After a disappointing exit from Season Eight of the ESL Pro League Finals, it looks like BIG is getting ready for another roster move. According to VPEsports, the German esports organization will be replacing Owen “smooya” Butterfield.
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) January 30, 2019
According to the report, Johannes “nex” Maget will be returning to the active lineup to replace the UK-born player. Nex has been out of the lineup for some time due to wrist issues but may return soon. In Nex’s absence, the team acquired former Space Soldiers member, İsmailcan “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş. Apparently, BIG said that their intentions once Nex came back was to run a six-man lineup. As for Smooya, sources say that he actually decided to bench himself earlier this month, although that information hasn’t been confirmed yet. However, VPEsports confirms that Smooya has already reached out to several North American and European teams to gauge interest about his upcoming status as a free agent.
A Struggle for BIG
Although ESL confirms that BIG will be attending this year’s ESL event in Cologne, that event was the last good showing from the roster. Ever since their second place finish at ESL One Cologne 2018, BIG hasn’t gotten to a grand final for any major events. The best they would do were third-place finishes at SuperNova Malta 2018 and cs_summit 3. The last event BIG would play at, the ELEAGUE CSGO Invitational, they would suffer an early exit as well.
It looks like BIG Clan is planning to have their first event be the IEM Katowice Major. On their roster, they have Nex listed as a coach for the team so they can switch out Smooya for Nex any time they want. That event would be the ultimate testing grounds for their roster, especially if Nex is taking Smooya’s spot on the team. Additionally, this could be a great time for Smooya to prove his worth to the world and try to entice some teams into picking him up from free agency when the time comes.
With the Major so close, it is odd that BIG would want to make such a big change to their roster. However, there is a plethora of reasons why this may happen soon. Personal reasons are very likely, as Smooya has always been very critical about himself. He has said in multiple interviews that he thinks Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz is a better AWPer than he is. He could simply be unhappy about his situation with BIG, and wanting a change of environment is understandable. Smooya hasn’t been having the greatest performances as of late, so a fresh start with a new team could be good for the young AWPer.
However, another reason could simply be tactical. Smooya can be a bit inconsistent with his play, which can lead to unpredictable performances. At the ELEAGUE Invitational, Smooya had good games against FaZe Clan and compLexity, while playing badly against Cloud9. Stats only tell half the story though so while we lack information, most of the discussion will be speculation. There could be communication issues between teammates, or some teammates could be clashing against one another. Who knows? All we know is, wherever Smooya ends up, we wish him the best of luck moving forward.
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