North American esports organisation FaZe Clan became the first ever international roster to win a CS:GO Major as they beat Natus Vincere 2-0 at the PGL Antwerp Major.
It was something of a redemption arc for FaZe’s veteran in-game leader Finn ‘karrigan‘ Andersen and FaZe Clan’s longest serving member Håvard ‘rain‘ Nygaard, both of whom were part of the infamous bottle-job back in Boston 2018 that saw FaZe choke in the grand finals and lose the Major to Cloud9. This time around, though, there was no choking in Antwerp as rain and karrigan both led from the front to sweep Natus Vincere (NaVi) in a comprehensive manner.
For Natus Vincere, who were the defending Major champions after taking home their first ever Major last time around in Stockholm, it wasn’t going to be back-to-back Majors. The Ukrainian team tried but on the day in Antwerp, there was no stopping FaZe.
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Finn ‘karrigan‘ Andersen, who became the oldest Major winner at 32, spoke about his emotions after the game, the change that had happened from four years ago and what keeps him going. He stated:
“I’m stronger than I was in Boston and I think that showed today. Whatever we’ve been through with this team, [we have] a positive mindset. We can lose a 1v5 and we can win the next round.
“Never back down, it doesn’t matter how hard life hits you. All I wanted in my life is to make history, an international team to win a major, and we did it in here. I’m proud to call all these my teammates and I’m just so happy where I am right now. FaZe is my family. Keep making history, that’s what we’re here for and that’s why I grind CS every day.“
In the best-of-three finals, FaZe picked Inferno as their choice, while Navi went with Nuke, a map they were practically untouchable on in the last Major. With Mirage, Overpass, Vertigo and Dust2 removed, the newest map in the Active Duty pool, Ancient, was chosen as the decider map.
It was a thunderous start for FaZe on Inferno on the T-side with FaZe going 8-0 up in no time. It looked like it would be a clean sweep, but thanks to some heroic play from b1t, Perfecto and s1mple, NaVi managed to close out the first half at 5-10. rain kicked off the second half with a pistol round ace and it was 12-5 in no time as FaZe mopped up the eco round as well. It looked like it would be a short map on Inferno but b1t and Perfecto stepped up for NaVi and the Ukrainian team managed to pull in clutch after clutch to not only come back but take map point in the 28th round at 15-13. It looked like FaZe would bottle yet another Major final lead on Inferno just as they had done in 2018, but a crucial triple kill from FaZe’s IGL karrigan meant FaZe took the map to round 30 and managed to take it to overtime the following round.
FaZe took their two rounds on the CT side, while it was once again Perfecto who did everything he could to pull one back for NaVi. Heading into the second half of OT1, FaZe were unstoppable on the T-side and they swept Navi 2-0 to take Inferno 19-16 to go 1-0 up in the grand finals.
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Heading into Navi’s pick of Nuke, it was rain who got things underway. The Norwegian was just unstoppable. rain had multi-kill after multi-kill in the opening few rounds on Nuke that saw FaZe go 5-1 up. electroNic and b1t managed to pull back a couple of rounds for NaVi, but rain was in another league on Nuke and helped FaZe finish the first half 10-5 in the North American team’s favour. FaZe took the pistol yet again, but NaVi managed to make the force-buy work that saw them close the gap at 11-8. It looked like they were just getting in their stride and would take us to a third and final map, but the veteran karrigan out-called NaVi round after round and then with rain all over the map causing all sorts of chaos for NaVi, FaZe managed to sweep them aside with four back-to-back rounds that saw them take the map 16-10, with rain ending the map with a total of 30 kills only on Nuke and 52 overall. Understandably, rain was given the PGL Major Antwerp MVP award.
Håvard “rain” Nygaard, the 27-year-old from FaZe who won the MVP award, said:
“It feels so amazing, I don’t even know how to explain it. I’m still a little bit in shock, I don’t think I realised myself yet that we actually won the Major. Even two, three months before this event, I told my friends at home to come to the Major, we’re going to win this for sure, I just kept telling them.
“I realised right after we won that round, I was like, ‘oh sh-, that was just like Boston, that was a risk. It worked out perfectly this time, ropz is the ultimate lurker on A and he got good timing on b1t, so it played out good.”
It was a long overdue win for FaZe, but it didn’t come easily. They suffered a loss in the opening match of the Legends stage against ENCE and were up against it but managed to come back strongly against Bad News Eagles, Cloud9 and Copenhagen Flames to make it to the playoffs where they were put to the test by Ninjas in Pyjamas and Spirit before having to take on NaVi.
With the Major in the bag, the World No. 1 team have now won three back-to-back trophies in 2022 and will look to continue their dominance as they look to build the ‘FaZe Era’.