After making it to its fourth grand final of the year, the win that had been eluding FaZe Clan all year long was finally realized. In doing so, the dreams of North America's Team Liquid were crushed in what ended in a 3-0 sweep at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on the final day of ESL One New York.
This was a win that FaZe Clan absolutely needed to secure. After narrowly missing out on tournament win after tournament win, the pressure was mounting. That pressure came to a head with the 15th-16th place finish at the PGL Major Krakow in July. In an effort to turn around the negative momentum, FaZe Clan added Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovacs and Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer to try and turn things around. While the new team struggled initially, finishing 9th-12th at DreamHack Masters Malmo, it seems as though everything has all fallen into place.
Not only did FaZe pick up the win in New York, it did so in dominant fashion. Throughout the group stages on Friday, the semifinals on Saturday and the grand finals on Sunday, the team didn't drop a single map. While it got a bit hairy in Game 2 on Overpass in the grand finals, FaZe stabilized late and picked up the 16-14 win. Games 2 and 3 weren't even close, with FaZe winning 16-3 on Inferno and 16-4 on Mirage, respectively.
While history says new players take some time adjusting into new settings, that wasn't the case for FaZe in this series. Both olofmeister and GuardiaN had their moments all throughout the day to help their team pick up the win. Whether it was olofmeister showing off his magic in the pistol round of Game 3 with a triple kill, or GuardiaN leading the series with 31 kills on the AWP, the newcomers certainly held their weight. Of particular note, GuardiaN has now won this event two years in row, as he was part of the Natus Vincere team that took home the top prize last year.
For as good as they were, however, it ultimately was Nikola "NiKo" Kovač who led the way for FaZe. That comes as no surprise since NiKo has been the driving force of this team since he joined in February. He finished with a stellar 68/31 KD (kills/deaths) in the series to help his team secure the sweep.
On the other side of this series, Team Liquid is likely feeling a bit down about the sour finish to what had been an overall surprising run for the Americans. For all the hype coming off a brilliant semifinals performance where it took down the juggernauts of SK Gaming, Liquid was extremely quiet on Sunday. The team only managed to secure seven rounds total between Games 1 and 3, while Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski seemed to be the only one awake Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn.
Despite the loss, this was still a story of the continued progression of Team Liquid. This was their second grand final appearance in a row after facing mousesports in the grand finals of ESG Tour Mykonos 2017 last weekend. The team may have fallen asleep at the wheel on Sunday, but FaZe is currently one of the best, if not the best, rosters on paper. There is certainly light at the end of the tunnel for Liquid.
As a whole, the North American Counter-Strike scene looks to be on a bit of an uptick, as the region saw two teams in the top-4 of this tournament. That's not something that we've seen in quite some time. With Cloud9 and Team Liquid on deck at the ELEAGUE Premier over the next two weeks, there is plenty of time to continue the resurgence of North America.