With all the whispers about the doom and gloom of FaZe Clan – the org, that is –, questions inevitably follow about their CS:GO commodities as well. With people like DeKay that are neck deep in the know speculating that a fire sale may be on the horizon, there’s an underappreciated aspect of the whole situation. Would another organization be willing to pick up this roster wholesale and continue with the superteam experiment? No, obviously not. So what does that tell us about the whole endeavor that threatened to break Counter-Strike as we know it back in the day?
Many forget how ruthless FaZe Clan used to be in and out of the server when they’ve entered the CS:GO world. Nowadays, they’re just one of the many amusing have-beens with the occasional carry potential of their undisputed star, floundering on the transfer market with uninspiring temporary pickups. Back then, they wanted immediate results and were willing to break the bank to get the players who they knew would deliver. While karrigan’s efforts with the first roster featuring kioshima and allu were arguably just as impressive as what he’s accomplished with his blinged-out side, the higher-ups wanted more and signed two of the best individual players in the game in the form of olofmeister and GuardiaN. Swift and decisive victories followed at a multitude of events, but the wave eventually receded somewhat. FaZe remained extremely dangerous, almost always reaching the business end of the tournaments, but never managing the sort of back-to-back lock-ons as Fnatic or SK did before and Astralis after them. They almost broke the game, but not quite.
It’s too early for the obituaries and the discussions about failed eras belong to those of us with a long-term perspective. Regardless of the prospects FaZe Clan in the near future, two questions are well worth asking about their plight: what became of their team-building strategy and specifically this fabled roster?
Right now, FaZe sit in ninth place on the HLTV rankings, a position they’ve never stooped down to with their current core since its inception in August 2017. On an individual level, the players’ potential futures widely differ. NiKo is clearly the prized asset and one of the best players in the world, arguably the only reason the team still holds onto any kind of relevance. While olofmeister’s place is practically guaranteed in any Swedish roster for one more adventure, his individual performances fell off a cliff over the course of the last few months, and his inconsistent participation was one of the reasons behind the team’s downfall.
GuardiaN is also clearly entering the twilight of his career, and while some of his struggles are clearly down to motivation issues, a combination of regional roster preferences and more in-form AWPers in most of the other top teams mean that he would actually struggle to find a new home that would be a marked step up even from FaZe’s current situation. Meanwhile, rain is the ever-present enigma of the side, successfully bouncing back from an almost career-low level of performances at the turn of the year. His flexibility would likely make him the second most-targeted member of this roster. However, there’s little to suggest that a new organization would like to keep together this inconsistent core without a proper IGL if FaZe were to leave the scene – a telling sign about the prospects of superteams in general a few years after their prime, and a warning most orgs seem to have heeded in the intervening years.
In a way, MiBR were considering a pivot of this kind when they were willing to meet s1mple’s buyout clause, a move that hasn’t materialized due to the Na’Vi management’s contentious behaviour. FalleN, coldzera and the Ukrainian on the same time (possibly with Stewie2k and tarik, lest we forget) could have easily become and explosive new-generation FaZe Clan, a sleek chrome machine powered by liquid gold on the inside.
It wasn’t to be, and Astralis’ incredible rise seemingly cemented the importance of strong tactics-based gameplay – which is also evidenced by the recent surprise packages of Renegades, ENCE and Vitality – coupled with the fact that seemingly no one but themselves seem to have been capable of engineering their downfall. It’s quite possible that we won’t see a team like Guardian/olofmeister-infused FaZe in the game ever again, especially with the hefty buyouts practically locking everyone out of the same sort of blockbuster moves.
It would be a shame, though the lesson they’ve learned was harsh enough. If the players cease being super, so does the superteam – and one hero is not enough for a cinematic universe.