Sam “DaZeD” Marine – The first king of North America
Despite match-fixing scandals and a disappointing comeback, DaZeD is one of the most successful leaders in NA CS:GO history.
On November 2nd, Sam “DaZeD” Marine announced that he was stepping down from competitive CS:GO. After waiting several years, everyone was excited to see what DaZeD, along with teammates Braxton “Swag” Pierce and Keven “AZK” Lariviere, could accomplish once ESL unbanned them in July of 2017. Now that DaZeD's CS:GO career seems likely to be over, it’s time to take a look at what he accomplished.
The early days
DaZeD rose to prominence as the in-game leader of Area51 Gaming, along with Spencer “Hiko” Martin, Kory “SEMPHIS” Friesen, Sean “sgares” Gares and Trey “tck” Martin. One of their most notable results came in one of the first CS:GO tournaments, ESWC 2012, where they finished 3rd. Their only losses at the tournament were against the two best teams in the world, NiP and VeryGames.
In 2013, the squad now known as Quantic Gaming would see even more success against European competition. At the ESEA Season 13 Global Finals, they defeated both ESC Gaming and VeryGames, before falling short, just like everyone else, against NiP in the finals.
iBUYPOWER, the Kings of North America
Due to internal issues in the team, namely DaZeD refusing to play with SEMPHIS, Quantic Gaming had to break apart. DaZeD left Quantic to join what would become his longtime home, and one of the most successful teams in North America, iBUYPOWER.
At iBUYPOWER, he would team up with two of his longtime teammates, Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham and Keven “AZK” Lariviere. DaZeD and his team saw their first significant victory at the ESEA Global Finals, the tournament they made their 2nd home. At the start of 2014, iBUYPOWER ended up winning the ESEA Season 15 Global Finals, defeating their North American rivals compLexity Gaming and the best team in the world Titan.
iBUYPOWER would continue their success at the ESEA Season 16 Global Finals, once again winning the event, albeit with a slightly different roster. This time they ended up defeating their North American rivals, compLexity Gaming, twice, along with the Polish powerhouse, Virtus.Pro.
DaZeD always had compLexity's number, who was the only other notable team in North America allowing iBUYPOWER to have an advantage at every North American tournament they entered. While compLexity had more success internationally than their North American rivals, iBUYPOWER always had the upper hand when the two teams faced off against each other.
"DaZeD was really good, especially on CT side, at reading what the enemy was about to do," – Steel on why iBUYPOWER always defeated compLexity. 'Reflections' with steel
While North American tournaments weren’t much of an issue for DaZeD and iBUYPOWER, the Majors were an entirely different story. DaZeD and his team never got past the group stages at a Major.
The first major, DreamHack Winter 2013, would see the team finishing last, losing to Recursive Esports and Universal Soldiers, neither of whom were top teams at the time. The second major, EMS One Katowice 2014, wasn’t much better for the team. This time, they would lose to Dignitas and Fnatic in another last place finish.
The disappointing result would cause the team to make two roster changes. Under-performing players, Eric “adreN” Hoag and Todd “anger” Williams were replaced by Josh “steel” Nissan and the North American superstar and former compLexity rival, Braxton “Swag” Pierce. The changes didn’t cause a lot of improvement at the Majors, as ESL One Cologne 2014 ended in another group stage exit.
However, this time, iBUYPOWER got a win against dAT Team, and their losses came against some of the very best teams in the world, Virtus.Pro and Fnatic. Had they drawn a different group, it’s possible that the team could have made the playoffs at a Major for the first time.
"If we're in a 4v5, I know Swag is gonna get this kill, Skadoodle is gonna get this kill, no one is gonna get overrun, we all know how to play, but then all of a sudden at the major I couldn't rely on that," – DaZeD on iBUYPOWER’s struggles at the Majors. 'Reflections' with DaZeD
To make matters worse, DaZeD and his teammate Steel were both kicked from iBUYPOWER right before DreamHack Winter 2014, in spite of the team looking good going into the tournament. At the event, iBUYPOWER drew one of the easiest groups in Major history, going up against Dignitas, PENTA Sports, and Copenhagen Wolves.
While Dignitas were a strong team, both of the other matchups were very winnable for iBUYPOWER. But with DaZeD and Steel on the sidelines, the team exited the tournament in the group stages once again.
Almost conquering Milan
"I don't think he spent enough time learning and understanding the European teams," – Steel on DaZeD and his struggles against European competition 'Reflections' with steel
Unlike North American events, European events never went well for iBUYPOWER. That would all change in what would become one of the most notable results in the career of DaZeD. At the FACEIT League Season 2 Finals in Milan, iBUYPOWER would end up taking 2nd place, only falling short to the best team of all time, Fnatic. In the group stages, iBUYPOWER would go 1-1 against Dignitas, defeating them 16-3 on Dust2, but losing 13-16 on Nuke. Along with taking Fnatic to the limit, the 16-3 would become very important, as iBUYPOWER advanced from the group stage due to having a much better round difference than Dignitas.
But the group stages were not the most notable part of the story. In the semifinals, iBUYPOWER would go up against the French superstars, LDLC. After a crazy overtime game on Inferno and a close match on Dust2, iBUYPOWER took the series 2-0 in a big upset. The French team wouldn’t lose to a North American team for nearly a year, until they lost to Cloud9, right before they changed their roster due to underperformance.
"I honestly watched more demos than I've ever watched before… I literally knew what they were gonna do every single round” – DaZeD on defeating LDLC at FACEIT LAN. 'Reflections' with DaZeD
As previously mentioned, iBUYPOWER would fall short in the finals against Fnatic, but the team had accomplished what no other North American team would achieve for nearly a year; making the finals of an international tournament.
While DaZeD wasn't known for his in-depth tactics, he would base his teams around a pick-based style, taking advantage of the skills of his team, and his own. Even though the likes of Cloud9 and Team Liquid have surpassed his results, it’s important to look at the context of the results. The ESEA wins and FACEIT Finals came when North American CS:GO lacked funding. At a time where North American CS:GO only had two teams even worth mentioning. iBUYPOWER never even received a salary for their work. Despite that, DaZeD and his team defeated European competition on multiple occasions, while also remaining dominant on home soil.
While people might define his career by the match-fixing scandal, his career should not be defined by one mistake. Because DaZeD is one of the greatest and most successful in-game leaders in North American CS:GO history, and his accomplishments speak for themselves.
How do you feel about DaZeD's career? Comment below your thoughts!