Without a doubt, the biggest storyline of the BLAST Premier Fall Groups was G2’s failure to qualify, and with it, the latest barrage of memes over the heads of HooXi and NiKo. The Bosnian star posted a +65 K/D across twelve maps, just enough to outdo the damage of his in-game leader’s -58 score. Is this team as lopsided as his old mousesports squads used to be, where he desperately tried to omega-carry inferior players past the finish line? Let’s dive into the archives and find out!

A picture speaks a thousand words:

This is how G2’s players performed across their failed campaign in the BLAST Premier Fall Groups, where they finished alongside BIG, Liquid, OG, EG and Complexity as the teams that failed to make the Fall Finals. While there are clear caveats – how early we are in the season, the close nature of their defeats to Liquid and NAVI – the numbers speak clearly of the imbalanced nature of this squad, and it isn’t the first time they cried out for further analysis.

There’s an entire conversation to be had about HooXi, but let’s focus on NiKo this time – and the question of whether this squad is now just as lopsided as his past outings where the team has turned into a failing one-man fragging machine. There's no better example of this than his time on mousesports, often referred to as “NiKosports” at the time, where he kept putting on outlandish performances to carry inferior teammates on his back over the finish line, with little to no success.

NiKosports, by the numbers

Even back in 2015, early in his time on the team, he was capable of posting sky-high stats (admittedly, these ones are so old, they’re the HLTV 1.0 kind):

Here’s the Cluj-Napoca Major from the same year, where they finished 9-12th, a group stage elimination:

They finished in the same place at the MLG Columbus Major in 2016:

These are the team’s stats from ELEAGUE Season 1 in the summer of the same year, where they made it to the semis:

And just to incorporate another lineup change, here’s ECS Season 2 Europe from October, and a seventh-place finish with it:

A few things to consider. First, many of the team’s tournament runs ended after just a few maps, so I tried to select the Majors alongside long-running leagues. Also, beyond the lopsided fragging stats and some obviously inferior players, it’s clear that there was never a strong in-game leader alongside him on these squads.

For fun, here’s a sample of a late-stage FaZe event, with some familiar names on the squad and NiKo in-game leading, the BLAST Premier Spring Europe Finals from 2020, where they finished third:

Similarly, you will find more than just his one green entry on the team sheet in recent G2 tournaments, even with their past in-game leader, Aleksib. Here’s the Antwerp Major, where they finished in 9-11th place:

IEM Dallas 2022, their very next event, a finish in 5-6th place:

Another big win at IEM Katowice 2023:

And to come full circle, here’s the Fall Finals again:

So what are the takeaways?

Clearly, G2 is not a one-man show the way mousesports used to be – and in fact, their tournament wins had other players at the top of the charts rather than NiKo, so much so that they haven’t won a single event where he was the hard carry.

Just out of interest, I also revisited an old article of mine from April 2019, where I called FaZe Clan NiKosports 2.0, just to see how it has aged and what I agree and disagree with today.

Like a Star Wars sequel nobody asked for, NiKo has once again monopolized a team to his liking, with similar results that combine fantastic individual highlight reels with disappointing overall tournament results.

Jesus, dude, like, chill.

NiKo has not showcased anything of note as an in-game leader apart from taking advantage of the fact that he can call around himself at an obscene degree. However, while that does allow him to unleash his incredible carry potential, it simply isn’t enough against the better-organized CS:GO teams.

The rise of Astralis over Na’Vi has clearly shown that individual talent can only take you so far in the current meta – and there’s nothing apart from the crazy frag reels to indicate that the Bosnian will be able to lift this team from the ashes by himself. Of course, star players almost never turn out to be great in-game leaders, and even if they show some sort of competence, it usually comes at the cost of their individual abilities in the server.

At least this is fair enough.

Even though pretty much everything has borne out of what I predicted back then, I’m going to take my own advice and take a chill pill this time. This is because the real story in my mind was what the numbers didn’t show.

I’m still incredibly skeptical of HooXi at the helm of G2, and I do believe that NiKo needs an extraordinary in-game leader to work with – but not because of the same reasons as in the past. I give credit to the claims that he has matured and isn’t looking to do hostile takeovers – if only because of how larger and more unwieldy esports organizations have become. If s1mple supposedly didn’t have a say in the Aleksib pickup, then we can’t blame G2’s star rifler for the org’s absolutely poor planning, putting the Finn alongside XQTZZZ for a project that was doomed from the start.

What I would say is that once you consider CS:GO’s four highest-level individual players (s1mple, dev1ce, ZywOo and NiKo), the Bosnian clearly has the lowest floor. This is in part due to the weapon he wields but also because of a significant tilt factor. If you’re kind (or a tosser looking to make use of their extensive vocabulary), you could call him mercurial – or go the Forrest Gump way and compare him to a box of chocolates. You will never know what to expect.

Beyond the strong understanding of the game and the great interpersonal skills that make you an elite-level in-game leader, any prospective head of this G2 squad has to calculate and plan ahead for moments when NiKo charges through the smoke with a Galil or when he has a HooXi-would-outfrag-him-if-he-were-still-around sort of a bad day. You know, the sort other elite players don’t afford themselves, even if NiKo does have the ability to more than make up for it in terms of overall output.

The Bosnian’s floor can be shockingly low, and if it gives ground below you in a critical match, you will plummet into the abyss. Perhaps this is why he’s the only superstar never to win a CS:GO Major – not because of what we may try to glean of team chemistry from the outside.