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What would a Niko-less FaZe look like?

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Most of the chatter about the brotherly union in the Kovač family revolves around how one would realign the G2 squad to make space for one of the best individual riflers – however, trying to game out the next chapter for FaZe Clan is arguably an even more exciting proposition…

FaZe’s era that never was

It has to be said that FaZe Clan were this close to breaking CS:GO at one point. A team of five superstars with limited tactical cohesion was never supposed to work and, indeed, never worked before in the history of the game. They were on the verge of cracking the code, with their title-winning run at IEM New York 2017 serving as the highlight of how a team like this can truly dominate the competition. Backed by a loose calling style from karrigan, FaZe’s star players seemingly took turns to pop off, clinching round after round after map after map after win after win.

Deep runs were a given: titles, however, were not, and the team’s championship window featured so many late-stage defeats that you can’t really justify calling their reign an era – especially once you consider how the Boston Major’s climactic final symbolizes everything that was good and bad about that team at the same time. Not only did they fail to win the biggest title CS has to offer, it was also off the back of a spectacular implosion.

Next up, a state of decline and karrigan’s eventual removal, which was either a coup or an agreed-upon decision depending on who you ask. One thing is clear: no matter who says what, FaZe have not brought in a dedicated in-game leader since December 2018 – whether by design or transfer failures is a somewhat irrelevant question on such a timescale. The closest they currently have to a tactical mastermind is YNk.

Ah yes, it’s the “NiKo-as IGL” question again with all its Shakespearean undertones. You might recall the many discussions around the time when NiKo was stuck in the mousesports dungeon: surrounded by vastly inferior players, he took the mantle of the in-game leader and kept calling around himself, putting in monster performances which were still only enough for the occasional playoff spot. At the time, there were many who thought this approach diminished his teammates to such an extent that it was a counterproductive effort – of course, the later careers of the various players involved in that squad (see also: Spiidi, denis). The problem with NiKo the in-game leader is the very fact that you’re using him as an IGL – you’d get more out of him as the dedicated star alongside a dedicated in-game leader, and it’s no coincidence his best career tournament results came from the time when he actually had one alongside him.

It will be fascinating to see how G2 will square this particular circle if the transfer goes through – but perhaps just as importantly, it would open up a slate of new opportunities for FaZe’s not-so-superteam for their next adventure.

New-look FaZe: same as the old?

There’s no doubt G2 will have to fork over a decent chunk of change for NiKo’s signature, but there’s also no guarantee FaZe will want to reinvest that sum into their CS:GO operations. If you squint hard enough, you can see the outlines of a basic setup provided a good IGL is brought in: coldzera thrust into the star role (if only because you’d struggle to name a single dedicated lurker in recent years who could consistently secure wins for their team), rain as the entry with a bit less dirty work to do, broky on the AWP and… well, Kjaerbye already looks like the odd one out, doesn’t he?

For what it’s worth, bringing in an IGL in the current environment is a fairly challenging prospect. With multiple orgs entering CS and sometimes looking to replicate FaZe’s international approach, the pool of available in-game leaders is fairly limited, as evidenced by the team’s own previous tryouts. Even beyond their failed attempts at finding a fifth on the cheap once they ditched karrigan, they apparently tried out pronax and even Aleksib, with no signing to materialize. Where else do you go? Pray HappY is willing to try something other than lurking in the new decade? Bring back karrigan? Give the Godfather of Brazilian CS an offer he can’t refuse, likely blowing coldzera’s top off in the process?

fallen csgo career

CS:GO

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CS:GO

What FaZe Clan’s troubles tell us about „superteams” in CS:GO

You’ll note how all these names – or indeed, the potential free agents in general – are experienced players rather than the sort of exciting newcomers FaZe ended up going for recently with broky and Bymas. The IGL role in a team full of stars (especially ones who aren’t performing as well as they used to) necessitates incredible people skills and experience beyond the CS acumen. Unlike a C9 or an OG a few months ago, they can’t even offer a blank check of a clean slate for their prospective leader as it seems impossible to ship out the rest of this expensively assembled squad, which makes it even more unlikely that they can get a big-name in-game leader as it seems tough to imagine how they could tempt someone from another top team to join their floundering project.

There’s also the question of how disruptive you even want to be in the middle of a pandemic. Criticize FaZe as much as you want for the cheapo punts they took on AdreN and NEO (then broky and Bymas), the same sort of baby’s-first-Moneyball attempts would actually make a lot of sense right now when every result is fleeting due to online play and no proper bootcamps. Even if the best IGL was available – and willing to join – is it worth paying top dollar at this moment in time when teambuilding basically equals online scrims and maybe a friendly game of Among Us or two?

(Wonder who would be the impostor on this FaZe roster. Food for thought…)

Maybe you just take the NiKo money, keep skidding towards the bottom of the rankings for a little while longer, bide your time and plan for a large-scale rebuild sometimes in 2021? Of all the bad options they have, this is perhaps the most serviceable.

