Speculation as to the fate of FaZe’s Counter-Strike lineup has swirled for months, ever since the voluntary removal of Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer and his temporary replacement, but it seems as though the conspiracy theorists were wrong. Replaced by Richard ‘xizt’ Landström on April first, olofmeister was expected by some to end up in contract hell, or just be dropped entirely, despite being a crucial factor in the success of FaZe since his arrival.
Many considered the ‘FaZe experiment’ a failure, despite a number of major tournament wins, and due to the complexities of CS olof had taken some blame for that. However, in the wake of their recent elimination from the ESL Pro League Season 7 finals in game leader Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen revealed the team is still planning for the return of 2015’s king.
When asked by DBLTP, “So, you really still don't know for sure when olof will be coming back?”, karrigan was fairly unequivocal in his answer, that olof’s spot was safe and the team were simply waiting until he could return. His exact words can be found below, with the most pertinent section highlighted, and keeping the Swede would make sense from an in-game point of view, which has to be karrigan’s focus.
We have way more news now. Hopefully, we can soon reveal what's going to happen and give a timeline to the fans. We just have to wait and see, whenever he's ready, we're ready to take him back into the lineup.
While it may seem to many as though there are more important players in the team, there is a strong argument that olof was actually the key to the majority of FaZe’s success. Outside of karrigan, there is no natural support on a squad so loaded with talent it may as well be called the Real Madrid of esports, and olof’s selfless work to take on so many support positions enabled the likes of Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard, Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač and Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovács to shine.
This is doubly impressive as olof had previously been given the freedom of whichever city they were in during his time on fnatic, where he had built his reputation as an all-time great. As a result of his previous success, and his fanbase, olof could have demanded far more on the basis of his position as one of the most successful players of all time, but took on the roles the team needed him to play instead.
Many fans have cried out for a star name to be added to the team, with Na’Vi’s Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev top of the list, and there is no doubt that the Ukrainian would improve virtually any five-man unit on the basis of his obscene talent. However, the other side of that coin would be the team balance argument on a squad already filled with death machines, and the context of the scene has given FaZe more time to work on reaching their final form.
If SK Gaming or Astralis had been able to dominate the last few months, the pressure on FaZe to change could and probably would have been far greater to change, but that hasn’t happened. Astralis have been given the number one spot on the basis of a couple of events, showing how little solidity there is at the top.
With a couple of months between now and the major it seems like FaZe will give this five one more chance to deliver the org their first major title, in London, before potentially torpedoing the project. Bringing in a new player would be riskier still, and with the resources the organisation can call upon there is no real suggestion they need to do it sooner rather than later, as they don’t rely on venture capital in the way others around them may do.
With all that said, it could be classic smoke and mirrors, but karrigan is a sharp guy with an understanding of how to lead as well as communicate. If olof can overcome his current condition and get back to full health, NiKo, rain and GuardiaN have shown they can still deliver MVP numbers when it counts, and we might just see FaZe up at the top of the CS tree again.