smooya: "My dream is to move back to the US, although I'm open to the idea of staying in Europe"
HLTV.org caught up with Owen "smooya" Butterfield after his removal from Chaos to talk about the unforeseeable situation that led to his abrupt departure, the differences from competing in North America and Europe, his thoughts on Flashpoint 1, and more.
The British AWPer parted ways with Chaos at the end of March due to visa issues that he was unable to sort out because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With the indefinite postponement of smooya's P1 visa interview with the US embassy preventing his return to the United States, Chaos opted to release the player from his contract, later replacing him with Logan "Voltage" Long.
Alongside delving into the unavoidable situation of his removal from the team, smooya discussed his short-lived experience with Chaos and his performance with the squad, his initial thoughts on Flashpoint 1, what he can bring to a new team in the future, as well as the differences between competing in North America and Europe.
You were released by Chaos after coming across visa issues as a result of the ongoing global pandemic. Can you talk me through the process leading up to your removal and how staying with the organisation was unworkable?
There wasn’t really a process, although the situation was impossible to avoid. I got told to wait until the visa appointment was ready (5th of June) and that was it. Until I messaged them asking: "Hey, can I get some updates soon regarding everything?", I was told we would speak tomorrow. The next day I got a call with the news saying: "Sorry, but you’re cut," essentially. Again, I understand fully that the situation was unavoidable but I would have liked to have the option to renegotiate the terms of the contract with a possibility to rejoin, but sadly not.
You had signed with Chaos back in January. How would you describe your short time with the North American team?
It was a perfect experience! The hospitality was amazing; they provided awesome apartments for the entire team as well as very professional people within the organisation to help make my move to the US so easy. A special shout out to Connor for being the guy who built everything in all our apartments, he literally lifted everything into all our apartments and on top of that looked after us if we had any issues at all. He's a pretty cool guy, to be honest. Love C dog.
Throughout your time on Chaos, you averaged an impressive 1.32 rating. Would you say that steel brought the best out of you and unlocked your potential?
I wouldn’t say so because, even though he’s a fantastic IGL, we didn’t really see eye to eye on many scenarios, but still held a level of respect for each other. I’d say it comes down to playing against lesser opponents more frequently as well as literally grinding the hardest individually. I had lots of advice from players like Hunter and Tabsen before going over [to the US], basically saying to just work on your craft, so I did. I did close to 2 hours of DM every single day while watching every single official back, as well as 2-3 other demos. It seems like a lot of work but I loved every second of it and could feel myself improving at such a fast rate. I’m sure I will get back into that pattern soon and finally reach the level I would like.
You only managed to play one series for Chaos at Flashpoint, in which you defeated MIBR in the opening match of Phase 1. What are your initial thoughts on Flashpoint as an event?
Ah yeah, the MIBR game, what a lovely throwback…
Jokes aside, it felt like a super well-run event until the whole coronavirus episode hit because we had some amazing people looking after us, making sure we all had our apartments sorted, food was ready, and so on. The event itself had a cool schedule which I was very excited to get stuck in to, actually. Overall, a solid 9/10.
How would you compare competing in North America to your extensive time playing in Europe?
It’s not comparable. There are too many players who are terrible at the game and just weirdly call everyone else bad and never strive to improve. Many streamers play FPL only for the money and the sheer fact to have something interesting to stream, along with players who have never made Pro League in their life with the biggest egos. Not to mention the level of teams I was playing against. Sadly, the practice was really tough to find because all the top tier teams were bootcamping in Europe, which sucked, but we just did what we had to do.
All in all, NA has a long way to build up in the tier 2-3 scenes and the FPL system is really flawed, unfortunately.
Would you consider moving to North America again to join a team if the opportunity arose, or is your preference to stay in Europe?
My dream is to move back, but this time without as much fast food (which would be a hard challenge), although I’m also super open to the idea of staying in Europe. To be totally honest, I just want to compete again. I know it was short but I hope I proved something during my time in Chaos by managing to get them into such a high placing in a small amount of time.
What’s next for you? Are you looking to jump straight back into competing, or are you waiting for the right opportunity? What do you feel you can bring to a new team?
I’d love to join a team as soon as possible because I’m itching to start competing again. I feel like I can bring lots of experience and good ideas, along with many, many frags. I think if the environment is comfortable for me and I receive a level of respect from the players, then I can also help improve many people in that team simply from the lessons I learned from the other great players I played with. Oh, and some LAN screams of course...
Now you’re a free agent, what does your day-to-day routine look like? What are you doing to stay sharp and get better?
Weirdly I’ve been streaming Valorant the last 2-3 days, but I'm still keeping up with my 750 kills a day on CS. I finished watching all my POVs back from Chaos and finished my final touches to my CS mind maps, which I created while over there. Soon I’ll get back into the FPL grind so I can stay extra sharp. So yeah, that's about it: sleep, 1-2 hours of deathmatch, stream some Valorant and/or play FPL, then sleep again.
I’d like to thank Chaos publicly for my time there and the people involved with the organisation! It was my pleasure to play for Chaos for the short time I did and I wish them nothing but the best moving forward.
And again, it's a peace out, but make sure to follow @smooyacs on socials to keep up to date with me - I might have some juicy news coming soon.