The Greatest 1v1 FPS Players of All-Time
With COVID-19 continuing the shutdown of sports leagues, the itch to do sports analytics leaves us with eSports. Following my previous post analyzing Counter-Strike, here I decide to answer who were the greatest 1v1 FPS players of all-time?
The methods here are the same as in my previous writeup. I download an export of Liquipedia and build an Elo rating system from the historical data. The data is imperfect, with missing events and likely a few errors, but it’ll have to do. In this case, I added an extra 70 tournaments of match data to the wiki myself, just to patch up some holes. In total, I’ve about 12,000 1v1 matches.
For ArenaFPS I found that combining ratings across games a significantly better log likelihood model, so it’s what I’m using. One change that improved my results: when you switch games, you get 70% of your current Elo (across all games) and 30% of your last Elo in that game (which is the default 1,500 if you’ve never played it before). This setting (and the 17 others used in my Elo algorithm) are set by optimizing the settings to produce good probabilities and accurately predict matches. Higher tier events, higher tier players and LAN events get larger weight in the scoring function. The 19 parameters include separate \(K\) factors for Online, Offline and Tier-1 events. They also include nonlinear responses, degrading player ratings due to lack of recent results, factoring in scoring margin, using rating differences instead of a constant, etc. The algorithm is overdesigned with extra settings and the optimization algorithm decides how much to turn each dial such that the result is maximally accurate at predicting matches.
My final result are a little more accurate (70%) than comparable Elo models for NBA basketball (67%) or Counter-Strike (66%). This is version 1.1 of this article: added data for late QL and QC timeframe.
The Big Picture
For every year, the top5 players (based on an annual Quadratic Mean of their Elo updates), across all arenaFPS games were
- 1998 rix (1585), thresh (1549), lordvader (1549), makaveli (1527), immortal (1521)
- 1999 rix (1597), lakerman (1564), kane (1561), sectopod (1516), columbo (1509)
- 2000 fatal1ty (1731), zero4 (1641), lakerman (1626), makaveli (1626), rix (1576)
- 2001 zero4 (1783), fatal1ty (1760), lakerman (1706), czm (1643), stelam (1631)
- 2002 zero4 (1780), fatal1ty (1713), lexer (1691), gitzzz (1683), python (1652)
- 2003 zero4 (1762), unkind (1722), lexer (1716), czm (1674), cooller (1662)
- 2004 cooller (1810), gitzzz (1787), zero4 (1786), z4muz (1738), lauke (1727)
- 2005 vo0 (1924), fatal1ty (1856), cooller (1808), zyz (1775), stermy (1774)
- 2006 toxjq (1874), cooller (1812), czm (1808), fatal1ty (1794), stermy (1779)
- 2007 toxjq (2016), av3k (1850), cooller (1819), fojji (1809), stermy (1784)
- 2008 cypher (1822), czm (1805), av3k (1794), fojji (1779), cooller (1775)
- 2009 cypher (1820), rapha (1809), av3k (1735), dahang (1722), cooller (1722)
- 2010 rapha (1880), cypher (1875), cooller (1845), av3k (1807), dahang (1746)
- 2011 cypher (1906), rapha (1884), cooller (1864), strenx (1832), dahang (1822)
- 2012 rapha (1952), cypher (1947), av3k (1859), dahang (1841), spart1e (1769)
- 2013 rapha (1964), cypher (1939), dahang (1868), av3k (1848), cooller (1818)
- 2014 cypher (1982), rapha (1969), evil (1904), dahang (1873), strenx (1760)
- 2015 rapha (1963), evil (1952), cypher (1919), cooller (1812), k1llsen (1721)
- 2016 rapha (1975), evil (1971), k1llsen (1750), spart1e (1730), zero4 (1702)
