oSee: "I have set the expectation to be one of those players where people are scared of me"
After a huge upset win over Heroic, oSee sat down with HLTV to discuss the win and his career as a whole.
Liquid had to endure a rocky start to life with new AWPer Josh "oSee" Ohm, crashing out of their BLAST Spring group and IEM Katowice with a single map win between the two, and suffering a chastening loss to NA rivals Complexity in the final of their RMR qualifier.
They came to ESL Pro League with a point to prove, and prove it they have, making their way through the groups successfully before pulling off a convincing shock win over perennial top-five team, Heroic, to make the quarter-finals.
With a battle for top-four against NIP looming, new kid on the block oSee sat down with HLTV to chat about the Heroic win, his career, and what he has learned from the legendary Richard "shox" Papillon since joining his new team.
First off, congratulations on the win! Ancient was an interesting pick, nitr0 mentioned you guys noticed it was a bad map for Heroic, but surely you can’t just pick a map because it’s bad for your opponents. Is there anything you feel like you had figured out on that map that gave you confidence?
So I think Ancient is definitely a map that we have been working on a lot, during our bootcamps and before this tournament, so coming in when we found out that their Ancient isn’t too good, we were like ‘yeah, this would be a really good pick’. Of course, like you said, we can’t just pick it because it’s their bad pick, we need some good stuff on it as well.
We realised that we struggled against teams who hold on to a lot of their nades on that map; our first time we played it, we played against NAVI and we got destroyed.
Not an easy first game of Ancient, to be fair!
Yeah! Of course back then we weren’t as good a team, we didn’t have too much stuff yet, so yeah, we kinda got wrecked there. After, we played Movistar Riders, and it was a very tight match but we also ended up losing because we just couldn’t get anything going on our T side because they were holding onto their nades, once again. So we went into deep talks about what we can do against teams like this, that style, because we know how to play against styles where they’re just fighting us right, it’s a lot more comfortable. Against teams that aren’t giving us those fights, we really had to dive deep into it and really figure out what could work against that style. It’s a map that we have worked really hard on, for sure.
So would you say you identified the T side as the key for you?
Yeah, I think our CT side on that map has always been good, I think we just have a really good understanding of how to play it as a team, so we barely worked on our CT side to be honest (laughs) we were focused very hard on our T side.
I wanted to take some time to talk a bit about your career, as particularly the European audience might not have seen too much of you and might now know exactly where you came from.
When looking at your career, it seemed the important breakout event for you was ESL Pro League Season 10 with ATK, where you beat both G2 and North and put up some good numbers. What was this tournament like for you?
It was a great experience, but not gonna lie I was very nervous (laughs), as expected for my first tier-one LAN. We came in knowing we were the underdogs, so we didn’t have too high expectations, but we also wanted to show that we could some damage, right?
I remember the series against G2 where we lost first map and were down like 13-5 in the second, on T side train as well, and somehow we came back and won the series. That was actually the most hype series I have ever played as a team, it was great, coming back and winning the second map we were like ‘we got this’, and then the third map came and we just destroyed them. We didn’t go too far after that, but it was a great experience finally like… dipping my toes in a tier-one EU LAN, it was definitely a big step forward in that time. Now that I am here again, I definitely feel way more comfortable, and I feel like I understand how these tier-one players play now, so it’s a lot easier.
What was that time in general like for you? People in the know had probably heard your name before, maybe even from your time in Singularity, but you seemed to gain some wider recognition after that event.
Honestly, back then, I feel like I didn’t get too much attention, people were definitely noticing me a little bit, but I feel like now it’s definitely a lot bigger. There was definitely a bit of feeling like I had to perform, prove to everyone that I am capable of performing, at the same time back then I just tried not to get in my head. Even if people are looking out for me, it doesn’t matter, I’m just playing my own game and doing whatever I can to become better. Basically, I just try not to let it affect me.
Not long after that, the ATK roster made a huge step up and were signed to Cloud9 – what was it like signing for one of the most prestigious orgs in the world?
It was one of those moments where I was like ‘wow, my dream is starting to become real’, you know? I mean that’s how I felt when I first joined and obviously it didn’t work out too well in the end (laughs). Still, when I signed the contract, I remember exactly where I was, who was with me, it was definitely a big moment for me, it was great.
