FaZe Clan suffered a heartbreaking exit at IEM Dallas 2023, losing to ENCE in the semifinals 2-1 off a memorable third map that spanned for nearly 60 rounds in total.
Seemingly every ounce of both teams’ energy was used to decide the winner, which ultimately became ENCE; they would go on to win the entire tournament. Whereas for FaZe, they now begin focusing on competing in BLAST Premier: Spring Final 2023, taking place in Washington, D.C. from June 7 to 11.
One day after FaZe’s semifinal loss to ENCE, BLIX talked to FaZe’s coach Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström, about how the team fared during those multiple overtime periods, his observations from their performance in IEM Dallas, how people might view his legacy in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and more.
FaZe’s memorable semifinal vs ENCE
Pedro Romero, BLIX: I have to start off with what went down last night with that multi-overtime third map in the semifinal series against ENCE. Both teams played to the limit. What went down in that map? What contributed to that craziness?
Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström: It was a long and tough game for everyone involved, but it was also an entertaining game for the spectators. If you look at it from my point of view, of course, it could've gone either way. I think we had our opportunities even before overtime. There was a close round at 14-13 that we should have won. Obviously, we did [sic.] mistakes—everyone does—and in a long game like that, mistakes were going to happen.
It's about handling these mistakes well, and I think we did. I think we gave it our all, and it was a brawl yesterday. Unfortunately, we didn't have any timeouts left after full-time. I think both us and ENCE used all our timeouts during the original time, so there was no time to rest. There was not a single pause. It was playing, playing, playing. It's very hard for IGLs to come up with stuff, but Karrigan was very strong yesterday as well in coming up with great ideas in the end. But unfortunately, we didn't win, of course, and it is what it is.
BLIX: I want to move the attention toward FaZe's performance in IEM Dallas and their playing in front of a pro-FaZe crowd given Twistzz's presence. What was it like playing in front of such a pro-FaZe crowd?
RobbaN: I love it, and I know that all of my players love it as well. The crowd here was amazing. Big props to everyone that was here and cheering for us. I think it was an amazing atmosphere to play in the arena, so thank you to everyone that came here to cheer for us.
Reviewing FaZe Clan’s performance in IEM Dallas 2023
BLIX: FaZe got to the semifinals by taking wins over a resilient EG, Cloud9, Team Liquid, and G2 Esports in the quarterfinals. What's your biggest takeaway from observing this team given that you were coming off a disappointing performance in the Paris Major where you reached the quarterfinals?
RobbaN: We go to every tournament having the goal to win it, and our goal is to go far and deep and win it. That's our main goal, and I know that we can do that. We're always competitive, but I think, as for here, we played better. I think there are signs of improvement from Paris as well, even though in Paris we also had our chances. It's always like that when we play, but I think we're going in the right direction now. We have one more tournament before the player break, and then I'm going to get much-needed rest for the guys and then full focus on next season.
BLIX: Karrigan mentioned in a recent interview with HLTV how the team has been focusing on not doing much during practice and focusing more on relaxing compared to how they prepared for significant events like the Paris Major. As the coach, how much of that shift in increasing rest was emphasized while trying to keep the team in tip-top shape?
RobbaN: What you want to do is avoid players getting burned out. I think that's what the main goal is. It's a very tough schedule that we have. We have tournament to tournament, and there are not many days that we can take off. In terms of preparation, I think we're always coming into every match prepared. We kind of keep doing the same things, but in terms of practice before tournaments, we didn't have much time here.
We had three-plus weeks on the road with the Major, and now we have six to seven days at home. We tried to take a few days off, but that's it. You can't update the playbook these days. You need to be in shape individually and do the best you can, but there's no time to update the playbook. Of course, that's a big problem, but it's more or less the same for most of the teams.
BLIX: When it comes to observing and reflecting on what little time you have at your disposal before the next event [BLAST Premier: Spring Final] in Washington, D.C., what aspect is your biggest positive and negative from this tournament?
RobbaN: I think on the plus side, we are playing better together now than in the other tournament. We had a little bit of a problem before where we had too much distance between each other when we go into a bomb site. It was not really synched, and we've been too much alone. Now, it's better. We can still obviously do improvements there, but I think it's very important that we stick together and get trades a bit more.
I think that's been a problem for us this year: that we've not been trading as great as we're supposed to. Other than that, it's about hitting a good peak performance individually for the players. I think we can definitely improve on everything right now, but at the same time, we're going in the right direction.
Reflecting on RobbaN’s time in CS:GO and the coaching bug
BLIX: I want to take the focus outside of this event and focus on your contribution throughout your time in CS:GO. With the Paris Major wrapping up, there's all this talk about how CS:GO is finishing up even though we have a few more events to complete. When it comes to your time in CS:GO, what do you feel has been your biggest contribution to the game and all the teams you worked under?
RobbaN: I have stayed loyal to FaZe Clan during my whole career in CS:GO. I started CS:GO with streaming. That's how I got into the coaching part. I have been with FaZe for seven and a half years, mostly coaching, and I think it's been a good journey. There's been a lot of ups and downs, but when I look back at it, I'm very proud that we had always been very competitive.
With every lineup that we had, we had always been competitive and at the top. I think we had a few slumps here and there, but other than that, we have a lot of trophies under our belt, but even then, winning is everything. I think that's why we are all here. We're not here to do anything else. We're here to win, and we have a lot of trophies to be proud of.
BLIX: Of course, the trophies do speak for themselves. You're a Major winner and someone who won multiple significant events. It's something that, frankly, many other teams would love and kill to have under their belts. That said, it maps out a legacy as to how you have fared in CS:GO. How would you want people to look at your legacy when it comes to only CS:GO?
RobbaN: It's a tough question. What I think the worst part is that I didn't abuse the coaching bug in any way, but still got judged for cheating, but I didn't cheat, you know? It's a thing in my name that---you know, it is what it is and, honestly, f**k it. It just got handled very badly. I think my name is in the same people that actually abused the bug in a different way than it shouldn't. Sure, I was stuck in it, but I didn't abuse it. There's clear proof that I didn't abuse anything. That's one thing that I'm a bit pissed off about, honestly. It was dealt with totally wrong. On the other side of the coin, as I said before, we had a lot of success.
BLIX: And it's the success that matters more, you know? If I might ask: although you managed to win the Major in Antwerp, what moment would you pinpoint as the most gratifying for you in CS:GO? Was winning that Major that moment, or was it something else?
RobbaN: There are a lot of really good memories, but honestly, the first tournament we won with FaZe Clan was StarLadder [i-League StarSeries Season 3] back in 2017. We had been struggling for some time, and we won that tournament as an underdog team. It was the start of everything, you know? Everyone wanted to prove themselves, and we were working extremely hard, and it was just a nice feeling to win that first tournament. And then Cologne  has to be mentioned there. I think the way we won it there was insane, especially in the last rounds and everything around it. It felt very special. There are a lot of good memories.