- 2017 rapha (1836), evil (1799), cypher (1772), k1llsen (1725), dahang (1705)
- 2018 rapha (1897), cypher (1831), k1llsen (1806), raisy (1784), dahang (1777)
- 2019 rapha (1967), cypher (1870), cooller (1816), k1llsen (1811), vengeurr (1808)
- 2020 rapha (1987), cypher (1863), raisy (1859), k1llsen (1833), cooller (1818)
Of the last 12 years, rapha and cYpheR share 21 of the 24 top spots, each being 1st three times during their rivalry Quake Live (2009 to 2014). Evil sneaks into the top2 from 2015 to 2017. Toxjq’s peak in 2007 (of 2016 aQM Elo) is the highest on this list, and his dominance in Quake 4 is hard overstate. Vo0 and Fatal1ty reach high peaks in 2005 as the CPL Painkiller World Tour takes place. Vo0’s 1924 annual aQM Elo is the highest outside of toxjq, rapha, cYpheR and evil. Cooller only leads in 2004 (although 2005 has him as the top Quake player), but he reaches the top5 thirteen times. GitzZz’s strong play in Unreal Tournament gives him spot in 2002 and 2004 and Lauke joins him in 2004. In Quake 3, ZeRo4 dominates the peak years, from 2001 to 2003. Fata1lty has his one year of Quake3 reign in 2000. ZeRo4 has three years at the top during the Quake 3 era. In my data, RiX’s QuakeCon and CPL wins in 1998 and 1999 give him the top spot. Av3k gets as high as #2 in the Quake 4 era and has six years in the top5. DaHanG makes the list eight times. czm makes the list four times but his top spot in 2008 is an artifact of my algorithm: his last games in 2006 were strong and his 2008 losses are to players with strong ratings due to their Q4 play (av3k, fojji).
Another way to analyze top players is by their overall peaks. As usual, peaks are right before players start to lose games, otherwise it wouldn’t be a peak.
Breaking 2000 in this system is incredibly rare, only done by Toxjq in Quake4, cYpheR+rapha+evil in Quake Live, Fatal1ty+Vo0 in Painkiller and rapha in Quake Champions. As players continue to play, the average Elo rating can tend to grow. Perhaps that’s why we see no Quake 3 peaks on this list (peaks were ZeRo4, Fatal1ty and Cooller with scores of 1858, 1851 and 1845 in Aug ‘02, Dec ‘00 and July ‘05). The peaks in Unreal are GitzZz and Lauke with 1811 and 1809 in July ‘04 and Mar ‘05.
The data for QuakeWorld, Quake 2, Doom 3 and Quake 3 CPMA are sporadic at best.
For the first year of Quake 3, Fatal1ty is the dominant player, peaking during CPL MPlayer Cologne. The week after is Babbage’s CPL, where ZeRo4 wins. ZeRo4 has a dominant streak through 2002, but uNkind and LeXeR win WCG and QuakeCon. Cooller becomes the next dominant player, winning every major tournament he enters in 2003, staying top 3 during 2004 and winning ESWC 2005. czm gets second in ESWC 2005 and wins CPL Winter 2006, finally taking the crown. Z4muZ had some strong showings as well, getting second in QLAN, Wipeout and QuakeCon 2003, but peaking during QLAN2, after beating Cooller and czm.
I combined results from UT99, Ut2k3 and Ut2k4. GitzZz is the clearly dominant player in the early WCG events. Fatal1ty wins an awkward CPL event, gets a decent finish in cXg, and still gets some credit for being dominant in Quake 3. Lauke eventually wins enough events to match GitzZz. Burnie also makes a good climb in 2004.
With so many events, we have a high climb to huge Elo peaks (over 2000!). Vo0 is the clear leader until the final few months, eventually falling to Fatal1ty during the CPL Finals. Ztrider wins the CPL Chile, gaining plenty of Elo in a tournament that many didn’t take seriously, just weeks before the Finals. ZyZ, stermy and gellehsak win enough games to take the final three slots.
