The 4th place on our Top 20 of 2013 ranking by eSportsventure.com goes to Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov, a player who was the main force behind Virtus.pro's success in the first half of the year, and was one of Astana Dragons' most important members in the second half. His consistent performances, playing great in a number of big matches and a more than impressive clutch round record made him one of the very best in the world last year.
The first time Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov's name appeared in the international scene was at World Cyber Games 2009, when he led Russia's representatives CMAX.gg to a surprising 4th place together with his brother Sergey "Fox".
However, it would only be in 2011 when the duo joined MYM, and later Moscow Five, that Stolyarov would make a name for himself as one of the most consistent players in the world, ending up 19th on our Top 20 ranking that year.
Although lacking titles, his Moscow Five team was always a threat to the very best, and even though 2012 was no better in that regard, Stolyarov improved even more individually and was one of the main stars at the last few CS 1.6 events he managed to attend, such as IEM6 World Championship, GameGune and PGS.
He was left teamless in August when Moscow Five disbanded, and while still playing CS 1.6 events under Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov's place2play.ru, he also started playing CS:GO in Rush3D at the beginning of October.
But even though that team received an invite for the first big tournament in the new game, ESWC, the Stolyarov brothers decided to pass up on that opportunity and instead team up with Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow, Emil "kucher" Akhundov and Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev in Virtus.pro.
The only event they would attend by the end of the year was SLTV StarSeries IV Finals where they finished in 2nd place behind ESC Gaming.
Even though Stolyarov didn't really shine at his LAN debut in CS:GO at that event in December, he would quickly show his potential after the turn of the year in Fnatic FragOut League. In this online tournament he led Virtus.pro with 0.81 kills per round to reach 2nd place, putting in a Man of the Match performance against VeryGames in the semi-final (52:26, 1.44 rating) which was his team's first notable victory, as well as a sign of things to come.
Although Virtus.pro would skip the first international event of the year, Mad Catz Vienna, Stolyarov would still attend it with Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov's Russian-Ukrainian mix Nostalgie. With him in the starring role (1.12 rating), they somehow managed to reach the playoffs, but the draw would pair them up with NiP in the quarter-final stage where they got knocked out with ease (2-16, 5-16).
Dosia clutches against NiP at Mad Catz Vienna
A month later Virtus.pro were ready for their first tournament of the year, TECHLABS Cup Moscow, where they would put up much better resistance against the Swedes than the Nostalgie mix previously. Even though they still lost 12-16 in the upper bracket final and 10-16 in the grand final, they seemed to be closer than anyone before to the invincible Ninjas.
"NiP know almost everything there is to know about CS:GO, but as we have seen in the last big LAN tournaments they have had some difficult situations. This has happened more often in the last two or three months. I think they will soon lose because every streak ends someday, but they are still great now." – Stolyarov in a pre-Cph Games interview with HLTV.org
A week later Virtus.pro traveled to Copenhagen Games where they made it to the upper bracket final after wins over ESC, Western Wolves and Quantic, and even though they didn't break NiP's streak there, they gave them an even better fight than in Moscow (13-16, 11-16).
Even though they then ended up losing to Western Wolves in the consolidation final which made them finish 3rd, Virtus.pro had proven themselves as a top team and it was in big part thanks to Stolyarov's performance.
Virtus.pro at Copenhagen Games
He ended up being one of the best players of the entire event (1.22 rating) thanks to doing well in every match, including the one against NiP (43:36, 1.15 rating). With 342 total kills he was second only to Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg, and he had also won 11 clutch rounds.
With only three days of rest before their next event, SLTV StarSeries V Finals, Virtus.pro and NiP traveled to Kiev, Ukraine. The Swedes were on an 87-0 map winning streak by the time they reached the upper bracket final, but Virtus would not let them prolong it any further and Stolyarov would fulfill his own prediction, as they won 16-14, 16-10 to become the first team ever to defeat the Ninjas on LAN.
They even proved that it was no fluke by beating them in the grand final two days later (19-15, 16-14), as the Swedish fairytale finally ended and the legend of Virtus was made. Once again the main protagonist in their success was none other than the younger of Stolyarov brothers, putting in an MVP-worthy performance with a 1.18 rating and another set of great displays against NiP.
