The young Slovak, Martin “STYKO” Styk, has endured a rollercoaster of a year. Following both a short stint at Cloud9 and a dutiful session of benchwarming, has Mr. Styk finally started to battle against the current of failure in the top scene?
After being added to the mousesports roster in August 2017, he and his new squad of European brethren enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top echelon of the Counter Strike elite: it was an elevation that broke their spell of being the laughing stock of the scene. This time was marked by numerous premier tournament wins and top placings, including winning ESG Mykonos 2017 and placing second at ECS Season 4 Finals in Cancun. The team’s string of successes did not stop as 2017 drew to an end. Notably, they won StarSeries Season 4 and the V4 Future Sports Festival 2018 (the latter being an addition of funds to the players’ wallets more than anything else). However, apart from these two victories, the middle of the year was a dry spell for mouz. While they did maintain their spot in the majors and achieved top 4s, their consistency as a tournament-winning team was severely disrupted and they failed to reach another final other than ESL One Belo Horizonte 2018.
Who was to blame for this decline? You can say it was a confluence of factors. Oskar had personal problems that impacted the team, leading up to him skipping an entire premier tournament. Many of the players also underwent a dip in performance around the time of March – June, with Styko suffering the biggest decline in rating. As is often done, a scapegoat was chosen (and sacrificed to the blood gods, if you will). In late June, Styko was put on the bench in favor of Polish legend Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski. Leading up to this, Martin was being put on blast by some of the CS fandom, who invariably focuses on statistics over everything else, whilst ignoring Styko’s talents as the “ultimate role player”. It’s true that his stats were diminished as 2018 went on, coming from a high of 0.97 in January to 0.86 in late June; however, obvious stats such as ADR and K/D tell only a fraction of the story. The intangibles of a support player’s importance are hard to visualize, but a series of tweets by analytics team SixteenZero shows how much Styko did for his team. Standout stats show that Styko threw way more high-explosive grenades (HEs) than Snax on the CT side, and overall team HEs usage dropped on the T side during Styko’s hiatus. Also, Styko had a significantly better 1vs1 clutch percentage (59% vs 28%) than Snax, and Sunny (the star player) had to throw more HEs in the Snax roster.
With Styko on the bench and Snax on the starting roster, mousesports continued their year’s journey with even less accomplishments. They had a few top four finishes, but the elephant in the room is their abysmal Major run at FACEIT London 2018, ending it in a miserable 15-16th placing. The explanation for this certainly lies in the somewhat-bizarre choice of picking up Snax. Not only was Snax nearing the end of his career as a player, marked by less-than-mediocre statistics for a (former) world class player’s standards, his lackluster English complicated the team’s communications. Even more so was the lack of logic in the team’s roles: with Snax used to being a star, he was expected to play a much more supportive style than he was used to, more akin to that of Styko’s. This led to both confusion and a failure for mouz to play as a cohesive unit. In a Twitter AMA, Oskar confirms these suspicions. Regarding communication, he says “We have some comms problems [at the moment]. It’s not as it was for sure.” In a response to a tweet in Oskar’s native language, it is also suggested that because of the failed major and Snax comms problems, the team’s cohesion was low and there were issues between teammates that Oskar himself felt. Even with a miracle run to 1st place at ESL New York 2018, (an impressive feat despite the lack of Astralis at the event), the writing was on the wall. Styko was reinstated back to the roster less than a week after Mousesports’ surprise victory at NY. With Styko back on the roster, and with a few big tournaments left in 2018, mousesports have an opportunity to end the year strongly.
“We have some comms problems [at the moment]. It’s not as it was for sure.” – Oskar
So, is there moral to the story for this whole saga? Martin Styk’s kick from mouz’ starting five was more controversial than those of support players before, and he was continuously defended by prominent community members. A notable example is on “By the Numbers”, the quintessential CS podcast hosted by Richard Lewis and Duncan “Thorin” Shields; over the months, they continuously defended Styko, even during his problematic run as a C9 standin, when his statistics really took a dive. The two always praised Styko on his selflessness in the server, ability to take blame, and humble nature that befits someone of his role in the game. Unlike previous years, the propensity of the CS:GO community to not blindly blame Styko for mouz’s problems shows more understanding of the inherent difficulties of playing support. With Astralis’ current domination of the Counter Strike scene, one can only hope that it will shine a light on the importance of a cohesive team structure with every player fulfilling a concrete role, so that players like Styko will get the respect they deserve.