FaZe CSGO: Why the Superteam Has Never Won a Major

by Fabio

FaZe Clan entered CSGO in 2016 with the hopes of becoming the best team in the world. Signing star players left and right, they aimed to dominate the scene. Four years later the team has still not won a Major and appear to be no closer to the trophy. We take a look at the different rosters of FaZe CSGO and explain why they have not been able to secure a Major victory so far.

The Roots of FaZe CSGO: Team Kinguin

In 2015, Team Kinguin made waves by being one of the first international teams to do well in Counter-Strike. Most squads up to that point consisted of players with the same (or similar) country of origin. Most feared that the language barrier was too strong to overcome and thus very few teams ever thought of enriching their rosters with foreign players.

But Kinguin did anyways. At that time, their roster consisted of competent players, but no one would have considered them a star-studded lineup just yet. At ESL One Cologne, they made the quarter finals and lost to TSM in a single-digit fashion. But at least they had made the top 8 of the event and thus had secured their place at the next Major installation of the year. 

Time With G2 And That One Inferno Game

Shortly before the event, the Kinguin players transferred to Gamers2 (now known as G2 Esports) and had to replace Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom with Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad. With Mikail “Maikelele” Bill, Dennis “dennis” Edman, Ricardo “fox” Pacheco and Håvard “rain” Nygaard, the team tackled DreamHack Cluj-Napoca, the last Major of the year. This is where they finally announced themselves as a real force to be reckoned with. In the group stage, they advanced over mousesports and FlipSid3 Tactics. During the quarter finals, they overtook Virtus.Pro in an overtime series that cost them (and the viewers) all their nerves.

Unfortunately, Team EnVyUs awaited them in the semis. This team was expected to win the Major, so G2 were heavily under favored. Nonetheless, they brought the fight to EnVyUs and even took them to a triple-overtime on Inferno. In the end, the French squad succeeded. But G2 couldn’t have been happier with the results, having almost taken such as world-class team down to their knees. At the end of the year, dennis expressed his wish to join fnatic and FaZe CSGO signed Philip “aizy” Aistrup in his stead.

The first FaZe CSGO roster at DreamHack Leipzig (via DH/Adela Sznajder)
The first FaZe CSGO roster at DreamHack Leipzig (via DH/Adela Sznajder)

FaZe Clan Enter CSGO

When FaZe decided to join the CSGO competitive scene in 2016, they had already built up an empire within Call of Duty. At that time, the $700,000 they paid for the G2 squad was a huge and record-breaking sum. FaZe CSGO were not immediately able to secure victories. For the duration of the year, the would secure high-place finishes at bigger tournament. But they always missed out on Major playoffs and never once won a trophy. Their struggles would continue into 2017.

Why Did FaZe CSGO Struggle So Much?

There are obviously many factors for a team not performing to expectations. But one contributing factor was definitely the constant switch-around within the roster. In 2016 alone they made a total of four lineup changes. Maikelele was replaced with Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey and Aleksi “allu” Jalli was signed in fox’s stead. When Finn “karrigan” Andersen was signed as their new in-game-leader, kioShiMa was quickly benched again. However, when jkaem sought the exit door, kio came back into the lineup once more. 

During that time, karrigan had little consistency to work with. While FaZe CSGO did make a brief playoffs appearance at the ELEAGUE Atlanta Major in 2017, they still didn’t secure victories until much later in the year. Until then, they had already brought in reinforcements. Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer joined from Natus Vincere and fnatic, respectively. But their most exciting and impactful pickup was Nikola “NiKo” Kovač.

With NiKo, they had effectively secured a top-three player. Towards the middle of the year, they started picking up speed. Despite another disappointing Major finish, they were finally championship material in September of 2017. They secured the ESL One New York and ELEAGUE Premier trophies, finally making up for the investments that had been put into the squad.

FaZe CSGO at ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2019 (via hltv.org)
FaZe CSGO at ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 (via hltv.org)

ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018

In Boston, they were closer to the Major trophy than they had ever been. Standing alongside Cloud9 in the Grand Finals, they were already predicted to be the winner by quite a margin. So what went wrong?

The truth is, we don’t really know. For one, Cloud9 played out of their minds. Not only did they bring their absolute A-game individually, they also made sound tactical decisions throughout the Grand Finals. Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham was able to outclass GuardiaN and NiKo had one of his worst performances ever. Averaging just a 0.88 rating in the match, he was miles away from the performance that was expected from him, that was required for FaZe to overcome C9. In the end, the home crowd finally saw a North American team secure the Major trophy and FaZe had to head back home with their heads hanging low. 

FaZe: Continuing their Semi-Success

Ever since this tragic loss in Boston, FaZe CSGO have rebound and found some of their form again. Bringing in Marcelo “coldzera” David they have secured yet another top talent. There have indeed been some relevant tournament victories throughout the years, but the Majors are still a tough spot for the team. They’re not quite as successful as the big names on the roster might lead you to think. So where do their problems come from?

CSGO Is a Tactical Game

These star-studded rosters often seem to have their issues with regards to in-game-leading and FaZe CSGO is a notorious example for this. Before adding karrigan, they had virtually no tactical depth. They would just rely on their star fraggers to seal the deal. Since Counter Strike developed towards a more strategical metagame in 2016, this approach was doomed from the start and met with lots of criticism. When karrigan departed, NiKo, their absolute best player, took over the leading reins. Internally, they must have had their reasons. But from the outside it just seems so ridiculous to hand this burden to the one player that is supposed to be able to focus entirely on his individual game.

Why Super-Teams are Prone to Failing

So FaZe were never really that strategically sound. But their problems went far beyond that. Bringing five star-players into one lineup just isn’t the way to go in Counter Strike. In this game, a lot depends on support structures. There needs to be room for players who can set their stars up for the big frags. This is something that karrigan knew very well – and something that FaZe have had to learn the hard way. With their current line-up, they seem to have struck a mix between these monstrous talents and players who are willing to sacrifice some of their individual stats for the good of the team.

Read this: Team Liquid CSGO: The Best NA Team Ever

FaZe CSGO have still not secured the services of a seasoned in-game-leader and don’t appear to be looking for one anyways. As it stands, the burden of thinking is still placed onto their star-fraggers and they seem no way closer to the Major trophy than they did in 2017. 

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