While Mousesports missing out on the IEM Katowice CS:GO Major could have been seen as a disappointment for the legendary organization, it turned out to be one of the best things to happen to them.
The post-IEM Katowice roster shuffle was very timid in comparison to those of the past. No blockbuster moves happened and many of the world's best didn’t even make changes. Despite the constant unsubstantiated rumblings of this shuffle being one for the history books, nothing of the sort materialized.
With most teams standing their ground, this limited the number of available players for many teams actually searching. One of those teams was Mousesports, who had just failed to qualify for the Major for the first time since IEM Katowice 2015. Luckily for them, one of the best in-game leaders in the world was there for the taking.
The unfortunate luxury of failing to qualify for the Major is being able to replace more than two players, which is exactly what Mousesports did. While no rule exists against changing three or more players, most teams prefer to retain their Major invite rather than re-qualifying.
Their original plan wasn’t their current lineup though, as evidenced by their benching of Chris 'chrisJ' de Jong only to bring him back to the active lineup a month later. At first, it was expected that they would recruit two additional pieces of raw talent and scrimmage their way through 2019.
Many expected Karrigan to return to a Danish lineup, but that was never going to happen. If he joined OpTic Gaming or North, it would only be a matter of time before the existing talent on his lineup would be ripped from his grasp.
Astralis is at the top of the world today, but what happens when they eventually fall off? They’ll look to those aforementioned teams and take a player of their choosing with ease.
Instead, Karrigan was determined to repeat what he had done once before: take a mixed nationality team from the bottom to the top.
Karrigan brings a unique style of in-game leading that bodes well for a team with a bunch of skilled individual players.
He has a knack for putting his players in places they feel most comfortable and then calling around their playmaking ability. Players buy-in to this approach because they feel empowered by it, as opposed to feeling limited by a rigid tactical system. Not only do players enjoy his style, but it works.
Prior to joining FaZe, the team had hardly sniffed a deep playoff run and by the end of his tenure, they had won seven premier international tournaments. His buyout from Astralis is one of the best investments any team has ever made in Counter-Strike history.
Mousesports getting Karrigan on board meant serious firepower was necessary if they wanted him to work his magic. Even with chrisJ coming back to the lineup, Robin 'ropz' Kool wasn’t going to drop the hammer on the opposition by himself, so they went searching.
Fortunately for them, Özgür 'woxic' Eker was ready for a new adventure and was retrievable from HellRaisers. For the fifth and final spot, they turned to youngster David 'frozen' Čerňanský who was destined to join a top team from the moment he set foot into the professional landscape.
In their first event as a team, Mousesports swept the competition to lock-in a playoff appearance at the Season 9 ESL Pro League Finals.
Even with the small sample size, the new lineup passes the eye-test and it looks like Karrigan is once again cooking up something special. They will undoubtedly have their growing pains, but their path to the top is clear and almost inevitable if the other players follow his lead.
The previous roster failing to reach the Top 14 of IEM Katowice was a blessing for fans of Counter-Strike, even if it didn’t look that way at the time.