FaZe Clan were a top five contender for years, starting with the pickup of star in game leader, Karrigan, in late 2016. They had some of the best firepower in the world, and ripped off an incredible streak of top 5 finishes. They were one of the most expensive rosters in CS:GO history after NiKo’s buy out, which was made possible by FaZe’s extraordinarily deep pockets. Due to their star player, their IN GAME LEADER, and their willingness to spend, it was a fair bet at the time that they would continue to be relevant for a long time in CS.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. FaZe Clan started slipping in the back half of 2018, which led to a lack of confidence in Karrigan by the team. This paralleled the benching of Karrigan by Astralis in 2016, also due to the team losing their faith in their in game leader. Karrigan was benched in December of 2018, after terrible placings at the FACEIT Major and ESL One New York.

Over the course of the player break FaZe searched for a player to replace Karrigan. The CS scene is facing a dearth of proven, tier one in game leaders at the moment, which makes replacing a player like Karrigan even more difficult than it would be otherwise.

This lack of in game leaders has led to an exacerbation of problems that have shown up time and time again in NiKo’s personal history as a player, as well as in FaZe as an organization. Both sides are predilected to certain issues in CS:GO, which complement each other in the worst way. This has become one of the most dangerous pairings in all of CS:GO, but not for good reasons.

“Trophy" Niko Can Be Selfish

NiKo came to fame on Mousesports, where he played alongside such regarded talents as spiidi and denis. Obviously not a great supporting cast, but the scene was different back then. In 2016, NiKo was forced to IN GAME LEADER for Mouz, while also being their best player, carry, and a top 8 player in the world. He put up a 1.18 rating on LAN over the course of 2016, while leading his team to very little success. That’s where the problem with NiKo as IN GAME LEADER comes in. He makes sure that he gets his, and that he puts up the crazy numbers, but his team suffers because of it. NiKo ended up putting up a rating of 1.23 on LAN in 2017, which is obviously quite a bit better than a 1.18. Playing under Karrigan allowed him to free his mind and focus only on fragging out.

NiKo as an IN GAME LEADER is serviceable in a pinch, like if your real in game leader is sick for a tournament, but he just isn’t viable as a long term option. The performance of his teammates are starting to suffer, and the team has yet to make a grand final this year, except the ELEAGUE Invitational, which isn’t even a Dreamhack Open level tournament.

NiKo also isn’t necessarily known to be a great in game presence. Not to say he’s an awful, toxic teammate or anything like that, but he certainly isn’t praised by his teammates and peers as a glowing example of what a teammate should be. Having an IN GAME LEADER, ideally one older and more experiences, who is better with the more ethereal aspects of leading a team would likely be important in having a really successful team.

“Trophy" Faze Have Had in Game Leader Problems Before

This roster, and historically this lineup, have had IN GAME LEADER problems since they were Kinguin. This multinational mix had it’s start on Kinguin back in 2015, with a roster of Maikelele, rain, ScreaM, fox, and dennis. That’s a strong list of names, as long as you ignore the fact that none of them are in game leaders. That Kinguin roster floundered for about four months until they were bought out by G2, then known as Gamers2. G2 then replaced ScreaM with jkaem, and dennis with aizy (which is an underrated all time worst roster move), before selling the roster to FaZe.

FaZe acquires the roster in January of 2016, and it takes them until October of that year to aquire a real IN GAME LEADER. That means this roster existed for almost two years, over three organizations, without ever having a real IN GAME LEADER.

I worry that FaZe won’t see the value in picking up someone like Brollan and will instead continue to roll the dice with this roster. Or, even worse, they may end up dropping other players on the team in favor of people who will be able to get more kills, which won’t help in the slightest. Olof, adren, and rain are not the problem with this lineup. I could see an argument for replacing GuardiaN either way, as he’s seemingly getting ready for retirement.

Regardless of any issues FaZe is having, they still have the talent of a top 5 team, give or take. Olof, rain, adren, and NiKo could all be contributing players on a Major winning team, no question. The big question for them now is, could they all be contributing players on the same Major winning team? With a really great in game leader, I’d put my money on the answer to that question being yes. Unfortunately, they don’t have a really great in game leader. They have NiKo.

The absolute worst case scenario for FaZe is if NiKo is adamant about being the full time in game leader. If he refuses to hand back the reins, this roster could be dead in the water. Losing NiKo would be a huge blow to the firepower of this team, and they’d have to spend some serious change retooling if they wanted to stay competitive. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

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