Counter Strike : Global Offensive

FaZe Clan's in-game leader, 'karrigan' : Legacy Secured

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Throughout his storied career FaZe Clan's in-game leader, Finn "karrigan" Andersen, has accomplished many things. Yet, years down the line, his long-standing legacy may have very little to do with his highs as an individual or a team's captain. If the new FaZe's roster works out, his biggest achievements may very well lie ahead of him. Yet, regardless of any past and potential moments of greatness, he may come to be remembered and perhaps even earn a spot on CS:GO's Mount Rushmore for what he did during his first nine months on FaZe.

In a way, karrigan's multiple areas of success in Counter-Strike is comparable to Heracles completing a variety of labors. Initially he was, in his own description, an ego-player, paying attention to his individual level and teamplay. During his 1.6 days, he got to play and learn under some of its best minds. Eventually he became one of the best individual performers throughout 2011 and -- in the game's late days, before Global Offensive took over -- he lead the best team in the world. Going into CS:GO, he made the conscious decision to dedicate himself entirely to the role of an in-game leader as that was the opportunity he saw to have the most positive impact on his future teams. After a year of wandering around on multiple teams and just when he was about to give up on the game so he can focus on his master's thesis, he received an offer to join Denmark's best team, the soon to be TSM and later on Astralis.

Newer fans may only remember his last months on the Astralis, but at the time of joining he turned a team of skilled players who couldn't get past the semifinals into one of the best teams in the world and won multiple stacked events against the elite of the day. Ultimately, the squad failed at the major and the team gradually lost faith in his abilities to lead. With his impact on the game diminished and dev1ce yet to become the mobile superstar AWPer fans see nowadays, the only logical decision for the betterment of the unit was to look for a new leader that the players can trust. Luckily -- at least from today's point of view -- for him, FaZe clan was in a desperate need of an in-game leader.

 

JONING A LOST CAUSE

Before the addition of karrigan, FaZe was for all intents and purposes a high-security golden prison for a variety of stars from different nationalities who had no team to join within their own region. Each of the players had showcased their talents at different points of time, but the final result was a complete mishmash. Previous iterations of the roster had made several good runs, most notably finishing 3rd-4th in the Cluj-Napoca major and almost beating the eventual champions under the G2 banner. Yet, since the move to FaZe, the lineup had been a complete disappointment. As one of the highest paid teams in the world and a reported buyout from G2, their previous team, of $700,000, the squad had failed to get out of the group stage of a tournament for ten months. The organization had done their best to fix things by bringing in upgrades in terms of individual performers, but that had failed to make their approach to the game any more coherent. Valve's ruling on coaches' involvement cut off any ability RobbaN could have had to call the shots for his gang of stars inside the game and he seemingly had his hands already full, preventing the team from imploding.

The team was in a dire need of in-game leader who could structure their approach to the game, call the tactics and be someone whom FaZe's stars wouldn't rebel against. For if there's one thing players hate more than losing, it's losing while not getting to play the way they want.

karrigan's task was to a degree similar to what he had to do in TSM, but presented at a considerably higher degree of difficulty. Whereas his countrymen had proven their worth beforehand and needed a gentle nudge to reach the next level, FaZe had a ten-month history of embarrassing failures and dysfunction. Not only that, but the team was composed of players from varying CS:GO backgrounds and cultures, on top of communicating in a non-native language. On the flip side, the roster featured a number of highly skilled players nonetheless and the Danish veteran had something to work with. aizy had been one of the best players in the world and a true superstar only a year ago under the guidance of MSL. The two Norwegians, rain and jkaem, had shown brilliance on many occasions even if both had, to a varying degree, issue performing at a consistent level. allu was a solid AWPer and kioShiMa had shown he's put his problematic past behind him and is willing to be a roleplayer.



Regardless, at the time of karrigan's arrival, no one knew whether or not FaZe even has the pieces to become a true team. Thorin and Moses famously compared the roster to a scrap yard and karrigan's task was that of a mechanic who had to build a car out of it. FaZe had a bunch of parts, but the veteran Dane had to put it all together and even if he did the perfect job, in the end it might have just turned out that a crucial component was missing from the yard.

Less than a week after being signed, not even having a jersey with his name on it yet, karrigan had done what the rest of the players hadn't been able to do on their own under red, yellow and blue -- FaZe won enough group stage matches to reach the playoffs of an event. And not any event, but ELEAGUE's second season, one of the biggest events on the CS:GO calendar, barring majors. To achieve that they overcame in a Bo3 series an Immortals squad featuring felps and zews; and Cloud9 who had finished second in DreamHack Bucharest a month prior to this and was only a week removed from their inspired run at the EPL S4 LAN Finals, in the final of which they'd beat SK to lift the trophy. Excluding a group-stage exit in the aforementioned tournament C9 won, FaZe continued making playoffs for the rest of the year. The run culminated in a top4 finish of EL S2 and a quick 3-0 qualification for the upcoming major. Within a month karrigan turned a demoralized group of players who had failed to reach playoffs the whole year into a solid top10 team who could win Bo3 series against some of the best teams in the world.

