FaZe, Niko

Credit: Bart Oerbekke ESL

Introducing: NiKo – The Bosnian Beast

Here’s what you need to know about Nikola “NiKo” Kovac – The brightest gem of CS:GO.

The name NiKo has since long been carved in stone in the history of CS:GO alongside some of the biggest legends. The Bosnian is one of the most talented players to ever play the game. NiKo has been considered one of the best players in the world for several years now, renowned for some of the sharpest first-bullet aim of anyone in CS:GO. Even playing alongside some of the game’s other big names, the Bosnian super-star has always stood out as the primary carry on his teams.

Nikola “NiKo” Kovac 
Born: 16 February 1997 (age 24) 
Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina 
Current team: G2 Esports 
Career history: iNation 2010-2013, GamePub 2013-2014, aimface 2014-2015, iNation 2015, mousesports 2015-2017, FaZe Clan 2017-2020, G2 Esports 2020. 

All time stats:

Total kills: 29187
Headshot %: 50.6%
K/D Ratio: 1.19
Rating: 1.16
ADR: 85.6
KPR: 0.80
Impact: 1.30
KAST: 71.0%

NiKo’s career

The Bosnian’s breakthrough to the big stage began on March 4, 2015, when mousesports picked him up permanently for the lineup after having been a stand-in. The next year and a half, NiKo was stuck in his personal growth as a player and it became more clear that the rest of the team simply wasn’t on the same level, which was straining his relationship with the rest of the team.

NiKo always continued to shine bright as the game’s most feared player in his time with the German organization, even when the team couldn’t break through the big events. The whole CS:GO world agreed that it was time for the world’s best player to add some much-deserved hardware to his trophy case. If NiKo could fight it out, mousesports had a chance. But not even the best in CS:GO could carry his team out of the hole they dug him into. It was clear that the Bosnian superstar needed to make a change to live up to his immense potential, and on February 9, 2017, the Bosnian left mouz despite his desire to stick it out with the team.

He packed his bags and left for FaZe Clan in a $500.000 transfer buyout that broke the record. FaZe already had its star power in Karrigan and mixing big names in pro CS was and still is a big risk. But as we know now, FaZe Clan and NiKo was the perfect match. He began his journey together with some big names on the roster that made their presence felt immediately at the first tournament as a new roster, where they made it to the finals. Their first big splash with the Bosnian on the roster and they managed to beat Astralis in the final at Starladder.

NiKo had finally landed somewhere the supporting cast wasn’t blinded by him being the game’s biggest star, which is one of the main reasons why NiKo has won six MVP medals, multiple LAN Tournament titles, and top-three finishes in the player ranking.

On October 28, 2020, one of the biggest signings in CS:GO history was made. G2 welcomed NiKo to their roster and united the dangerous Bosnian duo of NiKo and his cousin “huNter”, under the same banner.

NiKo under the G2 banner

The Bosnian slotted into the lineup seamlessly, but him and the rest of the team were unable to contend for titles in their first months. NiKo hit the ground running with a 1.24 Rating as G2 topped a highly-contested BLAST Premier Fall Series group that included MIBR, FURIA, and the mighty Danes from Astralis. He played a massive key role in G2’s semi-final run at the IEM Beijing-Haidian event, in which he earned his final EVP award of the year.

The French-Balkan mixture started to look sluggish when “AmaNEk” returned for the final two events of the year, finishing 9th-12th in DreamHack Masters Winter and 5th-6th in BLAST Premier Fall Finals. Despite being G2’s best performer in both events with ratings that were 10% higher than the rest of his team’s average, NiKo was fairly underwhelming compared to his usual high standards.

On March 4, 2020, G2 benched “kennyS” and allowed him to explore new opportunities. With the Frenchman out of the lineup, the rest of the team is bound to undergo big role changes, with the Bosnian taking up sniping duties. According to the coach that will provide “more flexibility within our game and the current meta.”.

Watch some of NiKo’s highlights with G2 at BLAST Premier Fall 2020:

Achievements and heartbreaking losses

Fortunately for NiKo the only trophy that is missing from his collection is a Major. Having won pretty much everything else there is to win in CS:GO, including ELEAGUE, ESL One, multiple BLAST events, and IEM New York EU. Esports earnings calculates his winnings at around $773.125.13, putting him as the 24th highest earner in the history of Counter-Strike, and one of the highest players on that list to never have won a Major.

At ELEAGUE Boston Major in 2018, NiKo had the chance to win his first Major but got his dream crushed in the Grand final by Cloud9 who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Counter-Strike history.

Here’s how it all happened:

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