Number 13 on our Top 20 players of 2014 ranking by Xtrfy, Paweł "byali" Bieliński, was a big reason for Virtus.pro's tremendous triumph at the EMS One Katowice. He ended up being one of the best players at the majors and he was one of the most consistent contributors throughout the year.
After playing CS 1.6 for a few years at a low level, Paweł "byali" Bieliński started matching up against Poland's best teams as an 18-year-old in 2012 with a team called BoomSlave.
He didn't turn any heads until CS:GO came around and he joined a team called GF-Gaming - together with Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski and a few other players who were looking to break through in the local scene dominated by the team of Polish legends Filip "NEO" Kubski and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas.
Their first notable event was EIZO Challenge in March 2013 where they finished third behind the Golden5 squad and MaxFloPlay, while byali turned some heads as the team's best - even in the clash with ESC.
The first international event for byali came in July when GF-Gaming attended Prague Challenge and eventually lost to the champions Nostalgie in the quarter-final. He once again played well, which eventually put him on ESC's radar when they ended up looking for fresh talent.
They became Universal Soldiers and attended RaidCall EMS One Fall Finals, Techlabs Cup Finals and DreamHack Winter, without any big success. byali didn't excel at those events, but he gathered valuable experience and soon proved himself at SLTV StarSeries VIII Finals as his now organization-less squad AGAiN won their first title by beating Na`Vi.
At the end of 2013 the first major tournament of the next year was announced, scheduled to take place in Katowice, Poland. byali & co. set their sights on winning this event on their home soil and started preparing for it months ahead.
In late January they finally found an organization to represent – Virtus.pro. But there was still the matter of qualifying for EMS One Katowice as their performance at the previous major saw them exit in the group stage behind NiP and Kenny "kennyS" Schrub's Recursive.
Going through the qualifier turned out being an easy task, as they beat Swedish-Norwegian mix GreyFace and Germans ALTERNATE with 2-0 scores to secure the spot.
byali's first tournament of the year was EMS One Katowice
They went into the major tournament as one of the favorites despite not achieving any big success previously, but everyone expected them to elevate their level of play on this occasion.
And they didn't disappoint – beating HellRaisers 19-16 at the start and then the big favorites Titan 16-7 to top their group. byali was already doing great, and he even got a pistol ace against the Frenchmen, but he then stepped up even more against LDLC in the quarter-final.
As Virtus.pro strolled past the next French team in line, byali put up a 53:21 score in the series (1.81 rating). He was particularly exceptional on the first map where he had a kill, assist or survived all 19 of the rounds and ended up with a 30:9 score and 7 assists (2.27 rating, VOD).
He continued playing well in the LGB semi-final and was one of the team's best on the third and deciding map (24:16, 1.37 rating).
Then came the long awaited grand final on the big stage against none other than NiP – and the Poles brought huge joy to their fans. They won relatively comfortably 16-9, 16-10 and byali's play was once again one of the key factors.
He was the team's best on the first map with 25:12 (1.63 rating) and he ended up contributing in 82% of the rounds in the entire series.
byali's POV in the EMS One Katowice grand final vs. NiP
In the end he was the third highest rated player of the tournament with an impressive 1.31 rating, and while in most cases that would be enough to be considered the MVP, this time his teammate pashaBiceps was better.
Nevertheless, byali was one of the very best in Katowice, getting a kill in 55% of the rounds and contributing with a kill, assist or by surviving in 76.2% rounds – the most anyone ever had at a major, and second most anyone had in 2014.
After climbing to the top of the world, Virtus.pro's task was now staying there and that didn't turn out to be so easy.
They did prove at their next event, Copenhagen Games, that their performance wasn't just powered by playing on their home soil as they made it to the final once again. However, this time Ninjas in Pyjamas bested them despite the Poles getting the first map (16-12, 6-16, 13-16).
Even though he wasn't the star of any match, the still 19-year-old byali was again one of the most impressive players of the tournament. He had the team's 2nd highest rating of 1.17 and was contributing very consistently, once again topping the tournament board with 73.6% of rounds with a kill, assist or survival. That earned him a place in our All-Star team.
