King without a Crown – End of a CS:GO Era
To win a Major event is the dream of every CS player. To win a Major is to step on the highest step and write your name among the greats. Yes, it truly is a special feat, but not all greats have experienced this feeling and there is one that stands out the most.
The year was 2013 and CS:GO was still a rather new game. The scene was growing and new talents started to appear all across the world. In the Balkans, there was a young Bosnian player, who hadn’t even reached 18 years of age, yet he was battling it out with veterans and most of the time, even outshining them. His name was Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, a name that has become legendary over the course of the upcoming years.
NiKo’s journey into the professional scene began with a team named iNation. This was a Serbian team, which at that time, was one of the best in that region. The veterans of the team quickly recognized the raw talent of the Bosnian youngster and made space for him in their roster. NiKo’s impact was instant, as the young rifler quickly overshadowed his teammates and dropped some monster performances even against tier 1 opposition.
On a much larger scale, NiKo’s talents were more recognized, when he got an offer from Mouz or mousesports, how they used to call themselves back in the day, joining up with the likes of Chris “chrisJ” de Jong and Fatih “gob b” Dayik. Even though Mouz was a talented team, it was usually not expected from them to have a huge impact in significant events. Still, with NiKo onboard, they rattled up the competition and at the end of 2016, NiKo was named the 11th-best player in the world. Unfortunately, Mouz didn’t claim any trophies, but for NiKo that was yet to change.
Rise to Prominence
March 2017 was headlined by a huge roster move. Legendary FaZe Clan had just signed the rising star NiKo, crafting their plans to build a superstar roster that will take the Nr.1 position in the world. Although at this point, NiKo was already considered a hot talent, the move to FaZe is what helped in shaping him into a legend. Under FaZe Clan, NiKo claimed 11 trophies and secured a personal #3 and #2 ranking in 2018 and 2017. For many fans, this was their favorite NiKo era and it’s clear why.
With FaZe Clan, NiKo could almost taste a Major victory with the most notable example being the ELEAGUE Major in Boston. For the first time in his career, NiKo and his team reached the Major final and had to go up against North American-based Cloud9. FaZe Clan were favorites, so it seemed that the young star would finally claim what he deserves. Unfortunately, FaZe crumbled under pressure and dropped the ball on the overtime of the final map. Local American fans were delighted by their heroes, but NiKo and FaZe Clan were absolutely gutted.
In the next 3 Majors, FaZe Clan couldn’t get further than the quarter-finals, even though NiKo was still one of the best in the game. Internal communication and roster problems plagued the squad and at the end of 2020, NiKo decided to turn a page and join up with his current team – G2.
New Beginning and Closure
FaZe have always been the rockstars of CS and for many players, it was a dream destination, but after a 3 and a half year tenure, NiKo was seeking new experience and G2 came knocking. In G2, NiKo joined forces with his cousin Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač and in the first Major after this roster move, G2 got into the finals. They faced off NAVI and the number 1 player in the world Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, who at this point was also Majorless. The Ukrainian squad prevailed and again NiKo was left with more questions than answers.
In the next Major, G2 dropped out early and they failed to qualify for the one after this, so things were looking grim for the Bosnian superstar. Then it was time for Paris Major 2023 and G2 were looking hot. They won back to back events in Katowice and Abu Dhabi, while also securing the #1 spot in the world. With the young star Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov massively assisting NiKo in the fragging department, it seemed like it was finally time for NiKo to break the Major curse…and yet it wasn’t meant to be.
G2 qualified for the Major and they got past the Challengers stage, but had a rough start in the Legends phase and ultimately lost the deciding match against Fnatic, which meant that they dropped out of the Paris Major early, without even getting on the main stage in front of the Parisian crowd. So the last CS:GO Major concluded and NiKo will go down in history as, perhaps, the best player without a Major trophy.
What Does the Future Hold?
At this point, who knows? But with Counter-Strike 2 releasing this summer, we can expect that teams will grind it out, in their strides of becoming the next big thing. The professional scene in Counter-Strike right now is highly competitive, so unless you dedicate yourself fully, you won’t reap the rewards of victory.
The next Counter-Strike Major is going to take place in the spring of 2024, so NiKo and the squad will have plenty of time to ponder and find the winning formula. Of course, there is no guarantee that this same roster will stick together until that moment and who knows what NiKo will decide until then, but we don’t think that 26 year old Bosnian is ready to hang up his mouse just yet, as there is more glory to chase in the next chapter of CS.