FaZe Up? A deep dive into the arrival of AdreN and YNk
They kept us waiting, but in the end FaZe Clan had to announce a fifth player and they’ve finally done so. The addition of Dauren ‘AdreN’ Kystaubayev came as no surprise after he’d been rumoured by every CSGO writer around to be practising with the team and also it seemed like an open secret that they would be trying to hire a new coach, especially after news broke that their long time mentor Robert ‘RobbaN’ Dahlström would be stepping away to spend more time with his young family.
Hire one they did, and it’s an entertaining decision if nothing else, with former desk analyst and MIBR coach Janko ‘YNk’ Paunovic returning to the European scene and being handed another team full of legends to work with. When it comes to unpacking the transfers, the AdreN move makes a lot of sense but the decision to bring in YNk might take a bit more time to understand and not be built on purely competitive reasoning.
In isolation, the move to replace Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen with AdreN is not a good one and many talking heads in the scene have already speculated that karrigan will leave FaZe for a rival and instantly return to peak form, making them regret their decision. While that may be true, it is pure speculation, and the cold hard truth of the matter is that the five-man team he was leading had no future, with multiple members having lost faith in his vision for the game.
AdreN is not only a great support option with years of top-level experience, but he’s a man who has actually led teams in the past
Some will say it was just NiKo who was over karrigan but there is no way the Major coup would have happened if it were just the Bosnian who wanted a change. For the leader to be usurped mid-event, there had to be a group and this is the inevitable conclusion to that. While AdreN may seem underwhelming for a team that has been linked with s1mple and others of his ilk, it could actually be the best move they had available at this time and a secret salve for their serious issues.
This close to a Major, it was never going to be easy to get a superstar in, and with the team really needing leadership the list of players who were exactly what they needed might have included two names, neither of which were realistic. Given that Gla1ve and FalleN were impossible and world-class in-game leaders are extremely rare, AdreN is not only a great support option with years of top-level experience, but he’s a man who has actually led teams in the past, albeit in covert manners.
Even when Gambit won the Major and the majority of the credit went to zeus, there was noise behind the scenes that the tactical side of the title win was masterminded by AdreN, with zeus thumping the tub, as is his way. He is also a player with prodigious talent, although we are going to resist falling into the trap of saying "if this team all play to their peak level..." - as that happened with MIBR, the previous FaZe, and Team Liquid last year alone - and didn’t work out perfectly for any of them.
It might also be good from a personality point of view, as AdreN seems to be a player who knows how to manage up even with a somewhat egotistical leader. With FaZe currently led by NiKo, the influence and information AdreN can provide will be a positive factor, although expecting it to put them in Major-winning form is a bit too much unless Astralis all forget how to play the game in the next month or so.
The first part of this move appears to be semi-FaZe’s decision and somewhat not, as RobbaN is primarily moving to a new role within the org due to the birth of this second child and the impact the travel coaching requires would have on his family. However, it is undeniable that RobbaN and karrigan were a partnership for quite some time and the departure of the Danish in-game leader certainly prompted RobbaN’s move, even if it wasn’t the entire reason for it.
However, once you know RobbaN is out of the door, the decision then becomes what you do for a coach, and YNk seems to be a permanent addition, or at least not a trial. Given that he was working as an analyst not long ago, and has had just one coaching role to date, it seems weird that he would be handed the keys to the most valuable team in the European scene, even if he did "used to play with NiKo" long before the FaZe star was relevant.
Furthermore, this is not a coach who has ever had to work his way up, or develop a group of players into a winning team, and it’s not a player who ever competed at an elite level. The best in the game today are zews and zonic, who both played at the top level of a CS game, and both proved themselves by winning multiple tournaments too. Don’t forget, zonic didn’t join Astralis when they were Major champions, and while it’s an exaggeration to say he made them that on his own, he was part of the process. The same can be said of zews and Luminosity.
We may still be waiting to see what FaZe do post-Major, when more players are available
The appeal of Janko must be personal, then, and that makes some sense with his history alongside NiKo, but equally doesn’t bode well for the future of the team. Yes men are not what the Bosnian needs, and if YNk cannot impose some level of discipline it will be more of the same in the run up to Katowice. If anything, we may still be waiting to see what FaZe do post-Major, when more players are available and they can rebuild properly, which would give YNk a nice 12 weeks or so to prove he can make this work.
Clock ticking for FaZe project
For full disclosure, this writer has been a fan of the FaZe project since it began, making it hard to be truly objective and these are not moves that make the heart sing again. Part of that comes down to the fact there are no top-tier options in the position they need but part also comes down to the feeling that until they fix what happened in London, where NiKo took the reins, this will never be a functional, elite level team you can rely upon.
Sadly, there may come a point where the team realises it cannot work and karrigan was, in fact, the most important part of the side, as finding new stars is much easier than replacing the leader who could rebuild the team of stars. The lack of in-game leaders in world CSGO is not just hurting FaZe right now, but many teams, and if they can’t find a solution to their problems by the middle of 2019 we might just see this project closed down for good, or rethought to a degree that makes it unrecognisable.
With that in mind, this move is not their last roll of the dice but they are approaching the final few throws for sure. For AdreN to succeed and the team to play well, he may either have to lead, or see one of his new colleagues depart to make room for a true caller, but stranger things have happened. For, YNk, who has been given another chance to coach some of the best players in the world, this might be his last shot, as two failures from two would be hard to bounce back from for a guy who wants his coaching career to be a success, rather than just a short phase.
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