Number 19 on our ranking of Top 20 players of 2013 brought to you by eSportsventure.com is Polish player Jarosław "pasha" Jarząbkowski, the most consistent member of the team that was known as ESC Gaming, Universal Soldiers and AGAiN throughout the year.
Jarosław "pasha" Jarząbkowski is no stranger to our Top 20 list, as he was already featured on it as number 18 in 2011 after what was a great second year for him with the seasoned veterans of the Golden Five.
ESC Gaming finished 2011 as the best team in the world, and even built on it at the start of 2012 by winning the year's biggest event, IEM6 World Championship, where Jarząbkowski was even named the MVP. They were unable to replicate that form later on though, seeing fnatic rise ahead of them to finish of the CS 1.6 era, and then at the end of September they made the switch to CS:GO.
After a bad start, which included a group stage exit at ESWC, where they lost to VeryGames and Germans n!faculty, and DH Winter fiasco where they bottomed out in a group with NiP, fnatic and mousesports, the Poles finally started looking like their old selves in December.
They started the last month of 2012 by putting up a great fight against VeryGames in AMD Sapphire Prague quarter-final, then clinching 2nd place at NorthCon behind NiP and eventually becoming the first team to win an international title besides the Swedes.
The occasion was SLTV StarSeries IV Finals, the inaugural CS:GO season of the league, where the Poles defeated Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom and Richard "shox" Papillon's team Imaginary, as well as Virtus.pro in the final, who would later end up becoming the first team to beat NiP on LAN.
That end to the year brought them up to 3rd place in the world rankings, even closing in on VeryGames, whereas Jarząbkowski was still in the shadow of one of his more famous teammates, Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, who was considered one of the top players in the game's early stage and their main star at that moment.
The beginning of 2013 continued in the same manner for ESC, by winning a tournament named Your road to Katowice, albeit it more of a local than international event, over Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács' myDGB.net in the final.
A couple of great AWP actions at the start of the year
Mad Catz Vienna at the end of February was the first bigger event of the year for Jarząbkowski's team and expectations were high. They struggled in the group stage though, but still made it to playoffs where a win over LDLC.com sent them to the semi-final against NiP.
The Polish team tried their best, but still ended up losing with a 16-8, 16-12 scoreline. They then finished 4th after a loss to VeryGames in the 3rd place decider, but not before finally managing to take a map off of the French team.
Jarząbkowski was just about average at the event overall, having a 1.00 rating, although standing out in the wins against the French teams, top fragging in the series vs. LDLC and the one map win over VG.
A month later they attended TECHLABS Cup in Moscow where NiP, Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere awaited. As the favorites among the three challengers, ESC found themselves upset by the visibly improved Virtus.pro compared to their previous clash in December, losing 16-9 twice to the CIS-based team.
The only positive from the event was a win in the lower bracket final over Na`Vi, their long-standing nemesis who they previously drew in Vienna, and who they would end up meeting many times throughout the year at various events.
The following weekend, they attended Copenhagen Games where they hit their year-low, a 13th-16th place finish at the massive event which featured practically every top team in the world at that moment.
It all started with a surprising loss to mousesports in the group stage, which in turn led to a meeting with Virtus.pro in the first round of playoffs. Once again Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow's squad got the better of them (16-6, 16-14), so they fell to the lower bracket quite early.
Hope was still there, but two rounds in they found themselves getting surprised once again, this time by the Swedish youngsters of Epsilon (16-14), and future winners of DreamHack Winter who were still unproven at that point.
An eco ace at Copenhagen Games on-site qualifier
Jarząbkowski's play was certainly not the cause of their problems though, as he played well in every match and was the team's best fragger at the event with 0.73 kills per round. That would become more of a rule than an exception later on in the year, as Jarząbkowski would be one of the best players in his team at almost every tournament.
The next challenge for them was SLTV StarSeries V Finals, where they were the reigning champions. But due to only coming in as fourth seed from the online section, they were paired up with NiP in the first round, which once again sent them to the lower bracket right away after a 16-8, 16-7 loss at the hands of Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and co.
They then met Na`Vi and this time lost to them as well, 16-9, 19-15, finishing as 4th and never getting to meet the new thorn in their side, Virtus.pro, who went on to win the tournament by beating the Swedes twice.
Prior to those last several events, ESC had qualified for RaidCall EMS One Spring Finals where they were to once again meet NiP in the first round, but unfortunately Jarząbkowski was hit by pneumonia only days before the tournament, and the team didn't want to attend with a stand-in, so they left their spot up to k1ck.
