As 2021 comes to an end, we now see Astralis, FaZe, MOUZ and plenty other teams having one single thing in common: they are closing this year unsatisfied, and far from achieving what they set to do back earlier on. This, of course, isn’t anything new to Counter-Strike. The scene gets more and more competitive by the year, but it still hurts both the players and fans just the same – and OG is no exception to that.
Yes, OG. The one team that had a remarkable slow and disappointing year in 2021. From one of the most promising squads that left 2020 as one of the ten best CSGO teams in the world to this point, OG’s Counter-Strike division had a rough year.
But what happened? How did OG failed to meet expectations in most events they took part of? This is what we’re exploring today.
OG’s final months of 2020 were eventful. While their final appearance of that year was a disappointing last-place finish at the BLAST Premier Fall Finals, the team had just finished 2nd in Flashpoint 2 and IEM New York EU.
Sure, the team also had some rough results in between such as their performance at IEM Beijing-Haidian. However, you could mostly fault these to the online era, which certainly was affecting OG’s Jordanian player Issa “ISSAA” Murad. Furthermore, as we now know, that team was having a clash of visions between Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt and the rest of the team.
So, OG ended 2020 in a high note after all. They hadn’t reached their ceiling and even then, they were having good performances when it mattered the most. If you watched OG back then, you could very well say that they were a few pieces away from becoming a real contender. OG ended the year in 7th place in HLTV’s world rankings, and while you could argue about that, they clearly were a top 10 team.
So, 2021 started, and so did OG’s campaign. Their first stop was cs_summit 7 where the team finished in the quarter-finals after being beaten by Heroic. It’s important to notice that OG’s path to the playoffs wasn’t really difficult. They beat Dignitas twice to qualify. They first defeated them in the opening match of their group, then got defeated by FNATIC but advanced by beating Dignitas once again in the decider.
OG’s next tournament would be the 4-team SteelSeries Invitational. OG finished in first place after beating FaZe Clan in the finals. While this tournament can’t be considered a real test for this squad, a real chance to proof something came up shortly after. It was time for the BLAST Premier Spring Groups. OG went with high hopes and left with their heads down, though, as the team finished in last place after getting beaten by BIG and Astralis without winning a single map.
Yet, things weren’t over for this OG iteration as IEM Katowice 2021, the first premier event of the year was set to start. OG fans still had hopes as the team had shown in the past that they were always able to surprise in big events, so there was still hope. However, OG didn’t take much time to completely break all these hopes: the team finished dead last once again. This time, they were defeated by Vitality in their opening match and finished by FaZe Clan. Also, once more OG couldn’t take a single map.
After IEM Katowice, it was obvious. That OG iteration featuring ISSAA, NBK-, Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski and Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså wasn’t getting any better. The contrary, actually.
So, after Katowice, OG announced the first roster move of their CS roster since its foundation in December 2019. NBK- was out. OG didn’t immediately announce who was replacing him, and NBK still played for the team during ESL Pro League Season 13 – which OG failed to reach the playoffs of – but when Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen joined the team as a temporary member for the DreamHack Masters Spring qualifier, it was clear that niko could become his replacement. At the same time, though, it couldn’t be more obvious that NBK alone wasn’t the issue of this team, and someone else was on the chopping block.
This other player was ISSAA. The Jordanian player’s performance was truly affected by the online era, and he was holding back OG. It’s was a shame to see such a promising player go, but it wasn’t working out. So, he following NBK- to the bench in March.
Now, OG needed to find two new players. After a month of much consideration, OG had their new squad officialised in April. Alongside with niko, OG also brought in Shahar “flameZ” Shushan, a promising talent from Endpoint. With these two, hopes were once again reignited for this team, and their first challenge would come soon.
In April 13th, this new iteration of OG headed to their first match since flameZ joined. It was also the team’s last hope of qualifying to BLAST Spring Finals, so stakes were high. It was time for the BLAST Premier Spring Showdown.
OG’s first opponent was the then close-to-crumble Astralis. Even so, the Danish powerhouse still was a dangerous team, and when OG defeated then with a 2 – 0 record, fans finally had a reason to commemorate. Unfortunately, OG were eliminated immediately after by G2 after a disputed BO3. However, losing to G2 in close fashion at that point in time wouldn’t stop fans of being hopeful for this OG’s chances in the future.
In the next weeks, OG managed to qualify to IEM Summer 2021 without any issues, but worrisome signs showed up again. In May, it was time for Flashpoint 3 – one of Valve’s RMR events that would lead to the Major later in the year. There, OG once again failed to perform. Astralis got their revenge on Aleksib’s team, and then Vitality eliminated them. OG finished another tournament in last place.
However, May wasn’t over, and OG had another event to participate. It was a smaller event – Spring Sweet Spring 2 – but a competitive one nonetheless. OG only had to play in the quarter-finals onwards, and they made quick work of 1WIN and Fiend to reach the event’s grand-finals. They faced BIG then, and after a disputed game, OG took home the trophy, $40.000 and a spot to LAN Sweet LAN.
OG’s next tournament after Spring Sweet Spring 2 was a premier one. It was time for the IEM Summer, and expectations for this OG team were high. Now, Aleksib had more time to work on this roster compared to Flashpoint 3, and the team had more experience together.
