Mouz trap: the STYKO conundrum
The return of STYKO to mousesports raises important questions about the chemistry of the team and the true significance of the ‘support’ players in top teams.
Martin “STYKO” Styk has returned to Mousesports after his benching in June and stand-in period with Cloud9 as the team now benches its latest signing, Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski. The 22-year-old Slovak went from being seen as the weak link in Mouz to a surprisingly adept player more than worthy of his place on the team in a matter of months. STYKO’s initial time on Mousesports had uncertainty woven throughout it from the very start.
Always the bridesmaid
STYKO was present in the modest Czech scene, as well as working as an interviewer, before spending two years on HellRaisers. In 2017, reports that Miikka “suNny” Kemppi and Oscar “mixwell” Canellas would be the pair to join Mouz turned out to only be partly accurate and they brought in STYKO instead of the Spaniard. STYKO joined Mousesports to replace Denis “denis” Howell and, having ‘kicked out’ the last German playing for the org, some were initially hostile to the news.
Despite initial inconsistency, Mousesports ultimately grew to be a real contender for titles by the end of 2017. A win at ESG Tours Mykonos was the peak for Mousesports that year and many expected big things for the team in 2018. While mouz reached a new high with STYKO, with the org claiming a Legends spot for the first time at ELEAGUE Major Boston at the start of 2018, rumours that Dennis “dennis” Edman could be brought in as a replacement started mere days after the event ended. Instead, the Swede ended up on NiP and STYKO remained on Mouz in what felt like a stay of execution.
In June, STYKO was benched from Mouz and after a stand-in period with Cloud9, returned to the bench at the end of September as the NA organisation signed Robin “flusha” Ronnquist instead. STYKO was frequently dropping the AWP to Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham and playing many of the hardest spots. Despite this, in his weakest games with Cloud9, he was only the lowest rated on the team in one match (12-16 against Astralis during a Bo3 at ESL One: Cologne).
While STYKO remained in team limbo, mouz signed VP’s once-shining star, Snax. Snax was decidedly underwhelming on mouz, being neither the star he once was nor willing to be a STYKO 2.0. The roster won a tournament with Snax, but in the midst of the victory at ESL One: New York, it can’t be forgotten that mouz went from Major Legends in Boston to crashing out 0-3 in the New Legends stage. Now needing to fight through a Closed Qualifier to even have a chance to make the New Legends stage again in Katowice, the team also bombed out of StarSeries following the NY win.
Inconsistency has always been a challenge, but mouz in recent times never looked as violently up and down as with Snax.
SuNny said in an HLTV interview about STYKO that he would speak for others on the team, giving callouts for whatever was happening and communicating what would happen next mid-round. Not just playing a support, but providing the information that has shown to have been crucial to the recent success of Mousesports. Now, STYKO comes back to mouz vindicated, with the respect of the community earned and the knowledge the team didn’t just want him back but felt they needed him.
‘Support’ vs. role players
Epitacio “TACO” de Melo’s initial removal from the SK Gaming roster came after months of community criticism. While Jake “Stewie2K” Yip is undoubtedly a talented player, bringing him in to replace TACO didn’t fix the issues on the team but added the additional challenge of communicating in a new language. Star Marcelo “coldzera” David even wanted to leave MIBR in June after a continued string of poor results and communication struggles. Switching Ricardo “boltz” Prass for Tarik “tarik” Celik was a step in the right direction and helped bring some stability, but the team is still a long way from their era of dominance last year.
On STYKO’s former team, HellRaisers, DeadFox has faced criticism himself. The former AWPer for the team has been overshadowed by the duo of woxic and ISSAA. In his very own ‘Yo Les Noobs’ moment, he put out a statement in which he spoke about how he plays ‘the most despicable positions’, entries to get traded and is still on the team due to CS overall being a team game.
In the case of STYKO himself, when you have three potential stars and an IGL who can also put up numbers, it is no surprise a player lags behind in terms of stats. This can vary from match to match, but a support player is rarely expected to be the hard carry in any scenario. However, a player willing to sacrifice at the cost of their own statistics often become the sacrificial lamb that is slaughtered when the team struggles or feels they need a change, even if they bring a lot to a team beyond frags.
The HLTV rating will always favour fraggers over players primarily doing the grunt work for a team’s stars. It is not impossible for a role player to under-perform or to be a hinderance on a team, but many teams can benefit from a player who is willing to play difficult spots, set up star players and bring cohesion within through secondary calling. Rather than simply being a ‘support’ player, these players are role players, able to fit where they are needed and do what is required to benefit the team. The return of STYKO shows Mousesports understanding and respecting this type of player now they have played without one and the community is starting to realise how important these players are to a team’s form.
The second mouse
Mousesports have some pressure off their shoulders by returning to the familiar lineup where they all of the players can be comfortable within the system but eyes will be on them for IEM Chicago. The Europe Closed Qualifier for IEM Katowice will take place at the start of December so Chicago will be Mouz’s only chance to impress as a team on LAN before the online qualifier.
With the likes of Astralis, Na’Vi, Team Liquid and new rivals BIG all waiting, there will be a lot of pride on the line and a solid performance could lead to success there and beyond. Hungry teams like ENCE, North and OpTic will be at the Closed Qualifier with a lot to prove too, so Mousesports have to once again hit the level they reached in April to become the second best team in the world to ensure the roster doesn’t implode once more. The components are all there and the return of STYKO should be the glue that holds Mouz together for the foreseeable future.
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