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Who is Donk? Can he and his team go all the way at the first Major, and what is in his future? Read on to learn more about this generational talent.

Who is donk (and why is he such an awesome Counter-Strike player)?

Danil “donk” Kryshovets is a 2007-born Counter-Strike professional hailing from Russia, who just turned seventeen years old this January. While casual fans only just got to see him in action at one of the biggest LAN events in the world, he has been on the radar of many of the best and brightest in the game for years, having been featured as shi1ro’s bold prediction as far back as his 2022’s HLTV top 20 posting. The portal later highlighted him as “one for the future” last summer.

Image by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming
Image by Helena Kristiansson via ESL Gaming

Having come through Team Spirit’s academy program in late 2021 and graduating from it to join the main team in July 2023 after the org let Patsi, s1ren, and w0nderful go, he proved his mettle all along the esports ladder. The CIS org lacked the prestige and the invitations to compete in many of the early big CS2 tournaments, but fans could already see in smaller-scale events that donk was the real deal, with some truly incredible stats and dominating performances against tier 2 competition.

From just a human perspective, he is also a breath of fresh air. Young and unburdened, even by esports standards, with a big broad smile on his face, running and gunning all around the map and producing the sort of explosive highlight reel that non-gamers can appreciate as well: he’s just the whole package, a ready-made meme machine, with a bit of spice and controversy in his in-your-face attitude to add.

And soon after, the Counter-Strike world would learn that he isn’t just a tier 2 merchant.

Donk’s breakout Katowice performance: a Cinderella run for the ages

While Counter-Strike connoisseurs already knew about donk’s incredible potential based on his FPL showings and Team Spirit’s results in lower-level events, the first real test with the then-16-year-old on board came at IEM Katowice 2024, one of the most prestigious tournaments on the entire CS esports calendar.

It was quite the test, and one donk and co. passed with flying colors, winning the event outright in dominating fashion. After straight wins in the play-in over Apeks (who suffered the 13-0 treatment) and The MongolZ, they defeated NAVI, Complexity, and FaZe Clan to qualify directly for the semis of the event. A 2-0 win over Team Falcons followed, with a spectacular 3-0 pasting of FaZe in a rematch on the stage of the Spodek to cap things off. Ultimately, their only map loss in the entire tournament came against NAVI in the group stage, a 13-11 on Anubis. As for donk, he broke multiple records, becoming the youngest-ever player to be named an HLTV MVP at an elite event while also achieving the highest-ever recorded rating at 1.70. Already, his approximate total earnings add up to almost $170,000 from just a few tournaments, with no doubt much more to come.

Unsurprisingly, Team Spirit then had an easy time qualifying for the upcoming Major, albeit with one hiccup against MOUZ along the way. So it begs the question: can they go all the way again in Copenhagen?

Can donk win the first CS2 Major?

It is not out of the question that the young Russian talent could immediately reach the summit of competitive Counter-Strike. After all, he’s clearly proven his mettle on an individual level against the best and brightest of the modern game, and his team ended up lifting the IEM Katowice trophy in the Spodek on his big tournament debut.

That said, expect some countermeasures. That is the nature of a debut on the big stage: even with all the hype around you based on your FACEIT performances and your showings in tier 2 play, you are still a bit of an unknown. Now there are many high-quality demos to study, tactical adjustments to be made. While there is only so much you can do when the player in question is younger, better, faster, stronger, there are still some moves to be made and surprises to be sprung to limit his individual impact. That is the beauty of Counter-Strike as an esport: it isn’t really possible to individually outduel everyone at all times in a 5v5 team battle.

In fact, if you take a look at the Regional Major Ranking events for Europe, MOUZ seemed to have found a way to neutralize Team Spirit’s young superstar in their series, and you can bet your bottom dollar that all the big teams and their coaches are studying this demo to figure out how they can replicate these efforts should they run up against this side at the Copenhagen Major or beyond.

On form, Team Spirit and donk are definitely one of the favorites heading into the showpiece event, but there’s a reason why it took so long for s1mple to win his first Major, and why NiKo never got to lift the biggest of all trophies in the CS:GO era – ultimately, it is just not this simple to predict who’s going to go all the way.

At the time of writing, Team Spirit are third on the HLTV world rankings, still behind FaZe Clan and Team Vitality, but ahead of MOUZ, NAVI, and G2. It seems about right.

Who else is in Team Spirit’s future?

Team Spirit’s got a pretty good thing going, with chopper and magixx continuing to prove their credentials and zont1x turning out to be a bit of a revelation of his own. Better still, donk has shown no interest in leaving Spirit  for a supposedly larger team anytime soon, showering praise on his teammates and the organization. Their academy also continues to crank out talent: 19-year-old Kirill “Magnojez” Rodnov has won both FPL EU seasons in February with an incredible 79.3% win rate, so reinforcements are already lined up.

In the immediate future, you can watch Team Spirit compete at the BLAST Spring Showdown before they head into the Major. Further down the line, the CIS squad is already booked for the CCT Global Finals in May and IEM Dallas 2024 right after that, with the BLAST Premier Fall Groups and IEM Cologne to follow in the summer. Their Katowice win also earned them an invitation to the BLAST Premier World Final in November, and it is quite likely that many invitations will come down the pipeline in light of their impressive performances.

Who is donk? The CS2 superstar’s biography and career, summarized

  • Danil “donk” Kryshovets, born January 25, 2007
  • One of the most exciting Counter-Strike prodigies
  • Debuted with Team Spirit Academy in December 2021, and joined the main team in July 2023
  • Broke multiple records at IEM Katowice 2024, winning his debut elite LAN tournament
  • Successfully qualified for the first CS2 Major

If you’re just as excited about the upcoming PGL Copenhagen Major as we are, why not check out the Bitsler blog for comprehensive coverage and discussion on all things esports? We’re working around the clock to create exciting content about the biggest games and events all around the world, and we are not stopping anytime soon.

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