Top 20 players of 2013: markeloff (15)
The 15th spot in our Top 20 players of 2013 ranking by eSportsventure.com goes to Yegor "markeloff" Markelov. The Ukrainian star played at a high level all year long, half way through ending his spell in Na`Vi to take on a new challenge with Astana Dragons, with whom he put in an MVP-worthy performance on their only title run at TECHLABS Grand Finals.
Basic info and history
Thanks to his performances in the last three years of CS 1.6, Yegor "markeloff" Markelov established himself as one of the best AWPers, and even one of the best players in the history of the game.
Before that, he spent a spell in DTS as an important part of his learning curve, but even further back he started his international rise in 2008 with his home team HellRaisers. Later he would reform that HR team from which him and Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev would make the jump to join the lineup that would become Natus Vincere at the end of 2009.
From 2010 onwards, he was consistently one of the world's elite players, winning our Player of the Year award in 2010, and coming in 3rd in our Top 20 of 2011. Although 2012 was scarce in events in comparison, he continued putting in the same level of performances without having a single below-average LAN display.
Na`Vi finally made the switch to CS:GO at the end of 2012, and the already seasoned AWP star would end up making his debut in February 2013 at Mad Catz Vienna.
And what a debut it was. The fans' expectations were mixed since it was the team's first real test, and although they finished only 5th-8th, they gave VeryGames the best possible fight (30-34, 16-11, 14-16). But Markelov himself exceeded all expectations and put in a performance that matched his best days from previous years.
markeloff's 1vs3 clutch against VeryGames in Vienna
He was the tournament's best AWPer with 0.49 kills per round, and he particularly troubled the French giants by having an amazing 56 kills with the AWP in that series (93:78 overall, 1.11 rating).
"It took about two weeks for me to adapt to the new cs. I had like 180h per 2 weeks those days :) and I immediately liked it." - Markelov on the late switch to CS:GO and his good start
A fourth place out of four teams at TECHLABS Cup Moscow followed, where Na`Vi only took a combined 10 rounds against NiP and ESC, which was not a great prelude to one of the most competitive events in CS:GO until that point, Copenhagen Games.
Put into to the fateful group B with fnatic and Epsilon, Na`Vi wound up third in a three-way tie, and all due to losing a map on default to the fourth team in the group, BX3, after arriving late to the venue. The team disagreed with the admins about the severity of the punishment, and declined to continue on in the tournament despite having a place in the lower bracket, so their participation ended abruptly.
Markelov continued with good performances even in that turbulent group stage, getting the team's second best 1.16 rating with 0.29 AWP kills per round. He particularly shined in their only map win against the youngsters of Epsilon with a 32:12 score, and later in the match-clinching 22-18 overtime win over fnatic when he had 23 AWP kills.
markeloff's good run at Copenhagen Games was interrupted
A few days later they attended SLTV StarSeries V Finals, where he used the AWP as his primary weapon for the last time in 2013, as he would later drop it on all maps except de_dust2.
"All I can say is that you will see much more AWP action in 2014 :)" - about dropping the use of AWP
The team fared relatively well against eventual winners Virtus.pro (14-16, 13-16) in the opening match of the Kiev event, and even defeated ESC in the lower bracket final (16-9, 19-15, with Markelov putting up 50:32 and 25 AWP kills), but in the end they got stomped by Ninjas in Pyjamas (3-16, 5-16) to finish in 3rd place.
Three months later, and with an unsuccessful RC EMS One Summer qualifying campaign in the meantime, Na`Vi showed up at SLTV StarSeries VI Finals to replace fnatic. They skipped DreamHack Summer the month before, so it was hard to know what to expect after such a long time without seeing them in action, but the Ukrainians took their unforseen opportunity by the throat and finally proved themselves.
After taking a map off of NiP in the first match, they went on to knock out ESC once again and then even Virtus.pro (16-19, 16-5, 16-14), the latter largely thanks to a great performance from Markelov who had a 78:46 score and a 1.40 rating in the BO3 series, including 21 AWP kills on the deciding map.
They even put up a great fight against NiP in the final, but eventually lost 2-3 (16-12, 16-9, 8-16, 2-16, with the Swedes having a 1-0 advantage due to coming from the upper bracket).
The Ukrainians had with that proven that they are one of the best teams in the world, but a stunning loss in the final of Prague Challenge a week later put an end to their tale. Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov's Nostalgie international mix achieved what no one thought possible, and won this minor tournament with a big comeback in the final against Na`Vi.
markeloff in the Na`Vi jersey for the final time in Prague
A few days later, shattering news hit the scene as Markelov announced that he is leaving the team after three and a half years of service.
"That was a disaster, the most epic throw ever, but it didn't affect me too much in my decision to leave Na`Vi." - about how much the Prague loss affected his decision to leave
He wound up joining Astana Dragons with the Virtus.pro trio of Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow, Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov and Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev, as well as his Na`Vi teammate Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev.
The new team hit a rocky start, losing to fnatic in Mad Catz Cologne and, despite Markelov's best efforts with 0.94 kills per round in the tournament, they failed to make it through the group stage of MSI Beat it European Finals.
AK47 ace against NiP in MSI Beat it! European Finals
At the beginning of September their LAN debut at TECHLABS Cup Kiev saw them defeat the Swedes of fnatic 2-1 (16-7, 11-16, 16-5), which would end up being important as it secured them a spot for TECHLABS Grand Finals.
The first real test though was DreamHack Bucharest, and despite their captain Karasiow admitting before the event that the team is "not in tip top shape", it turned out being a solid account of the CIS-squad.