But at the next event Virtus.pro attended he wasn't in the same shape and they didn't perform as well, losing to both Titan and NiP to finish fourth out of four teams at SLTV StarSeries IX Finals.
While in the first two events byali was one of the hardest to kill (under 0.60 deaths per round), this time he had 0.76 DPR as he failed to contribute consistently, ending up with a 0.90 rating.
Nevertheless, in the short time after being given the chance, the youngster had together with the other new face in the Polish squad, Snax, proven that he can play with the very best.
The rise of byali & Snax
byali actually had the highest rating of the entire tournament and his highest of the year (1.37), but even his amazing play against Na`Vi was of little use.
He did play great in the group stage too - in wins over London Conspiracy and especially over SK (25:16, 6 assists, POV).
A couple of weeks later byali went on his first overseas trip to ESEA Season 16 Finals in Dallas, Texas, but even though the Poles beat NiP and Na`Vi and made it to top three, he was somewhat underwhelming.
It wasn't a bad performance by the now 20-year-old, as he still contributed in an above average 66% of the rounds, but he failed to make a big impact in most of the matches and ended up as the team's lowest rated (0.95).
In July we released the second edition of our world ranking and Virtus.pro found themselves in 2nd place trailing only NiP.
Despite a few shaky performances Virtus.pro were still #2 in the world in July
It didn't seem to help at all at first, as they lost to mousesports and dignitas and drew against Titan in the group stage. They still made it out of the group thanks to beating the other two teams, ESG and fm-eSports, but they looked wounded even in the quarter-final against London Conspiracy where they lost the first map.
byali was unimpressive and underperforming as they lost maps until that point in the tournament, but he woke up during the semi-final against dignitas.
Virtus.pro once again found themselves down after the first map vs. the hot Danes, but they somehow managed to turn it around and advance to the final. Despite not making a lot of direct impact, byali contributed in the most rounds of the series (73%), especially on the third map where he had a kill, assist or survival in all 16 of their round wins (23:13, 1.29 rating, POV).
He then did even better in the final where he was the team's best (45:28, 1.40 rating), putting in a Man of the Match performance on the first map with a 26:11 score (1.80 rating, a kill in 80% of rounds, POV).
byali showed up when it mattered at Gfinity 3
Since he underperformed in the earlier parts of the tournament, byali ended up with just a 1.04 rating, but he was still one of the best players of the event thanks to his contribution in the two most important matches.
But even though they grabbed their second title of the year, it was no time for celebration in the Virtus.pro camp, as the next major was only two weeks ahead.
They looked good in the group stage of ESL One Cologne, even in the overtime loss against the new fnatic squad, as they demolished dAT and iBUYPOWER to advance to the playoffs. However, they were then eliminated by Dan "apEX" Madesclaire's LDLC after two close maps.
He ended up with another 1.04 rating, 3rd in the team, but he once again contributed in team-highest 71.6% of rounds making it a solid second major on an individual level.
Their next LAN event wasn't until a month and a half later, Game Show League Finals, but they had to attend it without pashaBiceps. With byali's former teammate Michał "MICHU" Müller as a stand-in they ended up losing to Na`Vi and HellRaisers to finish 3rd.
Although he had one of his less impactful events with a 0.93 rating, byali once again contributed in the most rounds for his team – 65.9%. Interestingly, all three occasions of the eight maps where he had a rating above 1.00 were on Mirage.
Despite pashaBiceps's return at the FACEIT Season 2 Finals, Virtus.pro again didn't make it to the final. In fact, they only won one of the six maps they played there, losing to LDLC twice and Cloud9 once, and then 0-2 to fnatic in the semi-final.
4 kills with a 1vs2 against fnatic in teh FACEIT S2 semi-final
Nevertheless, byali was still the team's most consistent contributor per usual, although this time in a below average 61.1% rounds. Considering the team's play and the amount of losses, his 0.97 rating ended up being 14% above team average and 2nd best in the team.
