Nothing ventured, n0thing gained, or a risk too far for mousesports?

There are ways to be sacked, and they depend to some extent on circumstances, but there is normally a blueprint. At a certain point, it becomes obvious that an employee doesn’t fit, for whatever reason, and they need to be moved on. Some bosses will act as soon as possible, to ensure the negatives are minimised, while others will take their time, ensuring the right replacement is found, before finally allowing the misfit to leave.

For some reason, of late Counter-Strike has had this weird habit of watching people swing in the wind for a bit before they are finally cut down. First we had Fnatic treating Golden with the sort of contempt you normally see reserved for war criminals, mass murderers and any film star who has a nuanced view on Harvey Weinstein, and now mousesports have joined the club, letting one of their number be publicly crucified before (it seems) finally letting him have some peace.

The swinger in the wind was one Martin ‘STYKO’ Styk this time, traditionally the support on mousesports, and very good at the job too, given his circumstances. Statistically, there are probably better players, but STYKO has spent his last year or so playing alongside one of the most difficult and strange people in CSGO, AWP specialist Tomáš 'oskar' Šťastný.

Anyone who has followed the mousesports story knows that for all his talent, oskar is a very difficult person to work with, and the brunt of his abrasive personality will normally be borne by two men, STYKO, and team leader Chris De Jong, or ChrisJ as he’s known in game. The former has to deal with the idiosyncrasies that in other walks of life would just be known as ‘dick moves’ while the latter has to room and essentially live with oskar when the team is on the road.

In Brazil, STYKO was given a more active role in the team, and he managed to have more impact with the gun, although still only outplayed their stand-in sub Jordan ‘n0thing’ Gilbert. This was somewhat balanced by the fact in-game leader ChrisJ stood out, hard carrying in terms of his kills and covering the main AWP duties while oskar sat at home with his songbirds.

As you may know, mousesports made it to the end of that road, taking FaZe Clan to game five of Grand Finals despite their sub looking more akin to a giant sea vessel on the map than a man with a gun, and people were very impressed. This has led, it seems, to the team finally deciding to bite the bullet and give Martin Styk the dick, as ‘the best commentator’ in esports so eloquently put it on broadcast.

Toxic team atmosphere

In his place will be n0thing, a man who is not really on his level in any respect, except one. STYKO has shown signs the pressure of his toxic team environment is getting to him of late, while n0thing is famously sanguine and permanently positive. In terms of pure team dynamic, the latter might be one of the best choices you can make if all you need is a happy family. Equally, while he may not make an impact with the gun that often, his ability to help his leader with in-game advice, mid round calling and general encouragement is plain to see.

The change, removing oskar and adding n0thing, is almost certainly the reason for the improvement in performance for the team overall. Not only did it free STYKO from the need to constantly deal with the sniper’s sense of humour, but it also freed ChrisJ from babysitting duties, as well as gave him more freedom in-game. This is obviously because n0thing was able to have an overview alongside him, helping with the calls to let Chris focus on the big green gun, in a team that is otherwise devoid of experience or leadership.

The problem with assuming it will continue to work down the line is that you still have not fully fixed the problem in the team, which was the morale. Sure, n0thing will help the team feel better in the server, and take a degree of the pressure off ChrisJ, but on the other hand that benefit has only been seen with no oskar in the team, and it remains to be seen if that will carry over once he is back in the fold.

To mousesports’ credit, they have kept STYKO on the books, and seem to only be looking to use n0thing for ESL One Cologne, rather than confirming the long-term change, so it may be that they are trying out the n0thing/oskar situation before making a final decision. If n0thing can really activate ChrisJ and absorb more of the oskar guff than STYKO was able to without being dragged down, it is unlikely the loss of frag power in position 5 will be too problematic.

The problem is, the word ‘if’ appears in that sentence many time, and oskar might be the hardest man in top-level CS to work with, having already lost his position once over team cohesion problems. In an ideal world, n0thing would make the team work more efficiently, managing oskar and allowing ChrisJ to become the player he was at ESL Belo Horizonte all the time, but that needs a lot of things to go well. If any team can benefit from this risk, it is mous, but the risk is very real for a team that had a great winning formula established already.

Image: STYKO