Esports News

Luci Kelemen
Written By: Luci Kelemen

Telling tales of esports, one word at a time, six years and counting

July 19th, 2022

The final CS:GO event of the season is now in the books and FaZe Clan have proven their superiority after winning a barnburner of a best-of-five over NAVI, securing another S-Tier title in the process for themselves. They’ll be eying the Intel Grand Slam next after a well-deserved rest – and in the meantime, the chasing pack has a lot to process and figure out if they want to challenge karrigan’s men in the fall. Here are the most important takeaways from a fantastic tournament.

International teams can work but communication is the key

There can no longer be any doubt: FaZe Clan are the best team in the world right now, the first international team to rise to the summit of competitive CS:GO. It’s always been an interesting question why it is so much more difficult to amalgamate a squad of different nationalities in this game compared to the big MOBAs and other esports, and though we still don’t have a definitive answer to this, we can contrast the unsuccessful examples with the victorious one.

Comms breakdowns seem a regular occurrence in international teams and the camaraderie and personal touch in these cross-cultural squads also seem to be lacking everywhere. Only karrigan seems to have the emotional intelligence required to repeatedly build such rosters that are ready to challenge for the biggest trophies.

Perhaps the role of coaches should also be reconsidered for squads like this: as much flak as Stewie2K deservedly got because of his treatment of MaLeK, there’s a reason why FaZe could win S-Tier events regardless of whether it was RobbaN or Eddie who had their back on the stage, suggesting the emotional support is probably worth more than the militant stare and the tactics book in squads like these.

NAVI have a legit IGL in electronic and their future remains bright

We’ve previously discussed how Boombl4’s greatest legacy was a team that remained competitive even after his departure, and now we have an even better idea of the pieces at play. Needless to say, s1mple remains s1mple, and he was a worthy MVP of the tournament even if his performances on the final map of the grand final left a little something to be desired and some of his old tilting tendencies reared their ugly head again.

Behind him, B1ade continues to quietly establish himself as the best tactical coach in the game in the current era as electronic elevated himself from secondary to primary caller, hardly losing a step in the fragging department in the meantime. Making it this close while playing with a stand-in is a testament to just how strong NAVI’s core remains, and they will definitely remain competitive heading into the new season.

Speaking of their stand-in, a word about sdy: he made the most of his opportunity and had some incredibly impactful plays, but a cold look at the numbers tells a different story than what the fans have ben pointing out. The 25-year-old went -20 on kills and got a 0.95 rating across the event, and he only had a positive contribution stats-wise in the game against NIP in the group stage. He was the worst-performing player on the server in the grand final, finishing with a worse ADR than karrigan.

Wasteful orgs need to start looking over their shoulders as hungry newcomers emerge

Imagine being G2, Vitality or NIP – hell, we might as well bundle Cloud9 and Complexity into this discussion. No playoffs appearance at Antwerp and Cologne, despite expensively assembled squads and exquisite training facilities? Merely throwing resources (meaning money) at the problem rarely gets things done in sports: it’s a great way to supercharge an already amazing project, but greasing the wheels of a Trabant won’t win you an F1 Grand Prix anytime soon.

It's not just the FaZes and NAVIs of the world that should get these orgs’ owners and GMs to think: it’s the emergence of hungry, tactics-based squads and smartly ran orgs that challenge their established credentials, often with good success in the head-to-head CS:GO matches.

ENCE struck gold again, and it seems like MOUZ might have found their groove (with yet another talented Academy team coming off the conveyor belt behind them somehow). Movistar Riders is the biggest fan favorite story of our times, Team Spirit made an incredible run at the Major despite roster stability issues and even an org like Heroic, with a squad now seen as legit if shaky contenders, has only recently emerged from the permanent wilderness of Tier 1.5.

None of them relied on star power and mega-contracts to get the job done. Quietly, this season has shown that picking up elite players without a coherent plan won’t get you far – not even with someone like zonic standing behind them at LANs.

IEM Cologne winners, ranked (plus the 2022 finalists)
FaZe 2017 vs FaZe 2022 – which is the better team?

Astralis and NIP remain in an awkward limbo

Who needs Waiting for Godot when you can wait for dev1ce instead? The whole story has been really rather sad and no one (perhaps other than NAVI and FaZe fans) can be satisfied with what went down since the implosion of the legendary Astralis squad. No one has a settled strategy in place and this is in large part due to the AWPer-shaped void in both rosters.

This situation needs to be resolved one way or another by the time the new season begins, or both teams will continue to flounder, with no chance to challenge the top dogs. Could a star-shaped reunion be on the cards, as the persistent rumors seem to suggest? At this point, it could be beneficial for both squads, if only for the stability.

Best-of-five finals need to be a part of the palette

The place of bo5 series has been a long-running debate in the CS:GO community, and this year’s affair in the Cathedral of Counter-Strike serves as a great example why they’re worthy of these special occasions.

The best teams in the world now have a deep enough stratbook to play all five maps on a high enough level, and the endurance test still remains an appealing factor of these affairs. Had this grand final ended after Ancient, we would have missed out on so much. Not all series will be like this, but there’s a reason why the best of the best-of-five series live long in the memory, even more so than some of the Major finals.

Photo credit: ESL / Helena Kristiansson