A player who attended with the name “wolfyfrompoland” caught my attention, plowing through the lower bracket. Unlike the other participants, I had never heard of him. I thought I knew the Quake scene well after spending a lot of time researching it, so when this seemingly random Polish player was beating several notable players, it intrigued me. I have always liked underdogs. People who normally don’t get a lot of publicity, but once in the spotlight, do really well. So of course, I wanted to know more about him. It was hard to find any history about him in Quake Champions because, as I later found out, he had only been playing the game for roughly 2 months prior to joining the qualifier.
Eventually he was knocked out by SIB, an American Quake Pro League player with years of experience in the game. However, he still managed to take a map off him, finishing the qualifier with a 1-2 loss in the lower bracket, which earned him a final position of 4th overall in the qualifier. Since only top 3 was originally going to qualify, I thought no more of it. Eventually however, the news hit me that one invited player was unable to go to the event in London, leading Myztro Gaming, the organizers of the event, to let the 4th place go as well. While the other 3 qualified players were well established players in the scene already, and therefore expected attendants, this inscrutable Polish player was now going to attend a premier LAN event 1,500 kilometres away from home.
“wolfpl”, “wolfy”, “wolfyfrompoland” or simply “wolf” (I have seen so many variations of his name, so I just had to personally ask him what his preferred alias is, to which he responded “wolfpl”), also known as Marcin Mielniczek, is a 30 year old Polish Quake player who is likely to go down in history as the only Quake player to qualify directly to a premier event after playing the game for only two months. But it is not two months of experience with Quake overall that we are talking about. Marcin picked up Quake Champions in September of 2021 but has a long history with the franchise.
To find the source of how this all started, we must go back many years, to the days when he was merely a little kid, playing with his older brother, trying out games such as Mortal Kombat, Fifa and Quake 2. As they started competing against each other, Marcin was feeling the beginning of a burning passion for competing.
“Oh boy how much I loved winning...but hated loosing.”
Marcin describes himself as a “kid who could not sit still for longer than 10 seconds” so the thrill and action of Quake 2 was perfect for him. A year later, his family eventually purchased a PC, to which Quake 3 came along, and Marcin immediately fell in love with it. He describes his memories of fighting his way through the single-player campaign, finally beating Xaero on nightmare (which for those who haven’t played Quake 3, is the final boss on the hardest difficulty) and eventually starting to play online. This is where he started playing real people instead of bots, and Marcin was now slowly starting to explore the competitive world of Quake 3. The year is 2003, and Marcin is only eleven years old. The news hit him that there was a local Quake tournament in his city, which he really wanted to attend. He explains that his parents were always supportive of his passion, so when he asked his parents if they could drive him to the tournament and let him try, they didn’t hesitate. Marcin attended his first Quake 3 tournament, at eleven years of age, and managed to make it to top 16. This placement landed him an interview, and he explains people were amazed by how good he was for his age, which further fuelled Marcin's drive for competing. This was a dream start for his competitive career.
After the event, Marcin tried out other games like Warcraft 3, Diablo 2 and eventually Dota. He reveals he never enjoyed single player games.
“I never enjoyed single player games. Even to this day I just want competition and that's what gaming is for me.”
Most spare hours during his childhood were spent playing games with the goal of getting good in all of them. The hours and hours of grinding eventually paid off, as Marcin describes attending notable tournaments in several games. When he was in high school, he attended a Dota2 Championship in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Furthermore, he attended online tournaments in Warcraft 3 and eventually picked up StarCraft 2 when it came out during his time in college. This is one of the games Marcin highlights getting good at, winning a few local tournaments in Polish cities Kraków and Wrocław in the process. Eventually he also started streaming on Twitch, getting familiar with the platform and further building a name for himself.
Marcin playing the Grand Finals of a StarCraft 2 tournament against Terran Masters
“Obviously all the time in the background was Quake.”
So what happened to Quake?