Interestingly, ESC only got the chance to attend their next big event, ESEA Season 13 Global Finals, after Virtus.pro pulled out due to visa issues, and with Jarząbkowski's health back to normal, the team made the trip to Dallas, Texas at the end of April.
It all started great for the Polish side, with a win over North America's Quantic (16-3, 7-16, 16-7) and with Jarząbkowski on form, having one of his best maps of the year to open the tournament (29:8 score, 2.36 rating and 13 AWP kills).
pasha was on fire at the start of ESEA 13 Finals
However, they lost to VeryGames yet again after that and later fell to Quantic in their rematch in the lower bracket final after having a 1-0 map lead, thus finishing fourth while the North Americans went on to finish 2nd.
Jarząbkowski hadn't used the AWP much in CS:GO until this event, where it constituted 44% of his action and he ended up second only to Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham in the AWPers ranking.
He would keep playing in the same style for their next big event almost two months later, DreamHack Summer, but despite having his best fragging display yet (0.79 KPR), the team would once again fail to leave a mark.
First they dropped a huge lead against Virtus.pro in the group stage for a 16-14 loss, despite Jarząbkowski's monster performance of 33 kills, and then proceeded to get knocked out by LDLC.com in the quarter-final (19-16, 16-4).
In the meantime they also lost to 3DMAX at TECHLABS Minsk, and it became known that they had been without salary for four months inside the year, so their future was under question.
As far as Jarząbkowski's play is concerned, the change in playstyle didn't result in improved placement, so he would end up dropping the use of AWP until the end of the year.
"Indeed I was playing less with the AWP, it was only my choice [to drop it], but it begins to change and I'm AWPing more now" - speaking in December about the AWPing duties.
Either way, it seemed that CS:GO suited him as he adapted quite well to the new game.
"I really like this game. It came naturally. At the beginning I played it in the same way I did 1.6, but my feelings had to finally change, I had to kick 1.6 out of my mind. With my heart I'm with 1.6, but my mind is in CS:GO."
But the team just kept disappointing, as despite passing all the online exams in another RaidCall EMS One season, they fell to Virtus.pro yet again in the first round of the Summer Finals to finish 5th-8th. The final straw was another couple of losses at SLTV StarSeries VI Finals, where who other than Virtus.pro would get the better of the Poles (16-14, 16-13), as well as their old nemesis Na`Vi (16-10, 19-16), and another disappointing 4th place was in the books.
Jarząbkowski had his only bad display of the year on that occasion in Kiev, Ukraine, but it didn't matter much, as the team was apparently in shambles judging from what followed when Mariusz "Loord" Cybulski and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas fell out publicly and the team was disbanded.
One of the last occasions we saw the Golden Five together
Cybulski and Jakub "kuben" Gurczynski were cut, while Jarząbkowski had already planned on going inactive as he was about to get married. After a long public dispute the Golden Five was broken up for good, and it would be two months before we would see Jarząbkowski in action again.
In the meantime Filip "Neo" Kubski and Wojtas won Prague Challenge with an international mix team over Natus Vincere, and later started testing out new Polish players for their squad, such as Bartosz "Hyper" Wolny, Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski and Piotr "peet" Ćwikliński.
Still, it was their imperative to get Jarząbkowski, who was pondering retirement, back out of inactivity, and eventually they did.
"Yes, I thought about ending my career, but the boys wrote to me that it's not worth it in that style, so I decided to come back and achieve something."
The trio went on to pick up Pogorzelski and Paweł "byali" Bieliński and join Universal Soldiers as their new organization, while Wolny and Ćwikliński ended up in a team with former G5 member Cybulski.
"Thanks to Loord and kuben I'm here where I am today. I am really grateful to them. Hyper and peet? They will never achieve anything." - Jarząbkowski said about the lineup changes that resulted from the disbandment and testing out new players.
The new squad showed early promise with some solid online results during September in SLTV StarSeries VII (although they failed to qualify for the finals) and RaidCall EMS One cups, at which time Jarząbkowski stood out as a clear star of the team with over 0.80 kills per round in each tournament.
Having also skipped DreamHack Bucharest, the first big LAN test for them would be RaidCall EMS One Fall Finals, which additionally offered two spots for the all-important DH Winter. The debut itself of the new squad will go down as one of the best matches of the year, and although they were on the wrong side of a 31-28 scoreline against Na`Vi, they ended up making up for it by taking the Ukrainians down in the group's 2nd place decider later on.
