Serbian CS:GO in-game leader Nemanja “nexa” Isaković has temporarily stepped away from OG’s starting lineup due to personal reasons, the organization announced today. During his absence, OG will play with their former rifler Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen in the BLAST Paris Major’s Europe RMR closed qualifier, which begins tomorrow, Feb. 16.
The temporary departure of nexa comes as a huge blow to the organization’s chances of qualifying for the Europe RMR in April because they’ll have to go through the closed qualifier without a dedicated in-game leader like him. It’s unclear who will be taking on the captaincy duties while nexa is out since none of the OG players—degster, Shahar “flameZ” Shushan, Adam “NEOFRAG” Zouhar, Maciej “F1KU” Miklas, and niko—have experience in the role, at least at the highest level of CS:GO esports.
“The team remains determined to qualify for BLAST Paris Major and is currently gathering for a week-long bootcamp in Warsaw, [Poland],” OG said in an official statement.
In-game leader issues aside, there’s also an issue regarding whether niko is prepared enough to play in such an important event as the BLAST Paris Major’s Europe RMR closed qualifier. He has only played in a handful of maps for Astralis Talent and Danish mix NtK since OG benched him in May 2022. Niko was released from his contract on Jan. 1, 2023, and he’s been waiting for a new opportunity in free agency ever since.
Even though OG are set to play without nexa, they’ll try their best to replicate the form they displayed at IEM Katowice earlier this month when they defeated Sprout, Fnatic, and MOUZ before getting knocked out by Heroic ahead of the playoffs.
The closed qualifier for the European RMR will be played from Feb. 16 to 19. There are 18 BLAST Paris Major Europe RMR spots up for grabs in this qualifier.