Photo credit: HLTV

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Source: https://www.rivalry.com//esports/what-would-a-niko-less-faze-look-like

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Cloud9 takes down Team Liquid to win LCS Mid-Season Showdown

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After a thrilling five-game series, Cloud9 has exacted its LCS Lock-In revenge on rivals Team Liquid to win the LCS Mid-Season Showdown. The team will now represent North America at the Mid-Season Invitational in Reykjavík, Iceland next month.

Throughout the series, games were evenly traded between the two teams. Games one and three went Liquid’s way, with two and four going to Cloud9. Game five was by far the most entertaining, thanks to an inspired level one cheese strategy from Cloud 9.

Ibrahim ‘Fudge’ Allami’s Sion cleared the team’s blue buff and gromp with his zombie form, while the trio of Jesper ‘Zven’ Svenningsen, Phillippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme, and Robert ‘Blaber’ Huang invaded Liquid’s top side jungle. With three quadrants of the jungle locked down by Cloud9, Jonathan ‘Armao’ Armao could do little but clear his bottom side and wait for the scuttle crabs to spawn. Before Liquid’s stand-in jungler could potentially equalise with Blaber, he was dispatched by Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković, putting him even further behind his opponent.

From there, Cloud9 continued to snowball the game, with Perkz and Zven getting increasingly more and more fed throughout. Down 10,000 gold, Liquid made a last-ditch attempt at contesting for the Baron. However, the team was intercepted before it could get near the pit, the picks came through, and Cloud9 closed out the series.

Cloud9’s victory is also significant as it marks Perkz as only the second player in the history of Western LoL to win both European and North American domestic titles. He joins teammate Zven who was the first to achieve the feat.

With MSI now on the horizon, the West’s most decorated player will now be looking to defend his title in lieu of former team G2 Esports’ absence.

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Source: https://www.theloadout.com/tournaments/lcs/cloud9-wins-mid-season-showdown

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flusha leaves Fnatic for new CS:GO venture

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive veteran Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist has left Fnatic for a third time, 15 months after rejoining the organisation. The 27-year-old will be joining a number of other notable CS:GO pros – who are all currently benched or inactive at their current teams – in a new venture, which according to the player has the backing of a yet to be revealed organisation.

The Swede’s latest stint with Fnatic began in September 2019, but flusha has been sat on the sidelines since January after he was benched. Three months later, he has finally been released. In a statement, Fnatic’s head coach Andreas Samuelsson describes flusha as “one of the smartest and most iconic players in CS:GO history.”

Following Fnatic’s announcement, flusha revealed his next steps. The veteran will be forming a new roster, featuring some well-known names that are all currently looking for a new home. They are Miikka ‘suNny’ Kemppi, Jere ‘⁠sergej⁠’ Salo (both previously ENCE), Rokas ‘EspiranTo⁠’ Milasauskas (previously c0ntact) and Buğra ‘⁠Calyx’ Arkin (previously Envy).

Speaking to HLTV, suNny has confirmed that he, flusha, sergej, and EspiranTo have all been signed by their new organisation, while Calyx will be joining as a trialist. The identity of the organisation is yet to be announced.

HLTV also claims that the project has been a few months in the making and was put on hold in February after one of the original candidates to be on the team, former Gen.G player Timothy ‘autimatic’ Ta, left to pursue a career in Valorant. He now represents T1.

autimatic reportedly left the project for Valorant as there was a lack of interest from esports organisations to sign the team. However, that hurdle now appears to have been jumped.

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Source: https://www.theloadout.com/csgo/flusha-leaves-fnatic

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Three takeaways from the SWT Europe Ultimate Online Qualifier

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The Smash World Tour made its way to Europe this past weekend for one of its most stacked qualifier tournaments yet. Here are some of the major takeaways from the upset-filled bracket at the SWT Europe Ultimate Online Qualifier.

Bloom4Eva excels with rarely used characters

Going into the SWT Europe Ultimate Online Qualifier, Oliver “Bloom4Eva” Alexander was a plausible pick for first place. He is the highest-ranked of only two Europeans who appear on the Wi-Fi Warrior Rank v6. Still, he would have to deal with a plethora of offline threats looking to qualify for the in-person Regional Finals. Additionally, Bloom4Eva would have to wrestle with the inconsistencies of his own character, Bayonetta.

Despite the high-level competition and his not-so-high-level character, Bloom4Eva managed to claim first place. In doing so, he cemented his status as Europe’s current best online player. Bloom4Eva defeated players like James “Lucretio” Ekeocha, Valentin “Tomberry” B., Favro “Freetox_” Quentin, David “Vidad” Álvarez Pérez and Pau “sisqui” Caire.

Interestingly, Bloom4Eva and sisqui both opted to switch to secondary characters for their grand finals set. So, while sisqui tried to fight with Donkey Kong and King K. Rool, Bloom4Eva secured a 3-1 victory with his Corrin, another rarely used character.

Currently, it is unclear whether Bloom4Eva will actually be able to compete in the Europe Ultimate Regional Finals. The Smash World Tour rules state that competitors must be 16 years of age to be eligible for the Europe Regional Finals. However, Bloom4Eva will not turn 16 until November and his Regional Finals are scheduled for July. The Smash World Tour has not responded to a request for clarification on Bloom4Eva’s eligibility as of the publication of this article.