We didn’t have the best relationship by the end, like our team and the Cloud9 organisation, but they still treated us really well and I think it was definitely a big learning experience for us being under that org. Obviously with Cloud9 being a Major winner with the previous roster, there were big shoes to fill to be honest, so I think that pressure kind of got to us a little bit as we were pretty inexperienced. I still had a great time.
How do you feel the time on C9 went – there were some decent results, like reaching top four in Flashpoint 1 and a third-place finish in the ESL One: Road to Rio?
As a team I’d say we didn’t play the best that we could have, but we definitely had some good games and showed that we could put up numbers against good teams. Personally, myself individually, I felt like I wasn’t performing that well, I was very inconsistent back then. I feel like having an AWPer that is consistent is so important nowadays, that if you don’t have a consistent AWPer it’s very hard to be consistent as a team at the very highest level, it’s a huge role.
It wasn’t the best performance from us but I was still happy because you could feel the progress in practice, and we were starting to do well at some tournaments, you could see the growth was coming. Unfortunately, it got cut a little short.
Do you maybe feel a bit hard done by that you didn’t get more time on C9, that they decided to pivot to the 'Colossus' roster?
Yeah. Initially they basically terminated all of our contracts except mine, at the house they broke the COVID policy and they ended up just dropping them from Cloud9 but they kept me because I wasn’t there at the time. They kept me on the bench and released the rest of them.
I felt like honestly it got cut short, but I also could understand from their perspective as they are one of the biggest orgs in NA so even though you can’t expect results instantly, I think they were just unhappy with our growth as a team and didn’t see enough in the future for us. I completely understand from their perspective, and I can’t blame them even if I do think we got cut short a little bit. NA CS nowadays is very hard to invest in and have a positive return, so I can’t blame them.
How much do you think COVID affected the team at that time, it at least limited your chances to go to Europe?
So COVID kind of hit at the worst time for us under Cloud9, it was basically becoming a huge thing AS we were moving into the house. As we got there everything was shut down, we were in Cali and we couldn’t do anything outside of the game, it was definitely a very tough time.
Also, like you said, we didn’t have too much exposure with EU tournaments and LANS, which definitely stopped our growth for a bit. Mentally as well I think, myself and our teammates weren’t in the best state, waking up every day and you can’t really go out. From my experience playing CS, having a good balance between practicing and playing, and doing whatever to refresh your mind, is very important. Not having that second part to refresh and come back the next day feeling good, it definitely hurt a lot. It was just really unfortunate timing for us.
Let’s say COVID didn’t happen, what would the ceiling have been for the team at that time?
I think we definitely could have been a top NA team, but for Europe it’s a little different. Even the best teams in NA right now and the best players, who have been playing CS against the tier-one Europeans for years, they still have things to learn, you know? Us coming in as a new young roster, we were one of the youngest rosters in the top 20 or 30, it’s such a complicated game that you can’t just pick up on it just because you have an org and a good team environment. It’s way more than that, you have to spend so much time learning the ins and outs, protocols, everything like that. With A LOT of time (laughs) we could have definitely got there, but it’s so hard to say looking back. We definitely had the potential.
After that came your time in Extra Salt, where you absolutely dominated NA, but again didn’t get many chances to go to Europe and try to elevate your play – what was it like playing at that time?
Extra Salt was honestly a really good time, I think the organisation treated us very well, they made sure we were all happy; outside of the game everything was cared for, so all we had to do was focus on the game basically. It was very nice for us.
As for not getting to play in Europe, the practice in NA is just not even comparable to EU and during that time Liquid and EG were in Europe for most of the time, so the only teams we practiced against were Premier teams. Even dominating in officials or when you win a tournament, in the back of your head you kinda know that it’s not the biggest achievement. Of course you are still happy, I was happy winning two DreamHacks in a row, but there’s always that feeling in the back of your head that’s like ‘damn, I wonder what it would be like with some tier-one Europeans here’.
It was fun, but we weren’t learning as much as we could have because of the circumstances.
Were you the best player in NA during that period – excluding teams like Liquid and EG who were in Europe most of the time.
