What’s next for MOUZ, Fnatic, and OG?

Modified  8 Jun 2022, 16:23
Reading time  ~12  mins

As the dust settles on the European RMRs, it’s time to shine a light on the unfortunate big names who are missing out on the most prestigious tournament of the year. It is the natural procedure of every qualification for the Major, where some teams that underperformed in previous tournaments, suddenly exceed expectations, whereas, some underdogs upset the big boys and a few big names disappoint completely.

Some of the biggest names who fell short and were not able to qualify are arguably MOUZ, Fnatic, and OG. While fans of the respective teams were shocked and in disbelief, for the keen eye, the results were not surprising at all. Too much turmoil and mixed results weighed heavily on these brands, but not every team needs a fresh reset to get back on the right track. Some small adjustments here and there and time to grow should be enough.

MOUZ’s inexperience

After a disappointing run at the PGL Major Stockholm 2021, it was inevitable that MOUZ needed fresh blood and more firepower. They relied too much on performances from Robin "ropz" Kool and David "frozen" Čerňanský, and the team overall struggled with experience, which was expressed vocally by the players.

Things worsened for MOUZ as ropz declined to extend his contract with the Hamburg-based organization to join forces with Finn "karrigan" Andersen under the FaZe Clan banner. However, management was quick to set the foundation for the new MOUZ roster, as frozen signed a multiyear contract. Furthermore, they possess an unmatchable academy team in MOUZ NXT, which won all three iterations of WePlay Academy League. The backbone of the new MOUZ roster was young and hungry, with the likes of frozen, Aurimas "Bymas" Pipiras, and the recently promoted Ádám "torzsi" Torzsás. Still, the roster lacked experience, calmness and a strong voice to sharpen all these diamonds.

To fill the void of an experienced leader and to help shot-caller Christopher "dexter" Nong, MOUZ was willing to gamble with the acquisition of Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt. This was a risky move, partially because NBK- had been out of the action for nearly nine months, but also because he had a reputation of being difficult to work with in previous rosters. After two events and 25 maps, MOUZ management decided to bench NBK-, while another NXT player was promoted in the form of Jon "JDC" de Castro.

Nonetheless, despite the firepower and JDC’s potential, the move was received with mixed reactions in the community. NBK- wasn’t brought in for his firepower, and he actually performed quite well individually, so what did the international roster expect from the veteran when they offered him the spot? The result of all this turmoil was a lackluster performance at the European RMR A, and slight bad luck regarding the Buchholz system.

It is easy to blame the Buchholz system for the fact that MOUZ did not qualify for the Major, meanwhile you have teams like forZe who arguably had easier opponents and secured a plane ticket to Antwerp. It does not change the fact that MOUZ had deeper underlying issues since the acquisition of their new in-game leader dexter in February 2021. At the age of 27, dexter gained the entirety of his experience in Australia before he signed with MOUZ. Considering the groundhog day-esqe tournaments the pandemic offered to the players and viewers, dexter was stuck facing the same opponents on the server every few weeks in a smaller scene for over a year.

The most experienced Tier-1 player, despite his age, is frozen at 19 years old. A good team always has a mixture of veterans and youngsters, and MOUZ is missing this combination. MOUZ has never been a big spending organization like FaZe, as it is more well known for developing talents, but a team can only rely so much on talent. Nikola "NiKo" Kovač had Fatih "gob b" Dayik, whereas ropz and frozen had karrigan, but this current iteration has no one of this caliber.

So what’s next? MOUZ’s problems are too jarring to overlook. A new experienced IGL is needed, and so they may need to gamble once again in signing Aaron "AZR" Ward or Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen? They could potentially open the bank and get a high caliber player like Justin "jks" Savage, whose value skyrocketed after his IEM Katowice performance.

The last time MOUZ failed to qualify for a major was the IEM Katowice Major 2019. The amount of question marks present were the same back then as they are now, but it resulted in one of the most successful rosters, with karrigan leading the way. Maybe this time MOUZ will have a surprising signing or two.

Fnatic’s search for a new identity

It was a strange sight to see the Union Jack next to Fnatic’s name, as Fnatic was, alongside Ninjas in Pyjamas, Sweden’s biggest flagship team in CS:GO. Fnatic fans and management had a lot of sleepless nights over the last few years, following the departures of their legends Jesper "JW" Wecksell and Robin "flusha" Rönnquist.

Suited with a decent academy team, Fnatic were also willing to take a gamble on the back of the youth, which did not pay off. Going international, or in Fnatic’s case, British, was a logical step to salvage the sinking ship. With the acquisitions of Alex "ALEX" McMeekin, one of the hottest IGLs on the market, and former juggernaut William "mezii" Merriman, the team looked promising on paper. To round up this British affair, Owen "smooya" Butterfield stepped into the equation to take up the AWPing role. Rounded out with veteran Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson and promising Swedish talent Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin, the squad seemed to have a good foundation to compete with the big boys.

Going into the EU RMR, Fnatic had the same unnerving weeks behind them as MOUZ. The sudden decision to bench smooya after IEM Katowice 2022 was not well received in the community, fueled by smooya going live on Twitch describing his point of view, even though he stated there is no bad blood between him and the organization or his former teammates. Nevertheless, this story was an unnecessary distraction going into the weeks prior to the Major qualification process.

