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The storied history of FaZe Clan: setbacks, tough times and glory

FaZe

FaZe CSGO might currently be the best team in the world, but it’s been a long road to get to that point since their arrival in 2016.

At the beginning of 2016, FaZe Clan announced they would be joining CSGO with the signing of the former G2 Esports roster. The fee was a reported $700,000.

At this time, Envy, the first big Call of Duty organization to have joined CSGO, had already won a Major and was second in the world. OpTic Gaming, their big North American rivals, had also recently joined and were ranked 14th. FaZe’s new team would be ranked 8th at the time of acquisition.

The team consisted of Mikail “Maikelele” Bill, Håvard “rain” Nygaard, Ricardo “fox” Pacheco, Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad, and Philip “aizy” Aistrup. Legendary Counter-Strike player Robert “RobbaN” Dahlström joined not long after as the team’s coach.

Results weren’t great for the new FaZe CSGO team, they failed to make playoffs at events multiple times. By April, something had to change, and Maikelele stepped down from the active roster. His replacement was Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey, signed from the aforementioned Envy.

Dreamhack

Still, results failed to improve. Playoff finishes still looked a distance away from FaZe. The organization decided that more impact was needed from their AWPer, so they benched fox. The enigmatic Aleksi “allu” Jalli was brought in from ENCE to provide that impact.

This still wasn’t enough, as the team struggled even in B-tier events. It was decided a true in-game leader was needed, and the organization looked towards one of the best: Finn “karrigan” Andersen. Despite only being on the roster for months, it was the Frenchman kioShiMa who made way for his arrival.

Karrigan joined FaZe as one of the best IGLs in the world with a reputation of always finishing in playoffs. Unfortunately for the Dane, that was also typically where his tournaments ended. Karrigan, and his former team Astralis, had developed a reputation for choking. 

KioShiMa’s time on the bench did not last long, as just a month later jkaem was benched in favor of his return. It was at this point that results began to change for FaZe Clan.

ESL

First there was IEM Oakland 2016. FaZe finished in 3rd/4th after being beaten by eventual winners, Ninjas in Pyjamas. Then came ELEAGUE Season 2 with another 3rd/4th finish. Again, FaZe would lose out to a tournament’s eventual winners, this time the organization’s biggest rival: OpTic.

There was a slight dip at ECS Season 2 – they finished 5th/6th – but FaZe was beginning to become a contender. After multiple roster changes, FaZe finished their first year in CSGO in seventh on HLTV’s team ranking.

FaZe began 2017 in CSGO with the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta. FaZe was knocked out of this Major in 5th-8th by SK Gaming. There was no shame in losing to SK, who was ranked second in the world at the time. In fact, this was a positive result, FaZe had claimed a ‘Legends’ spot, an improvement on their placing at the previous Major: ESL One Cologne 2016.

Shortly after the Major, FaZe was forced into another roster change as aizy was acquired by North. FaZe hadn’t joined CSGO to be a contender, however, and now it was time for the organization to prove it.

ESL

Nikola “NiKo” Kovač had spent 2016 cementing himself as one of the best players in the world while on MOUZ. This was enough for FaZe to decide they needed him in their CSGO team, as they paid $500,000 for his services. A huge fee in CSGO.

Results were a night and day improvement for FaZe in CSGO after NiKo’s arrival. Second-placed finishes at IEM Katowice 2017 and IEM Sydney 2017 bookended FaZe’s first tournament win in CSGO: StarSeries i-League Season 3. If you couldn’t already guess the MVP of that event, it was NiKo.

FaZe followed up their first CSGO victory with a second-place finish in ECS Season Season 3 and 3rd-4th at ESL One Cologne 2017. Despite this hot streak, it was all set to come crashing down for FaZe at the second CSGO Major of 2017.

FaZe entered the PGL Major Krakow ranked second in the world, one of the favorites for the event. 

They exited the event in 15th-16th after falling 0-3, one of the biggest disappointments at the event.

PGL

The organization wasn’t happy. The failure wasn’t acceptable. NiKo and karrigan deserved much more.

KioShiMa and allu were benched. The original star of FaZe Clan, rain, would remain. What no one could predict, however, were the stars they would sign to replace their outgoings.

Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer was signed from Fnatic, a former best player in the world in 2015. Allu was replaced by Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács, the legendary Slovak AWPer had been instrumental in making NAVI one of the best teams in CSGO.

FaZe Clan was no longer just another CSGO team, they were the superteam. Never before had a team with so much individual talent been assembled in CSGO.

ESL

Dreamhack Masters Malmo 2017 came too soon for the superteam, as they finished 9th-12th. ESL One New York 2017 was a different story, not dropping a map as they stormed to the victory. Next up was ELEAGUE Premier 2017, another first-place finish, another tournament win without dropping a map.

Their dominance was not absolute; they lost the IEM Oakland 2017 final to NIP 3-2. Playoff finishes were now a minimum expectation for FaZe in CSGO. ESL Pro League Season 6 also saw them finish second, this time losing to the Brazilian titans SK Gaming.

FaZe ended their year with another tournament win, this time at ECS Season 4 by beating NiKo’s former team MOUZ in the final. Less than two years after joining CSGO, FaZe found themselves sitting in second place on HLTV’s team ranking at the end of 2017. Their eyes were now set upon the first Major of 2018, ELEAGUE Major Boston, where once again they would be one of the favorites to win the event.

Due to their performance at PGL Krakow, FaZe would start the event in the New Challengers stage. After a minor scare against Vega Squadron, they went through that stage 3-1 following wins against QBF and NAVI. Next up, the Legends stage, where FaZe would go 3-0 to qualify for playoffs. Everything was going according to plan.

ESL

This plan continued to run smoothly, as they beat MOUZ and then NAVI without dropping a map in the Champion stage. The stage was set for the final, where they would play North American underdogs Cloud9.

What happened next isn’t just a piece of FaZe history, it’s a piece of CSGO history too. Despite being vast underdogs, Cloud9 won the Major after being a map down, after being 15-11 down on the T side of Inferno. It was meant to be FaZe’s first Major win in CSGO, instead, it was North America’s first.

The result was a crushing blow for FaZe Clan in CSGO. It wasn’t the embarrassment they had endured in Krakow, but the team had an embarrassment of riches at its disposal and had fallen short at the final hurdle. In many ways, most notably the manner of defeat, it was even worse than Krakow.

It would only get worse for FaZe too. First, they would finish runners-up at IEM Katowice 2018, losing 3-2 to Fnatic in one of the greatest finals of all time. Robin “flusha” Ronnquist rolled back the years for that one. 

FaZe didn’t win an event until May, at which point olofmeister had stepped down for ‘personal reasons’. His compatriot Richard “Xizt” Landström stepped in to replace him in the short term. They won their first event with Xizt, IEM Sydney 2018, the Swede proved himself to be a capable support player at the event.

Dreamhack

This would be the only event they won with Xizt, as olofmeister returned at the end of May and the former was transferred to Fnatic. Olofmeister’s return wouldn’t last long, however, as he extended his personal leave less than two weeks later. This time, it would be Norweigian Jørgen “cromen” Robertsen who stepped in as his replacement. 

Once again FaZe would win an S-tier CSGO tournament with a stand-in as they claimed the crown at ESL One Belo Horizonte 2018. They would also finish 3rd/4th at ESL One Cologne 2018 with cromen, a testament to karrigan’s ability to use stand-ins. More on that later.

As olofmeister returned, FaZe struggled to win another tournament. Playoffs were frequently reached, but even top four placings seemed a way off. Something was wrong with the team. Karrigan’s leadership was beginning to get called into question as questionable decisions were repeatedly made in important rounds.

By EPICENTER 2018, as he had in MOUZ previously, NiKo assumed the role of IGL. They won that event. Little did they know at the time, it would be the last S-tier event they won until 2022.

ESL

Karrigan was benched in December and subsequently loaned to Envy. His final event with the team was a victory at BLAST Pro Series Lisbon

What followed karrigan’s departure was a string of questionable roster moves and disappointing tournament placings. First came the Kazakhstani Däuren “AdreN” Qystaubaev, then Polish legend Filip “NEO” Kubski

As the latter departed, so did GuardiaN, who returned to NAVI. GuardiaN was already starting to decline, FaZe was yet to understand that this was a blessing in disguise.

