Mousesports' Finn 'Karrigan' Andersen is one of the greatest leaders in Counter-Strike history, and perhaps the best to have never won a major.
The champion of 15 tournaments over a five year span, his identity is one of a unique aptitude for drafting surprises, developing star talents to their peak potential, and calling game-breaking tactics on-the-fly.
Equally impressive, though, is his uncanny ability to defeat the great teams he was formerly the leader of. That includes the current Astralis line-up, considered the greatest of all-time, and FaZe Clan, containing some of the game's most skilled players in history.
In FaZe, he managed a four series streak of wins over both of Astralis' differing major-winning line-ups, and in Mousesports he has posted three series wins in a row over former teams. Over the last three years he has won 75% of the series he has played against them in semi-finals and finals.
Karrigan does not just compete against and read his former teams well, he has them in his back pocket.
Let’s examine Karrigan's unending revenge tour in which he has forced his former teams, at least for a moment or two, to second guess their decision to remove him.
Departure from Denmark
karrigan's time in Astralis, spanning back to their time in the Dignitas organisation and then TSM, saw him help them win five notable titles and beat then G.O.A.T.s FNATIC in the vast majority of the series the two teams contested. 2016 saw the team hit a skid, though, and become erratic in their results until they finally plummeted from elite status. With the players losing faith in his leadership and more power being put in the hands of coach zonic, karrigan was released.
Moving over to FaZe Clan, it is easy to underestimate his impact if you did not follow the scene back then. Now, FaZe Clan is home to some of the best players in the game and carries the expectations of making deep runs in tournaments and potentially even winning them, having won a number of titles every year for the last three. At that time, in late 2016, though, FaZe were a team who never made the play-offs of tournaments and were considered a graveyard of lower tier one talents.
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karrigan had that very same talent core transformed into play-off contenders instantaneously and then, upon acquiring world number one level talent NiKo, began winning championships and battling for the number one spot in the team rankings.
During this time period, Astralis had much success themselves. His replacement gla1ve steered the team to the top spot within months and had won a Major just over three months after joining. Even at their lowest point, the Astralis core were still considered an elite side and expected to reach semi-finals or beyond at the big tournaments.
Facing the kjaerbye line-up of Astralis, karrigan's FaZe Clan won three of the four series they played and 7 of the 12 maps contested in those series. At one point he dominated the match-up with four straight series wins.
This rivalry began at ECS S2 finals, months after departing from Astralis. zonic's lads were set to become the best team in the world, and beat FaZe 16:3 on dust2.
Months later, at IEM Katowice 2017, the two teams met in the group stage on train and again gla1ve's gang were the winners, taking the map 16:8. The two teams would rematch in the final, where Astralis won what would be their last big tournament with that line-up, coming close to establishing an era then. The Danes' 3:1 victory in the final was a closely-fought affair across the maps Astralis won and since NiKo had joined around a week prior and not had time to practice, it inspired karrigan's men to believe they could dethrone Astralis. They would, but not to take the top spot themselves.
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At StarSeries S3, the very next event, they again met device and company in the final, but this time it was FaZe coming out on top, winning a three-map affair.
IEM Sydney was the following event and again saw the teams facing off, this time in the semi-final. This battle contained a unique contest centered around the pick-ban phase, as in the group stage they played chicken with both teams' perma-ban of Cobblestone, letting it pass to become the map played. Astralis won that map and thus were lured into picking it outright in the semi-final series, only to lose it and then an eventual decider in another three map series.
Later in the year, karrigan had again powered up his line-up, bringing in monster names olofmeister and GuardiaN, former best players in the world. His first game against his former team would be in the group stage of ESL One New York, where his super-star-infused line-up rampaged over Astralis 16:8 on Inferno, going on to win the tournament without losing a single map.
At the very next LAN karrigan would meet Astralis in another final, this time at the ELEAGUE Premier. After a thrilling comeback on nuke, karrigan's boys easily took Overpass and swept the final. Soon they would be the best team in the world themselves.
At the ESL ProLeague S6 finals, FaZe slaughtered Astralis 16:5 on mirage to make it five maps in a row won offline against his former team. Astralis would gain a little ground again in the rivalry at the ECS S4 finals at the end of the year, winning an unusual overpass game 16:13 thanks to a monster 32 kill performance from Norwegian stand-in RUBINO.
Thus ended karrigan's fight against the kjaerbye era line-up of Astralis. By the end, his FaZe Clan were the better team in terms of ranking and placings, again giving credence to the angle that perhaps Astralis had created a monster rival by dispensing with his services.
Standing against the G.O.A.Ts
Astralis with magisk are a phenomenon in Counter-Strike. Universally hailed as the greatest five man line-up to ever play the game and so rarely having lost series, especially in their god tier dominant year of 2018, you could be forgiven for imagining karrigan's aptitude for revenge would finally have been finished, but if so then you'd be wrong.
Against the G.O.A.T. Astralis line-up, karrigan has won three of the five series played with him as the in-game leader and seven of the 12 maps in those series.
