Kicking our top 5 off is the Polish beast Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski, extending his top 5 appearances to three in a row in HLTV’s top 20 rankings. The Virtus.pro player earned two MVP and two EVP awards en route to the 5th place on our list this year.
Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski has been around since the days of 1.6, playing in some of the top Polish teams like Universal Soliders, DELTA, and MaxFloPlay. It wasn’t until CS:GO came around, though, that Snax was able to make a big leap in his career and join Poland’s elite.
Snax and Paweł "byali" Bieliński played for GF Gaming in early 2013 where the duo started catch people’s eyes. When Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, Filip "NEO" Kubski, and Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski decided to cut Jakub "kuben" Gurczynski and Mariusz "Loord" Cybulski from the team, two slots in Poland’s top team became available. With pashaBiceps also on the balance, the future of the Polish legends was uncertain.
Snax from GF-Gaming
Snax during his time in GF Gaming
Snax was immediately called to try out for the team with Bartosz "Hyper" Wolny and a revolving group of players. During that time, pashaBiceps confirmed he would stay in the team and eventually the ex-ESC team confirmed the signing of Snax as well as that of his ex-GF Gaming teammate byali, who they had been playing with for several weeks.
Under the Universal Soldiers banner, Snax went on to show his worth at the first CS:GO Major—DreamHack Winter 2013. There, Universal Soldiers got eliminated in the group stages after painfully allowing Recursive to come back from a 3-12 deficit at the half to win it 16-13 in one of the most agonizing comebacks at a Major. Snax dropped 28 frags and had a 1.35 rating that match, and a 1.22 rating at the event.
"Playing together for over three years now is easy for us because we know each other. We’ve been playing a long time together, but we still need to practice as much as always because if not it’s easy for the rest of the teams to get ahead."
Virtus.pro were the first team to win a Major in 2014 at EMS One Katowice, on home soil. With 50 clutch rounds won that year, the highest number out of any player, Snax kept showing he was one of the best in the game, and was named number four on our top 20 ranking that year.
In 2015, Snax was once again named the fourth best player of the year per our rankings. Then, Snax had the fourth highest rating at Majors, fourth best opening kill-death difference, and was the third best rated player in grand finals. With two semifinals and one quarterfinal at the Majors, Virtus.pro remained a team always present on the biggest stages.
"I think it’s all about your mind, what you have in your head. You just need to be focused all the time, and you just need to practice. That’s all."
Snax had a slow start in 2016. His first event, DreamHack Leipzig, was his worst—by far. At that event, Virtus.pro went out in last place and Snax ended with a 0.78 rating (#4 in the team) and 64.5 ADR.
IEM Katowice went a little bit better, but not much. Virtus.pro ended in 5-6th place and Snax had a 0.94 rating. Not anywhere near the way he’d end up playing later in the year, but already an improvement.
"We are not like a lot of other teams. Three of our guys have children now, if we include Kuben, and they need to be home. They need to see their wives and families. For us it’s harder because of that. We played a lot of tournaments the last years, so we ended up a bit exhausted.
"The time I was most disappointed this year was during our first three months. That was our worst period in our whole time as a team.
"You could really tell we took a break between September and January, and were not playing as much. We lost our plow mode, you know, the feeling for the game. We just needed to come back into the game, and once we got back in, we were able to plow again."
The third event of the year for Virtus.pro was Counter Pit League Season 2. The tournament in Croatia marked the beginning of an incredibly strong run of events for Snax which would pretty much last all the way to the end of the year. In Split, Virtus.pro made it to the semifinals and Snax was awarded his first EVP of the season after ending the tournament with a 1.19 rating, 1.34 impact, and 90.5 ADR.
Next up for Snax was MLG Columbus, the first Major of 2016. While Virtus.pro were unable to make it past the quarterfinals at the Nationwide Arena, Snax ended with a respectable 1.07 rating and 82.5 ADR, and the team had assured a place at ESL One Cologne later on.
DreamHack Masters Malmö, the first event of its kind, came quick after the Columbus Major. While his team crashed out of Masters in 5-8th place, and only byali was able to have a rating over 1.00 out of his teammates, Snax was on the war path with a 1.34 rating and a stunning 97.3 ADR in 4 maps—two of which he was the PotM in.
CEVO, which had been a staple tournament for the Poles—they had won Seasons 7 and 8 in 2015—, didn’t go as well as in the past for Virtus.pro. There, the Polish side was able to get another top 4 finish. For Snax, a 1.09 rating was the silence before the storm.
