NiKo: "I hope that if the AUG is not nerfed enough that they try and destroy it completely"
FaZe came to the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals off of the back of a semi-final run at DreamHack Masters Dallas, where they were eliminated after a close two-map series against ENCE. In Montpellier, FaZe started out with victories over TYLOO and North, but a group stage winners bracket final loss to mousesports and quarter-final loss to G2 cut their run short.
HLTV.org talked to NiKo about the team's losses in the tournament to mousesports and G2, what FaZe will need to keep progressing and find a better version of the team moving forward—which includes working on the map pool and playing advantageous situations better—, and closed out the interview with Valve's AUG nerf the day after the Bosnian player started to use it on LAN matches.
You lost to mousesports, who have been really hot lately, and G2, who were maybe not as rated but made the final and are playing better than expected. Are you taking it hard or is that somewhat of a relief?
We're definitely not feeling good about losing to these teams, especially because of the expectations we had coming into this tournament. We had really good preparation and after winning the first game pretty convincingly, even if it was against TYLOO and they did a bit of a comeback, we felt good playing and the mood in the team was good. I felt like we were going to have a really deep run at this event.
Losing to mousesports didn't really matter to us a lot because we kind of gambled on the Vertigo pick since they hadn't played it. We had already secured playoffs, so losing to them wasn't as hard as people may think, because of karrigan and all that. It may mean something to him because he was the one removed from the team, I understand that, but losing to G2 was unacceptable, they've been playing better and better, as you said, but that was the worst we played since we brought NEO on, and maybe even since we had AdreN. This was one of the worst showings from us this year, I don't know what caused that result but it wasn't us playing and we were really disappointed losing to them. There's a lot of stuff we can take away from that match, so hopefully we'll improve from there.
You had been looking like you were finding your game. Maybe not back to the best version of FaZe, but it did appear as if you were moving forward. How do you feel with NEO on the team?
As you said, we kind of found our game, the way we want to play, the way everyone feels comfortable playing, but once we came to this event and lost to mousesports and G2 it didn't feel like we were playing that game. It feels good when we play practice, the way we approach the game, we're kind of on the same page when we play, but these two games at this particular event, it was just really off and I'm not sure what the reason for that is.
So you found how you want to play, what can you do to be able to solidify it?
The most important thing for us right now is to expand our map pool. There's one map we feel comfortable picking and that's Dust2, but on the rest of maps we're not comfortable. There are some maps we can play, but on most maps we're just not prepared enough. We're always forced to pick Dust2 because it's our best map, so we can never punish the other teams. Especially against G2, we were forced to pick our best map, which is also their best map, and that just felt wrong, especially when you go into it after having lost on Train.
I think our biggest problem now is the map pool because we can't outplay the opponents in the veto which already starts to hurt our confidence. That's the first thing we have to work on when we get home from this event. The other thing we really messed up at this event was losing way too many rounds with a man advantage, and that cost us the event at DreamHack Masters Dallas, as well, the losses to Liquid and ENCE, so those are the two key things to work on.
Cologne is up next, one of the bigger events on the calendar. How important is it to do good there for FaZe?
It's definitely the most important event of the season after Katowice, we're going to give everything. Our expectations aren't to win the event, I just hope that we play better CS than here and than in Dallas. I really believe that we can do some real damage against the best teams in the world: Liquid, Astralis, and even ENCE and Vitality now, as well. As I said, just find our game again, expand our map pool, and I believe we can beat any of these teams.
Let's close it out with the AUG. You started playing it and the next day it gets nerfed...
I've been playing the AUG since I got back from Dallas, so it's not exactly the first day I played it, but it was funny. I was watching something and all of a sudden I got some random tweets, and I was like, "did it really get nerfed as soon as I started playing it on the first day of the event?" I didn't know if I had to be happy about it or sad.
No, but really, I'm happy that they nerfed it. I don't know how good the nerf is because I haven't tried it yet since we played with the old patch here, but I hope that if it's not nerfed enough that they try and destroy it completely because that weapon is just not skilled. It feels wrong to watch people play with it. I don't know, I just don't like it at all and I hope they nerf it completely [laughs].