FaZe Clan shut down critics to power past Cloud9 to win Pro League and claim the Intel Grand Slam

A 392-day journey comes to a close.

Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL

The international CS:GO team of karrigan has managed to secure their first trophy since the player break, with some of the strongest-ever individual performances on display by the squad’s young trio of ropz, broky and Twistzz. This victory, coupled with their triumphs at Katowice, Pro League season 15 and Cologne last year, makes them the fourth team to claim the Intel Grand Slam’s $1 million bonus prize in the competition’s history.

Though the recent months in elite-level competitive CS:GO were more about the emergence of G2 and Heroic as title contenders, FaZe could only fade into the background so much with the level of talent they had on display. As questions began to crop up about karrigan’s recurring “honeymoon periods” with his teams and the future prospects of an unchanged lineup that went nine months without winning a trophy, they silenced the doubters in style to become deserved winners of the seventeenth season of the ESL Pro League.

Related: ESL Pro League CS:GO season 17: Scores, brackets and results

With a near-flawless run to their name apart from a seed decider match against Vitality in the groups, FaZe put up progressively more impressive performances along the way to the grand final, where they met up with their nemesis, Cloud9, for a date with destiny.

Veteran CS:GO fans may remember the 2018 Boston Major’s incredible grand final, where the sky blue org snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the expense of karrigan’s first FaZe lineup, but there was more recent history to consider.

The ex-Gambit squad has gotten the better of the new-look roster on multiple occasions in the past year, denying them the Grand Slam back in Dallas and playing a key role in their downfall at the IEM Rio Major where they would end up eliminated in the group stage, shocking the world. They would also go on to defeat them in the quarterfinals of the previous Pro League season, further cementing themselves as a key rival.

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With a five-map marathon to determine the winner this time, experience and stamina proved to be the key. FaZe exorcised their demons on Overpass in a close win, the venue of their defeat to Cloud9 back in Rio, combining eight T and CT rounds to secure a 16-13 victory on their opponents’ first map pick.

With Inferno up next, the map where FaZe had an unblemished record in recent months, the CIS squad was up against it, and the way broky led the charge, not recording a single death for the first quarter of the map, soon showed why.

FaZe raced off to a 9-0 lead on the CT side and picked up two more along the way before half-time, and the pistol round win, and the subsequent conversion on the T side meant that their victory was only a matter of time despite Ax1le’s individual heroics. Cloud9 couldn’t even break double digits as the map ended with a 16-9 scoreline, meaning it was reverse sweep or bust for nafany’s men.

The sky blue outfit showed new signs of life and resilience on Mirage: despite Faze’s four-round streak to start things off on the CT side, they wrestled back control and kept a lid on their opponents’ resurgence, keeping things at an even keel with an 8-7 scoreline in favor of FaZe at the end of the half. Once again, karrigan’s men won the pistol and the conversion, but they couldn’t hold a candle to C9’s gun rounds on the map. Even though broky and ropz posted highlight after highlight, only one more round win was on the cards for them as the CIS squad held firm and took a 16-11 win to keep the series alive.

Ancient was next on the agenda, FaZe’s second map pick despite their heavy defeat to NAVI just a few days prior. Cloud9 finally claimed their second pistol round of the series but couldn’t find a way to convert, making it all the more impressive that they eventually found a way to break through the defenses after falling behind 6-2. With five straight round wins, they managed to keep things close again, with a hope of another Mirage-like turnaround.

This time, it wasn’t to be, as another pistol round loss marked the beginning of the end. Five straight T round wins broke the back of C9’s resistance, who could only chain together four on the trot to respond before Twistzz, the North American on a mission to become the only two-time Intel Grand Slam winner in CS:GO history, decided enough was enough and went ham on the A site to end it all.

With this victory, FaZe returned to the summit of CS:GO esports, just as we’re getting ready to close this chapter of competitive Counter-Strike. With CS2 right around the corner, and just one Major to go in this version of the game, this Intel Grand Slam win will go down as one of the last great accomplishments of this decade of the franchise.


Luci Kelemen
Having made a career out of writing about video games as early as 2015, I have amassed a track record of excellence since then in covering a wide variety of subjects from card games like Hearthstone and MTG to first-person shooters, business, chess and, more. Unsurprisingly, if I'm not busy writing about one of them, I'm probably playing them.