ELEAGUE Major Boston saw Mousesports become Major Legends for the first time in the organisation's history. The FACEIT Major London had Mouz fail to win a single game, losing not only their Legends status, but a spot in the next Major. The most recent dissapointment was the Europe Minor for IEM Katowice has seen them eliminated from Group A by Valiance, who beat them in a best-of-one as well as a best-of-three.
Mouz were still a top five team in terms of ranking with a core more than capable of top tier victory., but Chris "chrisJ" de Jong, Martin "STYKO" Styk and coach Sergey "lmbt" Bezhanov were all surprisingly benched in the disappointment's wake.
When Mousesports crashed out of the New Legends Stage at the FACEIT Major in London, a change made for that Major meant 0-3 teams did not automatically keep their spot in the New Challenger stage, instead having to go back through the Closed Qualifier. Many decried the system, believing Mouz simply had a bad week and should not lose their spot while Cloud9, utilising benched Mouz player STYKO, managed to retain a spot by only beating one team, the other team to go 0-3, Winstrike.
STYKO's time in Cloud9 showed how he was far from a poor individual player and Mouz, despite winning tournaments in his absence, were clearly a less coherent and polished team without him. At the time, suNny spoke about STYKO after Mousesports won ESL One New York. He described how STYKO would be giving callouts and doing mid-round calling and how the team failed to realise how crucial and relatively unique that quality is in a teammate.
In every EU Minor, the teams are expected to be of a higher calibre than their counterparts in the other three regions. This time around, the event was notably stacked. Vitality with French veterans and scene prodigy ZywOo, Finnish' prodigies ENCE looking to take what they failed to in London, OpTic with new signing refrezh, North under new leadership with plenty to prove. It wasn't any of these teams that ended up chasing Mouz out of the Minor however, it was Valiance & Co, a clear underdog team with talent but lacking experience.
Mousesports were a clear favourite going into the Minor. As a team that attends more events than most, burnout as a roster may have been a factor considering the Minor fell straight after the Christmas break. suNny himself admitted the team were too comfortable and didn't put in the level of work they should have leading up to what should have been a mere obstacle in Mousesports' Major journey.
No jokes today, Thats how it looks like when you let yourself feel too comfortable as a team. We are pretty damn bad right now and didnt do enough work coming into this event. Dont know whats the solution, we will see. ??♂️Cheering for my finnish friends nowSorry
— Miikka (@suNnycsgo)
With ENCE making it through to the New Challenger stage, suNny is likely looking at his fellow countrymen with a sense of envy. His future could hinge on the relative successes of both Mousesports and ENCE, as other teams in the past have looked to poach the Finnish player.
For now, suNny remains as part of the core Mouz will work with moving forward. Unlike other top teams right now, Mouz have the freedom to potentially change more than the usual two that occurs when a team needs to retain a spot at the next Major. Many suspected oskar was the likely removal and that change could still happen should the future Mouz fail to find success.
With chrisJ, STYKO and lmbt on the bench, the questions now are where the trio end up and who will come in to replace them. No strong rumours at the time of writing are circulating, but that has not stopped speculations, opinions and theories from being expressed.
Part of Mouz in 1.6 as well as in GO, benched FaZe IGL Finn "karrigan" Andersen seems a natural choice to take the reins of another European mix team. However, North and OpTic are unlikely to let him slip away considering their own Danish rosters failings at the Minor. Depending on how the Danish scene shuffles, karrigan may choose to return home over staying abroad. It is also possible he is kept by nV or snapped up by another NA team as more European talent crosses the pond. Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen is continuing his tenure on Rogue while Golden, despite being out of action, is still the official IGL of Cloud9.
In terms of a fifth beyond the IGL role, it is anyone's guess. The same can also be said for the destinations of the three Mouzketeers.
ChrisJ has potential options such as FaZe, C9 or BIG. Before the departure of Owen "smooya" Butterfield, BIG spoke of potentially moving Fatih "gob b" Dayik to coach, Cloud9 are working around Maikil "Golden" Selim's ongoing health issues and FaZe are looking shaky with NiKo at the helm. Some more unusual destinations could also be on the cards. Despite winning the ICE Challenge, North also crashed out of the Major, with IGL and AWPer Casper "cadiaN" Moller not being the player some expected, they have positively experimented with international players in the past winning Dreamhack Open Valencia 2018 with Oscar "mixwell" Canellas.
Lmbt could return to HellRaisers as the team's analyst Amiran "ami" Rekhviashvili is currently in the coaching spot following the departure of Ivan "Johnta" Shevtsov to TYLOO. STYKO would also be an upgrade over Bence "DeadFox" Borocz as a support player if he too returned to HR.
No rumours have emerged either way as to who will join the roster and where those removed will end up, so speculation will likely continue until the conclusion of IEM Katowice. The results of the Major could see other options emerge from any particularly strong or poor performances that may happen.
Where do you think the benched trio lands? Comment below!