The blockbuster replacement was Marcelo “coldzera” David. The two-time best player in the world had struggled with MIBR, but the prospect of him on a team with NiKo was tantalizing. The other incoming was met with less excitement, a little-known Latvian prodigy named Helvijs “broky” Saukants.

They would win BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2019 with this lineup, as well as IEM New York Europe 2020. The latter of these came in the Online Era, after COVID moved all of CSGO online at the beginning of 2020.

Olofmeister also stepped down once again in 2020, with the Lithuanian Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras standing in as his replacement. Bymas would later be signed by MOUZ, and FaZe would sign former Major MVP Markus “kjaerbye” Kjærbye.

FaZe CSGO’s legendary Swede would be called upon once more by October, as NiKo moved to G2 Esports. The move was one of the biggest in CSGO history, and left FaZe without their IGL and star.

FaZe began 2021 by signing Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, with the Canadian superstar joining from Team Liquid. Karrigan rejoined a month later after rebuilding his career with MOUZ, once again olofmeister stepped down. FaZe’s CSGO rebuild, as unintentional as it may have been when they signed broky, was almost complete. 

PGL

2021 was a poor year for FaZe in CSGO regardless. They struggled for top 8 placings and by June their once marquee signing Coldzera was benched. Can you guess his replacement? That’s right, it was olofmeister.

The difference this time, however, was that FaZe had a longterm goal to complete their CSGO roster. MOUZ’s Robin “ropz” Kool. The young Estonian had become one of the best riflers in the world during his time under karrigan’s stewardship on MOUZ. It was almost time for them to be reunited.

At the beginning of 2022, ropz joined FaZe’s CSGO team. Once more, the stars had aligned for FaZe Clan in CSGO. Once more, they had a superteam. You could argue this one was unintentional; no one expected broky to become the oppressive AWPer he’s become. Either way, FaZe were about to have their most successful year in CSGO yet.

They began with a win at IEM Katowice 2022, beating NiKo’s G2 3-0 in the final. Even more impressively, they won with Justin “jks” Savage as a stand-in. Once again, karrigan had proved his efficiency at utilizing stand-ins.

ESL

Then followed ESLPro League Season 15, where they would beat ENCE in the final, and ropz would claim MVP. The next tournament would be the big one: the PGL Major Antwerp

One more CSGO Major in which FaZe would enter as one of the favorites to take the crown. 

This time, they wouldn’t disappoint. FaZe qualified from the Legends stage 3-1, with their loss coming in their opener against ENCE. NIP and Spirit would test them in the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals respectively, but again, FaZe would come out on top. 

NAVI would meet them in the final, the second-best team in the world at the time behind FaZe. Helmed by the best player of all time, Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, the Ukrainian organization was looking to claim back-to-back Major wins. FaZe, on the other hand, was looking to become the first International CSGO roster to win a Major. 

ESL

Inferno was a narrow affair. After a strong opening by FaZe, NAVI clawed back into the game. They almost won it too, thanks to a monstrous s1mple round 30, it was ropz that put a stop to that and took the map to overtime. With flashbacks to Boston on everyone’s minds, FaZe didn’t crumble as they won the map 19-16.

Video: [4K] FaZe vs Natus Vincere – Map 1 Inferno - PGL Major Antwerp 2022

[4K] FaZe vs Natus Vincere – Map 1 Inferno – PGL Major Antwerp 2022

Nuke was a different story, an unlikely hero he may be, it was rain that stepped up to demolish NAVI. With what is an all-time great performance on the map, rain went 30-16 in a 16-10 win to claim the series, and with it the Major, 2-0. 

Four years after being denied in Boston, FaZe became the first International CSGO team to win a Major. Rain had outlasted any of the team’s stars. Karrigan had returned to stake his claim to the title of the greatest IGL of all time. Ropz, Twistzz, and broky had all shown that the future was theirs. 

PGL

They would continue to prove this too, as mere months later, they would defeat NAVI again in the final of IEM Cologne 2022. A 3-2 victory, the final featured five close maps as two of the greatest teams ever assembled battled head-to-head.

Despite originally making their name in Call of Duty, FaZe Clan is one of the most storied in all of CSGO. 2022 has already been one of the best years of any team ever. With a Major yet to play and an Intel Grand Slam yet to be claimed, it could be even greater still.

PGL

Want to read more CSGO history?

Click here to read our article: NAVI CSGO: A history.

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