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Luci Kelemen
Written By: Luci Kelemen

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

May 23rd, 2022

Many ghosts have been exorcised in Antwerp and FaZe are now clearly the number one team in the world. The first international team to win a Major title, a squad where all five players genuinely have the potential to pop off at any time – with an in-game leader who’s clearly proven that he’s grown since the Boston debacle. The world is his oyster at the tender age of thirty-two.

All hail karrigan

So many perceptions were shattered in this grand final. Turns out an international team can go all the way at a Major. Yet again, karrigan directly outshone the opposing IGL by a significant margin when the stakes were at their highest. He and rain both roared back with incredible individual performances to truly round out this FaZe side. They replaced the chokes with chokeholds.

This is one of the greatest individual comeback stories in the history of CS:GO. It is incredibly rare to see a player return to the highest level once their initial burst of excellence fades away and the competition adapts whatever unique trait they’ve brought to the table to support their meteoric rise.

This is especially true in the case of in-game leaders, as even legends like FalleN and gla1ve can testify. Staying good? Sure. A part of the top-level competition? Maybe. Winning the biggest titles, improving and reimagining yourself, especially on the wrong side of thirty? This never happened before, making this all the more majestic. This was a complete destruction of Boombl4, outfragged and outwitted on the big stage by his counterpart in the FaZe jersey.

It's a team that’s getting used to winning. Remember how overwhelmed ropz was after clinching his first Big Event at Katowice? Now it’s become a habit for this squad – a scary sign for everyone going forward.

Ultimately, karrigan’s victory is also great for those of us who prefer brain over brawn, seeing karrigan clinch the biggest title while NiKo’s still stuck in the groups. You could insert the Egal ob Spielkarten, Tischtennis oder mit dem Computer meme here, but it’s certainly true that er gibt nicht auf.

He’s truly one of us. The stress tics and the shock reactions in sudden gunfights, the adult in the room handling all the unruly kids with panache. And yes, as the copypasta goes, he’s got social skills, something else to elevate him from many of his counterparts in the scene. Finn is ready to win, and if you put a camera in front of him, something entertaining is bound to happen.

On the precipice of an era

It truly feels like a changing of the guard, with each of the three dominant CIS sides facing implosion: rumors suggest that at least electronic will depart NAVI, the now-Cloud9 side has its own internal issues to deal with after the emergence of credible matchfixing allegations in H0bbit’s past. Outsiders also seemed to have danced their last dance, with everyone trying to figure out what’s next for YEKINDAR after the curtain fell on the team’s CS:GO matches at the Major.

G2 couldn’t even make the playoffs, NIP still has the dev1ce drama to figure out internally, and while ENCE and Team Spirit were deserving semi-finalists here, they won’t be able to regularly contend for the big titles, regardless of how good they are, mostly because of all the franchising bullcrap that’s been going on in the past couple of years.

People are way too quick to throw around the “era” word: surely, even by the loosest of definitions, it takes more than what we’ve seen recently. Multiple Major wins and a dominance of the third-party circuit in the meantime, a stranglehold over the field that lasts across player breaks, plus credible opposition to make them more than just the best by default – sounds like a reasonable baseline.

NAVI weren’t close yet (especially after how the last couple of months went for them, for understandable reasons), arguing for Liquid never made any sense, and you could even question whether the Luminosity/SK lineup qualifies depending on how strict you are with the criteria. FaZe also aren’t there yet, despite the wins at Katowice and the Pro League finals heading into the Major: keep the second half of the year covered in gold, and you can start whispering about the subject.

It was the result I hoped for but didn’t believe in enough to predict, fearing the emergence of the old FaZe at the worst possible times. Well, rest assured, just like I am, that this is indeed a new-look Faze, one forged in the fires of close affairs, feeling at home on the knife’s edge, flexible and powerful, harmonious on the inside and fearful for everyone else – truly a squad that’s ready to conquer everything. Next up: a chance for the Grand Slam.

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Talking points from the playoffs

Shed a tear for NAVI, an all-time top team trampled by history

It seemed like everything finally clicked for the squad last year, s1mple no longer having to carry the full org on his back. Next to him, the firepower was there with the additions of Perfecto and b1t. Boombl4 also grew into his role, with a great coach alongside him in the form of B1ade to keep things going.

The only thing that could stop this machine was the dark progress of history, a war on the horizon and the politics that seeped in through the cracks, something that may very well rip this team apart. NAVI’s founder literally went to war, and who knows what’s next for his creation.

Pro players are pretty good at this game

The showmatch had a scandalous ending, but it also showed just how ridiculously good these players are. The frags they pulled off with ultra-subpar weaponry served as a great reminder of how big the gap is between them and those who seriously use these guns in low-ranked matchmaking. And they weren’t even really taking it seriously.

New generation of talent delivers a drama-free Major

Regardless of your personal preference, CS:GO esports has an insane depth of casting talent to work with. It seems likely that the Antwerp Major was smoother behind the scene than Stockholm as PGL got a few things figured out in the meantime. However, this group of creators also ran a much tighter ship, and it all felt like a bit of fresh air. The previous generation of CS:GO talent did a lot of legwork and still do a very good job, but isn’t it nice to not hear about them and their Twitter activities once the games are over?

Photo credit: theMAKKU via HLTV