FaZe (+800)

One of the strangest cases of the top tier teams, FaZe are coming into the Major looking like a completely different team than they did at the last Major. A new IGL, with an opposing philosophy on their in game system, is heralding this team into the first big tournament of 2019. This makes them an interesting candidate, as it’s hard to tell what to expect from them.

What Needs to Go Right

NiKo Has to Play Well

FaZe is now NiKo’s team entirely. He is the IGL, the star carry, the focal point of their game plan, all things run through him. If you’re a long time CS:GO fan, this won’t sound unfamiliar. FaZe has essentially turned into “NiKo-sports”, the Mousesports roster that included chrisJ, denis, Spiidi, and loWel (although that roster did change a few times during NiKo’s tenure, that is one of the most memorable configurations). It’s hard to argue that the players on FaZe right now aren’t a straight upgrade to the supporting cast of Mousesports, although I could see an argument for chrisJ.

If you had to pick a player to run your whole team through, NiKo would likely be a top 3 choice. He has tier one IGL experience, he’s a versatile player, he seems to be a good leader as far as I can tell. It’s not the worst roster construction at the Major.

The only problem is, it puts an inordinate amount of pressure on NiKo. He will arguably be the single hardest working player at the Major, at least as far as the amount of work he does for his team. No one else has a load like this, not by a longshot. S1mple is a contender, but he has a second star in electronic and a Major winning IGL, although admittedly he’s in a pretty bad slump right now.

The closest analogue to NiKo’s situation right now might be BnTeT from TYLOO. He is IGLing, and has been TYLOO’s best player for a long time now. Obviously BnTeT isn’t as good as NiKo (although I do really like BnTeT), but their responsibilities are similar. Both players will often decide games single handedly, due to their outsized power on their team.

AdreN Has to Adapt

AdreN has played all of 13 maps with FaZe and has had a positive kill differential in four of them. He needs to adjust, and fast, if FaZe want any chance at the Major.

I really liked this pickup at first, especially because I thought he would be IGLing, although that isn’t the case. AdreN was a force to be reckoned with on the Gambit team that won the Major, and I figured he would be a big help to any team. So far, it looks like I was wrong. He’d be a big help on any team with a system, and a real IGL. If they had chosen to remove, for example, rain or GuardiaN instead of Karrigan, I think this team would be a real contender.

Remember that at the Major AdreN won, he was playing under Zeus, one of the only traditional IGLs left in the scene. He had some of the best events of his career playing under him, which would indicate he thrives in a controlled environment. This might be the worst top tier team for him to be in, all things considered.

To thrive on FaZe, AdreN is going have to change the way he plays to fit what NiKo wants out of the team. He will have to play a little looser, a little more independent.

AdreN is a 29-year-old veteran who has been playing CS for over a decade. I have no doubt he can thrive in this team. But whether we will see it at the Major, I don’t know.

What Could Go Wrong

It Could Be NiKosports 2.0

Remember that Mousesports roster I was talking about earlier? Something I forgot to mention, they never won a tournament. Not one. NiKo was a top 20 player in 2016, and the team failed to win anything notable.

Some would argue that’s due to the supporting cast of those 2016 teams, and they’d be right. However, NiKo has to take some of the blame. Yes, his stats were gaudy on Mousesports and he cemented himself as a perennial top 5 player. But NiKo certainly has to take at least some blame as an IGL.

With high fragging, high usage IGLs like NiKo, problems inevitably occur with their supporting cast. The best example of this was the shox-ScreaM led G2 lineup from 2016. In the grand finals of EPL Season 3, G2 met Luminosity in a best-of-five to finish off the season. Over the five maps shox and ScreaM far outperformed their next best teammate, picking up more frags between the two of them than the rest of their team had combined. Contrast that with Luminosity in the same series, with their 2nd-4th best performers all having 90+ frags, and it becomes pretty clear the problems that come with a roster as focused on their star as G2 or FaZe.

FaZe is in real danger of following in the footsteps of Mousesports and G2. There’s a serious chance that this roster ends up burning out within the next few months. Now, usually when a roster is underperforming, the organization makes a change to try and fix it. The problem with the roster construction FaZe has now is, NiKo’s stats are going to look unbelievable. Which means unless FaZe management is really smart, they’re likely to keep him as IGL, because it’s been “working well so far”. If that happens, then they’re in trouble.

Rain and Guardian Could Continue to Freefall

Rain and Guardian both had down years in 2018, especially in the latter half. To be fair, that was seemingly after the team had quit on their IGL Karrigan, but still. Both players are important pieces in FaZe, Guardian giving them a way to contest players like device and s1mple, and rain giving the team a second star caliber player to pair with NiKo. Both players will need to get back in form before the Major if they want any hope of maintaining their legend status.

The biggest obstacle for both these players is the lack of structure. Rain played some of the best CS of his career under Karrigan, and GuardiaN has traditionally played with some all time great IGLs, like Zeus and Karrigan. I don’t know if they can play up to their peaks in such a scrimmy team.

I’m not a fan of this bet. They’re too disorganized, and I don’t like the way their team is built now. The pieces don’t fit right, and at +800 there isn’t nearly enough value.

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