hades: "Individually 2023 is going to be my best year yet."

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Olek “hades” Miskiewicz had an avid interest in gaming even as a child. When he became acquainted with 1.6, he instantly became obsessed with the competitive environment. His obsession for Counter-Strike extended to CS:GO after it was released. Plowing more hours into the game stirred up his fervor even more. The rate of his growth as he put in more hours was sheer. The rampant development in his skills was an outcome of his incessant hunger to get better. Fueled by the desire to test his limits, he, along with his Polish friends, began competing in tournaments. The problem was that they didn’t know what roadmap they needed to follow to become professionals. So, they started grinding against lesser-known teams during the starting of their career.

“As a kid I always used to love video games and I played a lot of 1.6 where I felt like I was always pretty good so when I heard about CSGO and bought it in around 2015 I instantly started enjoying it and was just making constant goals step by step where I wanted to get Global, Level 10 Faceit, then Polish Pro League and eventually FPLC.”

In the same way as other AWPers who developed as snipers over the course of their careers, the AWP was not his prototypical choice — until he was picked up by Izak to compete in the ASUS ROG event in 2019. Playing the role of a dedicated AWPer for the first time in his career, he recorded a sumptuous 1.37 HLTV rating, helping the team win the title.

“The moment where I decided to go PRO was after winning the ASUS ROG event with Izak, and the reason for it was that I wanted to travel a lot to tournaments and I got a lot of excitement from competing. First days were actually promising because me and my friends were actually beating some good teams in open quals and managed to go to some closed quals so that gave me hope that it's definitely reachable.“

Prospects and pressure rising

As he was becoming eminent as one of the hottest Polish prospects, his talent was noted by Grzegorz "SZPERO" Dziamałek who was looking for someone to succeed his AWP. Thus in 2020, he was signed by Wisla Krakow. The jump to a more competitive team brought him to a high pressure environment. Another challenge that presented itself to hades was playing in a team environment. Coming from a pug environment where individuals relied on their own ability more, the tangibles of a structured environment took some time for him to adapt to. While his individual prowess was able to close this gap chiefly, it still needed more work.

“Playing in Wisla got me started with competing more seriously and gained some experience from the older players who played with me in Wisla, mainly how to react on the map once something happens so it was the first of many steps to becoming better.”

With Covid putting a halt to LAN events, the team only played Online events. hades was always the name that stood out in the fragging department in the team. As a Wisla player he recorded a 1.14 HLTV rating and a 1.17 impact rating. In IEM Katowice 2021 play-in, he was able to play against a Tier One team for the first time and scored a 1.40 and 1.50 on the last two maps despite losing the series. After he had discovered his own strengths as an AWPer, the rare red events ceased to exist. The title cabinet, however, remained vacant despite his best efforts.

In April of 2021, exactly 12 months after joining the team, hades stepped down from the active roster. It was a decision he took as a consequence of excessive burnout and ‘the game not being as fun to him as before’. In his statement he also added that he needed some time off to work on some aspects and regain freshness in order to return to the game in the future. While he had settled on taking a considerable break from the game, an unexpected opportunity came knocking on his door.

Playing his own game with ENCE

The international roster led by the capable hands of Danish mastermind Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer was on a decline for a while. The remains of the legendary team Finnish lineup had long since decayed and what was left was a group of lesser known youngsters, supervised by veterans in Aleksi “allu” Jalli and Snappi, looking to make a name for themselves. However, ahead of lootbet Season 9, allu announced a leave of absence due to a tough month on the result front. Looking for an AWPer who could fill in the shoes of allu, Snappi and sAw stumbled upon hades whose contract with Wisla Krakow had just ended and decided to give him a shot. It was nothing short of a dream come true for hades. Despite the burnout he felt towards the latter stage of his 1 year stint in Wisla, he entered the tournament with poise. His 1.34 HLTV rating, which was the second highest rating among individual players, contributed significantly to ENCE's title win.

“In Poland there is a saying ‘you can do everything but you need to do nothing’ and it's something that I went by during that tournament, I was only a stand-in so I had zero pressure on myself and just played my own game which resulted in me playing well.”

Keeping in mind allu's return appearing grim and hades' good fit with the team, the Polish AWPer was handed a permanent spot in the ENCE roster in May 2021. Despite his first venture in a tier one international team, the Pole gave ENCE a much needed leg up in the preliminary stage of the new roster. Over the course of the first 9 events in the online phase, he averaged a 1.21 rating. A notable feat was his 1.18 rating in ESL Pro League Season 14 where he was matched against the likes of s1mple and Zywoo.

