FaZe are now one match away from securing their playoffs spot to play at the LANXESS Arena.
FaZe Clan’s first match at IEM Cologne was off to a strong start with a 2-0 victory over 00Nation. The PGL Stockholm CS: GO Major winners come into this tournament after two relatively lackluster events. But their first match saw FaZe Clan step up their game to defeat the Brazilians in Group B.
With Ancient, Inferno and Mirage as the map choices, FaZe was back to playing Inferno. In the post-game interview, Karrigan mentioned how the team had been working towards improving its map pool for the past couple of months. Primarily, the team had been focusing on not playing Inferno, which is often their go-to map in Tier 1 tournaments. Despite challenging their map pool, FaZe still managed to secure a top two placement at the Roobet cup where they lost to tabseN’s BIG.
What we did there (at Roobet) was to improve our map pool, play a lot of maps that we normally pick and we avoided picking Inferno in any of those games. Inferno is usually our main pick.
Coming into Cologne, we could pick Inferno and it seems really good. I have a lot of confidence in our map pool this time. For the first time in a long time, I feel this is the strongest map pool we have and we can hit 100% individually.
FaZe 2-0 00Nation in Group B
Ancient - 00Nation gives FaZe a scare on the CT sided map
It's maybe good that we got pressured a little bit in the beginning and just not win 16-07 or 16-10.
The IGL’s confidence is clearly reflected in the individual players’ performance at IEM Cologne. 00Nation started strong with a few rounds on their T side. However, Ancient is a very CT sided map and FaZe were quick to find their groove in the first half. The Karrigan-led team won the last seven rounds in a row on the first half to close out the half with a 10-5 score.
FaZe won the pistol and followed it up by four more rounds takign the score to 15-5. A victory in sight, but it took some time for FaZe to find its final round. Ancient is notorious for being a CT-sided haven and it showed in the way 00Nation were able to defend the bomb sites. FaZe had to wait for eight more rounds before they finally struck gold and won the map.
For FaZe Karrigan, the fact that they didn't just win the map with a 16-6/7 score is actually good because they can now review the map and learn from it.
I think on Ancient, once you don't get rolling and you don't find the openings and you don't find the solutions, the CT sides have an advantage. I feel like we were maybe putting 5% less energy into the rounds when the game was nearly over and it was 15-7. You could feel the intensity in the last few rounds on Ancient was higher and we managed to avoid the high pressure situation and win the game in the end. It's maybe good that we got pressured a little bit in the beginning and just not win 16-07 or 16-10.
Back to Inferno
FaZe continued its dominance on to Inferno where their T side didn’t allow the CTs to build up an economy. While 00Nation managed to get glimpses of their brilliance visible on screen, it was nearly impossible for them to string together rounds on their CT side. FaZe were always one step ahead, clearly an understanding of 00Nation’s play style on the map.
00Nation managed to win a few rounds on their T side. But the pressure was always on the Brazilians who now had to just stop FaZe from reaching the magical 16 - easier said than done. It was a few rounds later that FaZe managed to secure the victory on Inferno, sending 00Nation to the lower bracket. A victory on their first match of the tournament is always a pleasant feeling and FaZe Clan seems to have kickstarted it's IEM Cologne project with a bang.
What’s next for FaZe? How far can they go?
It’s an understatement to say that FaZe Clan are a favorite coming into IEM Cologne 2022. They might not have won trophies after their PGL Major victory, however, they are clearly preparing for this tournament. The ability of the team to challenge its map pool and plan for IEM Cologne, easily the biggest tournament after the Major, highlights their long term planning.
So does that mean FaZe will win this event?
Karrigan hopes so, but he acknowledges it is a difficult tournament.
“I think it's a tough tournament. I think the Cologne, the Majors and the Katowice are really tough. You can be favorites and maybe not even make it out of groups. So I think we are definitely looking forward to playing the next game and secure that playoffs spot so we can grind even more and hit 100% during the playoffs. Which we've done really well this year, we've often started slow in the group stage and constantly improved everyday. Hopefully, the same happens here.”
Featured Image Credit: ESL CS.