FaZe Clan win first big CS2 tournament at IEM Sydney

by Brian Bencomo

While most of North America slept, it was the dawn of a new era for NA Counter-Strike as FaZe Clan faced Complexity at IEM Sydney on Sunday. After months of waiting for the release of Counter-Strike 2, fans got to see the pros in action playing the successor to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. FaZe are no strangers to winning big tournaments, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen Complexity get this far in a big CS tournament. Here’s a recap of how things went down this weekend and some other key takeaways from the IEM Sydney final.

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FaZe win first big CS2 tournament

The current iteration of the FaZe roster has achieved tremendous success over the past two years. They have been one of the most successful teams at the end of the CS:GO era with wins at IEM Katowice, IEM Cologne and the Antwerp Major in 2022, and an ESL Pro League win that gave them a coveted IEM Grand Slam title this year. It’s fitting that they won the first big tournament in the CS2 era. It’s perhaps the cherry on top of the accomplishments of this FaZe roster, as Dust2 reported shortly after the win that Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken will be departing and going back to Team Liquid, with whom he also had great success and won the last IEM Sydney in 2019.


FaZe had a gritty run down under as they lost their opening matchup to GamerLegion, which dropped them to the lower bracket in Group A. They won three straight best-of-threes by 2-1 scores against Team Vitality, Natus Vincere and GamerLegion to advance to the playoffs. In the playoffs, they beat ENCE and MOUZ -- who were fresh off winning the latest ESL Pro League -- to reach the final, where they beat Complexity. Complexity took Map 1 on Overpass 13-11, but then FaZe won Map 2 on Nuke 13-10. Map 3 went to overtime, where FaZe came out on top 19-16.

HLTV named Håvard “rain” Nygaard the MVP of the tournament with a 1.2 rating, 0.75 kills per round (KPR) and a +35 kill/death differential. Helvijs “broky” Saukants also had a very nice showing with a tournament-best +66 K/D differential and a 1.24 rating, which was among the top five per HLTV.


Complexity have stellar showing

With their second-place finish in Sydney, Complexity had their best showing at a big CS tournament since winning the Blast Spring European finals in June 2020. You have to go back even further to see the last time Complexity had such a strong showing at an S-tier offline Counter-Strike tournament; in July 2018, Complexity won the Americas Minor Championship in London.

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It appears the addition of former Team Liquid veteran Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski, who joined Complexity in June, is starting to bear fruit. Among all players at IEM Sydney, ELIGE had the third-best rating (1.25), K/D differential (+40), damage per round (87.6) and damage differential per round (+15.2), according to HLTV. Complexity have surpassed Team Liquid as the best North American Counter-Strike team, and they are now ranked No. 7 in the world by the ESL World Rankings.

Photo credit: theMakku / HLTV

All-North American showdown

Speaking of NA, a North American player was bound to win the first big CS tournament as the IEM Sydney final featured at least one NA player on either side of the stage, as North American caster/host Mike “DarfMike” Winnick pointed out. On one side you had ELIGE, Ricky "floppy" Kemery, Michael "Grim" Wince and North America’s best CS2 team in Complexity. On the other side you had Twistzz, who ended up lifting the IEM Sydney trophy. Of course, even though the rest of FaZe’s roster is made up of European players, FaZe is a North American organization, both before and after recent reports ...


The Gamesquare Cup

It’s ironic FaZe and Complexity faced off in the final, because the two orgs’ futures are now entwined. FaZe’s win came a day after news broke that Gamesquare, backed by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and also the parent company of Complexity, would be acquiring FaZe. FaZe’s Counter-Strike team and its other esports teams have found tremendous success the past couple years, but it remains to be seen what kind of impact GameSquare’s ownership will have on esports operations at FaZe.

Read more: The top 10 esports orgs in the world in 2023

According to HLTV, GameSquare’s acquisition of FaZe could present a conflict of interest if/when the two Counter-Strike teams are in the same tournament. ESL, the biggest Counter-Strike tournament operator, currently doesn’t allow an organization to field multiple teams in the same competition. Valve has a similar rule when it comes to teams competing in Majors.

Lead photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL

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