Steven R. February 25, 2019
FaZe Clan is moving on in the 2019 Katowice Major while Cloud9 is going home.
The two fan favorite organizations faced off in the final series of the New Legends Stage, with the Europeans taking the win 2-0. That knocks Cloud9 out of the event with a 2-3 record, while FaZe advances to the Champions Stage playoffs at 3-2.
Both squads look shaky in the decisive series.
Game 1 on Cache was set up to be a slam dunk for FaZe. After a massive first half, the team took the pistol round and advanced into a 15-4 lead. Though it had the point at its fingertips, Cloud9 broke off 10 straight rounds to nearly force overtime. FaZe managed to buckle down and take the 30th round to seal up the 16-14 win.
The second game on Dust 2 looked eerily similar for a time. FaZe racked up a sizable 11-2 lead but Cloud9 took seven straight rounds to nearly tie things up. This time, FaZe managed to get back on track early and lock down Cloud9 for a 16-9 win.
Though the series was an entertaining watch, it showcased the weaknesses of both teams.
For Cloud9, the series highlighted all the troubles that have plagued the team during the major. Though its roster includes loads of veteran talent, the fact that this lineup came together just six weeks ago was apparent as it struggled with consistency and coordination. Strong individual play allowed the team to survive deep into the Legends Stage, but when the competitive field was distilled to the game’s elite, Cloud9 needed more.
Meanwhile FaZe continues to live and die on the performances of in-game leader Nikola "NiKo" Kovač. FaZe’s worst games in Katowice have all coincided with mediocre showings from NiKo, and that was also the case with the team’s stumbles against Cloud9.
Though FaZe is a force when NiKo is on point, it doesn’t seem to have the tools to succeed without him. That was perfectly displayed in this series as in its 32 successful rounds against Cloud9, just six came without frags from NiKo in comparison to 10 without Håvard "rain" Nygaard and 15 without Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács.
FaZe will need NiKo to come up big in the Champions Stage as it starts in the quarterfinals opposite Natus Vincere.