Mousesports is a team heading for a cliff. Rumours circle the roster’s timeline allowing forum goers to become dismissive vultures at the hypothetical corpse of Mouz. With facts hard to come by, fans are given free reign to disassemble, and reassemble the line-up in a variety of ways. There’s no shortage of options. Mouz being a mix-team opens the door to a wide-spread of CS:GO’s firepower. With so much proven talent on Mouz, and a wide pool of replacement talent to dip into, it’s no surprise our minds are geared towards the future. What if Karrigan were to move over? A Fnatic player? Maybe a once hyped star with a low stock value like k0nfig? Autimatic? AdreN?
While many of these moves are unlikely, their novelty attracts attention. We aren’t so much concerned with how this Mouz lineup might change in their current configuration as much as we are theorising about who might be the extra player to save it. Because, at the very least it’s safe to say that it isn’t snax. But this preemptive homicide of the Mouz lineup neglects the elegance of what Mouz as a team has represented to the scene. Recency bias is always at play, and their FACEIT Major 0-3 bomb-out of groups is not a pretty way to remain in the memory of the community. The promise of the roster has never been lower.
With such a swarm of online arrows looking to shoot down Mouz, lets defensively give them some cover in analysing what legacy they’ll leave behind.
FaZe were the first organisation to bring about a mixed-side capable of contending amongst the elite. The conglomeration of CS:GO’s biggest stars saw a honeymoon period of utter dominance. With so much firepower, the dutiful leadership of Karrigan and a system that allowed both of these to be functional in-harmony, FaZe’s first outings together, and their enduring success afterwards proved a mix-team could function at the highest levels of play. The obvious caveat though was that it took the most ridiculous stars, big paychecks and high-profile signings to make this happen. It didn’t feel as much about the validation of the mix-team concept as it was about proving that so many superstar players having to find space amidst each other can work.
Mousesports, on the other hand, could not have been further away from the limelight of stardom. While it may seem hard to conceptualise now, with so many proven performances, the Mousesports lineup was relatively underwhelming upon signing. ChrisJ as a leader raised doubts to begin with, a washed up AWPer who seemed mortally bound to the mousesports organisation and forced to adapt to survive. Oskar had proven himself a legitimate international star AWPer on Hellraisers in 2016, having a big run of LAN performances, carrying the side and having highlight moments game-to-game. But, with the likes of Sunny, STYKO, and Ropz - three dismissive, unknown and lacklustre signings around him, it was unlikely we’d see him in peak form. Ropz was totally untested, showed promise, but was likely going to take time to find form. And Sunny was going to have to go from Penta’s system, one which was totally geared around him, to being an entry and likely under the reigns of coach lmbt.
The contrast between the world-renowned legends on FaZe, and untested/washed-up mess of Mouz could not have been more apparent. It is for exactly this reason though, that this incarnation of mouz is such an all-time great roster.
For while they didn’t have access to high-level stars, by being a mixed-side they had a very wide pool of options to pick from. From Sunny, and STYKO being pulled from other mixed-sides Penta and Hellraisers, to ropz, straight from the depths of Estonia and FPL, Mouz could look to sources of talent across Europe. While the names seemed random and dismissive on-paper, due to the lack of cultural or geographic restrictions, Mouz could construct a line-up role-by-role. The balance of the team, as ChrisJ and lmbt say, was crucial.
Sunny and ChrisJ, would be the aggressive entry-fraggers. Importantly, both have experience in other roles and aren’t the linear headshot machines often associated with the role. They could be flexible, but dutiful to the system. Ropz and STYKO, could be more inclined towards passivity. Ropz, while starting out more forward in the fragging pack, would be surprisingly given the huge responsibility of lurking and closing rounds in clutches early into his time with Mouz. STYKO, on the other hand, a veteran of many systems in CS:GO, would be a supportive ‘glue’ element. Then, the star in Oskar would be given relatively free reign to pick and play how he wanted, occasionally secondary calling and helping ChrisJ with macro.
This balance worked in a way that it unlocked the insane individual capacity of each of the system’s members. From Sunny, to Oskar, to ropz, each end of the spectrum in mouz’s system found their bouts of form. Oskar was, for months considered a top three AWPer in the world just as Sunny was a top five rifler. These relatively unknown objects within the CS:GO landscape found internal harmony and could externally crush teams with it.
In this sense, Mouz validated the concept of a mix-team more than FaZe ever could. The main strength of the concept rests in the freedom to pick from a wider pool of talent. Teams, in the past, failed on two fronts: first, to construct a functional system to fit talent into, and second, to scout the right talent for it. Mouz was, by all accounts, the first team to do-so consistently, and importantly, replicably, at an elite level. From winning StaSeries S4, second at ESL One Belo Horizonte, to top fours at IEM Sydney 2018 and StarSeries S5, Mouz have won many series on stages around the world against some of the most dangerous opposition CS has known.
For what appeared to be a failed project from the get-go, Mouz subverted expectations and in-turn, laid the blueprint for future sides to rise in a similar fashion in the future. While they may be fractured and in-need of a roster-change in the present (as all teams need-to eventually) don’t let their present state fog the legacy they’ll leave behind. Even in-spite of what may happen to the roster, and the relatively small amount of time they were at the top, given the context, Mouz are an extremely important side in CS history.