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FaZe Clan have been a dominant force in Counter-Strike for a while, and Russel ‘Twistzz’ Van Dulken has always been at the top of competitive CS:GO. The two seem to be a perfect match, with Twistzz winning five S-Tier tournaments since joining the team in 2021, including the Antwerp Major last year and an Intel Grand Slam.

With the BLAST Paris Major coming up, Esports Illustrated’s Charlie Cater spoke with Twistzz about the Grand Slam victory, the dip in performance that came after it, preparation for the Major and the upcoming CS2 release.

You recently won the Intel Grand Slam with FaZe Clan, making you the only player to win two. How does it feel to win a Grand Slam, and how do the two wins compare?

“Winning a Grand Slam is amazing, I think it's up there with winning a major. But, to do it twice is just phenomenal. And to be the only one to do it twice is even better.

I think the one with Liquid was a bit more dominant considering it was done in just over two months. But I think the tournaments we won with FaZe were much more prestigious.

But it's a special feeling to be the only player to do it twice.”

You qualified for the Major through the LCQ. Were you disappointed that the team didn’t qualify for the Major sooner?

“I think the mindset for us is to just qualify by any means necessary. It's nice to qualify as legends, but to make that your goal is a bit unrealistic because it's a very shaky event for a lot of teams.

To go 2-0 on the first day and then miss out on every opportunity following that was very frustrating. Especially not knowing why we fell suddenly. We played a pretty bad game against NaVi and I felt like we couldn't recover from that during the event.”

You then went to IEM Rio and placed Top 12. Is there anything that you’ll be learning from that event to take into Paris?

“I think in our minds we kind of just scrapped that event. Exhaustion and stuff can be seen as an excuse, but I think we were feeling it pretty heavy.

We went there with very low expectations and we just wanted to try to play our game and we couldn't really even get that done. We just went back home, had a bit of a break and then we're at a bootcamp right now and things are feeling great.”

You already have a Major win under your belt with FaZe in Antwerp last year. Does that give you more confidence heading into this year's Major?

“I think for sure, knowing that you've been in that position before and you've won, I think it does change a lot. But I don't think it can be the sole thing to be relied on. We had a pretty bad performance last year in Rio. And then even the winners of that Major couldn't make it through the RMRs. So, I don't think it necessarily gives so much confidence. But I think if we were to make it to the playoffs in the Major, I think it’s something that we'll think about.”

With CS2 releasing soon, how much have you played yourself, and what are your thoughts on the game so far?

“I’ve only played CS2 one time.

It was the night of the beta release. It's funny because the day that it got released, we had to play a match like 30 minutes after it was announced and it was a bit chaotic. I think all the pros were like, ‘man, what the hell is like going on? Like a game just released and then we have to focus on our matches.’

Some things look very different. Things are a bit more shiny. The game is a bit more colourful and it looks cleaned up. But I think a lot of pro players are unsure about how the smoke mechanics will play into the competitive scene.

How useful are smoke's gonna be in knowing that someone could just blow up the smoke for three seconds and you miss a timing. But I think it adds some competitive depth to the game. I know they're trying to implement some kind of tick list rate system, but I think even at the end of the day, it'll probably still end up at 128 tick.

Hopefully some things aren't so different from CS:GO where it takes away from the entertainment or the viewership or the way the game plays competitively because not every skillful game is meant to cater a bit more to the casuals. I think that's what can degrade the pro scene, but I think Valve is usually good when trying to find a balance for these things.”