At StarLadder’s first Invitational, Snax went HAM, ending the tournament with a 1.22 rating, 84.8 ADR, 1.34 impact, three PotM performances, and after propelling his team to the first place in the tournament he was given the MVP award.
After two beastly performances came the second Major of the year, ESL One Cologne. On the shores of the Rhine, Snax had a much more quiet performance. With a 1.04 rating by the end of the event, he was the highest on his team and was crucial in getting Virtus.pro to the semifinals.
Coming back to Atlanta after the Major, where they had been just a few weeks prior playing the group stages of ELEAGUE, Virtus.pro went on an incredible run which lasted several weeks from the Last Chance Qualifier to the grand final. Throughout the 20 maps that Virtus.pro played there, Snax got a 1.20 rating, with 81.8 ADR, and 1.31 impact. Snax also managed to be recognized seven times as PotM on his way to earning his second MVP award of the season.
"It was hard because we had to fly out to Atlanta, then play the Major in Cologne, and then fly back, getting jet lagged twice. Although we finally adapted to the time and even to living there, since we were there for like thirty days.
"ELEAGUE was definitely the best tournament for me. I played very well there, especially in the playoffs. I was even calling on Dust2 vs. NiP, and we did very well against them. They were surprised with what we were doing. Yeah, ELEAGUE Season 1 was the best memory of the year."
SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 was something Virtus.pro were eager to forget the second they lost their second map. Snax was the second best rated player with a 0.91 rating in the two maps the team played before their 13-16th place exit.
For the last four events of the season Snax and Virtus.pro got back on track and were able to score some decent results, starting at DreamHack Bucharest. Virtus.pro claimed the trophy in Romania, and despite a 1.10 rating, Snax was only the fourth best rated player on the team.
At ESL One New York, Snax was named an EVP for the second time this season. Virtus.pro went on a run all the way to the final but were eventually beaten by Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and his Natus Vincere. Snax was the second highest rated player on his team with a 1.09.
At EPICENTER: Moscow, Virtus.pro were once again able to make it all the way to the finals, but there they were upset by a youthful dignitas full of poise. Snax didn’t have the best rating, with a 1.01 (#2 in team).
"Individually I want to start playing more [as a goal for 2017]. Really, I’m so lazy! I’m not playing as much as I should. I need to play more to become much better, I know I can do it!
"As far as the team goes, I want to win every tournament. My goal is to win everything and have the whole team play very well."
Why is he the 5th best player of 2016?
Snax was one of only four players to get two MVP awards this season. On top of that, he was also able to get two EVPs as well. One of the ways he was able to get those was by rarely having a bad game (rating above 0.85 in 84% of his maps). He was also the fourth player with most PotM selections (23).
This year, Snax increased the amount of use he gave to his AWP which made him one of the best all-around players in the world. By the end of the year he ranked 14th in AWP kills per round (0.27), and he was particularly impactful with it as Virtus.pro won 79% (#2) of rounds when he got at least one AWP kill.
"Actually, I don’t feel like I do the most or I’m the best, it depends on the year. Like in 2014 I was the best clutcher and in 2015 I was the best entry-killer, so… It doesn’t matter. Now I’m playing the AWP a lot more, and like I said, it’s about what we need. If I need to adapt to playing with the AWP, I’ll do it; if I need to clutch, I’ll do it; and if I need to entry, I’ll do it."
Snax was also very important to opening rounds up for his team. He ranked #8 in the world with 57% of opening duels won. He also had 0.13 opening kills per round, #14, shining particularly bright on CT sides. On the other side of rounds, Snax was a great closer, perhaps the best. With 57 1vsX rounds won, Snax ended the year as the player with the most clutches, a big reason he made it into the top 5.
"I was playing AWP a lot before, just not in Virtus.pro. I always adapted. If they needed an IGL, I was calling. Like I said before... if they needed a clutcher, I was there. If they needed a sniper, I was there."
Despite playing several medium events, those didn’t boost his rating as he averaged 1.10 in both medium and big events. As far as ranking fifth goes, Snax didn't have downsides in his play, the top four players were just either better on big stages or more consistent than Snax.
We asked Snax to name some up and coming players that could end up in next year’s top 20 of 2017 ranking, and he went with two compatriots.
"I think they can be good if they play like they did at WESG 2017. They have been doing good in Kinguin, and I want some of my old mates to do well and be in next year’s top 20!"