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Twistzz of Fate: Looking towards the FaZe rifler’s debut vs Liquid

Scott Robertson

The way the pieces are falling into place is purely poetic. Two teams each taking on new forms as they enter into a new era. Multiple clashes of former teammates steeped in Counter-Strike history.

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Twistzz will face old side Liquid in his FaZe debut (Photo courtesy of Igor Bezborodov via StarLadder)

Group C of BLAST Spring 2021 has an unreal amount of shared history. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and Marcelo “coldzera” David, former teammates on group member MiBR, face off against each other on different teams altogether. FalleN finds himself on the Team Liquid that he and coldzera denied majors to in 2016. The main source of firepower on those Liquid teams, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, has ascended to best-in-the-world status on Natus Vincere. FaZe’s best shot so far at winning a major unraveled at the hands of Liquid’s Jake “Stewie2K” Yip during his stint with Cloud9. And we can’t forget his time spent with coldzera and FalleN in MiBR.

The connecting threads between these teams and players are unlike those in any of the BLAST groups. But the newest thread breaking unraveled is Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken making his FaZe debut against Liquid. After nearly four years with Liquid, Twistzz enters a new project still in development. Before he makes his debut, we want to look at highlights from important matches he’s played against the other Group C members. This will help us get a sense of what kind of player he’s become, what that gives FaZe going forward, and what Liquid should expect.

Ruthless Aggression

This isn’t just a phase that defined an era of pro wrestling, it’s defined the play style of Twistzz. With players like Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Keith “NAF” Markovic providing reliability, Twistzz was afforded the opportunity to be more aggressive with his peaks and pushes. Twistzz would get the entries, while EliGE would be called upon to get the trades if needed.

Let’s go back to July 2019, ESL One Cologne. Team Liquid is in a fight with Na’Vi in the semifinals. Twistzz and EliGE close out the first half together, notching an important ninth round for Liquid.

Smoke cover and flashes support Twistzz as he drops from A short into CT ramp. Despite NAF losing the AWP duel, he relays the info to Twistzz who knocks flamie’s head off. Then he holds the angle to punish Zeus as well. Twistzz and EliGE push the site together, and electronic is left with too many heads to click. As a cherry on top, Twistzz grabs a smart hiding spot to use Boombl4’s shadow as he walks into double doors. But EliGE and Twistzz were versatile and were as dangerous on a CT force buy as they were on T-side full buy.

After Stewie hits a bonkers Scout headshot onto s1mple, Twistzz and EliGE waste no time in getting aggressive. Twistzz notches two impressive Deagle headshots, and mows down a third to lock down an aggressive force buy round. With no cash in the bank, EliGE and Twistzz still felt comfortable pushing all the way up mid just from one pick by Stewie. But this isn’t unique to just late rounds or against Na’Vi.

Same month, different setting: BLAST Los Angeles. FaZe take the first round on Inferno, but Liquid look to stop their momentum by putting the lone AK in Twistzz’s hands. EliGE is there with Twistzz to get trades but it doesn’t matter. Twistzz whips from balcony to library back to site and gets three headshots. Liquid takes the round, resets the FaZe economy, leading to a 9-6 half for Liquid and the eventual win. But even without the aid of flashes or trading teammates, Twistzz can still pull out heroics.

This clutch against MiBR is actually, somehow, not that impressive. It’s essentially a shooting gallery. Twistzz is smart enough not to reload after the triple and know what angle the final man is coming from. A clutch is a clutch, and it’s not uncommon to see even the pros whiff on shots like these. Twistzz does no such thing.

What Twistzz Provides to FaZe’s Next Phase

FaZe Clan’s CS:GO roster has undergone a plethora of big changes the past few months. They lost their star and their coach, then pulled the plug on the Kjaerbye experiment while bringing in Twistzz. More changes are apparently inbound too, as coldzera said in a interview that another player will replace the retiring Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson in the next couple of months. All eyes are locked on Finn “karrigan” Andersen, whose mousesports contract is expected to expire around that time.

With Kjaerbye’s play being consistently mediocre before and after NiKo’s departure, it was clear it just wasn’t going to work on FaZe. Recently, he’s had very few streaks of good matches, and his last handful of series were marred by some real duds. This included just five kills against Complexity on Inferno, and just seven against MiBR in his final map with FaZe. Even the 2020 version of Twistzz, which was a step down from his 2018 and 2019 versions, is an upgrade.

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Kjaerbye’s string of misfortunes continues as he’s moved to the FaZe bench (Photo via DreamHack)

Assuming karrigan joins the group in March or April, the expectations for the new look FaZe should be exceptionally high. Karrigan is regarded as one of the game’s best in-game leaders, and his showing at cs_summit 7 proves he can provide more than leadership. After a disappointing showing at the BLAST Fall Finals, karrigan turns into “carry-gan” at summit, notching a 1.23 player rating throughout the event. This was his highest rating for an entire event since 2014.

Karrigan’s presence as an in-game leader should bring out the best of all the FaZe players. Twistzz should pull out of his slump that ended 2020, Helvijs “broky” Saukants should take another step forward in his development, and coldzera can focus on fragging. Coldzera was the consensus best player in the world at one point. Even if he’s not at that level before, he can certainly do better than what he’s shown recently. Given that they’re still at least a month away from karrigan potentially joining, it means a different approach from Liquid when they meet.

All eyes on FaZe vs Liquid

Team Liquid’s scouting report on FaZe heading into BLAST is a tricky one to nail down. They’re facing a former teammate playing with a new team. They’re being led by a player who’s not going to be the full-time in-game leader. And the AWPing is being done by a player on the verge of retirement. But this doesn’t look like a team that Liquid could stomp, it looks more like a team Liquid could underestimate.

At the BLAST Global Final, Liquid fans got exactly what they wanted to see. FalleN capable on the AWP, NAF thriving in his transition to rifler, while EliGE and Grim play well alongside them. Liquid may think they know Twistzz very well, and they should, but that street goes both ways. He knows Liquid very well. And if FaZe replaces Kjaerbye’s production with Twistzz’s, they’re already in a better position even with olofmeister struggling.

For Liquid, the plan is to continue to ride the hot streak of NAF. Even if it’s not at the same ridiculously high level as it was at BLAST. The in-game leading/AWP combination of Stewie and FalleN should outperform the coldzera and olofmeister duo. For FaZe, use either broky or rain in the same way 2019 Liquid used EliGE alongside Twistzz. Put out smokes and flashes for Twistzz to make entry plays, and have other riflers with him to clean up.

FaZe vs Liquid should be a very fun series, with a good deal of friendly trash talk between Twistzz and Liquid beforehand. But even if this series itself isn’t the best, it’s still exciting because of the near futures for both of these rosters. If everything goes well with both teams’ plans, this could easily be a rematch we see in the playoffs in Stockholm later in the year.