Both teams required costly changes.
Nikola “NiKo” KovaÄ is known for being a key player who helped FaZe Clan with their success in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). He’s taken part in the Counter-Strike series for nine years with nearly eight hundred grand in lifetime earnings. Because of his raw talent, NiKo received attention from G2 Esports. Since he wanted to spend more time slaying and less time talking as an IGL, NiKo made it official. He moved away from FaZe and headed towards the European franchise with his cousin Nemanja “huNter-” KovaÄ.
Having to make a snap decision, FaZe brought back long time Counter-Strike veteran Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson. Before joining FaZe in 2017, olofmeister spent a total of three years with Fnatic. During this time he earned two Major titles and became known as Tec9meister, a nickname formed from his legendary 5k pistol round at ESL One Katowice in 2015. After being inactive for nearly five months, FaZe made the decision to bring back olofmeister as a stand-in.
Was olofmeister the ideal stand-in for FaZe, as for G2 signing Niko?
NIKO JOINS G2
G2 has spent the last five years trying to form a team worthy of playing at a Major. While G2 has won plenty of top dollar tournaments, it isn't enough to make them the best in the world. G2 has not only earned a lot of money throughout the past couple of years, but it’s the respect that matters. While they’re still a top ten team, G2 peaked at number one in the world around June of this year. That king of the hill fame only lasted about two weeks, leading to a massive decrease in points. With a plan to bring back their golden success, G2 acquired NiKo from FaZe - a player who has been dominant for years and was looking for something new.
Over the past three months, NiKo was able to achieve a 1.18 player rating. He’s continued to top frag at multiple events, but it hasn’t always shown. At two ESL events, FaZe placed between ninth and fourteenth resulting in frustration from the players, especially NiKo. He let that anger fuel his performance at IEM New York. NiKo outperformed his opponents and top fragged three out of five sets. FaZe ended up beating OG 3-0 in the finals after losing to them in the group stage. NiKo has proven he has some of the best aim in CS:GO, which allowed him to became the shining star on FaZe.
Due to his constant state of carrying the team, NiKo needed to switch rosters - one that he could bond with and felt comfortable trading for. G2 needed a strong player, and NiKo was looking for a new team. The match was perfect, and NiKo has proven the transition was ideal for him. After signing NiKo, G2 placed first in their group at BLAST Premier Fall. NiKo had a consistent performance, and top fragged fifty percent of the time. G2 immediately started to show off with their newest hire and proved NiKo was going to help rebuild their team.
OLOFMEISTER BECOMES THE NEWEST STAND-IN
As for FaZe, they haven’t had the same results as G2. At BLAST Premier Fall they placed last in their division and showed signs of regret. While olofmeister had the worst performance overall, that doesn't mean other players didn’t struggle against BIG and Complexity Gaming. On dust2 against BIG, Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye went 8-21 compared to olofmeister’s 18-19. Against Complexity Gaming, Håvard “rain” Nygaard went 9-23 on mirage with the most assists, meaning he couldn’t finish off his kills, forcing the rest of FaZe to pick up the pieces.
Knowing the team wouldn’t do well with a stand-in who hasn’t played in five months, FaZe had a couple of options for BLAST Premier Fall. First off, they could’ve backed away from the event and spent time looking for a more suitable replacement - not someone who hasn’t played in nearly five months. Free agents are constantly looking for a chance to play with top tier teams. FaZe, with an open slot, had free range to look for a player capable of replacing NiKo. Instead, they brought back olofmeister and put him in a setting he wasn’t prepared for.
Bulgarian teams FATE Esports and BLUEJAYS International recently dropped some determined players. Instead of pushing them out of the CS:GO scene as a whole, FaZe had a chance to sit back and discuss their next pickup. After BLAST Premier Fall, it was clear that olofmeister wasn't ready for a comeback just yet. He’s had a long and well-respected career, but that might be ready to end. With two Major titles and years of experience, it’s easy to say olofmeister is one of the greatest players in history. That doesn’t mean he’ll always be a top tier player, but he’s definitely earned his spot in the esports hall of fame. FaZe should go back to the drawing board and point out their team’s mistakes.
Images via Liquipedia