Go back a few months in time, and FaZe Clan were on a roll, the favourite to win just about any event they participated in. But that was a few months back, and that span of time can be an eternity in pro CS:GO. Here at IEM Sydney, analysts felt that FaZe were anything but likely to win this event, with everyone putting their money on Fnatic or Astralis. As far as that went, FaZe were playing badly, and were even making a habit of losing best of threes without a single win. When olofmeister went on leave it seemed that the team were unlikely to make much of a mark at Sydney, and even though Xizt – who temporarily replaced him – is really one of CS:GO’s legendary players, he somehow seemed unable to really merge well with the playing styles of the rest of the team.
FaZe hit back hard and beat the odds
They certainly have, winning IEM Sydney against the doomsday predictions of the esport’s most skilled analysts. In doing so, they now stand with SK Gaming as a team that has won two premier events, bringing them into direct competition with SK for the million dollar prize of the Intel Grand Slam. The first of these two teams to take two more events will be walking away with a cool million.
However, while they may have won the IEM against all odds, the road to the top was one that FaZe Clan found anything but easy, and there were times when they were near to being kicked from the event. Astralis, on the other hand, utterly dominated the event, not losing a singe match until their final showdown with FaZe.
So it’s been the upset of the year, and one of the most exciting finales of any event in recent memory. Let’s take a look at how things went down in Sydney.
FaZe Clan nearly went under in the group matches
FaZe being a part of Group A at IEM Sydney put them up against heavyweights like SK Gaming and Cloud9. They did get off to a good start, with their first match being against ORDER, which FaZe won quite easily, of course. It seemed like FaZe had gotten past their bad patch, but this wasn’t the case when they went up against Renegades. Renegades matched FaZe in skills and strategies, and the last map went into overtime before Renegades – astonishingly – won the match set.
Of course, Renegades had the advantage of home ground, and so did Grayhound, the team FaZe Clan went up against next. FaZe did win this one, but just by six rounds, which can hardly even be considered a victory, considering that FaZe were going up against a team so much beneath them in capability.
Things weren’t looking good for FaZe Clan as they went up against Cloud9, in a match that would decide whether or not they would see the playoffs. FaZe finally got their act together, defeating Cloud9 without a single loss in the match set. This victory moved FaZe into the quarterfinals of IEM Sydney.
Renegades and TyLoo put on an interesting display of skill at IEM Sydney
Renegades and TyLoo are dominating teams in their respective regions, but neither have ever won a premier CS:GO event. No one in the opening rounds of the IEM thought that either of these teams would make the playoffs. In a series of surprise wins, TyLoo actually defeated SK Gaming themselves, as well as Cloud9 and Renegades, to directly qualify for the semifinals. Meanwhile, Renegades pushed through to the quarterfinals by defeating FaZe Clan. They would go down before mousesports there, but not by much, with two of the three maps in the best of three going into overtime, and mousesports barely managing to put down Renegades to get into the semifinals.
TyLoo have certainly improved in skill, and they showed just how much by defeating FaZe Clan in Inferno. FaZe, in danger of being booted from the event, went all out against TyLoo, defeating them in Cache and Mirage by seven rounds.
In contrast, Astralis moved through the initial rounds of IEM Sydney with deceptive ease, and while they did lose a map against mousesports in the semifinals, that was really an anomaly. In the remaining maps, Astralis defeated mousesports by wide margins, winning Dust 2 by thirteen rounds and Cache by eleven.
A short final match series at IEM Sydney
The finals at IEM Sydney were supposed to last between five and six hours, being a five match series. It didn’t work out quite that way, with FaZe Clan putting down Astralis in just three maps. Astralis have been doing rather too well lately, and it seems they were a little too confident going up against a FaZe Clan missing olofmeister. Astralis’ strength lies in carefully thought out tactics and team plays, but they seemed to forget all that in an effort to go toe to toe with FaZe Clan.
However, FaZe tend to really do better than Astralis in all out firefights, so this was a poor call on the part of Astralis. As we said, they seemed to grow too confident, forgetting that they are one of the few teams in this esport whose edge comes from strategy and intellect. Nevertheless, the matches at the finals of IEM Sydney were close, with Astralis losing by just a few rounds.
Bans and picks for the finals
FaZe banned Nuke, which was a good move, since Astralis are all but invincible in it. Astralis then inexplicably went on to ban Mirage, a move that just doesn’t make sense, since they excel at this map, even when compared to FaZe Clan. With the end of the banning phase, teams went on to make their picks, something that can be crucial in a best of five, since the maps picked first are played first, and could – and did – decide the series.
FaZe Clan chose Cache first, which was an excellent move, since they are good at Cache, and Astralis can be a little weak there. Astralis, in their turn, chose Overpass – which once again was rather a surprise, since it is actually a map where both teams are more or less equal. Of course, since they’d already banned Mirage, they had little choice here, yet one must say that Astralis really were more than a little careless with their picks and bans.
Train was FaZe Clan’s next pick, while Astralis chose Inferno. Dust 2 remained as the decider.