Quake 4 is a game dominated by toxjq. While Cooller wins the first few events, toxjq soon begins to dominate. He drops a best-of-three to Fatal1ty in the WSVG Finals, before winning the last set. Av3k begins to challenge toxjq as the game comes to an end in 2007. fojji plays well throughout Quake 4, and DaHanG shows up as a top player. Toxjq’s peaks during Quake 4 are also past 2,000 Elo, a rare mark.
Quake Live opens with an era of fierce competition. cYpheR, rapha and Cooller closely fight over every tournament. Rapha and cYpheR trade off the top place for 6 years, winning alternating tournaments and often meeting each other in the finals. Cooller, briefly, after winning IEMV Europe appears the top player but falls to Rapha in the World Finals, ceding his spot at the top. Av3k and DaHanG challenge for the top spot but never take it. Around 2012, evil makes his climb into the top level of competition through online events, eventually surpassing cYpheR and battling rapha at QuakeCon 2016. Rapha wins and closes the era.
cYpheR and rapha enter with high scores from their Quake Live days. The first year of Quake Champion’s is chaotic, with no clear leader and rapha, cYpheR, k1llsen and RAISY fighting for the top spot. A series of LANs in late 2018 settles the climate, and rapha climbs to the top. When rapha loses on LAN, we can see cYpheR’s rating shoot up before falling to Cooller as he wins QPL Stage 1 Finals in late 2019. When rapha wins Stage 2 Finals, he breaks that elusive 2000 Elo mark and RAISY’s second place finish makes him the number two player, although his peak was after beating rapha in 2018. k1llsen is very steady, keeping his roughly 1830 Elo for several years; his QPL Finals win in May 2020, being online, doesn’t raise his rating significantly. vengeurR is a top5 player throughout, and along with RAISY, the first of a new generation of Quake player.
The Top 10
This is a hard list to make. There are so many different tradeoffs: How important is longevity? Or popularity of the game? Is it better to win when a game comes out or when it ends? Better to win a few large prize pools or several smaller ones? My top 10 is
I’ll give an exhaustive reason for each below.
These two have to top the list. In the 25 years of arena FPS games, they dominate for over decade. Their head-to-head record is largely equal and their styles beautifully contrast. Rapha is the better macro-level dueler, playing for control and timing– he’s the off-ball player (basketball), the finesse pitcher (baseball), the out-fighter (boxing), the tactician (chess). cYpheR is the better micro-level dueler, having the edge in engagements– he’s the on-ball player, the power pitcher, the slugger, the positional player. They’ve played each other from the WB Finals in ESWC 2008 to the QPL Stage3 WB Finals in May 2020. cYpheR and rapha have respectively won about $175,000 and $225,000 from 1v1 arena FPS tournaments, across dozens of events. cYpheR wins every even-year QuakeCon from 2008 to 2014; Rapha wins every odd-year one from 2009 to 2015 (plus 2016). cYpheR wins four DreamHacks over Rapha, but Rapha wins one DreamHack and two IEM events over cYpheR. Their totals were very close until recently.
Rapha is the most accomplished Quake player ever, with wins in CTF, TDM, 2v2 and Sacrifice. On the other hand, cYpheR has struggled with visa issues, denying him access to several high-profile competitions. Earlier versions of this article had cYpheR first, but as I added more data rapha’s QuakeCon 2016 win over evil and his success in Quake Champions give him the clear edge. It’s why he holds the top spot for 9 of the last 11 years in aQM Elo and gets the first place overall. Both have driven each other and raised the level of competition overall and whoever doesn’t get first seems a shoe-in for second.
