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. While the breakdown in communication was evident at the tail end of karrigan’s IGL tenure, there’s no way to tell how much of this was due to the Bosnian’s intransigence – and it’s quite clear that his successful coup has not ushered in the revolution FaZe fans were looking for. Results, perfomances, personal history: all of these seem to indicate that this roster will fail to get anything done as long as NiKo is allowed to treat the team as his own little playground.
Sometimes the right question is asked of the wrong man. Clearly, the superstar-infused iteration of FaZe Clan didn’t dominate due to enlightened strategic innovations or a deep stratbook – and yet, it’s become quite clear in light of their recent performances that even such a talented roster is rudderless without competent in-game leadership.
Since karrigan’s removal, FaZe Clan failed to beat a single top-five side or even anyone that’s reasonably considered any sort of a contender. (A best-of-one win against an already eliminated MiBR does not count.) Meanwhile, close calls against Cloud9 and compLexity plus embarrassing, previously unthinkable defeats to Ghost and AVANGAR further compounded the team’s fall from grace. It begs the question: is it worth putting the whole structure on the line to appease your star player?
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.
The fact that the organization has clearly tethered itself to NiKo’s mast – indulging him every step along the way in terms of personnel decisions, bringing in a coach with mixed results at MiBR off the back of their personal relationship – is especially a bad sign if you consider how the fortunes of the previous “NiKosports” side changed after his departure. One has to wonder what the Bosnian’s true effect is on team chemistry once he gets to take over the reins: their failure to make it out of the groups at StarSeries certainly seems to indicate that it’s time for an overhaul, this time not according to NiKo’s wishes.