After a number of poor performances in key tournaments this year, FaZe Clan took a radical new direction to get back to the pinnacle of CS:GO gaming. They released a number of players and invested considerable money in bringing in new talent.
This raised questions. Would the new team members gel into a cohesive unit? Would they complement each other? Would the new acquisitions only cause more turmoil on a floundering squad?
That risk now looks like one of the best decisions of the year, especially after FaZe Clan’s performance at the recent ECS Season 4 Finals.
At the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun, eight teams vied for a prize pool worth $660,000. The four European qualifiers were Fnatic, FaZe Clan, mousesports, and Astralis. North America sent Cloud9, OpTic Gaming, Team Liquid, and Luminosity Gaming.
The teams were drawn into two groups for the opening phase:
- Group A – Fnatic, OpTic Gaming, mousesports, Luminosity Gaming
- Group B – Astralis, Cloud9, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid
Group A started well enough for Fnatic, who won their opening match against Luminosity Gaming 16-12. They then faced OpTic Gaming, who defeated mousesports in their opening game 16-4. Fnatic came through with a convincing 16-2 win.
That left two best-of-three matches in Group A to be played. In the first, Luminosity lost 2-0 to mousesports, who then moved on to face OpTic Gaming once again in the final game of the group. Here, mousesports got the better of things, earning a 2-0 win and the coveted runner-up spot in Group A.
Group B played out similarly. In the opening game, Astralis came out 16-11 victors over Cloud9. Then, FaZe Clan won their opening game 16-12 against Team Liquid. That set up a battle for the top spot between the two European teams. Here, Denmark’s Astralis earned the top seed with a 16-13 win over the tournament favourites.
With Cloud9 defeating Team Liquid 2-0 in their matchup, they moved to face FaZe Clan. It was the eventual champs who prevailed with a 2-0 victory.
The playoffs saw the top two seeds in each group drawn against the second seed from the other group. Things didn’t quite go to plan for either top seed.
In the opening match, Astralis were defeated 2-1 by mousesports (16-12, 7-16, 16-9) in what was something of a shock. In the second game, Fnatic succumbed to FaZe Clan 2-0 (16-7, 16-11) to ensure both second seeds made the final.
This final proved one of the most epic contests of the year and a fitting end to the CS:GO tournament schedule for 2017. In an exhilarating encounter, mousesports took the first map 16-14. That trend continued in the second map where mousesports almost caused an upset, but FaZe Clan hung on to record a 22-18 victory in overtime.
Then, on Mirage, the teams played very closely yet again. But FaZe Clan took home the $250,000 top prize as they snatched a narrow victory 19-17 in overtime.
Mousesports consoled themselves with $120,000. And Astralis and Fnatic ensured the European teams were well paid for their efforts; they pocketed $65,000 apiece.
FaZe Clan’s turning point
Since August, when FaZe Clan announced its roster moves, they have vastly improved. Disappointing showings in the DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, the ESL Pro League, and the PGL Major Krakow were the catalysts for change.
GuardiaN came over from Natus Vincere, as well as Niko from mousesports, and olofmeister (one of the world’s best CS:GO players according to his peers) from Fnatic.
Their move to FaZe Clan precipitated a swift upturn, which began at the ESL One in New York. The team took home the $125,000 top prize. After winning the EPICENTER 2017 Closed Qualifier for Europe, they won the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017 and pocketed a $500,000 top prize. An EPICENTER 2017 Wildcard win was soon to follow.
The team hit a bit of a fallow period in October and November but did record second-place finishes at the Intel Extreme Masters XII Oakland and the ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals.
The personnel changes brought FaZe Clan $1,091,000 in prize money in the four months of the year. That’s a fantastic return on their investment and bodes well for the 2018 CS:GO season. Play begins in earnest with the massive ELEAGUE Major in Boston on Jan. 12.
FaZe Clan will be there, hoping to earn Legendary status. Given their form over the last four months, few would bet against them doing so.