Fatal1ty is hard to write about. His brand and fame in the popular media is paired with massive indifference from the dedicated community. He’s called “the number one professional gamer in the world” on MTV while hardcore fans regularly disparage him. His success is tied to that of the controversial CPL, an American organization that distributed some of the largest prizes. His success is often as a big fish in a small pond: early Quake 3 or Painkiller (“a game only 17 people play”) are considered weak communities but his results in Doom 3 ($40,000 two weeks after the game came out) and AvP2 ($25,000 for the only tournament ever held, with mysterious contestants) are downright bizarre. For comparison, cYpheR’s four 1st place QuakeCons total $36,000 over 6 years. So while Fatal1ty has won 1v1 FPS money than anyone else, over $450,000, that may not be the best sign of success.
So here’s the positive case for Johnathan Wendel: the CPL World Tour was the biggest 1v1 arenaFPS championship ever held and he won it. It spanned 9 months and 10 locations across the world, awarding $1M in prize money. He won a few stops and, in the Finals, he played Vo0 for 3 best-of-threes and won. Yes, Painkiller was an odd game with weak hitscan and terrible netcode that few people played. But it hosted the biggest tournament in this genre and Fatal1ty was its champion. The competition itself was not that weak either: Vo0 was the best Q3 CPMA player; if not him it was rat, who also played competed. Daler and LeXeR competed, who had top finishes in QuakeCon 02/03/04 and ESWC 03. ForresT won WCG 2003. Ztrider played Quake4 in the following year and had several top finishes. Other excellent players also tried to win the CPL World Tour, but they didn’t. Winning the CPL World Tour should be enough to earn anyone a top 10 slot.
In Quake3, perhaps the most important Quake title, he was its first great player. He takes 1st at XSi, Razer CPL, WCG 00, and CPL Cologne. That is one full year of results, and Fatal1ty only loses once, to Blue. He beats the likes of LakermaN and Makaveli. In early Quake 3, there are five LANs where Fatal1ty out-performs ZeRo4. At the end of 2000, Fatal1ty wins CPL Cologne over the top European players. Three days later is Babbage’s CPL where he loses two best-of-ones and takes 7th place. ZeRo4 wins Babbage’s over LakermaN with about the same margin as Fatal1ty had a week prior in Cologne. Fatal1ty and ZeRo4 two go head-to-head again at QuakeCon 01 and QuakeCon 02. ZeRo4 wins the first matchup (and tournament) but Fatal1ty wins the second (although LeXeR and Daler take 1st & 2nd overall). In QuakeCon 2002 he also beats czm (who knocked him out of Babbage’s). Fatal1ty never competes in Quake 3 again.
Quake4 was a game dominated by toxjq. And yet, at WSVG 2006 at perhaps the peak of toxjq’s powers, Fatal1ty appears almost as good. He had previous good results in Quake 4 but at the WSVG finals, he beats Cooller (2nd all-time Quake4 earnings) and socrates (6th) and wins the first best-of-three in the Finals against toxjq. He loses the second, two maps to one. But Fatal1ty took a series from that game’s greatest player in his prime.
And last comes the grab-bag. QuakeCon 2004’s DOOM3 was bizarre tournament but 1st place over Daler (a very good 1v1 player!) is not nothing. 3rd in ESWC UT2k3 with zulg and GitzZz playing is not nothing. CPL 2002 UT2k3 lacks the top UT players but includes many familiar faces in the pool. Very few players ever won prize money in major Unreal and Quake competitions, but Fatal1ty managed it.
This is a long resume of strange accomplishments. He won the biggest championship and the most money. At various times, he was the best Quake3 player, the best Painkiller player, the 2nd best Quake4 player and a top 10 Unreal Tournament player. He lacks the reliable availability of the many top players. But when he played, he managed to be great. Maybe he’s a discount Bobby Fisher– who takes the championship but never defends it; Paul Morphy’s isolated moments of fame show parallels as well.
