The online era in CS:GO hit everyone differently. Some teams excelled in this environment, stunning much more experienced opponents. Others shrunk, giving up matches they had no right to lose. Where does OG fall in this balance is still unclear.
The team that came together 10 months ago and only got to play on LAN twice, at ICE challenge 2020 and BLAST Premier Spring, finishing both in the Top 6. Online, OG got a mixed bag of results as well, qualifying to a few major competitions, like cs_summit, DreamHack, and IEM, but failing to impress during the main event.
OG is slowly but surely getting to the top 10 of the HLTV rating, although six months ago, many doubted that the stellar line-up would be able to do it. Cybersport.ru talked with the most experienced team member, Nathan “NBK” Schmitt, and found out why the Frenchman does not like the online tournament system, what he thinks about the coaching bug scandal, how OG has a different understanding of Counter-Strike from other teams, and what curiosities this leads to.
– Due to the pandemic, teams started gathering for bootcamps only in the last one or two months. How is this situation in OG?
– No doubt, we want to get together at the bootcamp. We want to be together and work on our game as much as possible, but Issa ISSAA Murad is located in Jordan – we care about the safety of our player and his family, so there are difficulties. We are waiting for the situation to be settled.
Most of the teams managed to get together at bootcamps, because their members live in the same country, in the same city. We just have to wait for the right moment. It is difficult for ISSAA to get to Europe, and it makes no sense to make a bootcamp without him — the team must be in full force. Again, we do not want to endanger our families, we prefer not to take risks.
Instead of a bootcamp, we decided to work hard online. And to be honest, we play at a good level, constantly getting better. Productivity is comparable to that of a bootcamp.
– Many professional players have mentioned that they feel burnout in the online era. How do you and the team deal with the routine?
– It’s very difficult for teams. Most have never played as many officials as now. It is a little easier for us, a team that strives for the top, in this regard, because every match is really important to us. We really want to get better, and each game is an additional opportunity.
We have a goal that we are yet to reach. We play a lot, and that’s how we manage. We want to win, please the fans and ourselves, which means that we need to train, work on mistakes, come up with something new. All this takes time.
We didn’t make it to the ESL Pro League Season 12 playoffs , but that gave us two weeks just to rest. Those who continue to play will not have a break. The matches are only seven days away, but they need to prepare for their rivals. These are the tournaments now, and there is clearly something wrong with that. It’s hard to keep going at the same pace. To show stable results, you need to take breaks, and now you play at every championship, gaining points to get to one or another final stage. This is an unhealthy system where you have to participate in every tournament and at the same time have to constantly win – otherwise, it’s all for nothing.
– In a recent interview, the captain of G2 Esports Nemanja “huNter” Kovacs said that it is important for players to be distracted from Counter-Strike, including in order to unload psychologically. What are you practicing?
– It all depends on what surrounds you. Personally, I don’t have any problems outside of CS:GO, so I can fully focus on the game and enjoy it. I’ve been performing for over ten years now, it’s a common routine – I’m used to the high tempo of the competition. I still have passion.
So I would not say that the online era squeezes all the juices out of me, it’s more about the fact that now you need to constantly show your best side and be continuously focused. It’s hard to give your all in the matches with the same energy over and over again. In a word, I do not need to recover psychologically. It became more difficult for the coaches and captains who are preparing for the games, but I will not speak for everyone.
– Another high-profile topic is the bans of coaches. There are two opinions on the Internet: some believe that nothing very serious happened, others see this as a problem. What do you think?
– I had no idea that such a bug exists in the game. It seems crazy to me that someone might not attach much importance to this. We all compete to become the best – players, captains, coaches. Therefore, using a bug or something prohibited, which clearly gives you a total advantage … I cannot understand how these people generally compete.
At the same time, I will not say that I am so surprised by what happened. Many are willing to do anything to get at least a minimal advantage over others. It will be sad if all this leads to Valve reconsidering the position of the coach and introducing some new restrictions — after all, coaches are very important now.
– An open question is what to do with the players, because many believe that they could not but receive information from the banned coaches.
– It’s a fine line. As long as there are no records of comms from matches in which the teams used the bug, the players cannot be considered guilty. I don’t think that without this [solid proof] any of the players could be fairly punished. Because the coach could easily call and make decisions for a team that had no idea about anything.
– Over the past three years the scene has changed dramatically and, in my opinion, the concept of “success” has become very blurred. Earlier, getting into the playoffs of a Major was considered a great achievement, but now it is solid online, tournaments are going one after another. What is “success” now?
– A deep question. This needs to be looked at from two sides. First of all, “success” is a very personal thing, each team thinks differently. If you try to look impartially, I think if a team makes the playoffs in almost every tournament and wins some of them, it can be considered a success.
We live in the online era, there are a lot of tournaments, a lot of things are happening. It is impossible to peak every match. This is possible on a LAN, where you often have different opponents and not all matches go to two wins. There are a lot of strong teams online. On a good day, any team from the top 40 can beat the team from the top 5. You have to prove your strength in every match, which is incredibly difficult.
For me, success is stability. All the top teams participate in online tournaments, so winning even one is an achievement. Because now it is very difficult!
– OG is the first international team for you – you have a French, Finn, Danish, Jordanian and a person with Polish and British roots. Everyone has their own background, how does this affect your style?
– It’s true, everyone has their own roots — both from the point of view of the country of birth, and in the understanding of Counter-Strike. Because of this, at first there were difficulties with the playstyle, which Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen wants to adhere to. It’s important to know how everyone understands Counter-Strike in order to use it effectively.
For example, Waldemar “valde” Wangse and ISSAA play rather passively, they like to take time to think when they are dealing with something. On the other hand, there is Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski and I, much more aggressive players, and Aleksib is somewhere in between. There are usually no problems with communication, but everyone sees the game differently. Sometimes funny moments happen because of this.
Once we had a 2v2 situation on Inferno, ISSAA was in the pit with a smoke, and valde was on the plant and asked to smoke him off, meaning to give smoke to long so that valde had room to maneuver. ISSAA threw smoke directly at valde – we were dying of laughter. But they won the round anyway. That happens. Sometimes it is even necessary to cheer each other up.
– During your career you have played in many teams. Is OG a completely new experience for you, or can you draw parallels with some of your past rosters?
– This is a unique project, where it was required to develop team chemistry from scratch, a kind of family vibe. In French teams it was much easier with this, because we all knew each other.
– Teams set themselves different goals: some focus on a certain long-term task, others are limited to short-term. What is OG’s goal?
– It is important for everyone to play at the majors. If we can get our stickers the first time, it will be very cool, both the players and the management will obviously be happy about it. Our goal by the end of the year is to win the tournament, whatever it may be. In addition, you need to find stability, to work as hard as possible. However, all these are links of one chain. We know that it is possible, we can handle everything.
– You are a two-time Major Champion, you won everything you can. What motivates you to keep playing?
– Apparently, I want to win even more (laughs) . I would like to raise the bar even higher, for me this is the main thing. I have no goal to win any one particular championship, the point is in the number of trophies. Winning on an international team in an era when everyone is good is a challenge for me. It is important to have a competitive spirit. This is why OG is so important to me.
Cover photo by Igor Bezborodov / Starladder