G2 Esports bolstered their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squad with the acquisition of a Bosnian CS:GO superstar Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, who will now fulfill his lifelong goal and get a chance to play alongside his cousin Nemanja”huNter-”Kovač. The signing was announced on Wednesday, October 28, and is billed as one of the biggest CS:GO transfers of the year.
The Biggest CS:GO Signing in History
Although a massive roster move which will reshape the European CS:GO competitive scene, G2’s signing of NiKo should not come off as a shock to any esports fan. The first reports that suggested NiKo could jump ship and leave FaZe Clan for G2 came to life back in September. FaZe and G2 have engaged in talks regarding a possible transfer of the Bosnian CS:GO player.
Even though the rumors have cooled down since then, many speculated the roster move was all but confirmed. That was proven to be true earlier this Wednesday when NiKo made the official announcement with a short video on his Twitter account, followed by an official announcement on G2 Esports’ website.
“One of the biggest signings in CS:GO History! Today, we’re ecstatic to welcome Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač to our Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Roster,” read the announcement.
“As one of the most gifted stars to have ever touched CS:GO, NiKo is an incredibly versatile player and brings unmatched expertise and firepower to our team.”
“Last year, our roster went global when we brought on Nemanja “nexa” Isaković and Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač. Now, we’re bringing things a bit closer to home as we unite the dangerous Bosnian duo of huNter- and his cousin, NiKo, under the same banner.”
NiKo Ends His Three-and-a-Half Year Tenure With FaZe Clan
NiKo began his Counter-Strike esports career back in 2011 when he played for a few relatively unknown CS 1.6 squads before he transitioned to CS:GO in 2012 with iNation. Since then, he played for e-Sports.rs, Team Refuse, GamePub, and aimface, but it was not before he joined mousesports in May 2015 that he got to appear at the highest tier of the CS:GO competitive world.
NiKo spent the next two years with the German esports organization, where he made a name for himself as one of the best European CS:GO. Due to mousesports’ lack of success at the highest level of play, NiKo eventually decided to jump ship and joined FaZe Clan in February 2017, where his career took off.
Only six months after arriving at FaZe, NiKo led his team to ESL One: New York 2017 title, to which he added three runner-up finishes from the Intel Extreme Masters XII – Oakland, Esports Championship Series Season 4 – Europe, and ESL Pro League Season 6 – Finals, as well as gold from Esports Championship Series Season 4 – Finals to end the year on a positive note.
NiKo’s success with FaZe, however, did not end in 2017. The North American esports organization carried over the momentum into 2018 when they reached the grand finals of the ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018.
They pocketed a silver medal from Intel Extreme Masters XII – World Championship, and won three high-profile tournaments in Intel Extreme Masters XIII – Sydney, ESL One: Belo Horizonte 2018, and EPICENTER 2018.
Every successful story, however, has an end, and FaZe’s dominance was no exception. Things turned sour for FaZe towards the end of 2018 when they parted ways with Finn “karrigan” Andersen, which ushered in a period of mediocre performances.
Even though FaZe made it to the quarter-finals of Intel Extreme Masters XIII – Katowice Major 2019 in February and later won the ESL Pro League Season 9 – Europe, FaZe never reached their old heights and struggled to retain their tag as one of the strongest CS:GO teams in the world.
Throughout the next two years, FaZe won a tournament here and there, but in most part due to NiKo’s strong performances rather than a joint effort from the whole squad. As a player who strives to not only be one of the best but rather THE best in the world, NiKo’s departure was a long time coming, and it finally materialized earlier this week.
FaZe call in their old veteran as NiKo’s replacement
With the departure of NiKo, FaZe is now left with only four players on their active roster, including Håvard “rain” Nygaard, Marcelo “coldzera” David, Helvijs “broky” Saukants, and Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye. The quintet will now join forces with a veteran Swedish player Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, who left FaZe in May 2020.
Olofmeister has emerged as an iconic member of FaZe since he arrived from Fnatic in 2017. He played a pivotal role in FaZe’s success throughout 2017-2018 but decided to step down from the team in May due to a lack of motivation to continue competing.
Even though Olofmeister decided to step in for FaZe, his return is not permanent. As revealed by FaZe, Olofmeister will serve as a stand-in for their remaining BLAST Premier Fall 2020 matches or until they find a suitable replacement.