ropz: FaZe Clan’s Secret Weapon
The professional world has two currencies: cash and experience. Those looking to build careers swear by gaining experience for the cash to follow. For Robin “ropz” Kool, it worked the other way round. He had the cash, but the experience of taking his game to the next level – something not even a bigger paycheque could give him – left him searching for options. He had a decision to make.
Does he join a bigger franchise and take with it the comforts that come with financial security? To many, it may have been a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want the extra cash? After all, he came from a family with modest means. The other option was to choose signing with FaZe Clan and take with him the experience that would potentially bring with it the uncertainty of playing for a team very much in the developmental stage.
He chose the second option and the rest, as they say, is history.
That it needed a pay cut and an unending drive of motivation, despite the deep personal loss his father to a suicide, to help deliver his first ever MVP award and a title win for his side at the ESL Pro League tells you what has gone into its making.
No amount of money is likely to have given him the same high as standing on the podium with his team’s flag flying high. The 22-year old is now a bonafide superstar in his own right, and ropz’s rise mirrors that of FaZe Clan – it has been meteoric.
ropz’s story is incredible, not least for the manner in which he has managed to channel his passion. And like most stories, there are many, who have made sacrifices for him to get to where he is. It all began at his small home in Estonia, where he started like any other kid, playing online tournaments and small leagues, and within no time, he was playing against the professionals.
His genius was questioned. His sharp eye was mistaken for cheating, even by people he looked up to. The backlash online was so severe that he nearly called it quits even before his journey had begun. This is when FaceIt, the organisation that runs the FaceIt Pro League, decided to step in. They flew him to London and decided it was for the entire world to see. They asked him to play under supervised conditions. He delivered unfailingly with his razor-sharp precision.
This was a vindication of his abilities. It was a vindication of his mental strength and the battles he had to fight from within. All these qualities are now being mirrored by his team. Now with FaZe Clan, making a mark in the CS:GO arena, adding trophies into his cabinet. With two in the bag, he and the team will now be gunning for a third at the PGL Antwerp Major. “He has found his way, he has found his work and hobby in this game, his way of life,” his mother said.
ropz’s rise is remarkable because of the ease with which he has managed to slip into massive shoes. He has not only filled the void left by Nikola “Niko” Kovac, but he has also quietly left an imprint very unique to him. Ever since he made an entry into the setup, ropz has shown a great desire to be his own man, and not try to be someone else. This has meant ropz hasn’t had to deal with the pressure of expectations that accompanies a player who replaces a champion like Niko.
After all, Niko has been acting as the in-game lead of the team for a better part of three years. Incidentally, Niko himself had taken over the mantle from Finn ‘Karrigan’ Anderson, and his rise up the ranks was exhilarating.
It came at a time when the team needed stability after a succession of ordinary results owing to frequent chopping and changing of rosters. So in many ways, Niko’s exit left a huge void, leaving doubters believing FaZe would struggle. Enter ropz, and a season later, it’s a different story.
In dealing with pressure and expectation in his own way, ropz has exhibited tremendous calmness and composure, which has in turn helped FaZe Clan. That social media is a barometer of sporting frenzy is something no one knows better than ropz.
Niko, too, had to face plenty of backlash especially after a poor year with FaZe at the beginning of the previous season in August, especially the ESL One Cologne and ESL Pro League, where the team finished 9-12th and 13-14th respectively. The negativity, the booting, the trash talk on social media – all affected him. The exit seemed inevitable. For ropz to have come in and delivered the way he has in such a short span of time is truly inspirational.
In all during the ESL Pro League, ropz managed a 1.16 average rating on HLTV and an impact rating of 1.13. In all, FaZe won a whopping 23 maps. In only seven of these maps, ropz had ratings below 1.00. He staved off a serious challenge from Logan “Spinx” Giladi and Helvijs “broky” Saukants for the MVP award.
It’s another jewel in ropz’s crown. From humble beginnings to being a content creator to playing Call Of Duty to now becoming a world beater at CS:GO, it’s been quite a remarkable rise. Yes, he may not have a massive portfolio of teams, but his temperament and two back-to-back awards have set him on the road to glory.
When he won the first MVP medal in 2019 for MOUZ, he may have not imagined the next one would come in 2022. That it has is testament to his abilities and his team’s belief in him.