“As a team I felt like we had some good synchro and we had a slight honeymoon phase where everything seemed to be working for us and individually the start I think I had much more confidence and a bit more freedom than in the later parts, but I definitely was more proactive and used the space that I had more efficiently which resulted in me getting more chances to frag.”

As October came, the COVID restrictions were rescinded, and LANs reemerged. For a player who had blossomed in an Online environment, it became a demanding challenge to prove his worth in front of a crowd. The first hurdle was IEM Fall 2021 Europe. ENCE went on an onslaught defeating Dignitas, Mad Lions, Vitality, Sprout, G2, and Astralis before falling to NiP in the finals. hades was on top of the charts against Mad Lions, Vitality and Astralis as he secured a 1.45, 1.30 and a 1.42 rating respectively taking his tally to a respectable 1.05 in the entire event.

“Personally I don't think there were any difficult challenges, the main one was the change of playstyle as in ENCE it was pretty strict strat-based cs and in Wisla we were really loose and played mostly off communication so it was a bit rough to get used to it at the start.”

It was evident that hades passed the first hurdle with flying colors. The team which sat on the 28th rank had found its way to the top 10 by the end of October. With the PGL Major Stockholm up next, it was the perfect opportunity for them to reinstate their dominance. The team made it out of the Challengers Stage comfortably with a 3-1 record. Poised for a deep run in the Major, they were met with a devastating fate. In the Legends stage, they suffered losses to Gambit, Liquid and Mouz. The journey that was looking promising in the Challengers stage ended in a heartbreak. To make matters worse, their decline in the LAN environment extended to the end of the year as they bombed out of IEM Winter 2021 in last place.

“I feel like we had what it took but I felt like we sometimes couldn't adapt in certain games where our game plan wasn't working which felt like we were hitting heads against the wall in certain games so that was a main problem which I think we had. It was also first and second Majors for pretty much everyone in the team apart from Snappi I think so stress also played a role I would guess during some matches especially in Antwerp where the arena was insane and that's something most people overcome with time and experience.”

It is said that every comeback is greater than the setback, and hades proved that to be true. After successfully claiming ELISA International Winter and Pinnacle Winter Series 2, he turned his sights to IEM Katowice 2022. As part of the opening match, hades once again had to face the best of the best, s1mple and NAVI. The difference was, hades was in full force this time around. He overcame his demons on Nuke as his grotesque 1.76 rating made even S1mple shiver on his best map and tied the series 1-1. On the final map, his 1.05 rating wasn’t enough to close the gap between the two teams and NaVi ended up winning the series. In the elimination game they met Astralis, who were bullied by hades in ESL Pro League Season 14 and IEM Fall 2021 Europe. This time around however, his flabbergasting 1.33 and 1.23 rating on the first two maps was overshadowed by blamef’s 1.42 rating at the end of 3 maps. As a result, ENCE had to go home without a victory despite close losses of 16-13 and 16-14 on the final maps.

“I think it just took time for me to get used to, and everyone was helpful. And no one was complaining if I forgot something or did something wrong we just worked on fixing the stuff so that was really good.”

Proving his stripes in Pro League

The relentless losses in IEM Katowice 2022 couldn’t break hades’ back. Many skeptics who dismissed the success of ENCE as a fluke were proved wrong during Season 15 of the ESL Pro League. In the opening match, the international roster claimed the scalp of the number one team in the world, FaZe, on the back of a marvelous 1.14 rated series by hades. Continuing their dominance, they defeated Vitality, Outsiders, Sprout, Fnatic, Movistar Riders, and NiP to secure their berth in the BO5 Grand Finals, where they once again met FaZe. Hoping to repeat the group stage narrative, hades once again put up a show for his fans with a 1.10 rating. But ENCE were outclassed on all fronts and had to settle for a second 2nd place finish after IEM Fall 2021.

“I feel like we had the perfect synergy both in and outside of the game, everyone liked each other and everybody worked towards the same goal which was to become better and fix mistakes and I feel like we did that really well. We were fixing a lot of stuff from both lost games and the games that were won so I think that's also a reason why we progressed so much during that time.”

Amidst the wins and narrow losses, ENCE were gradually climbing the ladders of world ranking. They were now ranked the second best team in the world after defeating Astralis in the Grand Finals of BLAST Premier Spring Showdown. Inches away from the number one spot, their pursuit led them to the biggest challenge of them all - the Major. In addition to being the only thing standing between them and the #1 world rank, the PGL Antwerp Major was also a chance for ENCE to make amends after their disappointing performance in Stockholm.

