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Luci Kelemen
Written By: Luci Kelemen

Writes about way too many things. Has way too many opinions. Wants to tell all the interesting stories in the world.

May 2, 2019

We’re a pretty fickle bunch as CS:GO fans – for many of us, every event and LAN showing casts a brand new light on our favorite team’s “real” strength, which doesn’t exactly help our analytical skills or blood pressure. FaZe Clan’s recent showings are a great example of this phenomenon: you’d be forgiven for discarding their Miami win off the back of their Sydney showing, but neither event should have factored into your thinking in the first place. The permanent problems of FaZe go far beyond an upset win at BLAST and a shock loss to Grayhound and both data points can be essentially discarded because of how they came about: high-rolling a set of best-of-ones and subsequently falling short without the #3 player in the world.

FaZe Clan’s recent whiplash of LAN results don’t make a lot of sense without context. After winning the ELEAGUE invitational, the playoffs finish at Katowice matched their previous result at a major, a result followed by a massive downturn in form with their fifth-placed finish in São Paulo and missing out on the playoffs at StarSeries i-League Season 7. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a win at the next BLAST event in Miami, and now another embarrassing group stage elimination in Sydney. So what the hell is up with this side exactly?

If you look at the HLTV rankings, FaZe Clan’s current fourth-place spot is technically derived from every event since 2018’s IEM Sydney, but only the ones since karrigan’s ouster have a 50+% relevance in their rating. How accurate this is remains a subject of debate: as we’ve previously discussed, most observers would likely discard those events entirely when determining the current strength of FaZe.)

The problem is that karrigan’s ouster coincided with a period where FaZe hasn’t participated in that many competitive events. Either the teams on offer were subpar (think ELEAGUE’s Invitational or their Pro League group) or the format was lacking (like the BLAST events) – and if you scrub those off,  you end up with only three events remaining to analyze. The Katowice major can be treated as a slight disappointment simply because of the team’s poor group stage performances while Shanghai was an unmitigated disaster. How about Sydney? It makes no sense to look at a tournament where their star player and IGL had to be replaced due to visa issues in the last minute.

All in all, FaZe’s recent performances in premiere competition were disappointing, but does it make sense to criticize them over two poor meaningful events in a three-and-a-half-month period? Any argument we make only serves to highlight that the team’s recent changes in personnel and the uncertainty that surrounds it turned FaZe into a ghost team of sorts: ethereal and impossible to truly grasp.

The real issue of FaZe Clan remains their IGL situation: say what you will about NiKo’s abilities in the role, you can’t get around the opportunity cost. When your star player is expending a portion of his mental capacity and attention to calling, it inevitably comes at the expense of the other facets of their gameplay. This is just common sense, and explains why similar adventures rarely end well in CS:GO. Remember the short and catastrophic experiment with coldzera taking over FalleN’s IGLing responsibilities? It wasn’t nice to watch.

The team remains in flux in more ways than one, and the spectacular coup that led to karrigan’s ouster – which is going to look stupider and stupider with every good showing of the new mousesports lineup – clearly made the project a lot less appealing for prospective IGL pickups going forward. As such, FaZe remain frozen in time with a semi-permanent fifth and growing questions about olofmeister’s longevity. As long as they don’t find definitive answers about their lineup, every tournament performance will come with an asterisk, their presence temporary and ethereal on the rankings, no matter where they float at a given moment.

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