Tomas “oskar” Stastny’s Counter-Strike career is one of the most peculiar in the game’s history. Despite having the skill to play under the brightest lights, the Czech veteran’s career hasn’t panned out to its fullest potential.
In CS 1.6, oskar was a good player, but the scene gave no opportunities to display that skill at the highest levels. In CS:GO he showed a similarly strong performance on smaller teams before joining Mouz.
In 2018 he became Mouz’s superstar. Once Mouz broke apart, oskar has wallowed in smaller teams despite having the skill to play at a higher level. When you look at oskar’s history, he has been an outsider and that role has defined his CSGO career for both good and bad.
From 1.6 to GO
To understand why it is so remarkable, we have to look back at the roots of esports and the days of CS 1.6. In CS 1.6, by and large, the most successful teams were all domestic squads. It made complete sense as the inherent game culture of each country created a natural team-play that was critical in fielding the most competitive teams in the world. This was fine for countries that were filled with talent, but for players outside of the typical Counter-Strike domains, it could be a death sentence. There was only so much talent in the smaller countries and so despite how good oskar was as a player, there was never a chance for him to truly shine on the world stage.
“I still probably never thought I would ever be in the top 20 myself or be in a top-five team. Maybe I got used to the role of the outsider when I was battling in the Czech Republic with Czech teams.” – oskar, HLTV interview
In terms of the scene itself, oskar could have never been on a top team as international squads weren’t considered viable (outside of the NoA lineup). Even then, no team had the capital or the incentive to try to make such a team back in CS 1.6. It wasn’t until the advent of CS:GO and the explosion of popularity the game got in 2015 that teams started to experiment with the international lineup. Even then, it wasn’t considered a viable model until Finn “karrigan” Andersen led FaZe to the top of the world in 2017.
From Mouz to Now
In the case of oskar though, the opportunity to play on an international squad was only one of his problems. While he broke out for Mouz at the beginning of 2017 as their star player, in reality, he was picked up by the team back in August 22nd, 2016. At the time, he was the best player on HellRaisers and Mouz’s original plan was for him to be the secondary star player behind Nikola “NiKo” Kovac. In the end though, oskar only played for one LAN event at the Gfnity CS:GO Invitational. After that, he took a break from playing on Mouz. He wrote on his facebook that,
“As you know, I decided to take a break from playing for mousesports…Not one word was said about my performance, the players probably knew I could play much better and that something was wrong. …It’s obviously a big risk, there might not come a time when mousesports are interested in playing with me in 2017, there might not be a team interested in me so much so that they’d buy me out. I sacrificed so much in my life to the game that I wouldn’t have a problem with playing 12 hours a day, 6 days a week if I felt good in the team. Unfortunately, I’m not 20 anymore and right now I really didn’t feel up to it. Wrong place, wrong time.”
For oskar, one of the bigger hurdles was overcoming himself. On the By the Numbers Podcast, when talking about oskar, Richard Lewis points out that he was a weird dude. Not a bad dude, but different. In my view, it seems to me that he is a callback to the first or second generation of video game players. The original set of people who played video games were a niche group of people. Many of them were people who didn’t quite fit into social norms. They weren’t social or charismatic people and they couldn’t express themselves fully or be comfortable in society.
Video games gave them a safe haven of sorts for those people that couldn’t quite fit in to the typical society, who were able to find solace and confidence in what they could do in the virtual reality of video games. In a sense, oskar wasn’t just an outsider because he was from the Czech Republic, but also because of his personality.
In 2017 though, all of that began to change. In one last hurrah, the Mouz team decided to have NiKo and oskar play together for NiKo’s last event in the mouz team at DreamHack Las Vegas. While the team ended in the top eight, it was a revelation. A view into an alternate reality of what could have been if NiKo and oskar could have played together under that Mouz sports team full-time. After all, both were players from countries with almost no Counter-Strike history. NiKo from Bosnia and oskar from the Czech Republic. Both had to build their games outside of the norms of Counter-Strike and both eventually went on to become the primary stars of their international teams, NiKo for FaZe and oskar for Mouz.