If Rapha and cYpheR are the most dominant players on this list and Fatal1ty is the most famous, Cooller may be the most beloved. His rise to prominence was in 2002, and it came on the back of style: Cooller did not have the best aim; he won his games by leveraging his opponent’s mistakes. An opponent running map control would find his routes interrupted by a rocket from Cooller. An opponent out of map control would find his small efforts to regain it disrupted. As a spectator, this style can be a joy– making the most of situations. The lack of outstanding aim, an analog for the spectator’s own prowess, is often seen as endearing. Antoly Karpov was known as the boa constrictor, a term aptly applied to Cooller. Cooller’s tactful aggression is a beautiful game.
Cooller earned this spot due to his longevity. His reigns as the the top player are short: two years in Quake 3 (2003), six months in Quake 4 (2006), and his next tier-1 international LAN win is in Quake Champions, in November 2019. However, he leads my data in the number of tier-1 matches played (295). He’s got 20 against each of Av3k, cYpheR, toxjq, k1llsen, 10 for rapha, fox, Spart1e & DaHanG, 5 against ZeRo4 & czm, 3 for Vo0 & Daler, and 1 against Fatal1ty. Despite rarely finishing 1st at the biggest events, he has earned about $175,000 across major Quake tournaments since 2002. Rapha and cYpheR looked up to him before they broke through and they got rewarded by playing Cooller, as good as ever, in Finals matches. Younger players, like vengeurR and RAISY, still get to play him in 2020. Cooller is an icon. And he continues to deliver. He beats ZeRo4 at ESWC 2003. He beats toxjq at WSVG 2006. In 2010, he takes Rapha to 4 maps at IEM4 Finals and beats him at QuakeCon to take cYpheR to 5 maps in the Finals. In 2017, Cooller beats Rapha, toxjq and DaHanG to take 3rd place at QuakeCon. Just 6 months ago, Cooller won QPL Stage 1. He is a living legend in the community.
In the heyday of arena FPS, ZeRo4 was the complete player. Quake 3 came out at a time when arena-style games were still the biggest thing in FPS. It was before Halo, Battlefield and Call of Duty. In 2000, Babbage’s and Razer CPL each had $100,000 prize pools for Quake 1v1, sizes not matched until Quake Champion’s release in 2017. Quake was still the belle of the ball And in this era, ZeRo4 was the dominant player. He won the most money in Quake 3 ($150,000) and he did it in commanding fashion. QuakeCon, CPL, QuakeCon, WCG. From mid 2000 thru 2004, ZeRo4 won nearly everything, with only Fatal1ty and Cooller getting in his way. Yes, he lost a few odd games (Razer CPL best-of-one, Group Stage at WCG 02, cha0ticz at QCon 02), but those seemed like outliers. Even when ZeRo4 returns in Quake Live, he is able to compete, although cYpheR, Av3k and evil keep him from finishing at the top.
ZeRo4 seemed liked like one of the first players to do nearly everything right: he had great aim, great timing, great positioning, he played the maps and played the players. He was dominant for a few years at an important time. But with only one top 3 finish in the past 16 years, he lacks the longevity of Cooller. Outside of Quake 3, he lacks the resume of Fatal1ty. With only a few years of dominance (and a few bizarre loses), he lacks the standing of cYpheR and rapha. But top 5 is pretty good.
Toxjq defined Quake 4. In Quake 4, across nearly 20 events, toxjq only lost a best-of-three to Cooller (twice), cYpheR (once), Av3k (once) and Fatal1ty (once). He has the highest peak Elo of anyone on this list. And his peak lasted for about two years. Quake 4 was not the most popular game in the franchise and it came as arenaFPS games were in decline, without the popularity of earlier Quakes or the accessibility of Quake Live.
In Quake Live, he often played well, but lost to Cooller, cYpheR and evil. In early Quake Champions, he beat cYpheR in 2017. Overall, he tended to place in the top 10, but outside the top 3. As a team player, toxjq also has a rich record, but that’s not the topic of this article. His commanding aim was the cornerstone of him competing with the best since 2004. He won $140,000 in Quake 4 and over $50,000 in Quake Champions. Much like Nadal dominates clay courts, toxjq dominated Quake 4, and earns a top 10 spot.
