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IEM Katowice 2022 marks FaZe’s first Katowice win and first international LAN trophy in over two years in what was an incredibly unexpected series of events – and an astonishing team performance – in the face of numerous adversities.
Owen Pearce shares his thoughts on the achievement, FaZe’s grand final victory over G2 and how it could inspire other international rosters on the CSGO stage.
Despite a valiant effort from G2 in the grand final, the pressure ultimately proved too much to handle and the three extremely close maps ultimately went the way of FaZe.
G2 were playing with an updated roster featuring new IGL Aleksi ‘Aleksib’ Virolainen and the shining young AWPer Ilya ‘m0NESY’ Osipov, with stand-in coach François ‘AMANEK’ Delaunay.
But it wasn’t just the G2 side that had obstacles to overcome at Katowice, as under the leadership of Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen, the FaZe side overcame insurmountable odds to win the grand finals in a breathtaking 3-0 series.
Despite the numerous hardships FaZe faced, not only in the grand final, with a 12-round comeback (from 15-7 to 15-19) in map 1, and a gut-wrenching quintuple (5) overtime win in map 2, but also outside of the server due to the covid crisis in the FaZe camp.
FaZe’s unfortunate run-in with covid forced them to essentially play with three different rosters. Initially, FaZe called upon stand-in Justin ‘jks’ Savage to replace Robin ‘ropz’ Kool after ropz had tested positive for covid on February 9th 2022.
FaZe were then able to return to their full roster on February 19th ahead of their matches against Fnatic and Navi, before their longest standing player, Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard, unfortunately tested positive the following day. The team were once again forced to pull ‘jks’ off of the bench against Complexity, this time playing alongside ‘ropz’ and replacing ‘rain’.
Despite all of this, FaZe were able to pull through largely due to the consistent impact of the aforementioned aussie stand-in across multiple roles, as well as standout performances from the likes of Russel ‘Twistzz’ Van Dulken and the Latvian sniper Helvijs ‘broky’ Saukants, who managed an incredible 1.30 rating. This made him the highest rated player across the entire event according to HLTV’s player ratings, winning him the event’s DHL MVP award.
This event is not only a huge win for FaZe but also a win for international rosters, with both of the grand-finalists fielding international, English-speaking rosters. These have historically had far less success than the typical single-nationality/native speaking rosters that have shown dominance throughout the entire history of the game, recently with the Russian/Ukrainian Navi, and previously with the likes of Denmark’s star-studded Astralis, Brazil’s historical SK Gaming and Sweden’s dominant Fnatic roster to name a few.
Looking specifically into IEM Katowice’s grand finals, across the two international rosters (including coaches) the following 10 separate nationalities were present:
- Australia (jks, FaZe)
- Bosnia (huNter-, NiKo, both G2)
- Canada (Twistzz, FaZe)
- Denmark (karrigan, FaZe)
- Estonia (ropz, FaZe)
- Finland (Aleksib, G2)
- France (AMANEK, JACKZ, both G2)
- Latvia (broky, FaZe)
- Russia (m0NESY, G2)
- Sweden (RobbaN, FaZe)
The emergence of these English-speaking international rosters and their success here at IEM Katowice is very exciting, particularly for countries like the UK that have smaller talent pools where opportunities to field national rosters that can compete on an international level are much more limited.
This forces the few truly tier-one players within the scene to look abroad for a shot at international competition, with the likes of OG’s Mateusz ‘mantuu’ Wilczewski, Coalesce’s Thomas ‘Thomas’ Utting, and Fnatic’s William ‘mezii’ Merriman, Alex ‘ALEX’ McMeekin and recently benched Owen ‘smooya’ Butterfield all choosing to play on international line-ups.
The success of FaZe and G2 this past weekend has me excited for the prospect of these international rosters and raises questions as to whether we might see more of them in the future, creating great opportunities for some of the smaller regions such as the UK to see their players compete at the highest levels of play.
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