FaZe Clan are one of the biggest names in esports, and their presence in CSGO has been a huge benefit to the scene but it may be that the organisation have reached a point where they have some serious decisions to make. The business model used to build the squad, of spending big on star names and chasing only the top awards is admirable, but the scene has moved on to the point where it seems as though what once was possible is no longer achievable, at least in FaZe’s case.
In 2019, it seems like the sort of spending FaZe used to do is either beyond the capabilities of the group, or just not something they want to do anymore for whatever reason. A win over C9 at ELEAGUE may have papered over the cracks, but this is a team with lofty ambitions, and to maintain that they need to make money moves that may not be possible.
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After the hugely expensive signings of NiKo, GuardiaN and Olofmeister, however, they are equally trapped, at least for the duration of the players' contracts, in a situation of their own making. The question for them, then, becomes: Do they commit again, or just try to milk as much as possible out of the current roster, which surely cannot last forever.
It is true that GuardiaN can still produce his best, particularly in finals, and Olofmeister has evolved into the complete CSGO player, capable of playing almost any role, but the recruitment of AdreN, formerly of Gambit, shows a change in the culture of the team. While he is a former Major winner, and top-tier talent generally, one of the key reasons AdreN was brought in was his availability, and the fact the team did not want, or maybe was not able, to sign the names they would have wanted.
We saw the same situation during MIBR’s terrible 2018, where a team that was clearly lost went trawling across the top of HLTV’s player stats for two men to save them. Attempts were made for FaZe, Na’Vi and many other kinds of player, all of which were rebuffed, even when MIBR/Immortals were willing to match the insane prices quoted for players like s1mple and flamie. Whether FaZe even tried to splash the cash in the pre-Major months is less certain, but MIBR’s fate shows they even if they did, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
The game has changed
The reality is that CSGO has moved on, and there are massive orgs not even at the Major who can afford to rebuff offers and keep world-class players from moving up. Players such as suNny on Mousesports, valde on North and even some of the better players on G2 would have been snapped up were it not for the financial strength of their orgs, and even teams like Furia are now able to quote outlandish numbers to massive orgs to discourage them trying to take young talent and give it a chance to play at the top level.
That may seem like a good thing but, from a fan point of view, it actually makes for a worse top level, and could be a reason we have a great top 30, but poor top ten when it comes to team rankings. If the next Stewie, Coldzera or NiKo isn’t able to move up and experience the game at a higher level because of a boss trying to get paid, it will stifle their development, and ultimately lead to their not reaching their maximum potential as players.
For them 2019 is going to be pivotal and, possibly, final
Likewise, we are now not going to see ropz, valde, suNny or kjaerbye at the Katowice Major, as they will sit at home being paid handsomely, despite their failures at the Minor.
This is not to say that more money is a bad thing, but CSGO does need to develop a more sophisticated way of dealing with the price/value balance smaller teams seem to live by, so players are not trapped in contracts with release clauses way out of whack with the value of said contract. At the top level, FaZe may not be able to spend what it takes, or may not want to any more, but for them 2019 is going to be pivotal and, possibly, final, when it comes to this particular project.
It’s unlikely GuardiaN and Olof go much further than the end of the year, with the former seeming to have lost a step, even if he can still perform in finals, and the latter having already missed large parts of last year due to personal reasons. While the free agent pool is decent, the likes of NiKo and rain are unlikely to be impressed by more purchases on the AdreN level when those moves are made, meaning FaZe will have to spend big, or go home, to the detriment of CSGO across the world. Mo money, mo problems…
Image credit: ELEAGUE