Nick J. November 21, 2019
The most impressive thing seen in CounterStrike: Global Offensive this week wasn’t Robin "flusha" Rönnquist’s ace on Inferno. No, it was veteran CSGO observer Alexander "Rushly" Rush’s performance on November 18 during a meaningless game in the ESL Pro League Season 10 Europe Division.
By the time Team Vitality and HellRaisers faced off, both had been mathematically eliminated from qualifying for the EPL Season 10 Finals. ESL and Rushly had something prepared for fans that stuck around, though.
In round 11, Rushly pulled out a blindfold and pulled off the trick of the year as part of ESL’s “#RushlyRemix,” observing the entire round blindfolded. The veteran observer didn’t just do a good job, he did a great job.
"I didn't practice at all for this blindfolded round, but [Harry "JustHarry" Russell] let me know they day before about the idea. I thought it was hilarious and thought it could go horribly, so yeah why not give it a go," Rushly said exclusively to WIN.gg
#RushlyRemix brings spice to ESL Pro League Season 10
Vitality and HellRaisers played for pride after missing out on spots in the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals. The hashtag spiced up a night of mostly meaningless matches. The entirety of Rushly's blindfolded round can be found on Twitch.
Chad “SPUNJ” Burchill suggested that Rushly only observed deaths during FaZe Clan and Fnatic’s matchup on Inferno, for example. Rushly nabbed three out of five, just seconds after SPUNJ's suggestion. Another challenge was to observe the match through the eyes of one of Counter-Strike’s famous chickens.
"All observers in my mind should be intently listening to what the casters say while observing. Sometimes they see something coming that you don't, and in general for the story it's just good to follow who they are talking about or who they've hyped up previously in the game," Rushly said, explaining how caster calls are important, blindfold or not.
According to Rushly, he's been observing since the ESL Pro League Winter Finals in 2015. After several events where he worked the POV streams, ESL brought Rushly in as the main observer for ESL Pro League Season 3. He's been EPL's main observer ever since.
"Now I have a Major under my belt, with my peers claiming me to be up there with the best of them. I couldn't be more happy about that," Rushly said.
There’s more here than the hashtag and an impressive trick, though. Rushly’s stunning performance showed the upper limits of what a professional observer can do. It also reminded everyone watching why they’re needed.
There are fifty pro players in the top ten CSGO teams. There are arguably less than ten true professional observers. For the best of the best like Rushly, Heather "sapphiRe" Garozzo, Connor "Sliggy" Blomfield, and David "prius" Kuntz, it can be a thankless job. Most fans miss the small adjustments that pro observers make to create a story out of every round.
Unless something goes wrong, of course.
Good observing is invisible, bad observing is unwatchable
Fans can still watch the action if a caster stumbles over his words. But if an observer misses something, so do the fans.
StarLadder found this out the hard way at the Berlin Major earlier this year. During the opening days of the event, fans griped over the event's poor observers to the point where StarLadder was forced to hire Sliggy on the second day of the Legends Stage.
Unfortunately for Rushly, his demonstration came on the same night that Operation Shattered Web dropped. This buried ESL’s replays under a mountain of posts about the first new CSGO Operation in over two years.
New knives, cases and maps are a big deal, but fans shouldn’t forget about the unsung heroes that catch every moment of the game they love.