You can say! You are allowed to back yourself!
I hate answering these questions (laughs) but I have to say I think so. Even not just looking at the numbers, just playing against everyone I felt so confident, going into every match I just knew I was a step ahead of a lot of these players. This game is so much about confidence, having that part just figured out where I knew I could do my plays and get away with it… honestly it could have been almost a bad thing, because I could build bad habits through not getting punished. I’m trying to iron out those mistakes that I used to make and not get punished for. In Europe even in scrims I’ll go for a play I used to do and I’ll get completely shut down, so I have to brainstorm and think about different ways to play and stuff. In NA you never run into that, so I was kinda just running around doing my own thing.
Running around like a DM in officials?
Yeah (laughs). I think I was the best, but there were definitely players that were close.
Who were those players?
My old teammates, of course! They have a lot of potential, especially FaNg; he played very well this tournament, and he’s just someone I know is very hard working and a good teammate and great person outside of the game as well. I’m really happy to see him doing well and I hope he keeps showing he can compete at tier-one.
As for other players… even though they’re not an NA team, the one person I knew I had to be full focus and on my A-game for was saffee. He’s on FURIA now so it shows that he was good, but he was definitely the one player where I had to make sure I wasn’t f**king up, he was very good. We had a lot of battles, we played paiN so many times in NA, and every time we played he was always consistent. They were the hardest fights I had in NA, for sure.
I think the RBG guys, now they’re Carpe Diem, I think some definitely have potential, but the inexperience shows for sure. As I said before it’s really hard for these players to grow as individuals when they aren’t getting exposed for their mistakes or playing against the best opposition, so it’s tough for them. HexT for example, I think he’s one of the players that has really good potential.
One from Party Astronauts at the time, PwnAlone, even though he’s been in Premier for quite a while he’s always doing well I feel like. He’s one of those AWPers where he won’t miss that much, so you can’t give him too many chances because he can abuse you.
Also I’d say junior, of course. I think he wasn’t able to show exactly what he can do under FURIA, I think the circumstances weren’t the best, so I’m really happy to see him join my previous team because I think they are a really good group of guys who work really hard. I think he will do really well on that team, even at this event he was doing pretty well.
I just noticed I named like three AWPers…(laughs).
So obviously you spent a lot of time with the core of that Extra Salt team, what made you stick with them for so long, especially when they got released from Cloud9?
There was a time right, when we got dropped from C9, when I came out with a HLTV interview where I said I would rather play with the old team rather than stay for the ‘Colossus’ project, and then people were like ‘oh my god this guy isn’t taking the next step and trying to go to tier-one’. My spot wasn’t confirmed but they were considering me, and I was just like ‘nah, I don’t really want to do it’.
People were clowning me (laughs), but people don’t understand how much stuff goes into a team. You’re spending every day hours and hours, like 8-10 hours, with the same people, if you don’t enjoy their company and enjoy them as people, the team is just not going to work out. Nothing against the ‘Colossus’ people, but it was a bunch of people brought together, I had no idea how they were or who they were as players, and it was a really big question mark. I felt the risk was way too big for me to leave a team I really enjoyed playing with and really believed could do better than the project they were building.
I think JT is a very good IGL, I think he is one of the best in NA, the players in the team as well like floppy and Sonic were good, and I enjoyed playing with everyone. Obviously we did make a change, bringing in FaNg, but I enjoyed playing with all of them a lot. People from the outside might think X team might be better because of the players on it, but they don’t understand how much else goes into it; it’s not just about the individuals, you need a team that makes sense as roles and people that work well together, you can’t have clashing personalities. It’s really tough to build a team, and I think that was the main reason why I wanted to stay with those guys for so long.
Was it hard then to leave them to go to Liquid?
It was definitely hard, but when I heard that the Liquid offer was on the table, I took it in a heartbeat. No offence to my old teammates, I enjoyed playing with them and it was hard to leave them for sure because they were some of my closest friends, but I finally felt like I was at the level where I could prove I could compete at the top. The only way you can really do that is when you have a team that goes to Europe a lot. I know Complexity are in Europe a lot as well, but it’s not the same; Liquid has a facility for us in Europe, so whenever we are in Europe for a long period of time we can still feel like we are at home. There are just so many factors that made me think that to take the next step, it was the right move.