"The [best memory of the year] was victory over NiP 5-0 in the finals of Starladder. We were the ones who stopped them at that moment."
But after their big success, Virtus.pro didn't build on it, missing out on RaidCall EMS One Spring Finals due to not even attempting to qualify, and also on ESEA Season 13 Global Finals due to visa problems. After an inactive period until the end of May, they returned to action in RC EMS One Summer cups with some mediocre results.
Not long after, Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev announced that he would be unable to attend and practice for the next few events due to participating in Asian Cyber Games, so Virtus.pro called upon the best free agent available at that moment, Slovakian AWPer Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács.
Dosia continued with his great form at DreamHack Summer
Two weeks later, they had their first test with the new lineup at DreamHack Summer, and even though the start was rocky, they managed to top their group ahead of ESC Gaming after one of the biggest comebacks of the year (from 4-13 to 16-14).
Virtus.pro then beat Marcus "Delpan" Larsson's Lemondogs in the quarter-final, and then met NiP for the first time since their victory in Kiev two months earlier. This time they weren't so successful, losing 6-16, 9-16, but Stolyarov continued performing great even in this 3rd-4th place campaign, once again with team-best 1.22 rating in the tournament.
He would once again play great against the Ninjas two weeks later at RC EMS One Summer Finals, where now Virtus.pro managed to come back from a map down and defeat the Swedes (11-16, 16-11, 16-14). Stolyarov did great in both map-wins, which would later, combined with his previous performances, earn him a nickname "NiP killer".
"It is easy to play against NiP for me - they like to play on aim and that's what I love to do too."
Virtus, however, lost the final to VeryGames (8-16, 11-16) and finished in 2nd place, but they showed that even after the lineup change they are able to handle NiP.
"NiP killer" was at it again at RC EMS One Summer Finals
But the rivalry with the Swedes would once again turn around a week later at SLTV StarSeries VI Finals. Even though Virtus.pro were just about to clinch their third victory in the last four meetings, the Ninjas made a big comeback from 15-5 to win the third map on overtime (16-9, 10-16, 17-19) and advance to the grand final instead of their nemesis.
It was a crushing blow for Virtus who ended up losing to Natus Vincere as well (19-16, 5-16, 14-16), finishing 3rd in what would turn out being the last event for the team.
At the end of August Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow and Stolyarov decided to accept an offer from Astana Dragons, creating a new team together with their old teammate Kystaubayev, as well as two Na`Vi members Yegor "markeloff" Markelov and Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev.
"The time playing with Guardian was great - he is one of the best snipers in the world and he did lots of important frags. There was a potential [in that lineup] for sure.
I was discussing [the move to Astana] with ANGE1 for a long time, as we both had to make a decision and we made it." – on the time with GuardiaN in the lineup and his and ANGE1's departure for Astana
With the creation of the new team, Stolyarov was also for the first time in a long while about to play without his older brother, Sergey "Fox".
"In fact our views on the game were different, we often argued over something, even more often than the rest of the team did. But still I was very pleased to play with my brother and his level of play was very high."
The new team had a very rough start, losing several online matches - to fnatic in Mad Catz Cologne, to ALTERNATE in the SLTV StarSeries VII opener and also failing to go past the group stage of MSI Beat it European Finals.
But before their big debut at DreamHack Bucharest they did manage to take down fnatic on LAN at TECHLABS Cup Kiev, so they came to Romania with at least some positives to draw from.
In Romania they finished in 3rd-4th place, which for a team that was built to become the best in the world wasn't enough, but at the same time it wasn't a disappointing performance either. They made it to the semi-final with ease, and there met NiP for the first time with the new roster. Even though the Swedes came out on top eventually (10-16, 16-12, 8-16), it was a decent battle and it showed that Astana have potential.
Astana Dragons after the battle with NiP on the stage in Bucharest
Stolyarov was of course the best in that one map-win against the Swedes, and although Markelov and Kystaubayev had a better tournament overall, he was also good with a 1.11 rating.
Astana would go one step further at SLTV StarSeries VII Finals, defeating NiP for the first time (7-16, 16-12, 22-20) and reaching their first grand final. However, VeryGames would outplay Stolyarov's team once again in the match for the title (12-16, 9-16).
