Since his decision to leave BIG Clan a week or so ago, Owen ‘smooya’ Butterfield has been the subject of pretty much constant attention from the CSGO community. First we had the videos speculating as to where he might land next, with teams including mousesports, compLexity and even Cloud9 thrown into the conversation, before he was apparently banned from FPL for ‘toxicity’, following a game where his frustration with Ismail ‘refrezh’ Ali boiled over, leading to smooya admitting he jokingly told the young Dane to "kill himself".
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All of this has led to a number of reactions, including a few from folk who feel the young Brit has torpedoed his career with these moves. To be honest, at 19 years of age, and with the 2018 he had, smooya has done anything but that, and actually finds himself in a very good spot going forward, especially into the post-Major period. His skill set, his reputation and his profile are all relatively attractive, and crucially all have time to develop, with the player only having spent a year in pro-CS so far.
The post-Major shuffle will hold many opportunities for a young AWPer with room to improve
It is easy to see why he may look from the outside to have made an error, especially if you take smooya’s claim that BIG will do well in Katowice at face value, but he would have had a much better idea of the team’s potential than outsiders looking in. The odds of BIG topping their Cologne result from last year were already slim, and the addition of XANTARES may have meant more firepower, but also further damaged the communication of the team, which has been a constant issue since they went international.
With that in mind, it may well be that smooya viewed getting out now as the best option, fleeing before the ship sinks, if you will. Equally, the post-Major shuffle will hold many opportunities for a young AWPer with room to improve, especially one with fluent English who is free to move, and it will be easier to get off the BIG bus from the bench than if he were a significant player in Katowice.
There are plenty of options for him right now of course, with the most obvious being a move to the states and compLexity, where his fellow Brit Rory ‘dephh’ Jackson already plays, but the scope for other moves exists too. An entire generation of AWPers is fading away, with the likes of GuardiaN, kennyS and even FalleN looking a little frayed around the edges, and one bad run at a major could see them throw in the big green towel once and for all.
With all of that in mind, smooya may have actually played a masterstroke, and there is one more thing to consider. If BIG fail in Kato, which is very possible, it will make it look as though smooya’s absence was a massive factor even if that is not the case, while a success won’t reflect badly on him due to XANTARES’s addition. All in all, this could turn out to be great for smooya, and reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated indeed.