No offence either to Extra Salt, but they just can’t provide the things that Liquid can, they’ve been around for so long, had so long to build the structure around the team. I thought it was the best time to make that step, and my teammates all fully supported me and were really happy for me. It was definitely very hard to leave them, but at the same time I knew it was something I had to do.
Coming into Liquid, what were the expectations of you from the team and organisation?
First, from the org’s perspective, they kind of let the players handle it. They know the players know what they’re talking about, and whatever they want is the best for the team. The org doesn’t have much say what happens within the team like that.
As for the players, when I came in, they were super nice and chill, and they basically said ‘you have the freedom to do whatever you want’, you know? They saw what I had done in previous teams and they didn’t want me to lose that. When I first joined I was doing kinda the same things I was doing on Extra Salt, but still trying to improve my game without losing my identity.
I think I fit in pretty well, even within the first two weeks we were meshing really well together, I think we thought about the game the same way. It’s still a work in progress where I definitely am not the perfect player, I’m making a lot of mistakes, but they have been really helpful in growing me as a player as well.
Especially shox, obviously he has so much experience right, and just talking to him about the game is crazy. You would never even think about the game a certain way until you have talked to him, and once he puts that picture in your mind you can start working with it, you know? I never understood how someone helping me could have such an impact, but I feel like he's helped me so much understanding how to play as a team, what we should expect from an AWPer, what I should be doing in certain situations. The rest of my teammates are also fully supportive, and coming in was almost like a perfect fit.
Did you feel any pressure coming in?
I would say my first match with Liquid, there was definitely a little bit of pressure (laughs). I think after the first couple of rounds though, I just felt like it was any other game, so I kinda chilled out. It was at BLAST, my first game I was pretty nervous, but after that I was chill and took the ones after that like any other game.
Here at Pro League, the first game, I didn’t feel anything to be honest. When it’s tense moments you can feel the pressure, when you are in chaotic situations and stuff, but it’s not like you are sitting there shaking. I feel like I’ve gotten used to the pressure, there’s always going to be a little bit of pressure, but I think I am getting good at controlling it.
Looking to the future, what are the expectations for the team? Have you set goals like specific tournament placings or reaching a certain HLTV ranking?
No, not really, I think all of us just want to strive to become the best honestly. We haven’t really sat down and talked about ‘we want to break top 15 by this time’ or whatever, we are just taking it day by day and taking the necessary steps to become better as a team. We obviously have expectations in our head, but we haven’t really talked about it as a group, we just want to become the best. That’s our goal, I guess.
What about you personally?
Actually I was just talking to shox and nitr0 yesterday, and they are two people who have never missed a Major, or at least nitr0 while he was playing. Talking to them and hearing them talk about the Majors, I was sitting there thinking ‘wow, I have never even been to one’ (laughs). It would be really nice to even play in a Major, first you have to qualify so I don’t want to think too far ahead, but I feel like everyone’s dream is to win a Major. Me not even being to one before, if we can get to that and play there, that would still be an accomplishment for me of course, but I don’t just want to leave it there I want to place well and do well.
I definitely have personal expectations, not just with the Major and stuff but for my performance individually. As I have said before, the meta nowadays, the AWPer is such a big role and such a strong gun, that if the AWPer’s not consistent then your team is at a disadvantage already. I feel like I have expectations to do what these other AWPers are doing, s1mple, sh1ro, broky, all these top AWPers right now are so consistent, they do everything so well and they almost never make mistakes. You need to be like that in order to be at the top, you know? So that’s the expectation I have set, being one of those players where people are scared of me.
We’ll do a quick one to end the interview; who has been your toughest game so far on Liquid?
I think it was against Players for sure; not just on Ancient, but on a lot of maps we struggle hard against teams that play that slow style, and Players are one of the slowest teams. We put up a good fight on Overpass, but on Dust2 we got completely destroyed, that map I think everyone felt like we didn’t know what to do. It was that game where EliGE got like one kill, and even he on HLTV Confirmed said he felt like he couldn’t do anything, so definitely the Players game. It was a really good learning experience for sure.