from an MVP with a 1.24 event rating, losing out to Håvard “⁠rain⁠” Nygaard due to his prowess in deciders and round wins, but it was clear that FaZe and broky were back as a true force. “IEM Sydney was the first big CS2 event, so winning that felt great with the amazing crowd. I would put it around 5-6th place in my all-time tournament wins.”

broky lifts FaZe’s third tournament trophy in a row at CAC

Another tournament win followed online at the Thunderpick World Championship, where broky was second in another MVP race. He was then off to Shanghai for the CS Asia Championships, an event where broky only managed a 0.95 rating as ropz dragged FaZe to their third event win in a row. FaZe were the best team in the world for the first time since July 2022.

The season closed with two more grand final appearances at BLAST Fall and World Final, where FaZe were unable to stop a Vitality that struggled in Sydney but returned to challenge FaZe at the end of the year.

Twistzz departed after Fall Final, bringing an end to one of the best runs a ‘dead team’ could have ever had: three out of four trophies, four grand finals, and bringing a fresh new face to Counter-Strike 2 that FaZe will hope to maintain in 2024 with David “⁠frozen⁠” Čerňanský in tow.

broky is aiming for fewer heart attacks in-game in 2024

“My goal for 2024 as a team would be not to have that many games where you can get a heart attack. As a team 2023 was a good year, with few 1st places and many playoff runs, but there is always room for improvement,” broky concluded.

“As for individual goals, I would like to get more self-disciplined. Personally, I had probably one of the worst years, in terms of mental and physical health.” That broky comes away from such a year with a top ten finish is testament to his quality. And, with a sniping skillset that suits CS2 to a tee and a rejuvenated FaZe Clan, it doesn’t look like a streak that is about to end anytime soon.

Why was broky the 10th best player of 2023?

broky was a key cog behind FaZe‘s peaks this term, and his total of five EVPs, two of which came at elite events, is the joint second-highest in the top 20. He also came second in two MVP races, at IEM Sydney and online for the Thunderpick World Championship, which left him with a strong set of awards in both quality and quantity compared to those below.

Deadpan as ever, broky was aiming for higher: “I think placing top 10 was too low for me. I expected top 1, but there is always a possibility next year.”

broky was one of the best clutchers of the year

Like in previous years, he continued to excel in the late round with 67 1vsX clutches (3rd) and was an exceptional trade fragger (0.16 trade kills per round, 11th) to give himself the best possible chance in late-round scenarios.

broky also maintained a 1.10 rating against top 10 teams (13th) across a huge sample size of 94 maps, nearly double the average count for top 20 players, and stepped up at Elite events with a 1.13 average.

Where the Latvian fell behind was by having fairly low Impact (1.04, 18th in the top 20), a T rating of 1.06, (17th in the top20), and lower overall ratings against high-ranked opposition compared to most of the high-flying players above him. His floor also deserted him on occasion, having weak events by his standards at IEM Rio, IEM Cologne, Gamers8, and CS Asia Championships.

Bold prediction by 1xBet

Linus 'nilo' Bergman

broky becomes the third top 20 player after Nemanja “⁠huNter-⁠” Kovač and Casper “⁠cadiaN⁠” Møller to award Linus “⁠nilo⁠” Bergman a nomination as his bold prediction for 2024.

The 19-year-old Swede hit an average of 1.22 rating for 2023 and his Metizport lineup, built around a Young Ninjas core, are one to look out for next year.

“I had three options for bold prediction,” broky explained, “but nilo was the only one that had played against higher tier level teams and performed.”

Stay tuned to our Top 20 Players of 2023 ranking and take a look at the Introduction article to learn more about how the players were selected.