FaZe discuss LAN play, Gambit game: "I think we handle the pressure a lot better than other teams"
Despite their massive name value, FaZe were outsiders coming into IEM Cologne, not even certain to make it through the Play-In. Things looked grim for the international team, who were ranked 36th in the world and had a meagre 25% match win rate since the addition of Finn "karrigan" Andersen to the lineup.
But on LAN, FaZe have managed to turn things around.
Beating Evil Geniuses and Complexity in the Play-In gave the team much-needed confidence, which they brought over to main event to make a surprise playoff run following victories over Spirit, Vitality, and Heroic.
"We didn't have the goal to win the tournament, but now that we are here, we think we have pretty good chances to make a deep run," karrigan commented at the start of the press conference. "But it is a tough bracket ahead of us."
A lot of answers during the conference revolved around a single theme - pressure.
"Teams with a lot of experience should benefit from being on LAN. Our team has numerous veterans, we have a Major winner here, I'm a Grand Slam winner," Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken said when asked about why FaZe have done better than many expected. "I think we handle the pressure a lot better than other teams and I think it helps us a lot".
The theme was repeated when karrigan talked about the upcoming game against Gambit. The Dane mentioned that he had not played the Russian side in an official yet and that he isn't familiar with what they want to do in vetos, but stressed that his team is the clear underdog.
"I think that no matter how you put it, the pressure is on Gambit," the Danish tactician said. "They are No. 1 in the world, before this tournament we were ranked 36th, it would be a huge disaster for them not to win this match.
"Even if we beat Gambit, we are underdogs in the next game. Every game we play from now on, we are in the underdog role, and I'm happy to take that, it will relieve a lot of pressure from this team after we've made it this far. If people play freely, the pressure is on Gambit's side, I think that is where we have our opening."
Talking about the playstyle matchup, karrigan admitted he has practice matches to go off of, "but when the game is live it is always different, the pressure is higher."
Touching on Gambit's individual quality, karrigan hailed Vladislav "nafany" Gorshkov's impact but still named Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov and Dmitry "sh1ro" Sokolov as the biggest threats. "They are the young electronic and s1mple, right? Those two are in my opinion really strong players."
"A team of five superstars" is how FaZe were referred to for such a long time, and although this iteration of the team certainly doesn't fit that description, it was still interesting to hear karrigan put Gambit ahead of his team in terms of individual talent.
"The way we have to beat them is as a team - individually they are really good," he said. "We can obviously play them on that [individual] level as well, but we need to have a good gameplan coming into the game, try to see where their weaknesses are. I don't think they have many, but when it comes to LAN, it is a little bit different. [...] It is about finding out where we can pressure them the most, that is where we get a good chance to beat the No. 1 in the world."
FaZe have a glaring issue to solve heading into the playoffs: their lacklustre offensive side. With just 39.3% Terrorist rounds won, they are the second-worst T side team at the event, but karrigan isn't worried.
"Obviously, the T sides haven't been working but I think I've been a key part of why they haven't been working", the in-game leader, who has taken the majority of the opening duels for the team (33.1%), admitted. "I felt there were little nerves, jitters in the team, so I overcompensated way too much, going for the aggressive info plays, kind of putting my teammates in a 4v5 all the time.
"That is something I talked to RobbaN about while rewatching the games. I felt that was way more controlled on the last day against Vitality and Heroic and I felt more control of the game on the T side as well. I just have to have my head in the right place when the game starts and I think we can show a really good T side."
FaZe will try to leverage their experience in a clash against the young No. 1 team Gambit on Friday at 19:15 . karrigan and co. are hoping to continue their underdog run at IEM Cologne with a win in the quarter-finals, although a top-six placement should be enough for them to go into the summer break satisfied.