Examining broky’s road to FaZe
If you are one of many who had no idea who broky was when the news came out, you shouldn't feel bad about it. Putting it straight, the 18-year-old Latvian simply isn't a big name in the scene. He has played just shy of 6,000 hours of CS:GO, attended just six small LAN events, and, as of the writing of this article, is followed on Twitter by merely 1,810 people. So how did he get the chance to trial for FaZe?
broky's first recorded HLTV match was on October 20 of 2018, when he attended the BESL Pro Season 2 Finals with the Latvian team Wolsung, which he would end up winning while averaging a 1.14 rating. His path to that point is very "new-gen": broky made a name for himself through a PUG system instead of climbing the lower-tier local teams like was the norm in the old days. pro100's Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis, broky's teammate at the time, remembers his breakout:
"I actually didn’t notice broky's growth in the local scene, it was so fast that I only heard rumors that there was an insane talent in Latvia and the next thing you know he is already in FPL competing against the best players in the world. That’s when other players and I were truly interested in him as a player, that’s why we called him to play the BESL league with Wolsung." - YEKINDAR
As an unproven player, he, of course, had a fair share of cheating accusations hurled his way and the tag of a LAN dodger, but after the BESL Pro S2 Finals and the following Baltic Esports League Finals — where he was the best player with a 1.62 rating —, all of that went away. He established himself as an AWPer in Wolsung with 56.52% of his kills being with the Big Green, despite roles mostly being up in the air in that team. "broky was really a level above us with the AWP, that’s why we asked him to play the usual AWP roles," YEKINDAR recalls, adding that broky is a very flexible player who can also lurk and play as a secondary AWP if needed.
That is more or less what broky's role became when he joined Epsilon in February of 2019 as the team were looking to restructure after the departures of Benjamin "blameF" Bremer, Aaron "frei" Frei, and Daniel "djL" Narancic. Teodor "SPELLAN" Nikolov, the squad's in-game leader, noticed broky while playing FPL and offered him a spot:
"At that time I played a lot of FPL and I was playing with broky almost every day. I like working with young players with potential and I saw that broky could become really really good if he gained some experience as he was already playing pretty well in FPL. I decided to ask him to join us and he accepted instantly." - SPELLAN
Despite his limited experience, broky fit into his role and "was doing pretty well from the very beginning in the team", SPELLAN recalls. He also noticed that the Latvian "felt really confident on the AWP as CT" despite having limited access to it as Joey "CRUC1AL" Steusel was the main sniper, while Nils "k1to" Gruhne and SPELLAN also liked to wield the weapon from time to time. In the mind of the Bulgarian caller, the only thing that broky needs to succeed is to gain experience and improve his mental game so he can avoid tilting in tough situations and "bring more positivity all the time, no matter what happens".
With Epsilon, broky peaked at 22nd in the world rankings on April 15th, shortly after the Charleroi Esports LAN, where his team finished 3rd-4th and beat G2 in a BO1 group stage match. Other than that, broky's notable results with Epsilon included winning ESEA MDL Season 30, a non-promotion season, and placing 5-6th at Copenhagen Games 2019 and Good Game League 2019.
The team started to taper off after k1to, one of the stars alongside CRUC1AL, was transferred to Sprout. Despite the roster being released by the Belgium-based organization in July, broky kept playing with the team until early September, when rumors about him joining FaZe started growing louder.
Even though the European squad managed some decent results during his tenure in the team, broky never caught the spotlight as he was a middle-of-the-pack player, rarely topping the scoreboard or having stellar performances, which reflects in his 1.08 rating over 2019 and a relatively low impact rating at 1.02.
Where broky really made a name for himself was in FPL, for which he qualified as early as July 2018. "He came to FPL quite 'silently', since at that time he was unknown to the professional and semi-professional scene, but we had big expectations looking at some stats he had shown during his qualification journey," remarked Miloš Nedeljkovic, one of the key people behind the FACEIT Pro League. broky has been very active in FPL, averaging 3.5 matches played per day; his high placings have also earned him just under $20,000, a significant chunk of change for a young player still trying to break out.
Unlike some other FPL talents, broky does not tend to rack up huge numbers of kills game after game, but he still stands out in the all-time FPL leaderboards, where he is placed second behind Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, boasting a high number of games played and an impressive win rate.
"Over the months he became better and better, culminating in August 2019, when he had one of the most outstanding months we have ever seen from a player in the FPL — 69% win rate across 119 matches —, and that was also the month we had the highest number of professional players playing in the FPL." - Miloš Nedeljkovic
broky's excellent month in FPL couldn't have come at a better time. FaZe, whose experiments with veteran players such as Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev and Filip "NEO" Kubski had produced middling results at best, turned towards a young and, crucially, contract-free talent, and gave the Latvian a shot.
As a player from the Baltic region who broke out through FPL, broky has earned comparisons to Robin "ropz" Kool by many, including Nedeljkovic: "In terms of attitude and discipline on the server, according to many FPL players, he reminds a lot of ropz, taking FPL very seriously, playing slow and smart". However, their styles and skillsets in the game are very different. Don't expect broky to meticulously clear angles on a lurk and display pixel-perfect crosshair placement as the Estonian star usually does. broky is definitely capable of lurking, but lacks a layer of finesse and composure ropz has always had, even in his rookie year.
Glancing over broky's statistics raises questions about his skill levels and doesn't make him look like a convincing pick for a team of FaZe's caliber; a 1.08 rating across almost 200 maps, with most of the opposition coming from the third tier of European Counter-Strike, is not a sign of an up-and-coming star. broky does not have big carry performances that often — he has recorded just two 30-bombs in regulation this year, against Spirit (16-14) and AVEZ (16-13) —, and he doesn't stand out as a big clutcher or an entry player either, reflected in his low impact rating, 1.02.
But FaZe doesn't need broky to be most of those things. What they need from him is a stable player who can fill in the gaps and not take up too much space, and that is exactly what he was good at in Epsilon. Playing anchor positions as CT such as B on Mirage or Ivy on Train, broky was content with jump peeking and jiggling without overextending, rarely going for risky plays even when he picked up the secondary AWP. On the offense, he alternated between passive lurks, such as B apartments on Mirage, and the second-entry role, such as following up on k1to while taking map control on Overpass. broky is a player that will allow Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and the rest to do what they want on the map and will be comfortable doing so.
While we won't be sure about how the AWPing will be handled in FaZe until we see them in action — as they now have four players proficient in using the gun —, according to rumours, the sniper was mostly used by broky and Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer in practice. Even if broky becomes the main AWP of the team, the game surely won't be built around him, with a more Liquid-esque approach to the AWP to be expected from FaZe going forward.
If there is one thing broky will surely have to improve, that is his utility usage. Over the course of 2019, he has averaged merely 0.03 flash assists per round, with a 57% success rate per flash. As someone who is looking to facilitate the stars on his team, those numbers must go up. For the short term, he might be able to make up for that with his good pistol play, as he is averaging a remarkable 1.22 pistol round rating this year.
In our recent interview with NiKo, the Bosnian said he is convinced that broky will fit in well. His future will depend on how well he does this week in New York and in FaZe's upcoming outings in the ESL Pro League. Even though broky has been stable no matter the opponent he plays or the environment he is in, this will be a different beast. Playing your first Big Event alongside and against players you looked up to not long ago is immensely difficult, but he needs to step up to the task and deliver to earn the respect of his new teammates. If he can't, his fate will be no different from that of Jorgen "cromen" Robertsen, who was left behind despite helping the team to pick up some respectable results in 2018, including an ESL One title.