After Las Vegas, the Mouz team slowly built around oskar to enable him. They already had two of the pieces they needed in Chris “chrisJ” de Jong and Sergey “lmbt” Bezhanov. Later on, Mouz rounded out the roster with three more players. The first was Robin “ropz” Kool, an Estonian phenom who had surprised pros with how good he was in FPL. Later on in the year, Mouz would get two more players: Miikka “suNny” Kemppi and Martin “STYKO” Styk.
These moves were critical in helping oskar integrate into the team. As he noted when he first joined the team, he wasn’t comfortable with the first squad and because of that he wasn’t able to put in the long hours that were needed to make the team work. When we look at this team now, it makes sense as to why oskar would now feel comfortable. ChrisJ became the leader, entry, and secondary AWPer. In that way he could help create space for oskar either as an entry player or give oskar the chance to flex to his rifles whenever he wasn’t feeling it. Lmbt was oskar’s previous coach in HellRaisers and understood the strengths and weaknesses of oskar. Ropz and suNny are great young star players who increase the firepower of the overall squad. Finally, STYKO was particularly important as he understood oskar on a cultural/team level as oskar himself noted in his Q&A he did on twitter.
However once the Mouz team came together, oskar became an even stronger player and by the end of 2017, Mouz saw themselves fighting in the finals of ECS Season 4 Finals against FaZe. In 2018, they continued to be one of the best teams in the world and won their biggest trophy at StarLadder i-League Starseries Season 4. While there are multiple reasons as to why this Mouz squad was so successful from the end of 2017 to early 2018, one of the biggest aspects for me was oskar’s role as a star player.
In the case of oskar, his style of play seems influenced by the scene where he grew up in and the experiences he has had. Unlike a player like Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz or Patrick “f0rest” Lindberg, he didn’t grow up in a Counter-Strike country like Sweden or Denmark. Countries that have built up years of culture in terms of communication, playstyle, and teamplay. Oskar was someone who fought in the wilderness. He was an outsider and in order to survive he had to play in such a way that could increase his team’s chances of winning games. However unlike the big Counter-Strike countries, he could never have a fully functional team.
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Thus he created a style not quite like any other. There was a level of aggression or risks to his play unmatched by nearly any other AWPer in the world. Many of oskar’s best highlight clips are of him doing something seemingly impossible. Think back to a moment on some of the ridiculous oskar players. At ESG Mykonos, when Mouz did executes on Train, he was the first person to run in with his AWP to get entry kills. Once when Mouz played against Astralis, I saw him run in first with his AWP out of hut to get a no scope entry kill on the player on site. On the CT-side of Train, I’ve seen him run up the ladder in popdog to try to get a kill with his AWP.
At the same time, oskar was a complete player. There are plenty of AWPers who have a high mechanical ceiling like Henrique “HEN1” Teles or William “draken” Sundin. However what separates many of the weaker AWPers from oskar is the level of consistency that oskar hits the easier shots. On top of that, oskar is also a very strong rifler player and has his own ideas about the game.
All of this though could only be possible with the right team, one that believed in him. The episode that best highlights this fact is the quarterfinals at StarSeries i-League Season 5 Finals when Mouz played against NiP in the quarterfinals. In that event, Mouz were thrashed on Nuke by Na`Vi in the group stages. Even though Mouz won that series, oskar was still criticized for using his auto-shotty style of play on the CT-side of the map. In an HLTV interview, Lmbt revealed a conversation oskar had with lmbt after the loss on Nuke against Na`Vi,
“I mean, as everyone knows, oskar kind of brought the shotgun meta to his position. So yesterday against Na`Vi it was not working, today he asked me “Do you still trust my shotgun?”, I said ‘Of course I do, but if it will not work, then just play in the same way, but with the rifle, so you will have more versatility’. And then he aced, got three kills, four kills and stuff with the rifles.”
