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When Joshua “oSee” Ohm got the news that Team Liquid were interested in pursuing him for their roster rebuild, he was “ecstatic.” For the past few years, Liquid have been the best North American Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, not to mention the individual pedigree of their current roster.
“Being on Team Liquid has been a dream of mine for some time so, obviously, it was a no-brainer to say ‘yes’ when they offered [it to] me,” oSee said. “A lot of the players on the team right now were people I used to look up to a couple years ago when I tried to pursue my career. Learning from them is surreal to 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 on the 2019 squad that became the second team 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’s oSee.
Collectively, oSee’s four teammates have accrued over $4 million in prize money throughout their careers. And, although oSee is no wet-behind-the-ears newbie, relative to his teammates, he’s the untested one with something to prove.
“Everyone on the team has been very welcoming, so I haven’t really felt like I’m the rookie, quote-unquote, even though I am,” oSee said. “Everyone’s been really chill and helping me get up to speed about how they think about the game.”
Long touted as one of North America’s premier prospects, expectations are high for the 22-year-old AWPer. He helped elevate his former team, Extra Salt, to new heights as they became a bright spot in the dilapidated husk that has been 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 that doesn’t respect any other team and he knows his capabilities,” JT said. “When he starts playing Tier 1 teams, he’s going to be fine.”
Now, JT’s claim will be put to the test. As the epitome of a Tier 1 team, Liquid are partners 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 had to constantly grind and battle for. But with that Tier 1 title comes responsibility, like the demands of constant travel.
“I knew coming in what I was signing up for,” oSee said. “I knew the schedule was going to be hectic with us being in Europe a lot.”
The team is soon heading to Liquid’s Alienware training facility in Utrecht, Netherlands ahead of BLAST Spring Groups and IEM Katowice. It’s their home-away-from-home with so many events — including most of the BLAST circuit, Intel Extreme Masters and, in all likelihood, ESL Pro League — taking place in Europe. Although they’ve already begun practicing online, preparations will move to the next gear once the whole team is in the same place at their bootcamp.
New team, old faces
Nitr0 is not the first CS:GO player to return from a stint in VALORANT, though he may just be the most high-profile. He made a lasting mark in the Riot Games tactical shooter on the 100 Thieves roster. But, like oSee’s former Extra Salt teammate Ricky “floppy” Kemery, nitr0 decided it just wasn’t for him.
“I don’t think he enjoys [VALORANT] too much,” oSee said. “That’s basically the idea that I got talking to him about it.”
According to oSee, nitr0 will be taking up the mantle of in-game leader for Liquid as he did in the 2019 iteration of the roster. He’s been reviewing VODs in an effort to get up to speed with how the T-side meta has evolved since he left for VALORANT. As a whole, the team isn’t too concerned about nitr0 shaking off the rust, according to oSee.
“He’s been playing CS for so long and it’s not like he just forgot 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’ll be back to where he was with the 2019 Liquid roster.”
With nitr0 IGLing, the rest of the team’s roles fit nicely. Shox gets to fill the lurking position on T side, calling out what he sees as nitr0 provides strategies from inside the main pack.
“First impressions: [shox is] a super kind guy, really funny, brings the atmosphere a lot and I think he has a really good mind for the game,” oSee said.
As for NAF and EliGE, they get to keep doing what they’ve been doing as the 14th and 19th best players of 2021, respectively, according to HLTV. Lastly, oSee will be stepping into the AWPing role, which was previously filled by yet 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’m not going to let that affect me too much. I don’t really think about it like ‘filling in’ for him. I focus on our team now and how they want to play.”
OSee said he has a different style of AWPing from FalleN. Less aggressive than Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev but more aggressive than Dmitriy “sh1ro” Sokolov, oSee thinks his approach to wielding the big green falls somewhere in the middle.
“I’m kind of like a [Helvijs “broky” Saukants],” oSee said. “I’ve heard a lot of people say that I AWP like broky. I’m not sure how true that is.”
The big leagues
The first big tournament that oSee and co. will play is BLAST Spring Groups, which will take place online. The next tournament is IEM Katowice, which will take place in the Spodek Arena in Katowice, Poland — packed with thousands of fans (barring any COVID-19-related snafus).
In esports, the arena environment is the true proving ground for young talents. Sure, they may be able to rack up the frags at home, but can they do it in a stadium, in front of legions of screaming fans?
For oSee, it’s a welcome challenge. His first arena event was DreamHack Leipzig in 2020, where he played under the Cloud9 banner. From the experience, he learned that, while he does enjoy the “oohs and aahs,” his even temperament keeps him grounded.
“I’m a guy that doesn’t get too hyped in the game,” oSee said. “So I wouldn’t say [crowds] hype me up too much, but I also don’t think I feel the pressure too much.”
Liquid believes oSee is ready for the challenge of Tier 1 Counter-Strike; his former Extra Salt teammates believe it and oSee himself believes it. All that’s left is to prove it to the world.
“With time,” oSee said, “I think anything is possible with this roster.”
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.