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Owen “smooya” Butterfield was frustrated. He thought Ismail “refrezh” Ali was throwing a FACEIT Pro League (FPL) match, and he could barely keep his anger in check. A few seconds later and he broke — a stream of expletives left his mouth while another player was live on stream.
Smooya was banned from the FPL shortly after this incident. He had already been sidelined by his team, BIG, after a weapon change forced him off his favorite sniper rifle. It didn’t help that the 21-year-old Counter-Strike player had a history of being a thorn in his own side.
“I’ve been an asshole my whole life,” Butterfield said to Daily Esports, before adding that he wants to be a better sport going forward. “[Lucas ‘steel’ Lopes] has been teaching me about being a good person.”
Since seizing an opportunity to join Movistar Riders, a team ranked 23rd in the world, Smooya has already helped the team win three of their past four events. He was a heavy contributor across all three wins and had a 1.45 HLTV rating throughout 18 maps. Much of that is thanks to steel’s loose play calling, which gives Smooya the freedom he needs to succeed.
“I think the organization felt that we needed to take a bigger leap,” steel said. “We believed that we needed change, and they looked for the best possible players at that time… Smooya brings a lot more firepower and experience in the tier one level.”
Big potential, big problems
Even before BIG, Smooya was renowned as an explosive player. Despite often starting slow, he could single-handedly open up rounds for his team once he got into a groove. His playstyle is the reason why Epsilon, his former team, succeeded in the first place. And while AWPers aren’t known for getting kills, Smooya defied that. During a game on Dust2, Smooya once racked up 35 kills with the AWP (in addition to four others).
Despite that, Smooya had a rough start on BIG. So, he gave up the AWP and took on a supporting role, letting Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz pick the position up in his place. Since he was stuck in such a foreign position, Smooya asked BIG to bench him.
However, BIG didn’t release Butterfield from his contract, and no teams wanted to buyout his contract. There was nowhere to go, and that didn’t change for some time after his contract with the team finally expired. At one point, his only offers were to join Henry “HenryG” Greer’s Cloud9 squad or jump from CS:GO to Valorant and join Team Liquid.
In his most recent game against Budapest Five, Smooya looked more like his old self, with 30 kills and only five deaths on the map Train. He had a 2.54 rating for the map, which is his highest since Early 2018. As the team attempts to climb the rankings, time will tell whether Smooya can keep a cool head on his shoulders while he’s on the road to redemption against his former teammates.
Zain Merchant is an Esports writer who has previously worked with Team Dignitas. He loves FPS games such as Valorant, Counter-Strike and Valorant.