Let us not forget about Unreal Tournament and the endless debate. Unreal had its share of competition, with WCG, ESWC and CPL hosting events. From 2001 to 2005 there were about $360,000 in prizes awarded in UT99, UT2k3 and UT2k4. While Quake had about 3 times as much prize money awarded, UT was a large community at the peak of the genre.
The two big WCGs in 2001 and 2002? They were won by GitzZz. GitzZz dominated the niche for high-level UT99 competition. Lauke earned consideration for this spot instead, as a top5 UT99 player and arguably the best 2k3/2k4 player. But UT2k4, while an excellent game, was more popular for its quirky modes (with vehicles and even PvE) than its classical 1v1 arena formats. GitzZz got on the scene early, when it mattered most, and was looked up to in Unreal Tournament. winz and ForresT deserve mention here for their success in UT and Quake/Painkiller, bridging the disparate communities.
Dennis Thresh Fong is an important part of Arena FPS history. He won Red Annihilation and John Carmack’s Ferrari. The Today Show and The Wall Street Journal covered it. He popularized WASD movement keys. Thresh is not a top Quake player– the game evolved. Compare ‘98 thresh to ‘99 LakermaN to ‘17 Milton. Compare Q2 Thresh to Q3A Fatal1ty 18 months later. The competition – from movement to control to aim – was not the same. Contemporaneously RiX won 2 CPL events and a QuakeCon (although he was expected to lose to thresh).
Thresh is important because of the legend. He won every tournament he played in. He won in Doom, Quake and Quake 2. He was famous for smart play, not just good aim. He is the image under which competitive 1v1 FPS became known. If it wasn’t for him and his continued success, the world may be a different place. Maybe a multiplayer-only Quake 3 never happens. Maybe this list never comes to exist. He is a figure, a popularizer, a poster child. Maybe he’s like Tom Sims or Jackson Haines. But he was great, and for a list of the 10 greatest 1v1 players, he belongs on it.
Vo0 made a big splash. He has earned $280,000 playing 1v1 ArenaFPS games; second only to Fatal1ty. The CPL World Tour was the biggest ArenaFPS competition held to date, and Vo0 dominated it. Many great players tried their hand but Vo0 usually won. Most of his earnings come from Painkiller, a flawed game (as noted above). But he earned success of prestige variety as well, as perhaps the best Q3 CPMA player of all-time. Did Vo0 help sustain and elevate that community, such that PQL was added to Quake Live? Such that high mobility champions were added to Quake Champions? We’ll never know but Vo0 may have played a role as popularizer. At the CPL World Tour 2005 Finals, the biggest prize pool ever awarded for 1v1, Vo0 takes second place. Twelve years later, at the Quake World Championship 2017, the second biggest prize pool ever awarded for 1v1, Vo0 takes second again, above Cooller, rapha, toxjq, evil and several others. He beats Av3k, k1llsen and DaHanG. Vo0 clearly can be a top10 player and managed to show it off a few times.
The last spot came down to one of two Americans who sometimes fall between the cracks. czm and DaHanG often fell short of their rival’s success (ZeRo4 and rapha respectively), but they won enough to justify consideration. Both are excellent Quake players with long careers and an added record as successful players in team modes such as TDM, CTF and Sacrifice. DaHanG has won in QC (DreamHack Winter 2017), QL (1st in IEM4 USA, 2nd to cYpheR in QuakeCon 12/14 and DHW 10) and Q4 (2nd to toxjq in WSVG Toronto). He was an excellent Quake 2 player during QuakeCon 2007 and has won over $100,000 in 1v1 tournaments. czm was the favorite for CPL 4-Year (QW), getting third. In Quake Live, he gets 3rd in QCon 11 (beating DaHanG but losing to rapha and Cooller) and QCon 12 (losing to rapha and cYpheR).
