Mixtape: 'Hearthstone' Pro Jakub
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Jakub "Lothar" Szygulski is best known as a 'Hearthstone' pro, but as is evident by the playlists on his stream, his love of music runs just as deep Jakub Szygulski

The Polish pro gamer and G2 team exec has tastes that range well beyond his peers in the esports world

Esports is not a discipline renowned for its taste. Whether you're watching a tournament or a pro player's stream, it's all about days-long electronic Pandora playlists and hackneyed "gamer" visuals, which makes almost everything outside of the gameplay itself blend into one big amorphous blob.

Poland's Jakub "Lothar" Szygulski has become something of a luminary in the esports scene, not just for his professional Hearthstone play and role as a brand manager for G2 esports, but also for his remarkable expertise in things that aren't game-related. If you've ever spotted him out in the wild on social media or in an esports broadcast, one of the first things you'll notice about Szygulski is that he's tough to pin down: in a scene where everyone can be easily categorized as either a businessman, a coach, or a player, Szygulski has a penchant for popping up in all kinds of high-profile contexts. One day, he might show up onstage at the League of Legends EU LCS Spring Grand Finals as a masked hype man, another day you might spot him on Instagram as a bodybuilder or aspiring fashion model.

If there's one interest that caught Szygulski before even video games, it's music. Part of it was circumstance: he comes from a family of formally educated musicians, with two choral vocalist parents and a piano-playing sister.

After his dad introduced him to alt-metal pioneers Faith No More, he doubled down on the harder tones and dived headfirst into metal's deep end. After just a few tastes of the genre, he picked up copies of the hardest metal records he could get his hands on. One was Morbid Visions, the 1986 debut from Brazilian thrash metal band Sepultura, and the other was the highly-technical Human's Pain by a Polish metal group called Yattering.

"The fact that the music was brutal was appealing to me when I was younger," he tells me, "but when I started to notice the instrumentalism, I realized that playing metal is actually very similar to jazz and classical music – although with different sound – and that motivated me to learn more about the musicians and ways of creating music itself."

At 18, Szygulski decided to pick up the guitar, looking up to guitarists like Monuments' John Browne ("His right hand is nuts"), and Tosin Abasi of the prog-metal group Animals as Leaders.

Over in Poland, he got so good at the instrument that he played in a few bands of his own, including a prog-metal group called Butterfly Trajectory that he toured the country with, and a djent-progressive metal band called Enoly that he's still hoping to release an album with.

"I find listening to music an inspiration and motivation to stop whatever I'm doing and learn, practice, create," he says. Even though he never plays during tournaments because he knows it could distract him, his Hearthstone stream playlist features some of the finest shredding you're likely to find.

"When people turn into my stream, I so often read the chat and see, 'Oh man, such good music, what is this?' And people start listening to my playlists." To give you a better sense of the music he's into these days, Szygulski put together a collection of songs, along with some thoughts about why they've caught his attention.