The situation worsened for management, when Brollan was not fond of the idea of going international and asked for a transfer to Swedish rival, Ninjas in Pyjamas. This bloodletting put Fnatic in a very uncomfortable position, and they had to act quickly. They promoted Peppe "Peppzor" Borak from their academy team Fnatic Rising and added Valentin "poizon" Vasilev on trial, with the Bulgarian being a free agent after his turbulent Complexity stint.

Looking into the opponents Fnatic faced in the EU RMR, it is undoubtedly a disappointment that they fell short going 1-3. Facing Team GamerLegion, Heroic, SAW, and Eternal Fire, the team had a relatively easy route compared to other teams in the Buchholz system.

With their win against GamerLegion, Fnatic started as expected by the bookmakers and pundits. Losing to Heroic is not a shame, considering their current form and their ranking. But Fnatic’s losses against SAW and Eternal Fire left a worrisome impression on anyone cheering for the boys in orange.

But, how can Fnatic recover from these recent times and maneuver the ship into calmer waters? First of all, the Swedish scene is not lacking promising talents. The adjustments from facing equally gifted players in an academy league and facing cold blooded veterans in a lan environment takes time. Peppzor might develop with the right teammates, but Fnatic needs a Swedish team. In times like this, many single-nationality teams like NiP, Team Vitality or G2 Esports are now risking bringing players of other nationalities to their roster in order to enhance their chances of success. But, it also creates a fierce competition between all the international mixed teams to secure the next big talent.

Potentially, Fnatic could go back to their roots and position themself again as the number one team for Swedish talents. ALEX and mezii are not terrible players at all, but a Swedish core or a full Swedish team could benefit Fnatic in the long run. Love "phzy" Smidebrant and Linus "LNZ" Holtängz recently got released from their duties at NIP/Young Ninjas and are worthy of consideration. After all, ALEX is a top tier caller and proved his worth at Vitality, but the two British players need a stable team as well as the backup and time to grow steadily. The question is whether Fnatic wants fast success, or are in it for the long run. After many quick changes in recent times, maybe it’s worth the gamble to sit back from one/two Majors to develop a team who can breach into the top 10.

OG has the pieces, but they’re not fitting

Unlike in Dota 2, OG’s CS:GO squad is not the behemoth the organization hoped for when they first entered the scene in 2019.

The current roster made news with their recent IGL swap between Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen and Nemanja "nexa" Isaković. While nexa couldn’t lead G2 to the top, he is now in charge of OG, another international roster.

The squad and pieces nexa has to lead look promising at first, but why is it not clicking? At the BLAST Premier Spring group-stage, play-in stage of IEM Katowice 2022 and also in the main event itself of IEM Katowice, OG showed glimpses of what they are capable of.

The pressure and expectations were certainly high to secure a spot at the Major. Looking at their matchups in the EU RMR, OG’s route was not entirely easy, but also not entirely undoable. On day one, OG faced the international roster of MOUZ, which was the only 50/50 matchup in the first round and could’ve gone either way. The match actually ended in favor of nexa and co. A good start, and OG seemed to pick up where they ended previous tournaments, beating the big names or at least putting up a good fight.

Spearheaded by polish star AWPer Mateusz "mantuu" Wilczewski, OG breezed past MOUZ and faced current reigning Major champions, Natus Vincere. NAVI, who are understandably struggling this year compared to 2021, were still too much to handle for OG. The Buchholz system gave OG some favorable match-ups following NAVI, but OG could only win against Team Unique in round 5. A best-of-three loss against the Turkish team Eternal Fire, headlined by Özgür "woxic" Eker and Ismailcan "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş, sealed OG’s fate, as they missed out on the Major.

OG missing out on Antwerp comes as a surprise when you look at the matchups and also considering their form in previous runs. It was a respectable beginning from the new OG squad, under nexa’s leadership, and fans and experts alike expected more. They lost both maps against Eternal Fire, which might be purely unfortunate, since both maps went 16-14 for the Turks. One or two clutches in favor of OG and no one would question this squad nearly as much. In that regard, they also lost against forZe in overtime 17-19, which was another map that could’ve gone in OG’s favor.

OG is not in a troublesome state like the two previous teams mentioned above, but maybe they need one player to elevate themselves to a level where they close out games when the pressure is mounting. After the Major, plenty of new players will be available. After all, mantuu is a great AWPer with a very high skill ceiling, nexa is an experienced IGL who led G2 to many deep runs, Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså brings enough firepower and a strong voice into the fold, and Shahar "flameZ" Shushan is still young and needs time to develop. The only question seems to be Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen, who is the most likely to get replaced in favor of a better player. The 23-year-old Danish player struggles to end up in the yellow or green spectrum of the HLTV rating against top 20 teams.

In the end, OG’s Major run was not a disaster, but maybe a string of unlucky circumstances. The foundation for the team is set and the organization, led and owned by former Dota 2 players, are more than patient as they know the situation the players are currently in. As former Dota 2 and OG player Sébastien "Ceb" Debs said and manifested into the mindset of OG: Lose together, win together, slay together, slay together, slay together.


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CS Virtual Trade Ltd, reg. no. HE 389299 Registered address and the principal place of business: 705, Spyrou Araouzou & Koumantarias, Fayza House, 3036, Limassol, Cyprus
Copyright © 2023 BLIX.GG. All rights reserved.