Well, when Quake Live came out, Marcin did not like it at first. He explains thinking it was too different from Quake 3, and that he hated playing from a website. When the game was eventually released on Steam, he gave it another go and felt more ambitious to learn it this time, just like he had learned Quake 3 before. Learning new maps and accepting the differences took time, but eventually he explains becoming good, starting to perform better and better, and even getting into 2400+ rating in the game, peaking at top 2 in EU. In the meantime, Marcin was still playing other games on the side, like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Countless hours of Arena FPS practice seemed to be of big help here, as he reached the highest rank in the game, Global Elite, with roughly 100 hours played in total. As he progressed further, he found a Polish squad to play with, and together they attended some tournaments. “Without huge success, though”, he reveals. He even had a run in World of Warcraft, and he describes his time “tanking in one of the best guilds” as a good period in his life.
In other words, it is safe to say that Marcin was never committed to only a single game.
“Some may say I should have commited to one game but being top 1%/2% in few games makes you an overall better gamer in my opinion”
Marcin attended a CS:GO LAN in Kraków, where they placed 4th, losing to the team that won the entire tournament.
2014 Gliwice Polish Duel Championship in Quake Live. Marcin placed 4th, loosing to "Gienon" and "Matrox" 2-3, 2-3 in series
Marcin describes his most memorable moment in Quake Live was beating Russian Quake legend “evil” in a 125fps tournament, a common tournament organizer back in Quake Live, casted by Xavier "Zoot" Dhorne, an FPS legend. “I really played well that day.. on a 75hz monitor!” Marcin says.
"I’m a passionate guy. If I really like something, I’m gonna commit and go all-in.”
While Marcin was in college, studying logistics while enjoying StarCraft 2 and Quake Live on his spare time, his brother working as a bartender at the time invited Marcin as a guest to a bartender competition in which he competed. Even if Marcin was well on his way on building his own career, he was so intrigued by the world of bartending as it revealed itself to him, that he decided to drop out of college to pursue this path instead. His brother helped him get his first bartending job, and Marcin describes himself as “completely soaking in” to this new profession. After putting his logistics studies on the shelf he started reading up on everything he could about the profession, made new connections, and given his competitive spirit he also started working towards competing in it. After working in the field for roughly seven months, Marcin learned there was a bartender contest in his city, which he would not let himself miss. He decided to attend the “Junior Classic Long Cocktails” category, to which his brother responded very positively and helped him out by showing him how the performance would normally look in such competition, preparing his younger brother for what was to come. Marcin was as ready as he could be going into the competition, and it showed. He managed to win it.
"It was an amazing feeling being judged by master bartenders.”
Young Marcin taking his first steps in the bartending world
The win gave Marcin a lot of confidence, and the prestigious prize also landed him better jobs in better places with higher level of service. Marcin kept progressing at both games and cocktails.
In 2014 there was a “Monin Polish Championship”, and Marcin saw another opportunity to prove his talent. He created a cocktail, sent his application, managed to win the eliminations and went to the Grand Finals in Warsaw where he placed second, loosing by just one point. Winning this competition would have given him an opportunity to represent his country in the World Championships, but Marcin doesn’t seem to think it was that bad after all losing with such small marginals. The 2nd place finish just motivated him to continue, "It was a very good high-stake debut for me.” he says.
The 2nd place finish. "A huge moment for me and my bartending career" he says.
When I asked Marcin how things were now, he seemed to have no regrets, and happily told me about his life.
"Well, I turned 30 and have a beautiful lady wolf who supports me and I’m chasing my dreams. Recently got into Quake Champions, grinded to Elite level in 2 months, participated in Ironfist which was my biggest step in e-sports and I loved every second of it. I joined Hotseat_GG crew as a caster and host. They organize Polish Quake League and tournaments in Poland. I work at a high stake top100 in Poland restaurant as a bartender where I create and serve cocktails and take care of guests. In my free time I practice Quake and chase my dreams toward working in e-sports in any way.”
"Lucky wolf and lady wolf", says Marcin
Marcin’s first plan is to try and get sponsored, practice more and participate in more high tier events, such as IRONFIST. Qualifying to the QPL finals in Dallas is an obvious goal as well. In the background he plans to do his best in supporting Hotseat_GG and see how far things can go – they are planning to start casting in English as well, and involve more games in their tournaments.