So OG’s run at IEM Summer start in early June. Their first opponent was NiP, who had just brought in a new player from their academy team. The Ninjas were no match for OG, and the Europeans advanced. Next, it was Virtus.Pro. The Russians gave their best, but even so, mantuu was simply too good then and send VP to the lower-bracket without dropping a map. Finally, it was time for the upper final of OG’s group, and Aleksib & co. were set to face Evil Geniuses. While EG took the first map of the series, OG simply stepped up their game – hard – and flameZ and mantuu gave a taste of how incredible they can be on the server.
OG won against EG and qualified to IEM Summer’s semi-finals. There, OG faced Vitality and that game certainly was a surprise for many. Vitality’s star had an off-day, and while one of their newest players rose up, they couldn’t face OG’s AWPer, who took his team to the grand-finals.
Unfortunately for OG, Gambit was just simply too strong. In their grand-finals best-of-five series, Gambit simply never lost control of the game and didn’t let OG build any momentum after the first map. The Russians won the event without dropping a single map to OG, but for the Europeans, finishing in 2nd place was more than enough. They had shown that this team could work, and flameZ and mantuu could become world-class stars that would lead this roster to success.
OG left IEM Summer with their heads up. The team finally gave fans a performance worth rooting for. Now, the first CSGO international LAN in over a year was on the horizon. IEM Cologne was OG’s next stop, and expectations were off the roof.
Before reaching IEM Cologne’s main stage, though, OG had to go through the event’s Play-In. It was supposed to be an easy task for OG, but you can guess what actually happened. The team failed to survive it as they got eliminated by one of the least dangerous teams there, Renegades. The Australians outclassed OG in-game as the Europeans had one of their worst performances yet.
Then, it was time for the player break. OG returned as an incognita from the recess. In the first post-break tournament, ESL Pro League 14, fans once more saw the potential this team had. OG went undefeated through the group stage, and reached the tournament’s semi-finals after beating NiP in the quarters. Their next opponent, Vitality was too much, though. Even so, it was a good, promising effort from OG.
Unfortunately, that was the last good showing from them this year. Afterwards, Aleksib and his teammates finished in last place at the BLAST Fall Groups with losses against Na’Vi and FaZe. Then, in the final RMR event, IEM Fall, OG finished in 3rd in their group. They then got beaten by both FaZe and Heroic, respectively, in a last-chance bracket which was OG’s final hope of getting a ticket to the Major.
Failing at IEM Fall was OG’s breaking point, and the team was simply dead afterwards. They still played in two events after it: BLAST Fall Showdown and IEM Winter. OG finished in last place in the former, and 9 – 12th in the latter. It was over.
At the end of the day, we can simply sum up OG’s 2021 by their results. Despite three strong showings at Spring Sweet Spring 2, IEM Summer and ESL Pro League 14, this year was a mess for this squad.
So, here’s the sum up: OG didn’t qualify for the Major. They finished two of the most important events of the year, IEM Katowice and Flashpoint 3 in last place. They failed to reach the main stage of the first international LAN tournament in over a year at IEM Cologne. OG didn’t qualify for any of the main BLAST Premier events as they didn’t attend the Spring Final, Fall Final and World Final. Finally, OG finished 2020 as the 7th best team in the world, but now leaves 2021 in 17th place. It’s a year that everyone on this team and their fans will want to forget.
It’s hard to judge what went wrong with this OG project. When you look at OG’s biggest failure – their performance at IEM Cologne – we learned that both flameZ and mantuu were feeling under the weather. Having your stars not at their best certainly will impact your team’s chances. However, at the same time, when we look at their match against Renegades, there’s more than just underperforming individuals, especially considering that the aforementioned players actually played well. In that specific game, OG was simply disconnected, disjointed. Rewatching their Mirage game shows that the team felt lost, they failed to answer Renegades and got stuck by not adapting to what Renegades was throwing at them.
However, that’s just one match. What about the rest? In their recent games, one can see that OG continues to struggle to adapt. Besides that, OG often have to deal with one of their fraggers simply underperforming when they need them the most. Be it their AWPer, mantuu, or flameZ or valde. Also, it’s hard to ignore that OG has a seriously weak map pool. The team seems to be comfortable in Dust2 and Inferno, but they are far from the best on these maps. Then they have Ancient, which still is a wildcard. They aren’t comfortable in either Nuke or Overpass, and while they seem to like Mirage, they don’t excel at it either.
So, here’s how you can sum up this OG iteration: on paper, they have everything a team needs to work. A strong in-game leader, a more-than-capable AWPer, two strong riflers and an experienced support player. On the server, though, this is a team that can’t adjust themselves to answer their opponents. They have a broken map pool that doesn’t give them any advantages. They have an inconsistent roster that is struggling to adapt to the return of offline events. And to top it all, at times OG seemingly loses its team chemistry. When that happens – see their match against Heroic at BLAST Fall Showdown – the team breaks up and instead of a unit, OG becomes five individuals playing on their own. They disconnect from each other.
Right now, the only rumor regarding OG is that the team’s captain, Aleksib, is on G2’s radar. Should he accept FaZe’s offer, it’s hard to imagine a name to replace him in this team as he is still considered by many one of the best captains around.
Independent of that, it’s also time to consider who can turn the tides around for this team. Some fans point out that it’s time for niko, their support player, to go. Others say that flameZ needs to be replaced by a better, consistent player. OG’s coach, Casper “ruggah” Due could also be a candidate for replacement depending on who you ask.
In any case, it won’t be long until we see what the future holds for this squad. January is almost here, and that’s when we can expect to see the juicy roster moves happening. Whether OG will end up at the losing or winning side of the equation is yet to be seen.
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