Alongside the announcement of Nikola “NiKo” Kovač’s transfer to G2 Esports, FaZe Clan confirmed the release of head coach Yanko “YNk” Paunović.
The two high-profile changes came soon after FaZe announced the return of Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson following a six-month break from professional CSGO. The timing is curious, and may indicate that olof’s break was related to his relationship with the two. Regardless, FaZe is now down a head coach heading into the height of CSGO’s tournament season.
Today we also part ways with our CS:GO coach, @YNk.
Thank you Janko, for the leadership, the guidance, and the trophies during your time coaching @FaZeClan. We wish you nothing but the best in the future! #FaZeUp pic.twitter.com/ttBJeKoBqu
— #FaZeUp (@FaZeUpdate) October 28, 2020
FaZe lose NiKo, YNk on the same day
FaZe signed YNk in January 2019 after the coach’s short stint with MIBR.
“…with NiKo going to G2, [I wanted to]give the players and the organization the opportunity to get a new coach and IGL who can work on taking the team forward,” YNk said.
FaZe has gone 172-153 since YNk moved into the position, but even the veteran’s leadership couldn’t propel FaZe to the heights that many fans and analysts expected the team to reach. The team managed to snag two high-profile first-place finishes in 2019 at BLAST Pro Series Miami and BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen, but a smattering of playoff losses combined with more than a few group stage exits forced the team to make a change.
FaZe officially announced that it had sold NiKo to G2 just prior to YNk’s announcement, meaning that the team once considered to have the most talented roster in CSGO is now looking for a head coach. Worth noting is that the organization hasn’t officially confirmed that olof is back in its active squad. With little information to help give context to the situation, the departures of both NiKo and YNk have brought more questions than answers.
YNk and NiKo are big losses for FaZe, but the team still has plenty of firepower left. Marcelo “coldzera” David and young star Helvijs “broky” Saukants remain with the team, but it’s ultimately unclear who FaZe will find to replace YNk. Thankfully the team has many more options available in Europe than if they were in North America.
While the Americas have seen many of its players and coaches flock to Riot Games’ Valorant, Europe’s CSGO landscape has remained largely unaffected. On the other hand, the ESIC’s fall coaching ban had a disproportionate impact on the region, with many top coaches prohibited from participating in CSGO’s largest tournaments for their exploiting of CSGO’s coaching bug.
YNk said that he still wants to coach CSGO teams going forward, but he’ll take some time before he starts the hunt for a new team to mentor.
“My plan is to take a break from coaching until the end of the year and see what 2021 brings,” YNk said.