Marcin now also hosts and casts for Hotseat
I also asked Marcin how competing in Quake has influenced him:
"It’s one of the hardest games and being one the best boosts your confidence. I think my whole QC journey and attending Ironfist had a huge influence in my life. Since 2016 I stopped bartendering and went into an IT job where I worked as an iOS & Unity game developer and was exploring. But I was exhausted and not happy about it because I wasn’t passionate about it. So recently I quit a comfortable well paid IT job to chase my real dreams. I started to play Quake Champions, streaming, joined Hotseat as mentioned before... My everyday life is busier, but happier. Finally I feel like I'm chasing something I really want to do and love.”
And with a touch of confidence, Marcin also added: "I believe I have natural talent for games and the will to commit. I got so many achievements and high ranks in so many competitive games but Quake was always the one where I was the best.”
Marcin playing his opening game in London versus World Champion vengeurR
In the middle of a stream, 2 weeks before IRONFIST was going to happen in London, Marcin was met with the news that he had been given a spot in the Premier tournament after all. This was his chance. An opportunity he would probably never get again.
In 24 hours, Marcin organized everything, and started to practice. He contacted Australian QPL player ZenAku (who lives in Poland) and they helped each other with all the travel organizing. They arrived in London 3 days before the event, and were able to practice at an internet cafe since the venue opened up only a day before the LAN would go live. Marcin describes meeting ZenAku as a great experience.
"It was nice meeting him. Such a nice down to earth dude that helped me out being a better player at the event and we talked a lot about esports, quake and preparations. At the cafe ZenAku really boosted my confidence and made me believe that I can fight against the best.”
By meeting ZenAku Marcin also met his friend, Kelly, who was going to the event to support ZenAku. Marcin says she was also an awesome person, and that they all bonded nicely together. Especially when American player SIB also joined in, since both Marcin and him were knocked out of the tournament on the first day and had a lot of time to hang out.
"We spent a lot of free time together, drinking beer, eating ramen and mostly talking about Quake.”
Meeting the players that he had watched, played versus and looked up to for so long was an eye opening experience, Marcin explains. His first match on stage was versus Italian World Champion and Myztro Gaming member vengeurR. An 11 to 15 scoreline in the first map surprised everyone, and even if Marcin lost the series 0-2, it was definitely the closest he had ever been to his dream of competing professionally in Quake. With only 200 hours in the game, Marcin’s confidence received a huge boost during his stay in London. And after he was eliminated from the event after losing to British player GaRpY in the lower bracket, he found a way to still be of use at the event.
"I became ZenAku’s secret agent, checking all picks & bans of his future opponents and preparing good draft ideas. I’m not sure how much it really helped but he appreciated the effort and managed to place 4th. Me and the whole team was proud.”
Marcin and ZenAku. Presumably a tactical discussion.
SIB, wolfpl, ZenAku & Kelly
"We as Quake fans should be happy that events like IRONFIST is happening. So again I want to thank the whole Myztro Gaming team for organizing it. And after event we got great news about another Ironfist tournament, so I can’t be more hyped!
In Quake, I dream mostly about getting sponsored and being able to play more. I want to achieve something in Quake and be able to finally say im the professional player that I always wanted to be. Also I wish all of us Quake enjoyers a new Quake a new bigger scene and more events. There is no other game like Quake and I would love to see it as a big as it was during the early years.
If you could give the other people in the Quake scene one piece of advice, what would it be?
Watch Rapha and his streams of gameplay and analysis. That’s what I do, and he brings another dimension of playing duel to the table, and I’m absorbing it. Observe what he does well and when he fails. That’s also a lesson: to watch yourself play and work on your own mistakes.
At the end I would like to thank you Jacob for letting me write this and share it - it means a lot. The work that you do is great and interviews is a great idea to get to know players much more. Keep it up and hopefully we see each other again at some future events!
Article written by Jakob "DEFENSE" Jansson @defense_zomg