We saw Astralis make some interesting plays in Cache
Astralis almost won this first map at the IEM Sydney finals, but FaZe went all out in the last two rounds, and pushed the map into overtime. FaZe Clan started out very strong here, winning ten rounds in the first half as terrorists. They won the first pistol round, but failed to keep their advantage in the next round. In round three, Astralis realized that FaZe were short on cash, and went anti eco against them. Xyp9x decimated the entire FaZe team all on his own, and this with their own rifle, which he’d picked up in the last round. He also defused the bomb. Astralis won one more round, but FaZe Clan took them down in round five.
With both teams going for a full equip, Astralis tried to play defensively in round six, but rain and Xizt ‘rained’ on their parade by each taking two kills in a double entry. With this, the match went in FaZe Clan’s favour, and they began to completely dominate Astralis. In round nine, rain once again took two kills in an entry, opening up a path that allowed his team to plant the bomb. Astralis won two rounds in between, but FaZe hit back hard and took back control of the match. In round fourteen, GuardiaN won a 1v2 situation against Magisk and dev1ce with just thirty five hit-points.
Cache moves into the second half
The second half began with Astralis taking the pistol round and the next two. FaZe Clan went on the defensive, and this seemed to work for them, as they succeeded in defusing the C4. However, Astralis adapted in the next round, managing to detonate the bomb in time. Rain then hit back hard for FaZe, taking a quad kill and winning the round without his team losing a single member.
Despite this, there was some healthy back-and-forth round by round, with Astralis detonating the C4 in the next two rounds, and winning the next three. Things weren’t looking good for FaZe by this time, with Astralis needing just one round to win the match, and FaZe needing to win all the remaining rounds to drag the match into overtime. Astonishingly enough, they did just that. Karrigan and GuardiaN took out most of the opposing players in the last two rounds, and gave their team a second chance in overtime.
FaZe steamroll Astralis in overtime
Karrigan and GuardiaN went all out with the kills in overtime, putting Astralis down hard. Astralis managed to win just two of the six overtime rounds, and in doing so lost the first map of the IEM Sydney finals.
Overpass goes into overtime twice
The faceoff in Cache proved that Astralis and FaZe Clan are more or less equal in terms of sheer skill. This time, Astralis started out as terrorists, and won the first pistol round against FaZe Clan. The credit for this really goes to Xyp9x’s triple kill. Once again, rain took the lead with a triple kill, and then retreated to a safe place with just fourteen hit points, while his teammates took out the only terrorist that remained. Astralis would manage to detonate the C4 twice in subsequent rounds.
FaZe Clan then went into defense in round ten and GuardiaN took down three opponents with his AWP. GuardiaN would take more triple kills with his AWP in in rounds thirteen and fifteen. FaZe won the first half once again, with an advantage of ten rounds.
A hard-fought end run
As the match moved into the second half, Astralis took the pistol round once again, and this time it was dev1ce who took a triple kill for his team. Astralis managed to keep that advantage for just one more round. FaZe Clan took down Astralis in round eighteen, but lost the next round. FaZe Clan needed five more rounds to win, and they reduced that to two after they won three rounds in quick succession, with NiKo saving the day with a 1v3 clutch.
Astralis then analyzed the situation, and came out with some amazing tactical gameplay, stopping FaZe Clan cold, and not letting them win a single round until there were just three rounds left in the map. Things seemed to be going rather well for Astralis, but then karrigan took a triple kill, and won a round for his team. Now FaZe Clan needed just one round to win, while Astralis needed to take all the remaining rounds to push the map into overtime. Magisk’s triple kill gave Astralis a much-needed lifeline, and the match went into overtime.
The first overtime was a draw, with both teams winning two rounds as terrorists and one as counter terrorists. In the second overtime, FaZe Clan won all the three rounds in the first half, and the last round in the second half. Things were really heating up, with Magisk, NiKo, dev1ce and dupreeh taking repeated double and triple kills. FaZe still went all out and shut down Astralis, winning the second overtime.
Astralis finally went off the rails in Train
Astralis seemed determined to turn things around in Train, and got off to an amazing start as counter terrorists. They not only won the pistol round, but continued a winning streak that lasted to round eleven. FaZe then finally managed to win a round, and they took the next three as well. Magisk kept shutting down FaZe Clan with his triple kills, while dev1ce’s incredible skills with the AWP often took down the enemy team just when they thought they were winning. However, GuardiaN hit back on FaZe Clan’s behalf, winning a 1v3 situation with an AK-47.
At this point Astralis just needed five rounds to stage a comeback
FaZe Clan showed no inclination to grant them that. They took the second pistol round, and also defused the bomb in the eighteenth round. Dev1ce then took out three opponents, helping his team to retake the map. However, it was not enough to bring Astralis back into the game. FaZe Clan were on a roll, and NiKo and even Xizt took triple kills at this point.
This was a real game changer
Xizt seemed to be playing just as he did in his heyday here, with triple and quad kills, and this sudden improvement in his plays was something that it was impossible for Astralis to adapt to in time. FaZe Clan didn’t lose a single round after this point, going on to effortlessly win the map, the best of five, and indeed, the finals of IEM Sydney.
This is truly a long-awaited victory for FaZe fans, and the fact that FaZe Clan could put down an Astralis who are really playing at their peak gives one hope that FaZe are finally past their bad stretch. GuardiaN, of course, won the MVP for the IEM Sydney finals, and it’s been some time since he’s been most valued player in the finals of a premier event. We congratulate both him and FaZe, and look forward to many more interesting plays from this brilliant team in the months ahead.