FaZe Clan fans were left disappointed again when the team was eliminated early from ESL One Cologne.
A lot of the criticism directed towards the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squad was leveled at new player Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye. Many fans felt that the team should have practiced more together at a facility, which seems to be a successful strategy for other teams and players. It appeared that FaZe Clan wasn’t appropriately prepared for ESL One Cologne, losing 0-2 to Team Vitality in the second round of the lower bracket.
The best-of-three series was an intense back-and-forth affair. FaZe picked Dust 2 in the first game, but Vitality came out on top in overtime. The second game had both teams playing on Vitality’s pick, Nuke. It wasn’t looking good for FaZe at that point. Vitality had won 53 times out of the 85 total games they’ve played on Nuke, and they added another victory with a 16-14 result over FaZe.
ESL One Cologne viewers felt that FaZe Clan made a lot of mistakes, notably failing to trade kills and too frequently giving up early picks to the French team.
Nikola “Niko” Kovač was apparently fed up with the constant criticism. He aired his frustrations on social media soon after the elimination.
“Enough with the hate on my team and Kjaerbye. We had five days of practice and we nearly won against the number two team in the world who has been bootcamping over two weeks,” Niko said.
He begged fans to give the team some time to work on their mistakes “before judging.”
Enough with the hate on my team and @KjaerbyeCS, we had 5 days of practice and we nearly won against nr 2. team in the world who has been bootcamping over 2 weeks. Give us some time to work on our mistakes before judging, we are doing everything we can to improve asap. #FaZeUp
— NiKo (@fazeniko) August 26, 2020
Niko’s tweet seemed to only make the criticism worse. One fan called out Niko for having a “big ego,” which made him not open to the “common sense” feedback. He called for FaZe Clan to stop giving so much power to one player and to get an in-game leader instead of letting Niko call all the shots. Others criticized FaZe for signing Kjaerbye over an IGL.
Still, other fans understood Niko’s plea. They acknowledged that FaZe Clan may need some time to get used to the new international roster. Many offered support to Niko, telling him that his team would come back and crush the competition next tourney after the side crashed out of ESL One Cologne.
FaZe Clan’s coach, Janko “YNk” Paunović, tweeted out a similar message to Niko’s. He told FaZe Clan fans that the team’s rusty performance was due to the recent vacation, leading to rounds where they lost despite a numbers advantage.
Lost 2-0 to Vitality, gg’s! Still having some rust from the vacation which showed in an embarrassing amount of rounds lost where we had a numbers advantage…
— Janko Paunovic (@YNk) August 26, 2020
Fans offered support for YNk, noting that the team had a great performance. Still, it seemed that FaZe Clan hasn’t ever improved for the “next time” as he often says they will.
“Sorry for the disappointment. I can just assure you we are working hard and doing our best. Things simply take a bit of time after a roster change. Appreciate your support though!” YNk said.
Other CSGO fans noted that Niko needed to let go of the IGL role. They wanted the Counter-Strike veteran to focus on headshots instead of calling the shots. Many fans felt that FaZe Clan’s strategies were just “too obvious.”
It’s unclear if YNk will switch up the roster roles before the team’s next tournament, or if he even as the power to do so. Thus far, Niko has very clearly been calling a lot of the shots for the squad, both inside the game and out.