2017, for FaZe, started quite differently from 2016. Despite a decisive loss to SK in the quarter-finals, they had made it to the playoffs of a major and secured their position in the next one, yet another feat the team hadn't accomplished under the FaZe banner prior to karrigan's addition.

 

EVEN THE BRAVEST HEROES NEED HELP

The team's recent trajectory made it even more surprising for fans when it was announced that aizy is leaving for North, a team already featuring two well-defined stars on its roster. And while the move wasn't successful for the Danes until a more recent change, it worked out better than most would have expected for FaZe. It created an opening for the team to recruit a current star -- one playing at their peak -- instead of aizy, whom karrigan would have to work with hard, hoping for the form of a yesteryear to come back eventually.

karrigan got that and much more than fans had hoped for, a player with transcendent level talent, an all-around game and the ability to be a secondary caller, NiKo. The possibility for signing like this one was the reason he had joined the team in first place, but getting a player of his caliber with a lot of time left on his contact is not something one can depend on. The Bosnian phenom had been one of the absolute best players in the world throughout 2016 and he had done so with barely any help. Joining FaZe put him under the guidance of a proven in-game leader and amongst players with individual abilities much closer to his own. Whereas only a year ago many had viewed FaZe as a golden handcuffs, karrigan had changed that. FaZe was now NiKo's rescuer and a chance to show what he's capable of, when fully unleashed and he doesn't have to do everything. The results followed instantly. Starting at their first event with the Bosnian, FaZe went on a run of four finals appearances, winning one, followed by a top4 in which they lost to the eventual winner. Compelling storylines saw a happy ending for everyone on the team, but the most notable by far was the one of their in-game leader.

karrigan had taken revenge on his former team and a reigning world champion, but, more importantly, he showed the Counter-Strike world that teams with players from multiple, wildly different, nationalities can not only win huge events, but truly be the best in the world and a world-championship contender.

 

Regardless of FaZe's colossal failure at the major, the impact their success had on the rest of the scene can already be seen. Teams like OpTic and Dignitas are following in their footsteps after witnessing the success. Mouz has doubled down on the international approach, instead of trying to use the resources they got from NiKo's sale to get back into the business of same-nationality teams. Their five players and coach are from six different European countries and represent a variety of cultures. In a way, they are what Kinguin was hoping for when the current FaZe lineup was formed under their brand, but done for the primary purpose of winning rather than marketing. Mouz's finish place finish at ESG Mykonos and, more important to a degree, the solid performances on the server within the last few months proves that karrigan and co. aren't an exception to the unwritten rule CS has been following since the 2000s in regard to mixed nationalities teams.

And while this revelation is much more significant to the wider scene than any of the results in isolation, FaZe and their captain are still looking for a win at a major. With GuardiaN and olofmeister joining to replace respectively allu and kioShiMa, the lineup has become even more of an all-star freak show. The Frenchman played the positions and roles undesirable by others at an extremely high level. His prowess in the role was one of the key factors to afford them the run. Both fans and pundits could understand bringing in GuardiaN, despite the Finn not being a liability or a weak link. However, bringing in the Swede left many scratching their heads. While the former number one in the world had been slowly getting back in form and has regained his explosive playmaking, he was by no means filling in the gaps for Fnatic as kioShiMa did for FaZe. The community was quick quick to adapt the famous Jurassic Park line for the team:

“FaZe were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

The upside of the current roster is tremendous, but the fact that the move hasn't been memed to death by the CS:GO community says more about the respect for the Dane's abilities and recognition of his past accomplishments than it does about their belief that the decision was a correct one.

karrigan's past as a player and leader naturally demands that he is given the benefit of the doubt when one discusses the new FaZe roster. However, regardless of how it turns out and karrigan's future success, his lasting Counter-Strike legacy has been already secured. Even though a major win is still in his cards, should he play them right, the most important accomplishment in the Dane's career will very likely be achieving with FaZe something no one had done before. Multiple teams of mixed nationalities have experienced success in Counter-Strike's storied past but no one had quite done it to the extent of FaZe and with such a mixed roster.

The true legacy of Heracles' labours isn't the heroics themselves, but proving to the world that one can stand up to the gods and the injustices of the world. Similarly, karrigan's lasting impact will be something bigger than his individual accomplishments -- showing to the Counter-Strike world that a multinational teams can indeed play at the level required of a world champion.

 

Photo credits:TBS, ESL, PGL, Gamer.Hu

About the author:
Hello readers, I go by the ID RadoN! I’ve been following different games within the esports industry ever since finding out about it in 2009. The titles that I follow closely for the time being are Overwatch, CS:GO and Quake, while occasionally dabbling in some other games as well. If you wish to reach out, follow future content, or simply know more about my thoughts on esports and gaming, you can find me on twitter at @RadoNonfire.

 

 

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