czm’s top10 case hinges on being a successful Quake 3 player at the right time, which is why he gets the last spot on the list. He was a precise player, with solid aim and impeccable timing. He was unstoppable on Aerowalk. His demanding career often kept him from practicing as much as the others on this list, but he won plenty. At Babbage’s CPL he knocks out Fatal1ty. By QCon 03, he’s playing ZeRo4 in the winners bracket finals. QCon 04, he plays ZeRo4 in the winners bracket finals again, losing, again. But this time he crushes Cooller in Lower Bracket and beats ZeRo4 wins twice to win. In the final CPL event in 2006, he wins by beating Cooller and Jibo. For 10 years, from the start of Quake 3 thru several years of Quake Live, he showed up; for a few of those moments, he was the best player in an important game. He also had some great games against Cooller at his peak, even if he lost both, at ESWC 2005 and QuakeCon 2011.
I think era matters. Jared Dudley may have better 2pt and 3pt shooting splits than Larry Bird (and earned more money, even adjusted for inflation), but Bird is one of the greatest shooters of all time and Dudley is not. Although DaHanG vs czm is very close (maybe like Bird vs Ray Allen?), the era gives czm the nod for the number ten spot.
Av3k is probably on the list for many people. A light breeze is enough to pull him up as high as #7. If you don’t care about ancient history, Unreal or Painkiller, he should be on the top 10. He earns $100,000+. He beats toxjq in Q4. He wins DHW08 in Q3, DHW09 in QL. He takes cYpheR to 5 maps in IEM4 Euro, Finals and DHS10, winning the last one. Rapha puts him in 2nd for ESWC10, and Cooller stops him in IEM5. We was a top 5 player from 2007 to 2012. Recently, he got 2nd (to rapha) in DHW 2018.
evil broke through the wall that was cYpheR and Rapha. He has Russian LAN wins over Cooller as far back as 2004, but he’s fairly low profile until 2012. He wins DreamHack Winter 2012 over rapha (3-1) and cYpheR (3-2). In QuakeCon 2013, he pushes rapha to 5 maps in the finals. In QuakeCon 2015 he pushes rapha, with maps won by a single point. In 2016, he takes rapha to 5 maps in the finals. He’s the clear number 3 in the Quake Live era, however his success hasn’t repeated in Quake Champions.
fox has a solid record as a 1v1 player. He is a top 5 player at ESWC & QCon 2003. He gets top 3 at ESWC 05 (Q3) DHW 05 (Q4), CPL 05 (Q4), DHS 06 (Q4). He does great in the “All 4 Quakes” event at QuakeCon 07. At DHW08, he wins CPM and gets 2nd vQ3. In Quake Live, he gets top finishes at IEM4 and DHS 10. He is a great all arounder.
k1llsen is another player who persists. He beats Cooller in early Quake 4 (when Cooller was perhaps the strongest player). In Quake 3, he gets second to cYpheR in ESWC 08. In Quake Live, he wins IEM5 Cologne over rapha, Av3k (and indirectly Cooller). Third at DHW10 and fourth at DHW11. He beats Av3k and evil at Adroits in 2012, although rapha knocks him out at DHW12. He beats ZeRo4 at QuakeCon 2016, but loses to evil in the lower finals. In Quake Champions he has had success as well, winning QPL Season 1 Kickoff and just last month, he won QPL Stage 3 Finals over cYpheR and rapha.
For a few that caught my eye: stermy was the third-best Painkiller player and won $120,000 from that game alone. Decent finishes in Quake 4 Duel (stopped by toxjq at WSVG) and Quake Live Duel (beats rapha in QCon 2010) hint at his general ability. Spart1e has top2 finishes in 08/09/10; he falls back to several top 8 finishes in 11/12/13/14/16/18. Python had several top 10 finishes in Quake 3 from 2000 to 2006 and takes evil to 5 maps in QuakeCon 2016. Jibo was a top 20 player from 2002 to 2008 and a regular threat to beat the best.