smooya steps down from BIG; nex returns
In the announcement, smooya and BIG's Head of CS, Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninić, explained the reason for the split, with differences in playstyles being among the core issues that led to the British player's departure.
The 19-year-old had been part of the active roster since April last year, most notably helping the team to a runners-up finish at ESL One Cologne in July and to reach Legends status at the FACEIT Major in September.
To complete the roster, BIG have brought back nex, who had been replaced by Ismailcan "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş in late December upon news that the 26-year-old would need to undergo wrist surgery and potentially a lengthy recovery process.
However, the organization has stated that although their long-time member is set to continue undergoing regular therapy, surgery was not necessary to treat his condition.
The team was prepared for circumstances like this to occur, as they listed nex as their coach/substitute for the upcoming IEM Katowice Major — where BIG will compete in the New Legends Stage from February 20 —, which makes him eligible to play with them in Poland, as it is allowed to make a one-time swap of a coach and a player at any point during the tournament.
"[...] it's not always easy if you are the only foreigner in a team. We had some different opinions on how to approach the game and team development and it turned out that his and the teams not align. I'm sure that he is a great addition to any top team and I personally and the whole BIG family wishes him all the best in his future endeavours," BIG's Head of CS, LEGIJA, said in a statement for the organization.
"I had a long think about not wanting to hold this team back, I think they already have an insane system that just needs a little bit more work and they will become a standout top five team in the world, but, sadly, I don't think I'll ever fit into this system simply because of playstyles. There is no bad blood between anybody in the team, I just think personally they would be better with another player to do my role, as I've never really had the MAIN AWP role since being here [...] I had different visions of the environment that would be here for me at BIG in-game," smooya added.
BIG now have:
Alexander "kakafu" Szymanczyk (coach)
Owen "smooya" Butterfield (benched)