It’s always good to hold your hands up and admit when you are wrong and, here at Luckbox, we like to do things properly. In the preview of the EU Minor we put out prior to the event, we picked out European mix Mousesports as the team most likely to make it out and to the Major itself, which, in fairness, was based on some decent info, not least the fact they are ranked fourth in the world by HLTV.org.
As it turned out, we were as wrong about that as Mouz were when they decided Snax was the player they needed to reach the next level, with the team crashing out of the EU minor before they’d even got to the last four of the event.
Defeat - albeit 16-14 - to Valiance got their bid to reach the Major off to a losing start and, while Mouz survived the Group A elimination match with a 2-0 series win against struggling OpTic Gaming, they were quickly brought back down to earth. Another defeat to Valiance, this time 2-0, in the decider match ended their campaign, with the ESL One New York champions not even breaking double digits in their final game on Cache.
The fallout has yet to settle, but the disappointment from the players was clear on social media, as you would expect. Having decided to revert to the line-up with STYKO after the Snax experiment, they would have expected to be on an upward curve at the start of 2019, rather than the current slump they exist within. Even in a slump, they should not be losing to the likes of Valiance, especially with so many chances to win.
More than just a shock loss
Now, in isolation, there is no reason to think that this would prompt a change, but Mouz did not lose in a vacuum. They already spent a long time with this five, before making the change to bring Snax in, meaning that this new/old version has a far longer life span than it would appear. The odds of massive improvement can be read both ways, depending on your opinions as to why this setback occurred.
Players such as ropz, suNny and Oskar are clearly capable of much more than they showed at any point during the Minor and that this team has a far higher ceiling that we are seeing. That should, in theory, be reason enough to not make changes, but only if you can pinpoint what went wrong and, therefore, find a way to reverse the trend.
Rip it up or keep the faith?
If this is as confusing to the players as it seems to be, then the second alternative is to just blow this team up and start again, or at least make a change that has the potential to improve your lot.
That doesn’t mean bringing in big name with small numbers for massive money but sitting down and working out which parts of the system need a tweak and maybe even replacing outright. Statistically, a number of them are underperforming right now, but that leads to a second issue.
When it comes to the likes of ropz and to a lesser extent suNny, the worry of releasing them is their youth and potential. When a player reaches the latter part of their career and has been in a slump, there is less concern about the prospect of them returning to form and punishing the team that let them go for their lack of faith. But the young Estonian, who has had such a tough few months, is still clearly capable of reaching the very pinnacle of the game, and Mousesports really don’t want him to do so for any other org.
For this reason, and many others, Mousesports find themselves in a very awkward spot, and the path forward is not as clear as they would like. Prior to the Major it will be very tough to find the players they might want to improve the team, and their performance at the Minor makes it obvious this five might not ever return to their previous heights, and changes could be necessary if they intend to compete for tier-1 titles again.