The FaZe Clan Conundrum

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Usually, CS:GO professional teams have established roles for each player on a roster. Lurkers, awpers, in-game leaders, entry-fraggers and whatever else more. Of course, this format is prone to changes over time as teams have to adapt to roster changes.

However, what happens when you swap your in-game leader for your star player? Well, FaZe Clan is going through the process of discovering the answer as we speak. And they’re doing this while they try to find a way to recover their spot amongst the best teams in the world.

The Problem

FaZe Clan started 2018 with their heads up. Back in Boston 18’, only a couple of teams could pose a threat to them, but they ended losing Boston 18’ to Cloud9. As the year went-by, FaZe wasn’t the same threat they once were back in later 2017. They failed to take on Mousesports and FNATIC as tournaments proceeded to take place.

Shortly after, we saw ‘olofmeister’ taking a personal break. FaZe had a uncertain, but fruitful take in the two months that olof went off. Although the team couldn’t stop the rise of Mousesports and later Astralis, they were still a contender after all. More importantly, FaZe still was a top five team in the world.

Winners of IEM Sydney 2018 with a stand-in, FaZe fans were more than excited when the news that Olof was returning to his team. Why not? If FaZe were already a contender with a stand-in, with their full roster things were supposed to get only better, right?

No. FaZe Clan return with olof wasn’t the warm re-encounter they hoped for. The squad went in last place at ELEAGUE Premier 2018 and weren’t really bright as fans expected. Things got better in the event that followed, DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018. However, FaZe went downhill shortly after it.

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In all this problematic road, we can pinpoint a couple of issues:

  • Rain performances have been lowering as times pass. Last year he was a fundamental player that made FaZe always a threat no matter what in-game situation they were in.
  • Karrigan performance has also take a hit. It’s not uncommon to see an in-game leader in the lower part of the leaderboard but Karrigan has been a case apart especially when we see the likes of Gla1ve and Nitr0 debunking the myth that an IGL doesn’t need to perform.
  • Olofmeister hasn’t been the reliable backbone that the team once had with him.
  • GuardiaN has been a bit more inconsistent against bigger teams than in the past. The same happened with him back in Na’Vi. Back then, he was accused by s1mple of causing internal problems with the team.
  • NiKo hasn’t been a contender for the place of best player in the world like he did last year.

A Major Disappointment

Going in for the Major after Stockholm, FaZe almost got eliminated from the New Legends Stage without a single win. To recover from it though, a last-minute decision was taken: Karrigan, FaZe’s in-game leader would drop his role so NiKo would lead this team.

The initial results went well. FaZe recovered their edge in London as their T-sides were quite better and overall, the team looked to be working once again. FaZe couldn’t held their first challenge at the playoffs as Astralis was simply too much for them, but a top 8 finish was a good result after all.

The problem resurged one week later though. FaZe went to ESL One New York and the team ended completely demolished with another last place finish. During that tournament, it was announced that Karrigan would be definitely dropping his role in favor to NiKo. And the results were clear here – NiKo isn’t much better than Karrigan as an in-game leader.

Karrigan and NiKo, IGLs by different circumstances with different problems

NiKo is a superstar and this was the main reason that FaZe brought him in back in 2017 to replace aizy. Although his performance fell a bit over his career in FaZe to this point, he still is amongst some of the best players in the world.

He earned his fame back in Mousesports, often nicknamed NiKoSports back then. It was NiKo who was top fragging most of games in that team and he often had insane performances to bring victories to his old team – and those weren’t uncommon.

During his time in Mouz, NiKo also went the in-game leader role for a certain period of time. Unhappy with results under his previous IGL, he took the role and had a different take in his time. He built his squad around him and often went to an ‘everything or nothing’ ideology in-game. Or his advances, pushes and overall calls were really successful, or they would miserably fail.

Karrigan in the other hand has played along some of the best IGLs in the story of Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike – Global Offensive. He went through Gla1ve, GobB and Xizt in his early CS:GO career and learnt a lot from them.

His surge though was back in 2014 when he joined the actual core of Astralis, who played for Dignitas back in that year.

Although considered one of the best, during his two years there, he was often criticized. His team had a mental barrage that stopped them from going further than top four in big LANs. It was clear that he couldn’t handle pressure and could put a strong leader image that his players needed.

The lack of IGLs in the market makes a difficult situation even harder to solve

Although NiKo place in FaZe is guaranteed, Karrigan is in a tightrope. FaZe shouldn’t waste NiKo firepower to put him in a role that he doesn’t excel sufficiently to beat the best.

In the same note, NiKo as an IGL not only means that their star is being misused but also means that Karrigan won’t have a proper place, and this is another serious issue to take care off. In the current meta, players in elite teams have often to excel at two or more areas. For a team who wishes to be at top like FaZe, not a single player can be left without a duty in-game.

One could think that FaZe could just pick a good IGL to replace Karrigan and problem solved. That isn’t possible at the moment however.

The best option available for FaZe would be MSL who was just benched from North. Although MSL has experience and probably wouldn’t have issues going for an English-speaking roster, he might not just be in the level that FaZe needs. MSL has proven to have modest highs and extremely lows, who makes him a dangerous bet.

Temporarily, it’s clear that FaZe can’t have Karrigan with an undefined role, and his leading simply doesn’t work anymore. He simply doesn’t have the fragging-skills needed to be kept there. His leadership has also been the cause of distrust amongst the team according to rumors, so his staying in FaZe is doubtable at this point.

What is coming for FaZe?

The next scheduled event for FaZe along the online seasons of ECS and EPL is EPICENTER 2018. As Astralis has declined their invites for the invite, they should be a bit more comfortable going in Moscow.

EPICENTER would also be the perfect place to tryout a new player or maybe experiment with something new in their game plan.

Anyways, what is your opinion on FaZe? Can they recover without doing roster changes? Who would be a good player to fit the team if not? Tell us below!

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