But VeryGames, who ended up winning the event, were too big of a bite in the semi-final (16-4, 21-17), so the Poles had to settle for a 3rd-4th place finish, which was certainly a good start for the new lineup and it got them a slot for the Swedish event.
The debut in Cologne went well for pasha & co.
They missed out on ESWC as there was no Polish qualifier and they were only in the process of testing lineups when the international one took place, but before DreamHack Winter Universal Soldiers still had one final test at TECHLABS Cup Grand Final together with the likes of 3DMAX, Na`Vi and Astana Dragons.
They seemed poised to win the title as 3DMAX and Na`Vi were relatively easily disposed of in the upper bracket, but Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow's Virtus.pro-like squad once again took down the Poles, who even dropped a map lead in the final (16-11, 5-16, 3-16).
Jarząbkowski was the team's best player thanks to excellent displays in the two victories, having his year-high 1.16 rating, and also finally getting in some AWP action, even though it was only 24 kills.
Coming into the biggest event of the year following that 2nd place and a solid performance in Germany earlier, Universal Soldiers had every right to be optimistic. They started great, with a 16-9 win over North Americans iBUYPOWER, but NiP brought them down to earth with a 16-4 win to top the group.
The deciding match for 2nd place of the group against Kenny "kennyS" Schrub's Recursive, however, would be something they will beat themselves up about for the rest of their lives.
"I remember our match vs. the French team at DH, after a 12-2 result we lost 16-13. After that I felt like a piece of ****."
DreamHack Winter is definitely a tournament pasha would like to forget
Just like that, the team that is famous for thriving in major tournaments was out of the biggest one ever already in group stage, and all of the blame they put on themselves.
But they earned another chance to prove their new lineup's worth in 2013 thanks to solid online play in SLTV StarSeries VIII, where they clinched the second seed for the LAN Finals.
Teams like DH Winter quarter-finalists LGB and ESWC winners Clan-Mystik weren't able to go to Kiev, so the Polish side, who were now named AGAiN after having left Universal Soldiers in the meantime, had a good chance to make their third trip to Ukraine count.
While Astana Dragons fell before even meeting the Poles, they still had a tough task of overcoming the new and improved Natus Vincere, both in the opening match and later in the grand final, as well as the surprise of the tournament, Balkan based squad GamePub.
AGAiN were finally up to the task, and they won all three of those series and clinched their first meaningful title of the year, while Jarząbkowski put in an MVP worthy performance, with great displays in each of the match-ups for the tournament-best 1.14 rating, side by side his younger colleague Bieliński.
"My best moment was at the end of the year, when we won SLTV. Neo started being the in-game leader and everything was easier. He told me 'you do what you want in the game', and this was the key" – Jarząbkowski about what may have affected him to put in an MVP worthy performance.
After ending the year on a high note, the Polish team is currently still without an organization, but with EMS One Katowice's $250,000 tournament looming ahead in March, they are sure to be as prepared as ever for the first challenges in 2014.
"My dream is to qualify for Katowice and to play in the grand final on the big stage with cheering from our Polish fans."- about hopes and plans for the new year.
Jarosław "pasha" Jarząbkowski is by now an established name in the scene, but before 2013 he was always in the shadow of his more famous teammates Filip "Neo" Kubski and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas.
In 2013 and in CS:GO itself, he finally stepped out of that shadow and went on to be the team's most consistent performer with almost no bad events behind him individually. The team however, had a disappointing year by their standards, especially after entering it as 3rd best in the world, as they kept underachieving and eventually reforming the roster.
As a result, they only have one title and one second place at events where neither NiP nor VeryGames were present, but they were always a tough team to beat and the changes seemed to have been for the better according to results in the last four months.
Jarząbkowski ended up with a 1.04 rating for the year, the lowest in our Top 20, but he put in MVP worthy performance on both of their celebratory tournaments, and was one of his team's best on almost every other occasion.
Still, apart from those two tournaments he was never really a clear star in the team since various players stepped up in different tournaments, so he couldn't go any higher in the ranking.
Denis "seized" Kostin
In his bold prediction about which player will become a star in 2014, Jarząbkowski was concise, saying: "seized will be good". The 19-year-old Russian currently plays for Natus Vincere who he joined back in August 2013 as his first professional team.
How did you rate Jarosław "pasha" Jarząbkowski's 2013? Does he deserve the 19th place in our ranking? Can he continue in the steps he made at the end of the year and establish himself as the star of the best Polish team?
Tell us what you think in the comments below, and keep an eye on our Top 20 players of 2013 by eSportsventure.com ranking which we our updating once per day.