Although their final placement was 3rd-4th, they defeated the new Na`Vi, as well as n!faculty, and eventually put up a good fight against NiP in the semi-final (10-16, 16-12, 8-16). Markelov was the team's star in their first big test, and one of the best players of the event with a 1.26 rating and above average displays in 6 of their 7 maps.
Before heading to SLTV StarSeries VII Finals, they once again slipped online and failed to qualify for RaidCall EMS One Fall Finals at the courtesy of Party Daddlers (later known as mousesports). At the Kiev event only days later, however, they showed their best performance yet.
On the way to second place, Astana Dragons finally achieved the first part of their mission, which was to get the better of NiP, in one of the most exciting matches of 2013 that took double overtime on map three to settle the score (7-16, 16-12, 22-20).
"Surely the best memory of 2013 was the victory over NiP at Starladder. Can't forget those awesome feelings."
VeryGames still relatively easily outplayed them in the final though, so the Dragons would have to look for redemption a few weeks later at ESWC.
But there it all started shakily as fnatic beat them on the big stage 16-12 to top their group, and even though the bracket opened up for the CIS-based squad with no VeryGames or NiP on their side, they failed to reach the grand final.
Another French team, Clan-Mystik, who eventually won the tournament, were their executioners this time (12-16, 16-14, 7-16) and Markelov & co. had squandered another chance to get their first big title. As a consolation prize, they defeated NiP once again in the 3rd place decider.
Markelov himself played better in France than he did in Kiev previously (where he had his worst event of the year individually) but the match against Clan-Mystik also left something to be desired from his performance, so overall it was not the best run of form for the Ukrainian.
3rd place at ESWC was apparently a bad result for markeloff & co.
After ESWC, the team decided to make a lineup change, removing Markelov's long-time teammate Sukhariev and adding another former Virtus.pro member Emil "kucher" Akhundov.
Both Astana and Markelov seemingly immediately improved, and he responded to his previous bad run in the best way possible, with an MVP-worthy performance at TECHLABS Grand Finals on the way to his first title of the year.
Despite going down to the lower bracket by losing to Na`Vi at the start of the tournament, Astana Dragons came back and defeated all three challengers, 3DMAX, Na`Vi and eventually Universal Soldiers in the final, to clinch their first and so far only title.
Markelov was the top rated player of the event (1.24 rating), as well as the best entry killer, and also importantly Man of the Match against the Poles with one of the best grand final performances of the year (69:32, 1.64 rating).
However, neither he nor the team would continue on in the same fashion at the year's biggest event, DreamHack Winter. The Dragons lost their group top spot to Copenhagen Wolves, and barely made it through against another Danish team, Reason Gaming. Still, they once again ended up in what seemed to be the easier side of the bracket without either NiP or VeryGames, but they were defeated by North Americans compLexity after winning the first map (16-9, 7-16, 12-16), thus ending up in a disappointing 5th-8th place.
Astana Dragons disappointed at DreamHack Winter with a quarter-final exit
Even more disappointing would end up being their last event of the year, SLTV StarSeries VIII Finals, to which they came as the top seed. In the opening match of the tournament a relatively unknown team, GamePub from the Balkan region, took Astana by surprise and knocked them down in a convincing fashion (6-16, 11-16).
The only chance for redemption was against another new incarnation of Markelov's former team, Natus Vincere, but the Dragons were bested by their local rivals (21-17, 13-16, 11-16), so they ended their last 2013 tournament in a disappointing 4th and last place.
"I was a 100 times more disappointed after the last Starladder than after DHW for example. I don't know why, it's just a fact.
There were a lot of things that influenced that result. I don't want to talk much about it, but in the last 2 months we had a lot of problems that stopped us from concentrating on the game."
At the end of the year the team decided to break ties with the Astana Dragons organization, but still decided to stick together despite a poor run of results. As of now they are without a home, but Markelov will not give up on the quest to get back to the top of the world.
"I personaly didn't expect that I will be in the list this year and I'm really happy to be here. I will try my best to be here next year in a better spot. I will work hard and be very motivated."
Why is he the 15th best player of 2013?
Former CS 1.6 superstar Yegor "markeloff" Markelov started his CS:GO adventures in the best way possible and looked to be the next big thing in the new game, but it wasn't until the second half of 2013 that his teams began recording notable results.
Even though not extraordinary, his form throughout the year was quite stable, as he was one of his team's best players in all but one tournament. Furthermore he won a title at TECHLABS Grand Finals with Astana Dragons and put in an MVP-worthy performance on that occasion, reached two other grand finals, and had notable third place finishes at DreamHack Bucharest and ESWC. All those are things that grant him a place above our previously announced players on the ranking.
Even though he abandoned the fulltime use of the AWP half way through the year, he still used it on occasion and ended up with the 5th most AWP kills in international LAN tournaments.
Additionally, he was the 5th best rated player on de_mirage with a 1.16 rating from 16 outings.
Markelov couldn't decide on just one prediction of a future star in 2014, so he picked both the French AWPer Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian from Clan-Mystik and Polish youngster Paweł "byali" Bieliński from AGAiN.
Hovik "KQLY" Tovmassian
Paweł "byali" Bieliński
Unlike himself, did you expect Yegor "markeloff" Markelov at the 15th place of our list? Or did you think he would not even be on it?
Don't forget to check out our previous articles about places from #20-#16 by following the links the Top 20 players of 2013 by eSportsventure.com ranking.