The words NEO FaZe Clan, or FaZe NEO doesn’t really slide too well, doesn’t it? That’s okay. You’ll get used to it. Just like most CS:GO fans, you’re probably just used to seeing the word Neo attached to Virtus.pro.
After all, Filip ‘NEO‘ Kubski spent the better part of the past decade with Virtus.pro. However, the Polish professional CS:GO player was already a legend before. In fact, many consider him as the best Counter-Strike player of all time, with a career stretching all the way back to the early 2000’s, a time when competitive Counter-Strike was more of a hobby than an industry like it is now today.
Also, if you’re wondering, NEO is no stranger to the leadership role, having served as the in-game leader for his teams for years.
That fact makes the NEO FaZe Clan era — yes, we’re calling it an era already — all the more exciting and brimming with so much potential. In addition to seeing a legendary CS:GO player join up with the likes of Olof ‘olofmeister‘ Kajbjer and Ladislav ‘GuardiaN‘ Kovács, it’ll be interesting to see how everything pans out now that FaZe Clan have a proper leader after playing without one for months.
Is NEO an Upgrade Over AdreN?
After weeks of speculation, FaZe Clan officially confirmed that they were bringing over former Gambit Esports player Dauren ‘AdreN‘ Kystaubayev as a stand-in until the foreesable future. Unlike what many expectation, however, AdreN did not take up the leadership mantle once he joined the team. Instead, it was still Nikola ‘NiKo‘ Kovač, who continued to be the team’s in-game leader in the tournaments that they played in.
In total, AdreN stood in for FaZe Clan for seven tournaments. During that time, AdreN posted a positive rating only three times. The rest of the time, AdreN was a net negative for his team, which is why the team’s decision to replace him was understandable.
But, is NEO that big of an upgrade?
If we were talking about the NEO of 2015 or 2016, then, sure, the NEO FaZe Clan era would definitely be a time of dominance. Right now, we’re quite sure that the opposite is true. At least, as far as NEO’s performance is concerned.
Over the past twelve months, the 31-year-old CS:GO legend has had more negative ratings than positive ones. In fact, he once posted a string of six straight negative ratings in events, and wasn’t really impactful for his team, Virtus.pro, overall. Of course, part of the blame also goes to how inconsistent Virtus.pro has been during the past year, and how much turmoil there was within the team. But, that still doesn’t really make up for his performance, or lack thereof.
This, then, makes it quite questionable as to why FaZe Clan would bring over someone like NEO as an in-game leader.
What Does NEO Bring to the Table?
The NEO FaZe Clan era got off to a bad start as they lost to Virtus.pro, with NEO posting an abyssal 0.66 rating for the series.
There were encouraging signs, however.
On Overpass, which was the map that they won in the best-of-three, olofmeister posted a 1.56 rating and generally looked like the best player on the server at that particular time. Of course, this doesn’t really have that much to do with NEO, but it’s important to take note that NiKo was uncharacteristically sacrificial and passive throughout the entire series.
This could mean a lot of things, but we’re betting on it being related to NiKo taking up the reigns first while NEO finds his way around the team.
NEO may be a proven leader with multiple big LAN event titles under his belt, but even he needs time to adjust and build chemistry with the rest of his team. This is especially true for FaZe Clan, whose core set of players have been together for more than a year already. Not to mention, in terms of fragging power, he doesn’t really bring that much to the table. He’s actually pretty comparable with AdreN, the player he’s essentially replacing, in that regard.
But, FaZe Clan did not bring in NEO to play the role of AdreN or to frag. FaZe Clan brought in NEO so the team can finally let NiKo call fewer shots and start focusing on landing them on their opponent’s heads, then NEO will have already done his job for the team.
If we were to fancy a guess, the NEO FaZe Clan experiment is an attempt to replicate what Natus Vincere have done so far with Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev.
As arguably the most mechanically skilled CS:GO player in history, s1mple receives a lot of priority. In particular, Danylo ‘Zeus‘ Teslenko often makes the sacrifical play, whether it by asking as bait or buying weapons for s1mple, to help enable their star player to play his best. This works, most of the time, especially if Denis ‘electronic‘ Sharipov shows up, and the rest of Natus Vincere contribute.
While FaZe Clan do not exactly have someone of electronic’s caliber to pair with NiKo, they do have three veteran CS:GO players who can step up to the plate every now and then.
olofmeister, GuardiaN, and Håvard ‘rain‘ Nygaard may no longer be in their playing primes, but they’re not washed up just yet. They’re all still capable of taking over a round or two, or even entire map.
If all three players can play consistently enough and NiKo is left to focus on doing what he does best, FaZe Clan should only improve.
What do you think of the NEO FaZe Clan roster move? Do you think NEO joining the FaZe Clan lineup as their in-game leader can make them more successful? Or, will the move backfire and make them even worse than before? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.