One of the biggest roster moves in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive offseason was a team swap between Nemanja “nexa” Isaković and Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen. Both players are in-game-leaders. This makes the change even more impactful as both G2 Esports and OG Esports begin to re-think their strategies. According to Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski, OG’s 24-year-old AWPer, bringing in nexa has changed the dynamic of the team.
“With BLAST coming up, we can’t obviously change everything. We still have to run things that worked for us before,” mantuu said. “We are implementing new things, we are changing the way we play, we are, for example, [changing] how I play on T-side.”
Mantuu said that nexa gives the team more freedom than Aleksib did for individuals to play the mid-round the way they want. During their two weeks of practice, their T-side has gotten a much-needed shakeup. Besides mantuu’s AWPing, a player like Shahar “flameZ” Shushan will also be more unleashed than he was under Aleksib’s leadership.
“Changing the way we play from Aleksib to nexa, it helps a lot, especially for players like flameZ,” mantuu said. “Giving this freedom is a good thing.”
The team will be leaning on the 18-year-old Israeli youngster a lot. His aim, reaction speed and youth will all be important for giving their T-side the kick it needs. This freedom is reminiscent of the way OG used to work, according to mantuu. That was before Aleksib leaned more into controlling the individual movement of the players on the offensive. Now they’re getting a breath of nexa’s former G2 style, which gives a lot more space for creativity.
None of this is to say that mantuu doesn’t appreciate his former IGL. On G2, he is confident that Aleksib will be an asset. He spoke about the Finn’s intelligence and easygoing nature.
“I have no doubt that [Aleksib is] easy to get along with in the G2 camp right now,” mantuu said. “He’s always trying to fix a lot of things. He’s not a person shutting down ideas. He’s open to everything.”
Mantuu on OG’s 2022 plans
It can’t be denied that OG struggled in 2021. The team wasn’t able to find consistent success, even missing out on qualification for the PGL Major Stockholm 2021. Nevertheless, they’ve kept the core of their roster together with the aim of reaching new heights in 2022.
“We’re talking a lot as a team about how to fix some problems we had previously with the lineup,” mantuu said. “It’s really been looking good so far.”
Their first test will be at the BLAST Premier: Spring Groups in a bout against Astralis at 10 a.m. ET on Jan. 29. Astralis played their first event of 2022 at the Funspark ULTI Finals, where they were sent packing early after a loss to Entropiq in the lower bracket.
“Against Astralis, I think we’re feeling a little bit confident,” mantuu said. “Obviously, they didn’t have the best start to the season.”
Although Astralis is one team that didn’t make any changes to their roster in the offseason, mantuu said that the Danes still changed their approach to the game.
Even with Astralis blocking their way, mantuu has his sights set on the next match, where OG could go up against Natus Vincere — assuming both teams win their first match.
“I think we just want to play against Na’Vi, just to get this experience for our new lineup and our dynamic playing against them,” mantuu said.
Beyond the BLAST Spring Groups, the team has their sights set on another tournament. Intel Extreme Masters Katowice is one of the most prized trophies in the first half of 2022. What’s more, it will feature an in-arena crowd for the latter stages of the competition. For flameZ, it would be his first Tier 1 LAN. For mantuu, it would be an opportunity for the Polish AWPer to play infront of the home crowd. With no major Polish team at the top of CS:GO, it’s easy to see how the crowd might rally around OG.
“It would be insane,” mantuu said. “Especially for me, playing in front of the Polish crowd would be awesome and a great experience. So I think we’re extra motivated to push ourselves to do even better at Katowice.”
Overall, the team are striving to be a top five team in the world. The journey towards that lofty goal starts at the BLAST Spring Groups in a best-of-one against Astralis.