It’s been a turbulent few months for FaZe Clan. Widely regarded as a super-team in CS:GO gaming, they have found themselves second best to Astralis over the last few months. That slip came alongside rumors of in-fighting and conflict between key members of the expensively assembled team.
However, this past weekend, they put those issues behind them. FaZe Clan produced an excellent display in the playoffs of EPICENTER 2018 to claim the $150,000 top prize and their first win since June.
EPICENTER 2018 recap
They began the tournament with an unconvincing 2-1 win over ENCE eSports in their opening game, a result that ensured they would make it through the initial phase and into the playoffs.
However, in the Winner’s Match in Group A, they played Natus Vincere and were well beaten 16-13 and 16-5 in the first two matches. That loss meant they’d enter the playoffs at the quarterfinal stage.
After such an inauspicious start, few reckoned FaZe Clan, who had Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer back for the first time in a while, would be among the teams contesting the final over the weekend.
The gear shift
Doubters be damned. Following the group phase, FaZe Clan notably improved their play for the opening match in the playoffs against the tricky Ninjas in Pyjamas. A 2-0 victory over Ninjas in Pyjamas (16-8, 16-11) would prove to be the catalyst for even greater things.
After that win moved them into the semifinals, they faced the team that finished top of Group B, old rivals Team Liquid. As big a test as the game with NiP was, Team Liquid were expected to be a different level of opponent for FaZe Clan. Recent form indicated that Clan would struggle.
However, after another outstanding showing, particularly on the Mirage map, FaZe Clan once again ended up running out hugely impressive 2-0 victories (16-9, 16-12) to move into the final.
In that final, Natus Vincere, the team that had beaten FaZe Clan in the Group Stage, lay in wait. Like FaZe, they had not dropped a single set in the playoff stage, earning a bye into the semifinals and then defeating AVANGAR 2-0 (16-11, 16-12) to earn a final spot.
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FaZe Clan once again picked Mirage, where that had looked so strong to that point. That selection proved to be a wise decision as the team landed a 16-12 victory on the opening map to put themselves just one win away from victory. Natus Vincere then picked Dust II for the second map, but once again FaZe proved too strong, winning that second map in stunning fashion 16-3 to claim a 2-0 victory and the top prize in the tournament.
Next up for FaZe Clan, a Danish test
Following that win in Moscow last weekend, FaZe Clan will be in action this weekend. They’re one of the six teams competing in the BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2018 event at the Royal Arena.
This $250,000 prize pool event is part of the BLAST Pro Series and will see a $125,000 prize on offer for the winning team, with $50,000 for the runner-up, and $25,000 for third. Astralis, who opted to miss EPICENTER 2018 to give their players a rest, will be on home soil to try and avenge their loss in last year’s final to SK Gaming.
The Danes are the form team in CS:GO at the moment and are likely to be huge favorites. FaZe Clan finished third in the group stage last year. They then won the subsequent Pro Standoff against North by a 3-2 scoreline to earn third place in the tournament. It will be their potential games against Astralis in the Group Stage that will have many fans eagerly waiting.
However, it would be wrong to assume this event is simply a two-horse race. MiBR, formerly SK Gaming, are back to try and defend their title while Cloud9, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and Natus Vincere make up the remainder of this elite field.
The tourney will be contested over a series of five-round matches. Each game will be played over a best-of-one format, which means the map selections and fast starts are crucial.
Will FaZe Clan once again use the same ultra-aggressive tactics that brought them unexpected success in Moscow? If they do, can Astralis and the others counter? It promises to be an intriguing weekend of action in Copenhagen.