Out of OG, mantuu can start playing CSGO like himself again

Adela Sznajder/ESL Gaming via ESPAT

Mateusz ‘mantuu’ Wilczewski spoke with Dexerto about his departure from OG’s CS:GO squad and how he wants to play to his strengths in his next team.

As mantuu laid in his hotel bed in Dubai and watched his OG team compete on the other side of the globe, all smiles, with Abdul ‘degster’ Gasanov shining as a stand-in, he could practically see the writing on the wall.

“Well, it was nice knowing you all,” mantuu joked on Twitter on July 15 after OG beat NAVI in the group stage of the BLAST Premier Spring Final, in Lisbon. The team’s infectious joie de vivre — epitomized by the constant hand-slapping jokes that were even picked up on the broadcast — contrasted with mantuu’s gloom as he was stuck in quarantine in a strange country after returning a positive test during his team’s Middle East trip for a three-day tournament called Global Esports Tour Dubai.

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OG went on to reach the semi-finals of the BLAST event before losing to NAVI in a close three-map affair. It was the team’s best result at a big event, and mantuu could sense that his spot was under threat.

“I was half joking,” he tells Dexerto about his tweet. “I had a talk with some friends and I told them that if I were OG, maybe I would take the risk and replace me.”

mantuu compares the situation he found himself in with that of Swedish AWPer Tim ‘nawwk’ Jonasson, who was powerless to prevent NIP from signing Nicolai ‘dev1ce⁠’ Reedtz in May 2021 and took the decision with grace. “Even though I was not at fault here, I was always performing very decently, I thought they would take the risk because maybe degster would take them to the next level.”

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The signing of degster is a swing-for-the-fences move by OG, their most audacious CS:GO deal since entering the scene in 2019. Up until this point, the famed Dota 2 organization had barely made waves in the transfer market, mostly plucking talent from tier-two teams or signing benched players from other organizations.

Stephanie Lindgren/BLAST
degster signed with OG after shining for the team as a stand-in in Lisbon

The move is an even bigger surprise considering the recent comments from former and current team players.

In explaining his decision to seek a future elsewhere, Valdemar ‘valde’ Bjørn Vangså stated that OG wanted to focus on developing talent. Only last month, nexa said that recruits Maciej ‘⁠F1KU⁠’ Miklas and Adam ‘⁠NEOFRAG⁠’ Zouhar were the best available options “for the price we could afford”. Yet here OG were emptying their coffers of approximately $300,000 to land one of the most sought-after players in the game, one whose stock was at an all-time high after helping Team Spirit to the semi-finals of PGL Major Antwerp.

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“It was weird for me,” mantuu acknowledges. “We didn’t have a discussion about the situation. It wasn’t like, ‘Maybe in order to improve and get to the next level, we should change you up this way. Let’s try and risk going this way’.

“There was never a talk. It was basically, ‘Boom, degster is better. Boom, he goes in’. And I’m out. I would at least think that the problems would be addressed and then I would switch up because if there was a problem within the team or anything, I would switch up.”

Shifting away from his natural role

mantuu was the last remaining member of OG’s original CS:GO lineup, assembled in November 2019. The Polish AWPer describes the opportunity to prove himself at the highest level as “the best thing ever” after years grinding the tier-two scene in Europe with teams like PANTHERS and ALTERNATE aTTaX.

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mantuu joined OG in late 2019, getting his first taste of top-flight CS

But he struggled to find his identity in OG as he was forced to change his playing style to adapt to the asks of the coaching staff and his in-game leaders, Aleksi ‘Aleksib’ Virolainen and Nemanja ‘nexa’ Isaković. Initially a hyper-aggressive AWPer who always went for peeks on both sides, mantuu over time morphed into a supportive player, which led to some frustration.

“The first time I played with OG, I was this aggressive AWPer making plays, but it slowly transitioned into, let’s say, Aleksi’s system, where it was like, ‘Don’t do this, don’t die,’” he explains.

