With heavy emotions and a history of second-place finishes, even at this very event back in 2018, FaZe Clan’s in-game leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen finally lifted his first IEM Katowice trophy.

With heavy emotions and a history of second-place finishes, even at this very event back in 2018, FaZe’s in-game leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen finally lifted his first IEM Katowice trophy.

“We should’ve won in 2018 but didn’t,” said karrigan with tears streaming down his face. “Now I’m fucking back and fucking winning this Katowice trophy,” 

It’s been a long time coming for this FaZe organization, who has consistently invested in Counter-Strike hoping to find the right mix of international talent to raise an IEM trophy. A countless number of game-breaking rosters have dawned the FaZe jersey, but no team had this mix of versatility, experience, and above all, ridiculous talent to get them over the top.

Even with longtime FaZe member Håvard “Rain” Nygaard coming down with COVID in the final hour, FaZe ran through the play-ins, group stages, and the playoffs completely unblemished. As karrigan alluded to during his post-game speech, sweeping the likes of G2, Heroic, and Gambit with a free-agent stand-in is a remarkable accomplishment. It ranks near the top of the 31-year olds legendary career.

“The best ever. It’s definitely the best ever,” said karrigan. “With this crowd and the shitty situation we are in, winning 3-0, 2-0, 2-0 with a stand-in. I don’t know. It’s incredible.”

The Formation of a Champion

Entering the player break in January 2022, FaZe were stuck with the same issues that plagued them throughout 2021. Parts of the pieces were in place, but the team was still lacking firepower. Then, longtime MOUZ rifler, Robin “ropz” Kool, hit the open market. His addition suddenly made the roster as a whole feel much more dangerous. 

As we saw at Katowice, having a lurker with an incredible gift for aiming and unafraid to take duels on contact like ropz, opens up the playbook for his teammates. The direct impact of his presence elevated one of the best AWP players in the world to tournament MVP. Helvijs “broky” Saukants has always been touted as a supreme AWPer in a sea of talented snipers, but the intelligent play of ropz lurking deep into enemy territory, karrigan moving on timings or the devastating fragging power of Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken takes the pressure off broky and he shined.

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broky stats at IEM Katowice (Stats via HLTV.org)

  • Rating: 1.30
  • KPR: 0.84
  • DPR: 0.55
  • Plus/Minus: +134
  • ADR: 81.8
  • KAST%: 73.4%

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Moreover, the last piece is the stand-in Justin “jks” Savage. Luckily for FaZe, finding a substitute this capable and experienced on short notice enabled them to stick with their game plans. A lesser player would have sunk their chances, but instead, jks turned out one of the more effective individual performances throughout the event.

jks and Twistzz walking off stage. Photo courtesy of ESL.

karrigan was disappointed he wasn’t able to share this moment with his teammate rain after all the losses, but he also acknowledged the brilliance of jks:

“Give me one year, we’re gonna win a big trophy,” said karrigan about a promise he made to rain. “That’s exactly one year ago and he was supposed to be here with me, but I can’t take it away, jks played fantastic and I believe we could’ve done the same with Rain.”

The Mirage Marathon for FaZe at Katowice

In three maps, the two teams were only separated by two regulation rounds and went to six overtimes. Even then, FaZe rose to the occasion and was unbelievably calm and prepared whenever G2 reached map point, allowing them to sweep the series. On Inferno, G2 had eight separate chances to take the map on the T-side and couldn’t find one round. However, it’s the Mirage map that fans and players alike will always look back on in amazement. 58 total rounds, five OTs, and a countless number of heart-stopping close rounds.

“We were going to throw it away on Mirage,” said karrigan on the marathon map. “I’ve never played an overtime game where I just threw out the system and was just finding solutions in the moment. My team was so good today”

The map win ultimately sunk the G2 morale, as the next map following the nearly three-hour marathon was FaZe’s pick Dust 2. Even more, an emotional, exhaustion-heavy map like that can catapult a team or send them flailing, for FaZe, it showed this team’s uncanny ability to handle the big moment and proved their skill on the biggest stage.

Moving forward, the future’s still bright for the G2 side. Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov spent the past two weeks blowing our collective minds with the sheer speed of his reactions on the AWP. Nemanja “huNter” Kovač was arguably the best player in the server for the finals despite the loss, and we’re sure to see a bounceback from Nikola “NiKo” Kovač at future events.

We could be entering a new phase of Counter-Strike spearheaded by a karrigan FaZe, but keep in mind winning consistently outshines one big win. Na’vi is still the top dog of the CS world, and considering the circumstance these players were playing under, it’s safe to assume they’ll be back stronger to reclaim the crown from FaZe. But for now, the CS world belongs to FaZe Clan.

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Blake Van Poucke -

Blake Van Poucke

| Twitter: @TokyoDown

Blake Van Poucke is a Valorant writer at esports.gg. He found esports through the early days of MLG and the Super Smash Bros Melee scene. He's been competing and writing about esports dating back to 2008. He has written for several publications and wishes to return to in-person esports events in 2022