Top 20 players of 2014: Snax (4)
The best clutcher of the year, Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski takes the 4th place on our Top 20 players of 2014 ranking presented by Xtrfy. He was also the MVP of Gfinity 3, one of the best players at the majors and one of the best in big matches.
Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski started playing Counter Strike 1.6 at a very young age, around 2006 when he was only 13 years old.
When he got slightly older he started rising through Poland's ranks and was soon considered one of the most talented youngsters in the local scene.
In 2010 he finally made it to the Polish national team, where he got to play with the legends Filip "NEO" Kubski, Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas and others. Ever since those times he was on the radar of the Golden Five members, but he had to pave his own way for years to come.
His CS 1.6 teams never amounted to any success outside of getting a podium finish at local events, but he did become a starting member of the national squad in 2011 and 2012.
Snax was also involved in a scandal in September 2011 when he was handed an ESL ban for cheating, which was removed around 6 months later following his participation in the "ESL rehabilitation program".
They made their name as GF-Gaming at local events where they were sometimes able to put up a solid fight against the country's best - then ESC, and eventually at Prague Challenge where the team reached quarter-finals following some star-level play by Snax himself.
When the day finally came and NEO and TaZ were looking for fresh blood, Snax was at the top of the recruit list. Eventually he joined them in October together with byali and they went on to win SLTV StarSeries VIII at the end of the year.
When the calendar turned to 2014 Snax was in midst of heavy preparations for the upcoming major, EMS One Katowice, which was three and a half months away.
At the end of January the team finally found a home in Virtus.pro after being organization-less for a few months.
Despite previously never having put up any big wins, and even exiting in the group stage at DreamHack Winter, many teams considered the Poles one of the favorites going into Katowice, partly due to the home field factor, but mainly because of what they displayed in practice against the world's best.
When the time finally came mid-March, Virtus.pro were more prepared than ever, and it showed in their results right away.
They defeated HellRaisers 19-16 in the opening match, and then destroyed one of the favorites Titan to top their group.
The team looked invincible even in the playoffs, making light work of LDLC and then moving past LGB despite losing the second map. The grand final pitted them against NiP, and in a spectacle in front of thousands of their fans Virtus won the first major of the year.
Snax with the EMS One Katowice trophy
Snax got the first big trophy of his career, and he contributed plenty on the way. After a slightly shaky start against HR, he played well in every match after, starting with a MotM performance in the 16-7 win over Titan (24:14, 1.65 rating, 7 entry kills, POV).
After two solid series against LDLC and LGB, he stepped up even more in the final at the biggest of stages.
In the NiP match he scored a kill in an incredible 37 of 51 rounds (73%) and had an entry score of 10:1. He ended the series as the top fragger with 58:26 (1.60 rating, map 1 POV, map 2 POV) and had one of the best actions of the year during the first map:
Snax's big play during the EMS One Katowice grand final
At the end of the event he had a 1.20 rating, third best in the team, while contributing in 71.5% of rounds with a kill, assist or by surviving, and most importantly winning 7 clutch rounds (five 1-on-1s and two 1-on-2s).
After their grand triumph on local soil, Virtus.pro had to prove themselves at a neutral ground in order to be considered the best in the world. They had a chance to do that at Copenhagen Games, and they nearly took it.
They ended up having the same opponents in the playoffs, making it past LGB and LDLC on the way to the final, but then in the repeat of the last match they lost to NiP despite taking the first map.
Nevertheless, the Poles had displayed world-class play once again, while Snax showed he can hang with the very best anywhere.
He was again third in the team with a 1.16 rating while contributing in 70.1% of rounds and playing well in all matches, including the grand final (4K in a pistol round on the third map).
However, following the two podium finishes the team fell off to fourth place at their third event, SLTV StarSeries IX Finals.
Despite that Snax still had a good display, especially showing his clutching prowess again with four 1-on-X situations won, including a 1-on-5:
1vs5 against Titan at SLTV StarSeries IX Finals
He continued his good form at DreamHack Summer, but the team's results still went in a downward trajectory – this time they finished 5th-8th following a loss to Natus Vincere in the quarter-final.
ESEA Season 16 Global Finals was their next event only a couple of weeks later, but a personal matter initially prevented Snax to travel with the team.
He ended up joining them after all, but the team lost to iBUYPOWER already in the upper semi-final. They met NiP in the lower bracket right away and helped by some good play from Snax (65:51, 1.19 rating) they made it past the Swedes after three maps.
Virtus.pro defeated Na`Vi as well and made it to the consolidation final against compLexity. Snax had a great first map against the North Americans, leading the team to a 16-11 victory on Cache with a 26:13 performance (1.49 rating, POV). But the Poles just had no answer to the spectacular play of Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert on the other side during the second and third map, so they ended up in 3rd place
Snax had another good display overall with a 1.08 rating, second best in the team, and he was their most consistent contributor (67% of rounds).
Taking over as the main star in the team at Gfinity 3
After a month of contemplating their results, Virtus.pro decided to give the eldest member of the team, TaZ, the in-game leader role for their next outing at Gfinity 3.
It didn't look any better at the start of the UK event, as the Poles lost to dignitas, drew against Titan and even lost to mousesports to advance only in 3rd place from their group.
Despite their shaky results Snax was in great form, having a 1.24 rating during those five opening matches. He didn't relent in the playoffs when the going got tougher either, putting in great performances in the comeback against LC, and especially in the unlikely comeback against dignitas in the semi-final.
