smooya: "[Why bench myself ahead of a Major?] That's how much I've not been enjoying myself"
The announcement of the British player assuming a place on BIG's bench and Johannes "nex" Maget making an early return came as a surprise to many, especially with the IEM Katowice Major around the corner. However, statements from BIG and smooya's own one shone some light on the case.
In our interview with smooya, the 19-year-old further explained that he was labeled as "better with a rifle than an AWP" early on in the team, which resulted in him not playing the "main AWP role". Unhappy with being just a role player in the squad, smooya is looking toward a move to North America, where he would go back to playing the sniper full time.
You have hinted at the possibility of leaving BIG multiple times in the past, and there were rumors about it published by some news sites. How close were you close to leaving the team previously?
I was close to leaving before the first Major, it was my inner child just wanting everything instantly so I had many conversations with the management and myself actually. I decided to stay because I was enjoying the company and the environment of the team. I also noticed improvements every day which was another reason behind staying.
In the official statement about the benching, you said: "I've never really had the MAIN AWP role since being here". How come that was the case? Can you explain that team dynamic that led to tabseN picking up the sniper over you more and more towards the end of your stay in BIG?
During my first few weeks in BIG I wasn't performing in practice how they liked and I kind of got labeled as better with my rifle than my AWP which I still don't fully agree with. So for the benefit for the team I just listened and played. It hurt my ego a lot, but it was something I had to learn to do and for that I can't thank them enough. They taught me the hardest part of the game to learn which is being a good teammate and how to support them to be better.
According to BIG's announcement, there was an issue with the in-game environment in the team. luckeRRR, who you replaced on the team, put out a statement in which he mentioned that his teammates were overly critical to his mistakes, or approached that criticism in a way that didn't feel right to him. Did you have a similar experience in BIG?
I can agree with that only when I first joined the team because it got to the point where I said you have to stop speaking in that way, that was myself with them and them with me. So we had a few team talks about it and it got fixed pretty quickly. For myself, I was just never confident in my plays, I really couldn’t say why but that's just life.
LEGIJA also mentioned a difference in opinions in terms of team development. What was the issue there?
Not too sure, I think its just down to us not really improving over the past few weeks/month because I’ve been pretty down with how I've been playing and it's affected the team. I tried to fix it but I just simply wasn't happy on top of having the feeling that they wanted me gone for some time—because I let some of the teammates down on a personal level by being on my phone during practice and stupid reasons like that. Which was completely my bad and I've apologized many times to them for that, and thanked them since it helped me a lot.
You have decided to bench yourself ahead of a Major, meaning you will be missing out on one of the biggest events of the year. Why not stick around until the Major cycle is finished and look for a new team after it, when the majority of the roster moves happen?
The simple answer is: that's how much I've not been enjoying myself. I was happy with what we've achieved and didn't feel myself improving in my role anymore, which wasn't the AWP role. So since I’m not the type of person to hold a team back I told them I'd be interested [to step down] but only if they can get nex back for the Major and they happily agreed. He has been watching practices and watching demos daily since his departure so I'm more than sure he will be the best fit for them at this event.
From the two statements (BIG and twitlonger), I get the feeling that you are not someone who is happy with just being an average, or below-average player, in a good team—you want to give your personal best, be the star, and leave a mark in that way. Is that a part of what motivated you for this move?
Yes, completely. This isn't the way I learned the game. I want to be the confident playmaker and be the difference maker in the game, which, don’t get me wrong, I was even in my role here at BIG. But it's more of a personal thing. I'm honored to have had lessons daily from the BIG players on how to improve in specific situations and such, and the way they approach the game will always stick with me.
Moving to NA is your desire, why? Is there something specific that attracts you to North America or do you not see a team in Europe in which you would fit?
Well, for now, there aren't many EU teams that could use an English speaking AWPer. There is basically only mousesports, HellRaisers and FaZe. I don't think I'm anywhere nearly ready for any of those teams. I've proven myself at times but not consistently enough so my plan is to qualify for the Major through the Americas Minor of whichever team I end up joining. There are many other personal reasons as well.
If you get free reigns as an AWPer, take it on full time, and have a team which fits you—what kind of style would you want to play?
The same style I’ve always had. Overconfident and aggressive. But, thankfully, now I've had my stint with BIG, I understand on a way higher level how to balance it and how to balance it which again I’m very appreciative for.
What are you going to do in the meantime?
I will wait till the Major is over and see what offers come up. Also, I will continue to play FPL and try and get back to my individual level before my career kicks off again. Maybe stand in for some teams during qualifiers to still have a feeling for the team aspect of the game!