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The rest of 2018 saw turmoil in the Mouz squad as they burned out traveling from event to event and had internal roster issues that saw them shuffle the roster with the STYKO and Janusz “Snax” Porgorzelski coming in and out of the lineup. The lineup came crashing down at the IEM Katowice Minor where Valiance eliminated Mouz 2-0.
Mouz rebuilt their squad around Finn “Karrigan” Andersen and oskar left the team. For a team he considered a break before joining HellRaisers. In the announcement oskar said, “I wasn’t sure at first though because I really needed a break from CS, but eventually I decided to sign for a short period. I will do my best to not disappoint HR.”
Oskar’s career since Mouz has been fairly mediocre. While there were decent pieces on HellRaiser, they could never get a good mix of five players and become a coherent team. Oskar went inactive towards the end of 2019 and in 2020 joined Sprout.
When looking at oskar’s career as a whole, no sobriquet is more fitting than “outsider.” In CS 1.6, he was always on the outside looking in, both literally and later on metaphorically. Throughout oskar’s CS:GO career, his statements and actions always paint him as someone halfway-in and halfway-out.
When oskar joined Mouz initially, he had been grinding for years and when he got his big chance at a higher stage, he “didn’t feel up to it.” Later on when he joined HellRaisers in 2019, he told HLTV that, “I was considering whether it was still worth it to keep playing, but I decided I wouldn’t give up that easily.”
While these statements could indicate his lack of dedication to the game, that angle doesn’t feel correct. At the age of 28, oskar has been playing the game longer than most and is one of the few veterans that has proven that he can still play at the top level. Oskar’s ambivalence towards competition seems to come from his adherence to how he wants to play the game.
Back when Mouz decided to rebuild the team in 2019, karrigan told Rivalry that oskar, ropz, and suNny weren’t interested in playing with him at the time. Oskar confirmed this to HLTV saying, “That’s true. I think we had different ideas about the team at the time, plus we already had two other names in mind. That’s life, people unfortunately make wrong decisions and you can’t take them back.”
In the same HLTV interview, we see that sentiment play out again when oskar talks about turning down potential offers from NA, “I think I had two offers to go to North America and that was it. I’ve said it before, I can’t go to North America and I don’t want to. If I were 20 and if I had no roots, I’d go immediately.”
While this attitude has been a detriment to his career, that same spirit is likely what powered oskar to this position in the first place. Oskar played for years in CS 1.6 fully cognizant of the fact that he was never going to play for a top team and that he was never going to be acknowledged as a top player. Despite that, he still dedicated himself to the game and continued to hone his skills.
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The adherence to his style and comfort bore fruit later on in late 2017 to 2018. Mouz surrounded oskar with the right team and oskar got to play in his comfort zone. As STYKO described oskar’s impact on reddit, “He[oskar] was our star player, he was winning rounds for us. He won games for us. He won tournaments for us. It was not single handedly, but allowing him to carry is what we were really good at. And that includes putting oskar in best position not only in-game but also into his comfort zone outside of the game.”
Oskar’s approach to the game let him survive the harsh times in CS 1.6 and early CS:GO. It brought him to great heights during that Mouz period, and it eventually brought him back down to earth as he decided to leave Mouz.
When seen through that lens, there is something admirable and unique about Oskar’s Counter-Strike career. Regardless of the circumstances, oskar stuck to his guns. When the scene was small and he had no opportunities, he continued to play for the love of the game. When the scene became bigger, he refused to compromise how he wanted to live and how he wanted to play the game.
At the age of 28, he still has the mechanics to be one of the best in the world. He comes from Czech Republic, a small CS country. His career is proof that an older veteran can not only continue playing at a top level, but do so as the superstar of a top five team. That someone outside of the major CS regions with no CS scene of it’s own can reach the absolute heights. That in spite (or because) of his own personal hangups, he has gotten more success than anyone could have predicted. Oskar’s career is proof that even an outsider can have a chance.