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FaZe Clan earned a spot at the IEM Cologne play-in through their ESL world ranking and, since then, have taken down Gambit – the number one team in the world – in the event’s playoffs.
FaZe Clan’s tumultuous streak
On paper, FaZe clan should have always been a top team. They have legendary players from star rifle Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, who was #9 in the world in 2019, to a legend of the game Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson and an amazing IGL in Finn “karrigan” Andersen. However, the team struggled and looked very uncoordinated in-game. Before coming into IEM Cologne, the team was recently on a six-game losing streak and had not proven that their new lineup could perform at a high level.
In an interview before the play-in started, karrigan spoke on the team’s form saying: “To be sure, we were a little scared about the Cologne invite, I’m not going to lie about that. That’s where you care about the ranking of ESL and HLTV because we could see that the last invite to the Play-in was getting really, really tight depending on the results at Flashpoint. At that moment, you care, obviously, missing out on the first LAN in 16 months would have been devastating to us as players.”
A colossal redemption arc
However, FaZe did get the invite to IEM Cologne and has yet to disappoint. The team qualified, quickly beating Evil Geniuses and Complexity before moving onto the main event. In the first round, they did lose a close series to Astralis, but they breezed through the lower bracket and beat Heroic, Vitality and Spirit. However, the toughest task yet was in front of them: taking down Gambit.
Gambit emerged from the shadows of the CIS region, with Abay “Hobbit” Khassenov leading the team as the only remaining member from their Major win in 2017. They debuted against top 20 teams during ESL Pro League Season 13, where the team went undefeated in group stages and eventually placed second at the tournament after a nail-biter match against Heroic. Gambit went on to win two other tournaments – Blast Spring Finals and IEM Summer – and was crowned as the number one team in the world. While some said they were a team that only performed on LAN, Benjamin “blameF” Bremer spoke out, saying, “What teams have been showing online is going to transition into LAN,” which seemed to be the general consensus with pro-players.
When the match started, it seemed as if Gambit were going to roll through FaZe Clan. The CIS team posted an 11-4 CT side half, but FaZe didn’t go down. They posted nine rounds in a row, and with Twistzz topping the server, FaZe finished the comeback on map one 16-13. Overpass, map two, was a close battle, but when the match went into overtime, FaZe couldn’t close and narrowly lost 22-20. However, on map three, Helvijs “broky” Saukants showed just how much he wanted to win. He posted 24 kills to give FaZe clan their ultimate victory over Gambit.
— Russel van Dulken (@Twistzz) July 16, 2021
“2 – 1 vs @GambitEsporst, gg’s. So proud of how we handle our mentality. We move onto play navi tomorrow in the semi-finals,” Twistzz tweeted.
While this tournament could be a one-off for FaZe Clan, karrigan thinks otherwise. In his interview, he stated that in FaZe’s current “lineup we have now, I feel like everybody has a purpose in-game. I think it’s one of the best iterations of FaZe.”
The team’s next event is ESL Pro League Season 14, where they will, hopefully, continue their strong form.
Zain Merchant is an Esports writer who has previously worked with Team Dignitas. He loves FPS games such as Valorant, Counter-Strike and Valorant.