Olof's return to FaZe shortly preceding ELEAGUE Premier came alongside high expectations from the community. Unfortunately for rain and company, they wound up exiting ELEAGUE in last place, appearing considerably worse than in previous months when they had been hamstrung to standins in the form of cromen and Xizt.
Although looking improved in attendance of DreamHack Stockholm, many see their round of eight finish as underwhelming considering this lineup's historic excellence and their first two games during the FACEIT Major’s new legends stage did little to calm concerns. After going down 0-2 it was decided that NiKo would take over as In Game Leader for the remainder of the tournament.
Looking particularly impressive on Mirage, FaZe with NiKo at the helm hauled themselves back from the brink of elimination to reach the Major playoffs. With plenty to be gleaned about the inner workings of FaZe during this event alone, we spoke to rain ahead of their quarterfinal versus Astralis.
How would you compare the overall level of the scene from now to a year ago when you blitzed ELEAGUE Premier and ESL One New York 2017?
When we first started the team everyone was so confident, we did whatever we wanted and it worked, we didn't have to call any rounds, we just said "go here and kill" or "go there and kill" and that was how we won those tournaments. I think the scene is a lot tougher now, you have Liquid coming up really good, Astralis is back at it again, I also think MIBR is getting back into form and of course Na'Vi. Back then it was basically only us and SK because Astralis had dropped off.
Do you think FaZe's style lends itself to playing with standins compared to other teams and when Olof returned was it as simple as just slotting him into his old spots again?
I think it is easier for standins to come and play well in FaZe compared to going into Astralis for example because we don't play as structured. When we had standins we did not practice at all, we practiced a little with Xizt because we had him for a while but with cromen; I think we had two games of practice and still won a tournament, so there was not much that we had changed.
Olof has played a great event so far, what does he bring to FaZe and it is a welcome change to have a permanent fifth again?
It is really great to have Olof back, you know what you are getting with him, he is a really fantastic player and I don't think anyone could replace him, even if we got coldzera or s1mple nobody can do the stuff that he does, he has a different understanding of the game and brings more to the team in his role than any other player could.
During the tournament it emerged that NiKo had taken over calling for the team after going down 0-2, how would you contrast karrigan and NiKo's style of calling?
We still have the same stuff that we had with karrigan, we don't know what was really going wrong, it might have been confidence issues but now we are getting something new with NiKo calling. Even though it is really bad timing being in the middle of a Major it is working for us, everything is less stressed than it was before the change. After losing in Stockholm we had a really high-stress level whilst we were playing and it kept going into this tournament as well, we felt like we were not on the same page and getting in NiKo as the caller we now have some fresh ideas.
Is NiKo the best player in the world?
Yes by far, nobody can do what he does. He is calling, he can lurk and he can entry. I don't know exactly what s1mple is like as a player because I have never been in a team with him, but from playing with NiKo I think he is the best player in the world.
Do you think it is important for the legacy of this current FaZe lineup to win a Major title?
Yes, especially after losing in the Boston final I think it is very important for us to win this tournament, we need it to get our confidence back up.
Did your strong desire for a Major title make losing to Cloud9 at ELEAGUE Boston feel even worse?
I think everybody in our team has like PTSD from Boston. We came to the Major here and we are just thinking about Boston all over again. It was a hard loss and probably the worst defeat in all of our careers, even for those here that have played loads of tournaments.
Were these negative memories a prominent motivator behind the change to NiKo calling?
Mostly for myself, NiKo and karrigan it was memories of PGL Krakow when we went 0-3, so especially after we went 0-2 we were like "oh s**t, it's happening again" so we had a good talk and switched around some things.
When you beat Astralis back at IEM Sydney GuardiaN had a great series, do you think GuardiaN's play will be a key factor in whether you can win versus Astralis in your quarterfinal?
I think anyone on our team can pop off and have a good game against them. I think GuardiaN likes playing against device, he has a good matchup versus him and I guess device plays a similar style in every game he plays. We are feeling good going into the match, we are practicing for the game, have good chemistry in the team again and everybody is relaxed.
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