What is wrong with OG?
From starting the year with a bang to flopping the RMR with a whimper, what has gone wrong for OG?
It was all going swimmingly for OG when life under Nemanja "nexa" Isaković began. BLAST Premier Spring Groups was an unbridled success as OG swept aside all opposition with little difficulty and racked up some impressive statistics in the process. They were the highest ranked team at the event by a long margin, no player posted under a 1.18 rating, and they finished with a 5-1 map record. Since then, at IEM Katowice and the recent EU RMR A, things have taken a spectacular nosedive, begging the question: What exactly is wrong with OG right now?
A quick look at the stats suggests an obvious place to focus any investigation into OG's failings. Looking at the teams numbers as a whole, the OG T side has gone completely awry, with their round percentage falling from 59% at BLAST to sub-45% at both Katowice and the RMR, and the team's opening kill, multikill and traded % stats looked particularly suspect in the latter two events. Their CT side has been more consistent in comparison. In terms of individuals, whilst the entire team has obviously taken a hit statistically due to them performing worse as a unit, Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen and Shahar "flameZ" Shushan have seen particularly concerning drop-offs in their performances from BLAST to now.
Firstly, let's address the way that OG approach their T side, particularly focusing on the T sides on display during the EU RMR A.
The OG offense, in general, adopts what many would describe as a more "loose" playstyle. They default to get some form of map control, fall into a 1-4 formation with niko lurking, and then attempt to brute-force their way into a site whilst the lurk looks for a kill; this description fits a large portion of their T side. They at times utilise some faster-paced rounds, and they will sometimes opt for a 3-2 split of bombsites, but they don't throw many fakes or complicated executes, and they usually do not spend much time trying to force or manipulate rotations.
At it's best, as was shown during BLAST Spring Groups, this approach will roll over the opposing team, allowing star players to focus on their own game rather than complex strategies or tactics, letting individual prowess shine through. At its worst it can be at times easy to read and one-dimensional, as Andrey "Jerry" Mekhryakov demonstrated in forZe's recent victory over OG on Dust2, where the Russian squad got the right read on the offense more often than not, and were often able to correctly stack the site that was the focus of OG's attack.
If you combine the above assessment of OG's T side with an analysis of the stats, several conclusions present themselves. Firstly, it would seem that OG are not setting their entry players up for success with their simplistic approach, which is what results in the poor opening kill stats. Secondly, they are not trading well enough to justify their current approach, as evidenced by their low traded% numbers; if they were efficient with their trading, such a simplistic approach is not a bad one per se. Thirdly, and this is alluded to by the poor T side multikill numbers, they are struggling for individual playmaking on the T side, outside of the occasional stellar performance from Mateusz "mantuu" Wilczewski and flameZ. When the approach is so straightforward, if the entries aren't clean and the trading isn't there, then someone needs to step up and multi-frag to get the job done.
So considering what the numbers are telling us about where the OG T side is faltering in relation to the style they employ, it seems that there are some structural issues with their offense. Diving deeper by looking at the individual performances of a couple of key players can further reinforce the assertions about OG's potentially problematic approach.
flameZ's poor statistical returns seem to have an obvious reason behind them: He is not being set up for success, as mentioned earlier. Such an easy-to-read T side leaves flameZ trying to entry sites where the defence knows he is coming, and as his team often forgoes splitting a bombsite in favour of overwhelming numbers, he is also usually dealing with a defence who are focused on only one avenue of attack. He has remained the tip of the spear throughout the year for OG, registering 25-30% of their entry attempts in every event, but his success is simply woeful right now, sitting at below 40% for both Katowice and the RMR. Considering how key he was to the BLAST Spring success, being their highest rated player at 1.27 and by far their best entry player with a 65% success rate, his drastic drop in form is something that the team simply cannot afford to stomach.
Next is niko, who also seems to be suffering from the OG approach on the T side. For niko his low impact rating (1.00 or below for Katowice and the RMR) alludes to his inability to provide impactful lurks on the OG offense. This is somewhat understandable when very little is done to encourage or manipulate rotations, but it also seems that niko's own style as a player may be contributing to the problem. His lurks tend towards a passive approach, and usually only come into play once the rest of OG have made their move. When he does try and make more aggressive moves from the lurk role, it often bears little fruit, again likely due to the predictability of where the lurk would be coming from.
We may be able to gain some insight on these issues by considering comments Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen made upon joining G2, that he felt he no longer had to micromanage so much on his new team. I would hazard a guess that niko and flameZ require more facilitation and direction from nexa, an IGL who is known for the aforementioned loose and direct style of calling. Essentially, it feels like nexa may need to adapt his calling style, particularly on the Terrorist side, to better suit the personnel he is now working with. He no longer has the incredibly assertive and self-sufficient players of Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač in the team, or an entry fragger in the form of Audric "JACKZ" Jug who doesn't need to succeed in order for the team to do well. He now has a lurker who requires more structure and an entry fragger who is vital to the success of the team and needs more setup.
The loose, simplistic style that nexa has tended to employ worked well for G2, but it simply is not working well enough for OG, and needs a rethink if this team are to perform to the level that the sum of their parts would suggest. Providing a more structured approach to the offensive side would surely help niko be more impactful, and give the team a chance to develop a style that gives flameZ a better chance to succeed and be the carry force that the squad needs him to be.
With the BLAST Premier Spring Final some way off and no Major on the horizon for OG, there is time to get back to the drawing board in an attempt to refine their playstyle and bring the best out of the obvious talent on the roster. The alternative is to get involved in the inevitable post-Major roster shuffle, and press the reset button on a lineup that has yet to spend even six months together. Either way, OG are at a crossroads, and continuing with the same approach and expecting different results is unlikely to lead to positive results. Let's see where they are come June and the BLAST Premier Spring Final.