FaZe Clan revealed their most recent signing of Robin “ropz” Kool with an … unconventional announcement video. In it, you can see a younger, teenaged ropz expressing his desire to join FaZe.
“Why do I want to be part of FaZe Clan?” ropz asked. “Well, the answer is pretty obvious. FaZe is the biggest team around and obviously everyone’s dream is to be a part of it.”
Dreams come true.
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) January 3, 2022
That was in 2014, three years before ropz made his professional debut on mousesports. Coincidentally, 2014 was also the last time that FaZe’s in-game-leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen didn’t win a trophy — that is, until 2021. The difference in experience between the two players is vast but, when karrigan was considering how to elevate FaZe in 2022 to make sure he wouldn’t go trophy-less again, his first thought was bringing in his former mousesports teammate ropz.
“[FaZe] trusted me with getting ropz for the team,” karrigan said. “And I’m very happy about that because, for me, that was the final piece that I needed last year to get good results.”
In 2022, FaZe Clan’s Counter-Strike team are answering the question of what happens when you reunite the game’s most experienced in-game-leader and most talented lurker? Last year, despite flashes of brilliance, FaZe fell short. This time around, with a roster packed with firepower and karrigan to lead them, it will be different.
The greatest lurker
Ropz’s move to FaZe was not a spur of the moment decision. It had been in the works for some time. When his contract with mousesports — now MOUZ — was new, the buyout was too steep. Obviously FaZe had been on ropz’s mind for some time and karrigan was already considering adding him to the team at the start of 2021. So, when everything finally aligned later in the year, it made the transition smooth for ropz.
“Ever since the team started to fall apart in mousesports, when karrigan left and even before that in 2020 when COVID-19 hit, our team slowly deteriorated,” ropz said. “We had to change pieces and then it didn’t work out. Ever since then, I have been thinking about my future, if there’s another team I should consider.”
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) January 5, 2022
Even still, leaving MOUZ was not a simple decision for ropz. After his five-year tenure with the team, he’d become their poster boy.
“I slowly became the face of mousesports,” ropz said. “They really made me represent mousesports in the end as their brand.”
Still, it was clear to everyone — yes, everyone — that ropz needed to be released from MOUZ before the world would be able to see what he’s truly capable of. And FaZe were the obvious option. Besides fulfilling the dream of his childhood self, ropz said he was also enticed by how smooth the transition would be in terms of roles. In the FaZe system, he still has the freedom to do what he does best: Lurk. He simply didn’t fit as well with the other teams that came knocking when it became clear he would be ending his five-year tenure with MOUZ.
“The other lineups, which were attractive, definitely would have had some role changes, some kind of an unknown aspect,” ropz said.
Ropz comes to FaZe as the 18th best player of 2021, according to HLTV. And that was on a team that found next to no success in Tier 1 CS:GO last year. It’s hard not to expect the guy to elevate his game and return to the top form that helped propel the 2019 mousesports to some of the team’s best results.
Individually, the 22-year-old Estonian is less concerned about his HLTV ranking and more interested in showing that he can improve on his personal success from the mousesports days.
“I don’t really have any ranking goals,” ropz said. “I just want to work more, put in more hours, prove … that I can actually elevate my game with the change of teams.”
Certainly, his new team has faith in his abilities. Karrigan, for one, had nothing but the highest praise. “Already now, I’m pretty certain he is the best player in the world in his role, as a lurker,” karrigan said of ropz.
The most experienced IGL
While being the face of a team can be fun, ropz has the distinct luxury of no longer needing to be the leader that everyone looks up to. That role belongs to one of CS:GO’s most experienced veterans and IGL’s, karrigan. The 31-year-old Dane is now one of the oldest in the game, but he won’t let that deter him.
“There’s not really an age limit on me,” karrigan said. “Whenever I want to stop, I stop.”
The year 2021 was tumultuous for FaZe, with a lot of roster moves and behind the scenes shifts. Their successes were limited; the team suffered more than most during the online era of COVID-19. As mentioned by karrigan, they did not net themselves a single event win the entire year. On LAN events, like the PGL Major Stockholm, their showings were generally better, but still not quite where they needed to be. They did not make the playoffs at the major and in their last two events of the year — BLAST Premier: Fall Final and Intel Extreme Masters Winter — they finished fifth-sixth and ninth-12th.
For a vet like karrigan, it was hard to adjust to playing matches without the fans.
“Everybody has a responsibility to play their best and if their best is five percent less online than on LAN, you can’t really change that,” karrigan said. “I’ve tried for two years now to figure out how to have a feeling where I sit down here at my PC and feel like I’m playing in front of 10,000 people in the crowd. It’s just not possible.”
At one point, the team even tried to practice with their webcams on and a video call open on their second monitors. The thought was that it would make them feel more like they were at a bootcamp rather than playing from home. Although the expectation is that there will be more offline events in 2022 – COVID-19 permitting – the team will still have to battle through the occasional online event.
It’s a shame because karrigan is one of the game’s best showmen. His antics as bat-karrigan at the BLAST Fall Final were part of what made the event so special. He also had no problem playing the Danish heel to Astralis at the event, soaking in the “boos” of the crowd.
“If you don’t like me, that’s not my problem,” karrigan said. “I just do whatever I want. Some people are going to like it, some are going to hate it.”
Despite the relative lack of in-arena events, karrigan is undeterred. Age and online matches are roadblocks and nothing more. He said that he is staying humble and continues to learn anything he can from his younger teammates. Well, from everyone except Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken.
“I know my limitations,” the Dane said. “When I see Twistzz running around doing headshots, I’m not asking him why. No, I’m like, ‘That’s talent.’”
The goal for karrigan this year is to make FaZe “even better than it was in 2018.” With the addition of ropz, that may just be more than an idealistic dream.
The new FaZe
With ropz, FaZe Clan’s ceiling has been raised. From an IGL standpoint, karrigan has three of the best young guns in CS:GO: Twistzz, ropz and the beastly Latvian AWPer Helvijs “broky” Saukants. Along with Håvard “rain” Nygaard, who is a chameleon, adapting to the team’s needs and filling any role, the FaZe roster is undeniably stacked.
“Not everything is based on [ropz], like it was on mousesports,” karrigan said. “Now we have three guys where, if they’re having a really good game, they can take the game in their own hands.”
The first true test for the squad is BLAST Spring Groups, but their sights are set beyond that. IEM Katowice offers the most coveted trophy in the early stages of the 2022 season. The team plans to boot camp for a week in Poland ahead of the event.
Despite his enthusiasm over the addition of ropz, karrigan is not overly optimistic about their chances for winning the event. He said that Natus Vincere, Heroic and Gambit Esports — all top teams that haven’t made offseason moves — will have the definite edge in the first few tournaments.
“Middle of the season; that’s where we’ll start to see some of the new teams doing really well,” karrigan said.
Overall, FaZe’s 2022 aspirations are what you’d expect from a strong Tier 1 team. Consistent top five results, always contesting for the trophy and, of course, winning a major. If they can accomplish the latter, they would be the first international team to reach that milestone.
“It’s just a matter of peaking at the right time,” ropz said. “So I think, if we manage to reach our highest form during the major, we are definitely capable of doing that.”