Back-to-back Pro League wins are rare to come by, to begin with, but to do so across two different iterations of Counter-Strike requires something truly special. Clearly, this young MOUZ team has what it takes to get the cheese, but arena playoffs jitters still need to be addressed if they want to become one of the true greats.

It took just six series for MOUZ to complete a near-flawless run in Malta under the not-so-bright lights of the studio. Dropping just two maps in the entire tournament, the young squad has one-upped itself from the previous Pro League season (where they had to work their way through the mid bracket of Group B after an upset loss to MIBR), and provided a spectacular response to doubters like myself about how they might cope with the loss of frozen.

Now, with qualification for IEM Cologne deservedly secured, IEM Dallas is next on the agenda. In many ways, it is the perfect next step for a promising squad, one that clearly has the firepower to compete with (and best) the best but still wilt somewhat under the bright lights of an arena. It’s a bit of both worlds: not quite a Major playoff stage, but a bit harsher than the Maltese studio they already made their home. It was the sort of one-sided, boring grand final that represents a job well done from the team’s perspective.

The tactical nous is clearly there. This time, they extinguished ZywOo’s flame to put an end to his red-hot streak at the tournament, limiting him to a mere 1.05 rating across the three maps. This wasn’t the first time this MOUZ squad could halt a high-profile player: at the RMRs, they were the only ones to find a way to neutralize donk, delivering Team Spirit a rare defeat shortly after Katowice.

And while it’s rare to see MOUZ outgunned, you wouldn’t rate them as the elite in terms of dueling potential. In many ways, they remind me of the mousesports of old when the chrisJ-oskar-STYKO-ropz-sunNy quintet rocked the world and rocketed to the top in unexpected fashion, winning StarLadder & i-League StarSeries Season 4 and ESL Pro League Season 7 while the titans slumbered amid rebuilds, with strong chemistry and team cohesion counting for more than star brawn. It’s a testament to the org’s continued coaching excellence and lineage that we find ourselves in a similar situation again.

There has long been a conversation about the efficacy of AWPs in CS2 and the feasibility of the gun in the MR12 economy. Player ratings have made it clear that a strong sniper will still carry the day, and it is worth pointing out the notable improvement in torzsi’s inconsistent showings this calendar year. Clearly, he is the sort of player who needs time to adapt, be it to the rigors of tier one play or the subtle changes of CS2 matches, and while he won’t ever be a s1mple or a ZywOo, he is quietly becoming an ever-more important piece of the puzzle.

torzsi form cs2 hltv

So, all the tangible elements are there for MOUZ to go on a huge run. It’s that pesky eye test that still seems to fail them on the big stage, that deer-in-the-headlights look that keeps cropping up whenever the opposing team rattles off a streak of rounds and big clutches. For all that a young and friendly squad offers in terms of potential and cohesion, it’s that bit of ruthlessness that still seems to be missing. As xertioN said in a post-match interview with HLTV, they still need to translate these showings into wins at stadium playoffs in Katowice, Cologne, and the Majors.

Still, I’d rather leave it to time to inject it into them than to think of a roster move anytime soon. Looking back at that 2018 roster, it was the removal of STYKO and the arrival of Snax that precipitated their collapse – today, we can clearly see that the Polish giant still has a lot to offer, but that bit of brashness can never make up for the loss of chemistry.

With FaZe floundering somewhat (at least by their own pristine standards) while Vitality and NAVI are there for the taking, this MOUZ squad could really do something special this summer. It promises some truly special action heading into the tournaments of the summer. All it will take is a bit more poise under fire.

Photo credit: Adam Lakomy/ESL