Is eSport a sport? It’s a hot debate these days as more and more fans flock to see gaming wizards battle it out – they packed the Royal Arena recently.
Officially, though, it isn’t despite eSports making a major breakthrough in Denmark this year – underlined by the new eSuperliga kicking off and eSports team Astralis enjoying a banner year that saw them become the first team to win the coveted Intel Grand Slam title in Counter Strike.
Nevertheless, there were plenty of outstanding achievements in Danish sports this year, and just missing out on the top 5 are Magnus Cort, who became the first Dane to win a Tour de France stage since 2009, and Maja Alm, who notched up three medals at the world championships in orienteering.
5 Michael Valgren: Aside from helping Cort win the stage in France, the cyclist enjoyed a massive breakthrough year thanks to wins in the two classics, Amstel Gold Race and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and top ten finishes in five other races. The 26-year-old’s stellar year saw him secure a move to Team Dimension Data.
4 Thomas Bjørn: The golf legend captained the European team to a Ryder Cup championship – and a historically dominant one at that. All his four wildcard picks went on to deliver, and Bjørn came through on his promise to get a tattoo should the Europeans win. Apparently, it is located in an area only his missus can see.
3 Lars Eller: In perhaps any other year, the ice hockey star would have finished top of the pile as the first Dane to win the Stanley Cup. The forward was inspirational in the playoffs for the Washington Capitals, racking up an impressive 18 points in 24 games to help his team to its first ever NHL title. He celebrated by bringing the coveted cup to Copenhagen to show the fans.
2 Pernille Harder: Denmark’s top women’s footballer did her best to finish top this year. She finished top scorer of the German Bundesliga with champions Wolfsburg and was voted the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year. Ultimately, however, Harder lost the Champions League final, finished second in the Ballon D’Or vote and also comes second in this ranking, but only because of a certain bit of magic Down Under.
1 Caroline Wozniacki: It had to be Wozzy at the top. The nation’s tennis darling became the first Dane to win a singles grand slam event at the Australian Open last January. Finally winning a major final at her third attempt, Wozniacki completed one of the greatest sporting accomplishments in Danish history – a magnificent turnaround by a player that had almost tumbled out of the top 100 in the world rankings just 18 months earlier. The win saw her regain the world number 1 ranking following a record gap of six years.