The major is over, and rostermania has begun. Na’Vi, Mousesports, Hellraisers, and FaZe Clan have already begun to make changes, with several more projected moves, soon to follow. Cheeto dust coats the F5 keys of eager fans in anticipation of the next big announcement, waiting with bated breaths for swirling rumors to come true.
Of all the teams involved in the post-major shuffle of tremendous proportions, FaZe Clan is the most surprising. Mere weeks after strong placings at ECS Season 3 and ESL Cologne, FaZe has decided to change up their largely successful roster. In some respects, the change makes sense. Their former roster of allu, NiKo, karrigan, rain, and K1o, may have had a good run, but they never really found the path to becoming number one. Even at their best, the title of the first place seemed to elude them. They were always just behind SK or just behind Astralis, never given the chance to etch their names into CS:GO history as an all-new dynasty. Their abysmal performance in Krakow merely confirmed to them that FaZe would never be the best with their old lineup.
The rumored five that FaZe will choose markedly different from their 2017 lineup. Upon the arrival of karrigan, FaZe seemed to be headed in the direction of a more tactical team, a polar opposite of the more individually-focused team that the organization inherited. Neither allu nor k1o was big-name stars, but they provided the tools that karrigan needed to run an effective team. Now, the all-new FaZe Clan has decided to go back to their former selves. They’ve replaced assets with stars, play-creators, with playmakers, and garnered more star-studded firepower than any other team in the world.
On paper, the rumored FaZe roster is an all-star lineup of epic proportions. To put GuardiaN, olofmeister, and NiKo on the same team creates a legendary trio. In their prime, each of these players has been among the best in the world, and each is capable of reaching their peaks once again. If the rumors are proven correct, FaZe would be one of the most frightening teams in Counter-Strike history. It would take one of the most skilled teams to ever grace the scene, and add two superstars into the mix. FaZe’s motive is clear. In their mind, first place trophies won’t come from allu’s consistency with the AWP, or k1o’s excellence in a supportive role. If they are going to rule the Counter-Strike world, it will come from their individual dominance over any other team that tries to compete with them.
However, FaZe’s attempts to create a superteam of all-time greats may be misguided. Going back the older versions of FaZe isn’t necessarily a goal one wishes to accomplish. While this newer squad is obviously stronger than Fox and Maikelele’s original international misfits, strength was not the reason why the old rosters failed. The failure of that original team was a product of inconsistency, not of a lack of individual strength. On the rare occasion that all five members of the team were able to shine (Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca), G2/FaZe looked like one of the best teams in the world. However, they lacked the tactical proficiency and chemistry to sustain their short-lived successes beyond a few standout tournaments.
A similar situation could occur with the new FaZe team. Rain, olof, GuardiaN, and NiKo, could all be the primary star of a solid team. By putting them all together in one team, a dangerous clash in roles will occur. There is simply no way that karrigan can set up opportunities for each of his stars, without sacrificing the tactical integrity of the team. The entire point of the support role is to provide the optimal environment for a star player to shine. By replacing that role with another star, it is simply impossible to have a sufficient amount of resources put in place for each player.
We have already seen a situation like this happen with North. With the addition of Aizy in place of RUBINO, North made a similar decision to forgo the support role in favor of a mechanically superior player. For North, the decision soon backfired, as Aizy’s statistics decreased dramatically, forced into an uncharacteristic supportive role where he couldn’t live up to his full potential. In the end, the increased firepower they had hoped to acquire, was diminished by their inability to utilize him within the team’s structure. If olof is to replace kioshima, he would not be given the proper resources to succeed and would be forced into an uncomfortable role as a hybrid support.
While the addition of olof would have the most profoundly negative impact on the team’s organization, GuardiaN could also end up being a problem. In rain and NiKo, FaZe have already built up a strong base of starpower. The most important supplement to that stardom should be consistency. If allu, k1o, and karrigan provide consistent value to the team, we could avoid a tragic last-place finish like what we saw in Krakow. This way, the star players can shine, given all available resources, with a safety net of consistent players to fall back on in case of a bad game. However, with the addition of GuardiaN, this safety net is further weakened. A comparison of the two AWPers’ stats over time reveals higher peaks for GuardiaN, but also lower troughs. GuardiaN might look like one of the best every now and again, but he fails to function as a backbone for the team in the same way that allu does. This problem will only be exacerbated by the volume of stardom on FaZe, as GuardiaN won’t have the assets to reach his peaks, while still falling into his occasional trenches of underperformance.
FaZe’s new potential lineup is as flashy as it is inconvenient. It’s one thing to put three of the biggest names in CSGO history on one, superstar lineup, it’s another to make them work as a team in a coherent fashion. It is simply impossible to cater to each and every one of FaZe’s growing number of stars, while still maintaining the backbone of consistency and tactical prowess that helped them rise to the top in the first place. Don’t be fooled by the legacy behind the names on a screen, wait until you see their play before hyping the new FaZe.