Saturday, June 25, 2022

Liquid oSee is cold, calculated and keen for some Tier 1 Counter-Strike

When Joshua “oSee” Ohm received word that Team Liquid was interested in pursuing him for their roster reshuffle, he was “thrilled.” In recent years, Liquid has been the top North American Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, not to mention the individual origins of their current roster.

“Being on Team Liquid has been a dream of mine for a while, so obviously it was a no-brainer to say ‘yes’ when they offered it [it to] me,” oSee said. “A lot of the players on the team at the moment were people I looked up to a few years ago when I was trying to continue my career. Learning from them is surreal for me.”

Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella was also officially announced as the fifth member of Liquid’s roster. He reunites with his former teammates Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Keith “NAF” Markovic. All three were part of the 2019 squad that came second to win the Intel Grand Slam. The fourth member of the team is French Counter-Strike legend and Major winner Richard “Shox” Papillon.

And finally there is oSee.

All in all, the four teammates from oSee defected 4 million dollars in prize money throughout her career. And while oSee isn’t a wet newcomer compared to his teammates, he’s the untested with something to prove.

“Everyone on the team was very welcoming, so I didn’t really feel like a rookie, even though I am,” oSee said. “Everyone was really relaxed and helped me to educate myself on how they felt about the game.”

Long touted as one of North America’s top prospects, the 22-year-old AWPer has high expectations. He helped take his former team, Extra Salt, to new heights as they became a bright spot in the decrepit shell of NA CS:GO over the past two years. His former in-game leader, Johnny “JT” Theodosiou, described him as a “demon in the server”.

“He’s someone who doesn’t respect any other team and he knows his skills,” JT said. “Once he starts playing on Tier 1 teams, he’ll be fine.”

JT and oSee
JT and oSee in Extra Salt clothing. | Provided by Extra Salt

Now JT’s claim is put to the test. The quintessential Tier 1 team, Liquid is a partner of ESL and BLAST. This means they don’t have to play their way into many of the tournaments that oSee and his former Extra Salt teammates have had to constantly fight for. But with that Tier 1 title comes responsibility, as well as the demands of constant travel.

“I knew what I was signing up for,” oSee said. “I knew the schedule was going to be hectic as we are in Europe a lot.”

The team soon make their way to Liquid’s Alienware training facility in Utrecht, The Netherlands ahead of BLAST Spring Groups and IEM Katowice. It’s their home away from home as so many events – including most of the BLAST Circuit, Intel Extreme Masters and in all likelihood the ESL Pro League – are held in Europe. Although they’ve already started practicing online, preparations will move into the next gear once the entire team is in the same place at boot camp.

New team, old faces

Nitr0 isn’t the first CS:GO player to return from a stint in VALORANT, although he may be the best known. He made a lasting impression on the 100 Thieves list in the tactical shooter Riot Games. But like oSee’s former teammate at Extra Salt Ricky “floppy” Kemery, nitr0 decided it wasn’t for him.

“I don’t think he enjoys it [VALORANT] too much,” said oSee. “That’s basically the idea that I spoke to him about it.”

According to oSee, nitr0 will fill the role of in-game leader for Liquid, as he did in the 2019 iteration of squad. He’s been watching VODs to keep up with how the T-side meta has evolved since joining VALORANT. Overall, according to oSee, the team isn’t too concerned about nitr0 shaking off the rust.

“He’s been playing CS for so long, and it’s not like he’s just forgotten everything he knows,” oSee said. “So I think it will only take him a week or two to adjust with a lot of practice. I think he will be back where he was with the 2019 Liquid squad.”

Nitr0 at IEM Katowice 2019.
Nitr0 at IEM Katowice 2019. | Photo by Bart Oerbekke. Provided by ESL

With nitr0 IGLing, the rest of the team’s roles fit well together. Shox fills in the lurking position on the T-side, calling out what he sees as nitr0 providing strategies from inside the main pack.

“First impressions: [shox is] A super nice guy, really funny, brings a lot of atmosphere and I think he has a really good mind for the game,” said oSee.

As for NAF and EliGE, they can continue to do what they did as the 14th and 19th best players of 2021, respectively. according to HLTV. Finally, oSee will step into the AWPing role previously filled by another all-time Counter-Strike great in Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo.

“He’s obviously a legend,” oSee said of the Brazilian AWPer. “But I also think I won’t let that affect me too much. I don’t really think about it like I’m going to fill in for him. My focus now is on our team and how they want to play.”

OSee said it has a different AWPing style than Fallen. Less aggressive than Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev but more aggressive than Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov, oSee believes his approach to the big green falls somewhere in the middle.

“I’m something of a [Helvijs “broky” Saukants]’ said oSee. “I’ve heard a lot of people say I like AWP like Broky. I’m not sure how true that is.”

The big leagues

The first major tournament played by oSee and Co. are BLAST Spring Groups, which take place online. The next tournament is IEM Katowice, which will be held at the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland – packed with thousands of fans (COVID-19 related snafus aside).

In esports, the arena environment is the true proving ground for young talent. Sure, they might get the scraps at home, but can they do that in a stadium in front of legions of screaming fans?

A welcome challenge for oSee. His first arena event was DreamHack Leipzig in 2020 where he played under the Cloud9 banner. From this experience, he learned that while he enjoys the “oohs and aahs,” his even temper keeps him grounded.

“I’m a guy who doesn’t get overly hyped in-game,” oSee said. “I would not say that [crowds] hype me too much, but I don’t think I feel the pressure too much either.”

Liquid believes oSee is ready for the challenge of Tier 1 Counter-Strike; His former Extra Salt teammates believe in it, and oSee himself believes in it. All that’s left is to prove it to the world.

“Over time,” oSee said, “I think anything is possible with this squad.”

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