Glutonny makes do with a nerfed Wario

Though he is Europe’s best offline player, qualifying was no easy feat for William “Glutonny” Belaid. His character, Wario, was heavily nerfed in the most recent patch, making it harder for him to combo into his Wario Waft kill move.

Despite this setback, Glutonny was able to make a run to third place at the SWT Europe Ultimate Online Qualifier. He fell into losers early, suffering a 3-0 loss to Vidad. However, he quickly reached top 12 with 3-0 wins of his own against Sem “Supahsemmie” J. and “Noxumbra.”

Before he finally fell to sisqui in losers finals, Glutonny looked dominant in the losers bracket. He swept every opponent in his path without dropping a game. Glutonny still managed to find setups into his Wario Waft; while also attacking with extended combos and mixing aggressive offstage edgeguarding with precise onstage ledgetrapping. As a result, Glutonny eliminated Arsenio “PurpleDebo” J., Tomberry, Vidad and Freetox_.

SuperStriker makes a deep losers run to win the Last Chance Qualifier

As the only WWR-ranked player besides Bloom4Eva, Clement “SuperStriker” Madison was another fairly safe pick to do well at the SWT Europe Ultimate Online Qualifier. However, he suffered an early upset to “Raphy” in phase two of pools. Then, he lost to Supahsemmie, who had been upset in phase one of pools.

In the Last Chance Qualifier, SuperStriker once again found himself in the losers bracket thanks to Tiago “Thank” Gomes. But, SuperStriker took his Sonic to new speeds from there. He won 13 straight sets to claim first place in the Last Chance Qualifier.

In phase three, SuperStriker eliminated several offline threats in a row. These included Khang “Tru4” Tran, Dennis “iStudying” Kwarteng, Hugo Lancelot Hujala and Supahsemmie. Then, in top eight, he overcame Gia “Longo” Long Hoang, James “Peli” H., Noxumbra and Mertcan “Snormanda” Irdem, along with double-eliminating Lucretio.

SuperStriker made use of Sonic’s strengths, patiently waiting for opportunities to quickly approach with Sonic’s Spin Dash or Spin Charge, racking up little bits of damage at a time before resetting the neutral. In addition, he showcased his ability to edgeguard with back-air and the spring from Sonic’s Up-B, while employing forward smash both as a ledgetrapping tool and a raw punish option.

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Source: https://www.dailyesports.gg/three-takeaways-from-the-swt-europe-ultimate-online-qualifier/

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CadiaN wraps up ESL Pro League with a memorable clutch against Gambit

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ESL Pro League Season 13 finally culminates with Heroic coming out as the winners. The Danish in-game leader Casper “⁠cadiaN⁠ Møller capped off the series in a historic clutch that has blown away the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive fans. 

In a seven-hour-long series of five maps, Heroic’s performance remained top-notch. The Danes won their map picks and finally thrashed Gambit on the final map Mirage. Everyone had expected a brutal battle between the Danes and CIS dark horses, and the two teams delivered just that. However, it was CadiaN’s impeccable clutch that added the finishing touch to ESL Pro league’s final game.

Heroic looked good in Mirage performance-wise, but an eco-round on the terrorist side pointed towards another round. The Danish skipper had plans of his own. With his entire team dead and just a sorry p250 on him, CadiaN stepped into the battlefield with a purpose. The IGL snuck into the jungle and held off his primary fire after spotting an AWPer on stairs. His patience earned him a knife kill on Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov, who was caught unawares with a Sniper. With sh1ro’s AWP on him, CadiaN became invincible. 

The IGL turned the jungle area into a lion’s den, scouting enemies one by one. CadiaN brought the situtation down to one versus two after punishing Vladislav “nafany” Gorshkov for walking in his crosshair. Next, The AWPer started spamming triple and ultimately got an insane kill through the boxes against Timofey “interz” Yakushin. CadiaN was now weak with 2 HP, which meant that the round was still very much in Gambit’s favour. However, he was eager to win as he pushed in towards Tetris, adding a fourth kill to his scoreboard and another trophy to Heroic’s showcase. 

CadiaN finishes off Gambit in a historic clutch 

CadiaN’s clutch against Gambit definitely goes in CSGO history books as one of the unique clutches. Not only did he secure a major tournament win for Heroic, but he did it with a p250 against fully armed enemies. His incredible play earned him applause from CSGO fans, casters, and viewers from all over the world, making it one of the most memorable plays in CSGO. 

Thanks to CadiaN’s shot-calling, Gambit lost to Heroic in a 2-3 fashion after a tight-knit fight. While the long series was rather exhausting for both teams, CadiaN’s clutch featuring a spicy knife surely adds a nice touch to EPL Season 13 wrap-up. CadiaN finished the series of five maps with a 1.14 rating. 

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Source: https://win.gg/news/7847/cadian-wraps-up-esl-pro-league-with-a-memorable-clutch-against-gambit

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