HLTV’s got quite the scoop with their NiKo interview as the Bosnian star freely discussed contractual matters and team setups off the back of his big move to G2. There were many question marks about how he should be integrated on the eve of his debut at BLAST, and it’s tough to shake the feeling that it’s going to be a rocky road ahead for all parties concerned. You don’t even have to read between the lines too much – as is customary nowadays, he said the quiet part out loud.
There won't be any clashes. If nexa wants me to shut the fuck up and not say anything, I will do it. I'm just done with the responsibility of talking all the time.
No doubt the headline quote is NiKo’s assertion that he’s willing to say quiet and leave the in-game leader’s mantle behind, as the big point of contention in his previous teams – either mousesports or the post-karrigan FaZe Clan was that he accumulated power yet in their hour of need he seemed to forget about so many things. The prevailing narrative was – with reason – that every team he plays on eventually turns into his personal project, which ends up wasting both is prodigious skills as a rifler and the potential of having a good in-game leader on the squad.
For now, the public pronouncement seems to be that this was as much as by accident as by design, and he’s looking to return to the frag machine role which made him one of the greatest in the game. Part of G2’s team composition suggests this could actually succeed: most of CS:GO’s superstar players (device, s1mple, ZywOo, pre-2018 FalleN, coldzera, JW, the list could go on) either main the AWP or want to take it upon themselves to use the big green in search of a comeback. NiKo is a rare exception to this rule and this by itself can defuse some of the potential tensions of the usual superstar signing, even if kennyS’ recent performances in the online era leave a lot to be desired.
Still, coaching or caging NiKo has not been a realistic possibility at any point during his meteoric rise, neither in the NiKosports era nor the FaZe Clan days. The woes of someone like s1mple or even ZywOo and his myriad lost finals show that CS is ultimately a team game and you can’t rely on a super carry to get across the finish line, and the real question here is whether he’ll still be willing to listen if the results are not there a few months into the LAN era. There should be a fairly long grace period for all parties to work with as they aim to figure out whether to keep AmaNEk or JaCkz as their fifth, but starting their game against FURIA, the countdown to bicker time officially begins.
As much of a fairytale as it is to see huNter and huNter’s cousin on the same team, the familial aspect of the G2 affair actually makes this an even more volatile squad composition than it seems on the surface. A star player already has a big pull and negotiating power – though the fact that s1mple didn’t join MIBR and FaZe took so long to pick up coldzera should tell you everything you need to know about how the orgs still have more than enough say in the proceedings – but now any GM that’s looking to get NiKo onboard is signing up for a package deal with his brother and therefore two-fifths of any prospective squad with a strong sway over the various decisions.
Indeed NiKo’s suggestion that he and his brother could have also ended up at Cloud9 means that any discontent will be doubled by default, and if they join forces in any dispute, be it contractual or otherwise, it will take quite the GM to keep them in line or to ward off prospective suitors – and by the same token, making any such pickup a double-edged proposition should they ever end up leaving G2 together.
Though the news of NiKo’s move to G2 obviously overshadowed everything else about the FaZe squad, YNk’s decision to step down after his fellow countryman’s departure has generated its own share of snark on social media. The meme-y suggestion that he brings nothing more to the table than tepid motivational quotes obviously doesn’t make sense, but there’s also little to suggest that he made a material difference to either of the teams he’s coached to date.
Though most would concede the point that FalleN’s MIBR side was essentially uncoachable (so much so that they were one of the last top sides to start using one), it’s still not a good look that their only tournament win and most of their best performances came at the very beginning of his tenure, with little to no tangible improvement to follow. Now, with moses at Team Liquid and HenryG at Cloud9 (though admittedly in a very different capacity as kassad’s the one with the coaching responsibilities), we’ll get a better idea of how transferable a broadcast analyst’s skills are to supporting an actual competitive team.
YNk deserves credit for taking the leap and adjourning a successful career as an on-screen personality to test himself – but there’s not much to suggest he’s a cut above the rest in this particular field, even if he ended up with back-to-back poisoned chalices. Regardless of whether it was by design or not, the fact is he hasn’t become the sort of emblematic figure like a kassad or a zonic, nor has he introduced anything tangibly “YNk-esque” to either of his teams.
“I'm really happy that the coach has the biggest voice in the team, that he's the one who's going to say how everything should be done, because that's what we were missing in my past teams. My coaches didn't really have that kind of responsibility. They didn't have the last word in everything that was done in the team.”
Though NiKo doesn’t specifically mention YNk in his wide-ranging interview, he does suggest his impact and influence was fairly limited during his tenure on FaZe. Between March 2015 as the observer at ESL One Katowice and ESL One Cologne 2018, the Serb’s established himself as one of the best CS:GO analysts – his achievements over the last two years in coaching don’t come anywhere close to that. No doubt someone who pushed himself so far his previous profession of choice would consider this the greatest indictment of them all.ű
Photo credit: HLTV