Virtus.pro ended up with the same fate at ESWC - a loss to fnatic in the semi-final - although this time they had a better run overall by beating LDLC in the group stage and dignitas in the quarter-final, and eventually Na`Vi in the third place decider.
byali was his usual consistent self, contributing in team-high 71.6% of rounds and having a rating above 1.00 in 11 of the 13 maps, but not standing out much except in the first map of the third place decider (27:14, 1.59 rating, T-side POV).
They added another third place finish at Fragbite Masters Season 3 Finals, which they had to attend without Snax who fell ill just prior to the trip. With Jacek "MINISE" Jeziak as a stand-in they once again couldn't put up a fight against fnatic and they also got annihilated by LDLC on the second and third map of the upper final (16-9, 5-16, 0-16).
The whole team performed badly at this event and byali had his only terrible performance of the year – a 0.65 rating with just 0.49 kills per round. Interestingly, even on this occasion he was still the team's top contributor in a well below average 56.6% of rounds.
It was not an encouraging outing ahead of the last major which was two weeks away, but come DreamHack Winter the Poles were back in top shape.
In the group stage they demolished myXMG and Na`Vi with 16-2 scorelines and then eased past PENTA in the quarter-final. They almost looked as good as in Katowice, but then the semi-final against NiP happened.
Virtus.pro were ready for the last major, but it wasn't enough
The Poles lost the first map on double overtime after having a 15-7 advantage, and after evening out the series they lost the third map 8-16.
byali once again elevated his play at a major, doing well in every single map but again not standing out too much in any of the matches.
He ended up with a great 1.14 rating and yet again contributed in team-highest, and event's second highest, 71.7% of rounds.
In the last big event of the year, Virtus traveled to Texas again for the ESEA Season 17 Finals. It looked like they were going to win the whole thing, defeating fnatic in the upper final for the first time, but then the Swedes emerged from the lower bracket and won two Bo3 series against the Poles to snatch the title away.
byali looked good in the match against iBUYPOWER (top fragger of the series with 73:66) and the fnatic win (47:33), but he didn't excel in the grand final where he scored only 0.57 kills per round and had a 0.82 rating.
Overall, he had an average performance at the tournament with a 0.97 rating while contributing in still above average 64.5% of rounds.
Virtus.pro in the end failed to qualify for MLG X-Games Aspen due to a loss to dignitas, but they did manage to win a smaller event in Germany, Acer A-Split Invitational, where byali was the MVP.
Paweł "byali" Bieliński was one of the best players in the world during the first half of 2014 when he had a number of world-class performances, but his form slightly fell off in the second half of the year. He still showed great consistency by only having one really bad event the whole year, and he was almost always his team's biggest contributor on a per round basis.
And while byali was rarely the star of Virtus.pro, he helped them immensely on the way to winning two titles -- EMS One Katowice, Gfinity 3, finishing second at Copenhagen Games and ESEA Season 17, and third on six occasions – ESEA Season 16, Game Show League, FACEIT Season 2, ESWC, Fragbite Masters 3 and finally DreamHack Winter.
Moreover, his performance at the first major, EMS One Katowice, was one of the best yet at the $250,000 events, and he also played very well at the other two – ending up with the 5th highest rating in the majors of 1.20.
In fact, he was by far the most consistent contributor in those events, having a kill, assist or surviving in 73.6% of the rounds, something that he was great in during other tournaments as well – 67.7% overall in 2014 (6th).
byali's consintent contribution is hard to match
Gfinity 3 was another notable event where despite starting poorly, byali woke up in the semi-final and helped his team turn their fate around while putting in a Man of the Match performance in the final.
He was also one of the very best players of Copenhagen Games, and had a notable performance in 6 of his other 10 events.
Interestingly he was one of a handful of players who had more entry kills than deaths on the T-side (0.09 entry kills with a 53% success rate), but as he only took part in a below average 17.4% of the entry duels he cannot be considered one of the best in that area.
But he can be considered one of the best overall aimers in the game, having the 6th highest headshot percentage (50.5%) and 10th most headshots per round (0.36).
Lastly, the stats also show that de_mirage is his favorite playground as he was the third highest rated on that map (1.20).
What is your take on Paweł "byali" Bieliński's performance in 2014? Was it enough to earn a place in the Top 20? Should he have been higher?