He played great in the deciding map as well, and also in the grand final against Titan where he was the Man of the Match of the second map (24:17, 1.41 rating, 6 entry kills).
Ace vs. Titan in the grand final of Gfinity 3
He ended up with a 1.24 rating for the tournament, his career high until that point, and he contributed with a kill, assist or by surviving in an incredible 93% of Virtus.pro's round wins, making him their MVP and the MVP of the tournament.
It was a great intro for the upcoming major, ESL One Cologne, which was only two weeks away. Snax continued dominating in the group stage in Germany, putting up amazing numbers in wins over dAT (29:12, 1.90 rating, POV) and iBUYPOWER (23:6, 1.98 rating, POV), as well in the match that slipped away against fnatic.
However, despite meeting their regular customers from earlier in the year – LDLC – in the quarter-final, Virtus.pro lost two close maps and ended their title defense attempt too early.
Snax was the key to the rounds they managed to win in that series against LDLC, but on the other hand he also failed to contribute consistently, only scoring 0.57 kills per round.
Overall, it was another great performance at a major for the young Pole who recorded his new career high 1.27 rating.
Their next event wasn't until the start of October when they attended Game Show League Finals, although they went to Russia without Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski who was unable to travel and with Michał "MICHU" Müller as a stand-in.
Snax had his only bad performance of the year there, making very little impact in their losses against Natus Vincere and HellRaisers and ending up with team-low 0.91 rating for the tournament.
With a 3rd place finish in Moscow they went to FACEIT Season 2 Finals and came back with another similar performance, barely making it through to the playoffs and then losing to fnatic in the semi-final.
Snax fought hard at FACEIT Season 2 Finals but it wasn't enough
Snax was the one putting up the most resistance during this campaign which saw them get one map win and suffer five losses, and he ended up with team high 1.06 rating.
ESWC brought on some better matches from the Poles, although they had to count on LDLC to beat Cloud9 in order to even progress from the group.
They then knocked out dignitas in the quarter-final, but once again lost to fnatic, who had started becoming an enigma for the Poles ever since Cologne.
Snax played well against dignitas, contributing in 71% of rounds, and then he even played great against the Swedes, having 0.82 kills per round and contributing in 73% of them.
With another great display against Na`Vi in the third place decider, he ended up being the team's highest rated player at this event too (1.17 rating), although he wasn't the most impactful one in the rounds they won.
Virtus.pro next attended Fragbite Masters 3 Finals, although without Snax who fell ill and had to miss out. With his former teammate MINISE as the replacement, the Poles notched in yet another third place finish.
The team was complete again for the last major of the year, DreamHack Winter, and Snax was in top shape just like at the previous two.
After a relatively easy series against PENTA, Virtus then met NiP in the semi-final. Snax once again played great in a big match, even having an amazing second map performance to tie the series (27:11, 1.67 rating, POV), but the Poles couldn't get past the obstacle, so they again finished in 3rd-4th place.
Snax's POV from the DH Winter semi-final against NiP
Snax actually ended up as the top rated player of the entire event with a 1.29 rating, completing all three majors with a 1.20+ rating.
The last event of the year for Virtus.pro was ESEA Season 17 Global Finals. They edged out iBUYPOWER in the opening match after triple overtime on the deciding map, while Snax was the Man of the Match of that battle – 42:30 (1.29 rating, 8:2 entry score, VOD).
Then they also defeated Cloud9 after another third map Man of the Match performance by Snax (26:14, 1.52 rating, VOD), and for the first time also fnatic in the upper bracket final, although without much impact from him on that occasion.
But fnatic fought through the lower bracket and came back for vengeance, which despite great play from Snax this time, they managed to get in four straight maps.
He had a 1.06 rating in the series as the only one above average in the team, while particularly excelling on the third map where he had a 30:21 score and 10 entry kills, including 9 in one period (VOD).
He ended the tournament with a 1.07 rating as the team's best, but they were once again unable to claim a title despite coming closer than in any of the occasions in the prior months.
Why is he the 4th best player of 2014?
Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski was probably the main breakout star of the year, as he came into it with a lot of questions above his head as one of the two new faces among the Polish legends. However, right from the start he proved that he belongs at the very top and that he can take on the very best.
Although he started as only the third best player in the team, he turned into Virtus.pro's main star during the second half of the year. He only had one bad event, which was the smallest one the team attended, while he excelled at the biggest stage – at the majors.
With a 1.24 rating he ranks third among those who took part in at least two of the $250,000 events. Although, he only managed to win one – EMS One Katowice, get to the semi-final of DH Winter and quarter-final of ESL One Cologne.
Outside of the majors he put in an MVP worthy performance during his team's only other title run – at Gfinity 3, while he was also Virtus' best during numerous second or third place runs.
Snax was the best clutcher of the year
Another reason why he is so high on the list is that he was the best clutcher of the year, with a total of 50 clutches won (1-on-X situations), or one per every 56 rounds, ranking first in both average and total.
He also ranks 4th in "big match" rating (1.10) among those who played over 20 maps, and was one of the most consistent contributors overall (67.8% of rounds with a kill, assist or survival, ranks 5th).
In the end he was definitely one of the best players of the year, but he wasn't the one contributing the most to his team's success after all. Still, as the best clutcher of the year and one of the best players in big matches and big tournaments he is ranked 4th.
What is your take on Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski's performance in 2014? Is the 4th place the right one for him?