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“The coach or the IGL, even with nexa, would tell me to play the passive AWPer. ‘Get the kills and don’t die, help teammates with utility’. With the addition of nexa, I specifically had a role on the T side where I could not make plays. Other riflers were the playmakers.”

When asked for an assessment of his displays for OG, mantuu says that he performed “really well” in the context of the team’s system. “I think I did a great job in playing the passive AWPer, a person the team can rely on and that supports the team with executions,” he notes.

But at the same time, he can’t help but feel that he should have put his foot down and asked for a bigger role in the team.

“I remember having a lot of games where we were losing and I was in the background, looking at my teammates dying when we’re executing,” he says. “And I’m like, ‘I want to help but I don’t know how’. I’m on the T side, I can’t go for peeks or anything. I’m just throwing utility from flashes and nades while my teammates are going in. And then we’re just losing the round.

“I always wanted to find a way in the system where we could balance the passiveness and aggressiveness, where I could be more comfortable and confident going into the T sides. Where I could go for peeks, have a lot of impact and push my team into winning those hard games.”

Looking back and knowing what happened, mantuu says that “maybe it would have been much, much better” if he had stuck to his guns instead of playing a style that didn’t really suit him. He sees the irony in his situation: degster was signed to fill the sort of playmaking role that he always wanted for himself.

“After two and a half years of constantly getting close and not winning, I didn’t care about myself a lot,” he says. “I only cared about winning. I would have done whatever it took to win, going aggressively and seeing if this style worked. We never had the opportunity to test if this style even worked again for me, which it had two years ago, when I joined OG.

“After the player break I wanted to fix some things in myself, I wanted to adapt to nexa’s playing style and the team’s aggressive playing style. But then I got the news.”

mantuu’s future

After over two years of curbing his natural instincts, mantuu knows that it will take some time to regain the confidence in his ability to play an aggressive style again. But he notes that he is not a one-dimensional player and that he can add provide multiple layers to a team.

“If I know on certain maps, let’s say Inferno T side or Overpass T side, where sometimes the AWP isn’t useful, I can go with the AK, either entry-fragging or [being] the third person in,” he says.

“I’m really super versatile when it comes to everything, and it’s kind of my playing style, where I want to do what I feel will win the round. My biggest advantage is doing what I want, going for the peeks, and using the gun I want to play with on the map.”

João Ferreira/PGL

With five months left on his contract, mantuu is keeping his options open. He doesn’t rule out the possibility of playing for a North American team, though he notes that this is something he would need to evaluate carefully, citing the personal struggles that Richard ‘shox’ Papillon endured during his Team Liquid tenure as a concern.

His time on OG was a great learning experience, though sometimes things went off track. mantuu recalls that the team had to deal with a number of issues, from Issa ‘ISSAA’ Murad’s internet connection problems at the beginning of the global health crisis to the threat of Nikolaj ‘niko’ Kristensen being banned for his role in Nicolai ‘HUNDEN’ Petersen’s cheating bug case, to deep internal issues within the squad. All that helps explain why OG never managed to affirm themselves as an elite team despite oftentimes breaking into the top 10 in the world rankings.

“We got so close so many times, even though it was only to qualify for a Major or win an online tournament,” he says. “We got a lot of second places. IEM New York, Flashpoint, IEM Summer…

“We couldn’t push through.”

There are two things mantuu wants to cross off his list in his next challenge. He wants to qualify for a Major and win a tier-one LAN trophy. His time with OG may have ended on a sour note, but there is no doubt in his mind that he can go toe-to-toe with the best AWPers in the game.

“I believe that, If I’m confident and happy with my playing style in the team, if the team is confident in me, if we have a lot of practice together, I have the skill to take on the best AWPers,” mantuu says.

“Even with the passive playing style back with Aleksib, when we were playing IEM Summer I was performing exceptionally well with the resources I had. I feel like with more variation between passiveness and aggressiveness, depending on the maps and the situations, I can take myself to the next level, win these games for my team and compete against these best AWPers in the world.”