In IEM Dallas, which was the next tournament, ENCE lost their star fragger Lotan "Spinx" Giladi due to VISA restrictions. This was a shortcoming for the team, but it allowed hades more freedom. Moreover, with a veteran like Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski standing in for Spinx meant that the players could use his experience to boost their own performance. In the opening game against Mouz, hades put it to display by getting a 1.30 rating and the highest number of opening kills. Despite playing with a stand-in, ENCE defeated G2 and FaZe to reach the Grand Finals of the tournament. But they couldn’t shake the 2nd place curse as they fell to Cloud9 and were once again kept at bay from the number one spot.

Grappling with the lows

In IEM Cologne 2022, the last tournament held prior to the player break, ENCE bombed out in last place. For hades, who couldn't contribute much to the tournament, it was a devastating experience. Additionally, it substantiated the downward spiral he was in since the Antwerp Major.A backbreaking news for ENCE came with the start of the player break as their star player Sphinx left to join the roster of Vitality. Grasping at straws, ENCE came up with a tough decision and hades was benched from the active roster.

“At the start it was rough because of the time and the way it happened, but eventually I reflected on it and decided that it would be the best for both sides, in my free time I started to do more things regarding my mentality and I feel like this break for me was needed to improve both as a teammate and as a player.“

As heartbreaking as it was, it wasn’t the first-time hades had found himself in deep waters. It was a setback, but it gave him a chance to evaluate his performance in the second half of the season. Compared to the first four months of 2022 where he was rated 1.15 and had an impact rating of 1.09, in the next four months the tally went down to 1.03 rating and a 0.96 impact rating. In a lineup studded with star rifles, it became challenging for hades to find space as an AWPer. He was often the guy supporting by throwing flashes. In 2022 LAN events, he averaged the highest 0.66 flashbangs thrown per round as opposed to an average of 0.51 thrown by their team. On the T sides of big events like IEM Cologne 2022, IEM Dallas 2022 and PGL Antwerp Major 2022, the average shot up to 0.79, 0.88 and 0.92 respectively.

“I think it's something which I feel a lot of people didn't see, I felt like I was more of a support piece because we had so much rifle fire power and an explosive playstyle so I wasn’t needed that much but the expectations of an AWP dropping 1.10-1.20 ratings is a bit rough in this scenario [laughs], however reflecting back I definitely had some space which I didn't use and could have done much more.“

After the player break ended, hades was loaned to Finest to replace Guy “anarkez” Trachtman until the end of the year. However, after a month, the organization decided to part ways with CSGO and the lineup started competing under the name of ex-Finest. He only got to play one LAN with the lineup before his contract with ENCE was terminated. In that LAN, the Svenka Cupen 2022, he managed a 1.15 rating. The opportunity to gain confidence back while staying in competition was a good chance for him despite his lack of noteworthy achievements in the lineup.

“I think this part of me which wants to be the best and to win everything got me to where I am today, however it can be a blessing or a curse as they say and once I overcome the doubts I feel like that's when I will show how well I can actually play and live up to my real potential.”

A fresh start in 9INE

Then hoping for a new start to the new season, he joined 9INE in January of 2023. So far this year, he has played ESL Pro League Season 17 Conference Europe where he boasted a 1.25 rating. Little by little, he is regaining his confidence. 9INE is the perfect place for him to be the star player and apply what he has learned during his time in ENCE. In an interview with HLTV, Snappi acknowledged the latent potential in hades, “I really hope someone else can untap this potential fully, because he is literally one of the nicest people I ever met, and one of the best players I played with, when he is at his 100%. It was probably the hardest change I have been a part of, mainly because of Olek's wonderful personality when you hung out with him at events.” With the communication skills and perseverance, he possesses, there is no doubt that he will make a great addition to an international team, and it is only a matter of time before he returns to tier one CS.

“I’ve started gaining the confidence back, started playing a bit like my old self but with the ENCE experience I can do so much more as now I can clearly see where my gaps were and what I need to focus on to further improve. We will see how things will turn out but I feel like individually this will be my best year yet and hopefully I can get back to playing on the biggest stages ”

Saumya "Sapporo" Srijan

An avid Counter-Strike enthusiast who enjoys writing long-form pieces. Formerly with RushBMedia and Esportsfire.


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