Mousesports have been inconsistent online to say the least. Although what options do they have right now. Should they change?
For the second time in a row, Mouz has been eliminated in the group stages. At the Road to Rio, Mouz placed 7th in Group B. At DreamHack Master Spring, Mouz went 0-3 as they lost to BIG, compLexity, and MAD Lions. While the competition was online [rather than LAN], given the circumstances, online results have to be taken far more seriously than before. As that’s the case, it is a good time to ask whether or not Mouz needs a change.
The Mouz Problem
Before we can break into whether or not Mouz need a change, we need to understand what their current problems are. The most obvious problem is a lack of consistency and focus. This issue has been a prolonged problem and first popped up in a big way during the EU Minors for Berlin 2019. In that LAN, they lost to NoChance 14-16 and Sprout was up 1-0 in the series and 12-3 at the half on Dust2. Finn “karrigan” Andersen called a fantastic T-side that saved Mouz. While karrigan saved Mouz that day, Mouz’s lack of focus and inconsistency has continued to follow them. Even during their peak in late 2019, Mouz often lost in the upper-bracket and had to make a loser’s bracket run.
This problem came back to the fore at EPL EU 11 run where Mouz started to lose focus for entire maps or halves. In the second group stage of the tournament, they started to lose maps in a wipeout. FaZe beat Mouz on Train 16-9, Fnatic smashed Mouz 16-7, and Astralis 2-0’d Mouz with Mouz only getting 4 rounds across two maps. Mouz made the finals of that tournament, but that trend continued with Astralis going 16-5 on Inferno and Fnatic going 16-1 on Nuke.
Things got worse as Mouz struggled against lower ranked teams in the Road to Rio. Mouz lost to Movistar Riders, North, and GODSENT. Mouz still had the ceiling to beat G2, but Mouz have failed to play at that level consistently.
Outside of that trend, Mouz has struggled with general individual skill. The krieg nerf has hit Mouz harder as their players used the weapon for entry-kills and stabilizing the CT-side defence. Another indication of Mouz’s struggling individual form is that the T-side is still good. In many of the series that Mouz has struggled or lost in, Mouz usually call the right tactics and can get into 50/50 postplants, but are often losing out in the ensuing retake or individual duels.
The biggest indictment of Mouz is that their problems isn’t localized to a single map. Mouz are struggling across the map pool, which suggests a broader problem, rather than a localized tactical issue.
If we were in a normal situation, the obvious move is to make a line-up change. However the online nature has made it far more ambiguous as there are good arguments for keeping the team together or changing it up.
The Argument for Change
There are three good arguments for why Mouz should change: their overall results, length of time, and role swap potential. Mouz’s line-up is: Chris “chrisJ” de Jong, Robin “ropz” Kool, karrigan, Ozgur “woxic” Eker, and David “frozen” Cernansky. When the team got together, if everything went right the potential ceiling was probably a top 10 team.
When we look at the results, Mouz overachieved beyond expectation. They became a top two-to-three team in the world during late 2019. While that is a fantastic result, that also implies that there isn’t much more potential value to get out of this particular lineup. The length of time and role swaps both affirm this idea. This Mouz squad has been together since March 14, 2019. That means the line-up has been together for 15+ months, which is about 6-9 months longer than the average lineup.
While it’s possible to hit another peak that deep into a line-up’s lifespan, it usually requires an impactful role-swap. Karrigan already played that card in mid-2019 when he switched chrisJ and frozen’s roles. Overall, there isn’t an obvious potential role-swap that could resurrect the team back to its past form.
The Argument Against Change
There are also three good arguments against change: the online nature of the scene, the international nature of the line-up, and potential economic concerns. The online nature of competition increases variance and makes it harder for teams to stay consistent, so you don’t want to read too much into bad results. Liquid and Fnatic, for instance, have shown signs of inconsistency online that weren’t there on LAN.
As that’s the case, it makes sense to give the team a live test before committing to any hard decision. The second reason is the international nature of the line-up. When the five players aren’t playing together, it makes it harder to make small adjustments that can fix or improve the team in intangible ways. The two notable examples are communication and team spirit. At CS:GO Asia, the team swapped seating arrangements which helped improve comms. Woxic told HLTV:
The reason is because Finn (karrigan) started playing with frozen in sites, for example, B on Inferno. They want to see each others' monitors better, because when he was next to me he wouldn't be able to see his (frozen's) monitor. If I sit in the middle as the AWPer, and if I play in Mid on Inferno, I have the guys on B located to my right, and the guys on A located to my left both in real life and in-game.
If Mouz want to experiment with CT-sided role changes, their fluidity and teamplay could also be better on LAN as they can see each other’s monitors which helps alleviate the problems of an international mix.
In the same interview, Woxic talked about how his individual play hyped up the team when TYLOO nearly eliminated them and Woxic saved them with a hero play. Woxic then gave a small pep talk which helped get the team back into the game. Moments like that are much harder to replicate online and a crucial element in differentiating teams that are good on LAN compared to teams that are only good online.
Finally, there are potential economic changes to consider given the current situation and Mouz’s history as an org. Mouz isn’t known as a huge esports team with a lot of money to spend and the Covid situation has hurt most teams financially, so we don’t know if it’s even financially viable for Mouz to make a team change at all.
Given how hard it is to switch a player, Mouz could try a coaching change. A different coach could impact the makeup of a team and there are two good potential coaches on the market: Aleksandar “Kassad” Trifunovic and Alexander “ave” Holdt. Kassad helped Renegades gain a resurrection last year by helping to rebuild their entire playbook. While not as flashy, Ave changed the tactical dynamic of Mathias “MSL” Lauriden’s North led lineups and he could change the Mouz style of play.
To change or not to change, for Mouz that is the question and one they will need to answer soon.
Images via ESL