A small, but fruitful, affair this weekend saw FaZe Clan emerge victorious at the $150,000 ELEAGUE CSGO Invitational tournament.
A four-team tournament attended by the likes of BIG, Cloud9, FaZe Clan, and compLexity Gaming, ELEAGUE’s first tournament of 2019 was a far cry in terms of scope compared to their year opener in 2018. But, even so, the Tier 3 tournament was filled with storylines.
From İsmailcan ‘XANTARES‘ Dörtkardeş making his first LAN debut with his new team, BIG, and Cloud9 very nearly working their January magic once again to win the tournament, as well as FaZe Clan finally having found their footing with their current lineup, this was a tournament to watch.
FaZe Clan Escape With Close Win Over BIG
Both featuring new players on their respective rosters and both having lost to Cloud9 earlier in the tournament, BIG and FaZe Clan faced off in the lower bracket finals to open Day 3 of the ELEAGUE CSGO Invitational. The winners of the said matchup would go on to face Cloud9 in the Grand Finals for the $80,000 top prize of the $150,00 prize pool.
As two of the favourites heading into the tournament, the series was as close as any could get. The first two games saw the two teams exchange wins with a score line of 16-14, with the first game going the way of FaZe Clan and the second one going the way of BIG.
With both maps being relatively even, most expected the third map of the series to go the same way. However, that wasn’t the case.
The entirety of FaZe Clan stepped up significantly on Inferno with Olof ‘olofmeister‘ Kajbjer Gustafsson leading the way and Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovácsg providing the occasional highlight play, including the sniping down all but one of BIG to give FaZe Clan series point.
With the win, FaZe Clan would secure a rematch against Cloud9, a team that beat them in double OT in both maps during the opening rounds of the ELEAGUE CSGO Invitational.
Cloud9 Fall Short Against FaZe Clan
Just as close as their earlier series was, the first map on FaZe Clan’s pick, Mirage, was the exact opposite. Cloud9 would race to a 14-1 lead at the half and would only give up two more rounds to strike first in the best-of-three Grand Finals.
FaZe Clan’s current IGL, Nikola ‘NiKo‘ Kovač, was surprisingly absent on Mirage, putting up a medicore fight as he posted a 0.34 rating, by far his lowest in nearly four months. Meanwhile, Timothy ‘autimatic‘ Ta was the exact opposite of mediocre. He proved that he was capable of playing anything, including being the primary AWP’er of his team, to the tune of a 1.80 rating.
FaZe Clan would not take this lightly, however, as olofmeister led FaZe Clan to a commanding 11-4 lead at the half. Although the momentum from the excellent start wouldn’t carry over for FaZe Clan on the T side as Cloud9 threatened to mount a comeback, FaZe Clan were successfully able to fend it off, 16-12, to force out a third map, with olofmeister coming big for his team with 27 kills.
GuardiaN would save his best performance of the tournament for last as he put FaZe Clan on his back on Train to help his team take a 11-4 lead into the half on the T side that allowed them to close out the map comfortably, 16-8, and win the ELEAGUE CSGO Invitational.
FaZe Clan seem to have found a winning formula — with NiKo taking a backseat to the rest of his team. Or, at the very least, least, that’s what happened in the Grand Finals against Cloud9. Although NiKo finished the tournament among the top performers overall, he was not lowest fragger for FaZe Clan in the championship round against Cloud9. In fact, he posted a 0.81 rating for the series. This is an uncharacteristically low performance for the Bosnian superstar.
With that said, there is a silver lining to all of this for FaZe Clan. Many have criticized their dependence on NiKo, much like how dependent Natus Vincere is to Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev.
Now, FaZE Clan have proven they can even when NiKo has a bad game. This adds a layer of strategy and depth to a FaZe Clan lineup that’s likely burdened with high expectations heading into the Katowice Major on March.
What do you think of FaZe Clan’s performance at the ELEAGUE CSGO Invitational 2019? Do you think NiKo will continue occassionally taking a back seat going forward? Or was his performance in the Grand Finals more of an aberration? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.