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Luci Kelemen
Luci Kelemen

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

June 20th, 2021

FaZe Clan's performances since karrigan's return have oscillated between poor and career-shredding, with the return of LAN events serving as the only tangible chance for improvement on the horizon. Could the change of scenery be enough for the side?

The prodigal son

Much was expected of karrigan upon his return to FaZe. Did you know that the was not the classic nerdy computer kid and one of the first to get a girlfriend, not to mention something something Tischtennis?

His steady stream of successes on a wide variety of teams brought him near unmatched pedigree among the IGL class of CS:GO, and his former team’s limited success after his ouster with NiKo at the helm, plus, of course, his strong results against them with a comparatively less explosive mousesports squad suggested he’d be building yet another top tier roster after his latest move, with a team of superstars forming the foundation of the second generation of Galácticos under the FaZe banner.

Results have been anything but super so far – and it’s been four months at this point. Still, it seems like there are many mitigating circumstances to consider.

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Terrifying numbers

It’s tough to overstate just how poor the new-look FaZe have been over the course of the past couple months. Even the surface-level examination of early exits against poor teams (hello Sprout) are concerning. Eight maps won and fifteen lost in the past three months per HLTV stats make for awful reading, not that the 16/0/25 since karrigan’s return is significantly better.

It has to be said that three of their defeats out of the nine series they’ve played in the past three months came against a resurgent G2: the IEM Summer closed qualifiers, Flashpoint 3 and now the BLAST Premier Spring Finals. Perhaps this is a part of the problem: not engaging with the smaller online competitions in the way OG and VP did adds ring rust to the whole host of issues this roster has to contend with while playing from home.

On an individual level, karrigan continues his dip below the 1.0 rating red line, dipping down to 0.85 during his latest stint with FaZe. It’s not just a case of the occasional stinker dragging down the averages either: he only had a 1+ rating on 34.1% of the maps played, which, lest we forget, matches pretty well with the 39% of maps won. In fact, the correlation is pretty strong: the IGL had a 1+ rating all but one of those times they notched the W on a map, with their overtime defeat to NiP on Overpass the sole exception.

Poorly fragging IGLs seem to be an extra burden in the online era (again, just ask GoldeN and Fnatic down in the dumpster), but the numbers show that if karrigan can ever so slightly improve his numbers the numbers, even this raw iteration of the team can make it over the line against top tier opposition. It’s not exactly the metric you’d expect to improve with the passage of time, but it’s still worth keeping in mind: after all, the Dane had his fair share of highlights later on with mouz once a strong system was in place to better support his individual plays.

Also, a dive into his career form stats show that he’s always been better on LAN than online, sometimes significantly so. His current online numbers are altogether quite close to his 2018 displays, suggesting there’s tangible room for improvement once offline events roll around.

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The honeymoon period, or lack thereof

Perhaps it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that most neutrals have a positive view of this squad, perhaps for the first time in the org’s history. There’s little reason to dislike karrigan or broky if you’re a CS fan, Twistzz’ move to Europe is an exciting prospect by itself, rain is the faithful stalwart of the roster and either cold or olof alike have more pedigree than most teams combined. It’s part of why it’s been so disappointing to watch this star-studded squad struggle through the online era.

There’s a prevailing notion about karrigan’s teams that they peak early in a “honeymoon period” and then fall off over time. This requires some additional context: TSM’s more notable wins came in the second half of his tenure in 2015, FaZe’s period of near-dominance came a year and a couple roster moves after his signing, and even the “superteam” started out with a third-place finish in the ESL Pro League’s European bracket and a 9-12th showing at DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017.

Fast-forward to mousesports and you’ll find a small tier 2 tournament win two months into his tenure (DreamHack Open Tours 2019) and another five months’ worth of decent showings until their first premiere tournament win at ESL Pro League Season 10’s European bracket (or seven if you’re only willing to count the Finals). The idea of an explosive start followed by a significant drop-off doesn’t match the stats.

An alternative argument to make about the IGL’s last few months on mouz is that he struggled to adapt to the requirements to the online era, which would explain away both his latter-day difficulties with ropz and co. as well as the new FaZe squad’s sputtering start. To try and answer the question posed in the title, this seems exactly the sort of team that could significantly jump up in performances once LAN events roll around, with piles of experience to call on in a stadium environment.

The olof effect

So olofmeister is back, which was definitely not a part of the plan. Let’s try and put a positive spin on things: suppose that coldzera’s lurk-focused style was a part of what held the team back. If you squint hard enough, this argument might even make sense. With the limited firepower on offer from karrigan and rain these days, the Brazilian’s relative passivity could prove to be a burden every time Twistzz isn’t popping off.

Call it a stylistic mismatch, though one a top tier IGL should realistically be expected to solve. Maybe olof will be more willing to get involved with early engagements – but whether he can provide the requisite fragging output still remains the question.

The personal reasons behind the Swede’s on-again-off-again career on FaZe were never really cleared up for the wider CS:GO public, but it was karrigan who managed his presence and absence in an expert manner, keeping up results both with and without olof back in the good old days. It’s tough to see him as anything more than a stopgap, but it is a roster change, somewhat resetting the clock in terms of expectations.

The first couple LAN events could very well make or break this project – but there seems to be just enough simmering below the surface to suggest that they could turn things around. The world returns to normal and FaZe become competitive again. It’d be a decent enough timeline for the neutrals.

Photo credit: Dániel Ránki