Is the Karrigan honeymoon phase in FaZe over?
There’s a strong argument that Finn “karrigan” Andersen is the greatest in-game leader in Counter-Strike history and a big part of the CS:GO FaZe roster. Known affectionately as the biggest brain in CS:GO, what karrigan lacks in mechanical ability he more than makes up for with in game knowledge.
His CS:GO FaZe roster of rain, broky, Twistzz, and ropz is a team of superstars, tailor-made for winning championships. When one struggles, another picks up the slack. But something’s been off with FaZe for a while now, looking a far cry from the team that became CS:GO Major winners last year.
As an IGL, karrigan’s teams in the past have followed a similar pattern. An initial period of struggles, followed by a spell of overperformance, culminating in a sudden slump in form. TSM in 2015, FaZe in 2017, and MOUZ in 2019 – the pattern is consistent, even if the quality of the team around him varies.
It was supposed to be different this time, with karrigan returning to FaZe in early 2021. They’d brought in Twistzz from Liquid just weeks prior, a rifler with world-class mechanics. It was a slow start for karrigan’s second iteration of FaZe. Something was missing in those first twelve months. At the dawn of 2022, veteran olofmeister was benched after the acquisition of sought-after Estonian youngster ropz from MOUZ. It was a request from karrigan, who played with ropz at MOUZ, that brought the two together again.
With ropz added to this CS:GO FaZe team, a switch flicked. Suddenly, they were unbeatable. BLAST Premier Spring Groups, IEM Katowice, ESL Pro League – FaZe won it all in early 2022, a dream team CS:GO FaZe fans could have only fantasized about, competing with a NAVI roster that had established themselves as serial winners throughout 2021. There was one last summit for karrigan to climb – a Major. At PGL Major Antwerp 2022, FaZe did just that, comfortably beating NAVI 2-0 in the final. It was a career-high for the team, and FaZe looked set for an era of domination…
Our king has his crown. 👑 pic.twitter.com/3F48CgTse2
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) May 22, 2022
Since that Major, FaZe hasn’t looked the same. A single IEM Cologne title followed, but every other tournament was a series of embarrassments that this CS:GO FaZe roster should be avoiding. It’s been remarkably consistent with karrigan’s past teams, and there must be a reason.
In CS:GO karrigan is renowned for creating stars. He never top-frags, but his strategies as IGL allow his teammates to reach new heights on the server. If CS:GO was entirely strategy-based, karrigan would be the best CS:GO player of all time. His plays are second to none, but that must be taxing on the players around him to learn. Fresh ideas are initially exciting for players, and while they might take time to learn, the fruits of that labor are obvious after a few months with karrigan’s rosters. That would explain why his teams always come good eventually.
This CS:GO FaZe roster isn’t cocky. It’s not overconfidence that has seen them unravel – karrigan is too experienced to let that happen. Above everything, FaZe have looked tired, and karrigan’s honeymoon period looks to be well-and-truly over. Every player, karrigan included, is missing shots they wouldn’t usually miss while losing rounds they wouldn’t usually lose. They’ve still got plenty of ideas, but they’re not finding that execution they need to get them over the line.
The explanation could be that simple – it’s taxing to learn and execute complex ideas in CS:GO over a long period of time, and it’s costing FaZe. This would explain the “stand-in buff” phenomenon that surrounds karrigan, where stand-ins come in and consistently perform at a high level under him, even at short notice. We saw it recently, where es3tag starred at BLAST Premier Spring Groups 2023 for FaZe. Players join temporarily, reaping the benefit of a higher level of strategy than they’ve had before, and leave before it becomes tiring to the point of affecting their performance.
How Can FaZe Improve?
When karrigan’s teams are at their best, they’re defined by their bravery on the server. They’re always taking chances, even if it doesn’t pay off. Right now, you can see the hesitance in how FaZe plays, crippled by spiraling self-doubt. It just seems that karrigan is incredible at encouraging his team during the good times, but struggles to pick them back up when the going gets tough.
New blood could be needed. Assuming karrigan stays, next in line to leave would be rain. After recently becoming a father, he has priorities elsewhere. Of FaZe, rain has also looked the most inconsistent recently. Nothing is guaranteed, but this level of failure won’t be tolerated at FaZe for too long.
No matter what happens, karrigan’s longevity is remarkable. He remains one of the only active CS:GO players to have played competitive CS 1.6, and he’ll always be a legend of the game.