Stolyarov himself did great in most of the matches, and as usual was one of the best players against NiP (68:57, 1.10 rating), but he underperformed in both series against VeryGames which made him end up with a below average 0.98 rating for the tournament.
He would be back in top shape at ESWC, even though the team itself wasn't, as they lost to Clan-Mystik in the semi-final (12-16, 16-14, 7-16). They did manage to defeat NiP once again though, in the 3rd place decider, and Stolyarov again top fragged in the series (53:34, 1.43 rating). Not only that, but he was one of the best players in the whole tournament, having the 3rd most kills per round (0.83) and a 1.22 rating.
Astana beat NiP again at ESWC with Dosia on top of the scoreboard
But the lack of titles was worrisome for the CIS-based squad, and after ESWC they tracked down the problem. Sukhariev was removed due to lack of teamplay to make place for Emil "kucher" Akhundov, another former teammate of Stolyarov's, which almost recreating the old lineup which now contained four of the Virtus.pro players from the start of the year.
"We made one mistake: instead of keeping the Virtus.pro gamestyle we changed a lot - positions, tactics, etc - so we didn’t have enough time to adapt to all the changes and get used to the new playstyle."
The first event after the lineup change went great, Astana won TECHLABS Grand Finals ahead of Na`Vi and Universal Soldiers and it seemed they had fixed what wasn't working before. But then they would falter at the biggest event of the year, DreamHack Winter.
After struggling in the group stage, where they lost to Copenhagen Wolves and then had to make a big comeback against Reason Gaming in order to go through, Astana met compLexity in the quarter-final. The North Americans didn't seem to pose a problem on the first map, but then they turned the tables and won the last two (16-9, 7-16, 12-16), knocking out Stolyarov & co. in 5th-8th place.
They disappointed even more in their last event of the year, SLTV StarSeries VIII Finals at which they arrived as the main favorites, losing to Serbian team GamePub (6-16, 11-16) and then the new lineup of Natus Vincere strengthened by two of Stolyarov's former teammates Kovács and Sukhariev (21-17, 13-16, 11-16).
Ace against GamePub in the last event of the year
Stolyarov's form dropped in the last few events, as he only had a 1.01 rating at DH Winter and 0.90 at the StarSeries Finals, but he was still alwasy around team average.
As it would later come out, the squad was hit with problems within the organization in the last few months, and near the end of the year they announced their departure from Astana Dragons.
As of now, the lineup is still together and without a new home, and with a secured slot at EMS One Katowice they will not be parting ways any time soon. Stolyarov himself has high ambitions for 2014.
"Personally I would like to become the best player of the year in 2014, because being the best player of the year means that the team had to win a lot of titles. For now, our main goal is the Katowice event and we are preparing for it." – about goals and plans for 2014
"As a matter of fact I learned a lot [in 2013] and I'm still learning something new as the game is still young and needs to be studied."
Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov played at a very high level for the most part of the year, especially during his time in Virtus.pro, but also in Astana Dragons. Aside from his MVP performance at SLTV StarSeries V Finals when Virtus became the first team to defeat NiP, he played great at numerous other big events where his teams finished in the top three, including Copenhagen Games, DreamHack Summer, RC EMS One Summer and ESWC.
Additionally, he shined in a number of big matches, especially against Ninjas in Pyjamas, leading his teams to win against the Swedes on no less than five occasions.
Despite the last few events that saw him slightly underperform, he was one of the most consistent players for the rest of the year. Only six players had a rating above 1.00 more often than his 64%, three of which are ranked below him and have less team success overall.
But more importantly, no player has won more clutch rounds than Stolyarov's 46 in the whole 2013, and with all that in mind, he was placed at the 4th position of our ranking.
Stolyarov was one of the more bold players in their prediction, siding with his former teammate Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács in seeing a bright future for the Slovakian 17-year-old Martin "styko" Styk.
Martin "styko" Styk
"I didn't see many of his games, but in the ones I did see he showed very strong performances. He definitely has a big future if he keeps playing."
What do you remember from Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov's performance in 2013? Did he play well enough to be at this position?
Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned to our Top 20 of 2013 by eSportsventure.com to see who will fill up the top three places.