Fittingly, the two line-ups met for the first time at another IEM Katowice, this time in 2018. This semi-final affair came with FaZe the number one ranked team in the world and Astralis attending only their second tournament together and yet to win a title with that line-up. FaZe swept the semi-final 2:0 and without Astralis getting over 10 rounds each map.
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At Dreamhack Masters Marseille, the squads faced each other in the quarter-final and this time it was Astralis winning convincingly, taking the series 2:0, winning the tournament eventually.
Before dupreeh and his dudes could take the world number one ranking, though, they had to face karrigan at the very next event, IEM Sydney. The two teams met in the final but a key wrinkle was the absence of olofmeister, who had been forced to take time off competitive play for personal reasons. Former NiP leader Xizt was brought in as a stand-in. With Astralis having smashed everyone they'd faced in Marseille, many were ready to crown them the best team in the world already. karrigan had a miracle up his sleeve, though, and his FaZe Clan would astonishingly sweep Astralis 3:0 in the Bo5 final, but with all three maps being 16:14 or over-time affairs.
To put that in context, when Astralis had completed the main body of their era, winning a second straight major at IEM Katowice 2019, they held the distinction of only having been swept three times in series play offline over around a year's worth of time and two of those instances being against karrigan-led squads.
In his final match-up as the leader of FaZe, karrigan fell in a two map sweep at the ECS S5 Finals, but with the opener being a 30 rounds heart-breaker on train.
Later meetings while still in FaZe came with karrigan having been usurped as leader by star player NiKo.
Moving to Mousesports
Joining mousesports in March of 2019, when Astralis had won a third major in the core's history, karrigan would not face his former Danish team-mates for some time, with his mouz team far less impressive a collection of names than his FaZe Clan team had been, more in line with the first iteration of FaZe he had inherited.
As such, he would not meet Astralis until late last year. In the semi-finals of the ESL Pro League S10 Finals, mouz met an Astralis coming off two titles won in a row. Eeking out an epic three map victory, with mouz's wins being an over-time game on train and then a 16:14 thriller on dust2, the old Danish master had again shown his talent for teaching his ex-team-mates a lesson.
To put karrigan's wins over the G.O.A.T. Astralis line-up in the context of his peers, Team Liquid leader nitr0 has played 14 series more than karrigan against Astralis and yet won only as single additional series. FalleN, two-time Major winner, has played two series more than karrigan, yet has two fewer series won against the Danes.
The only IGL with more maps won in series play against the G.O.A.T. Astralis line-up is the aforementioned nitr0, with 13 to karrigan's 7, but nitr0 has played an extra 28 maps against the best team in history.
Revenge against FaZe
Torturing Astralis and proving a thorn in their side was business for karrigan, as his teams were contending with them for the top spot in the game and thus understandably met them over and over. Beating up FaZe Clan after they kicked him was a personal point of pride for karrigan. NiKo had not only usurped him, but practically cut off his balls as a leader in doing so, allowing him to remain in the line-up for many months after.
karrigan has beaten FaZe in all three series he has faced them in and not dropped a map in doing so.
When karrigan moved to mouz and won the tier two-or-three LAN DreamHack Tours in May of 2019, he had some back-and-forth banter with his former super-star, having beaten NiKo's cousin Hunter and claiming he was coming after the Bosnian next.
That’s the first Kovac gone, coming for next
— karrigan (@karriganCSGO) May 19, 2019
The two teams would meet that summer at the ESL ProLeague S9 finals, with karrigan sweeping them 2:0. At ESL One Cologne, the very next event, they again won a 2:0 group stage affair, this time with an over-time game on inferno to add a little spice.
FaZe won their lone map against karrigan in a group stage game on mirage 16:8, but neither team reached the play-offs of the event.
During the pre-Finals group stage phase of ESL Pro League S10, karrigan met FaZe and again had his broom out to sweep them 2:0, this one seeing an over-time session on Train yet again go the way of the man with the business degree as opposed to the Bosnian with the big ego.
To be feared
Certainly, karrigan's reputation for making his stars comfortable and getting the best of them must play a role in his strength for helping his teams overcome those very same players later. karrigan can boast that most of his star players reached their peak form, to that point in their careers, under him, whether that be device and dupreeh or NiKo and ropz more recently. To know a man's strength is to understand how he wants to play you. This manifests as a potential advantage both in the server and in the psychological war of wills between the two parties.
A core strength of karrigan's for his entire career as a leader has been using a conditioning style and then calling out of it in a manner difficult to predict. The Dane sets opponents up with numerous rounds which have the same initial openings, building up patterns in their minds, and then after himself reading his enemies switches up from a similar opening to a new mid-round call with seemingly no warning. One could imagine how this would prove effective against a team like Astralis, notorious for their diligent preparation and countering opponents, and FaZe Clan and their individual tendencies and reliance on raw fragging power.
Similarly, karrigan has repeatedly used his knowledge of his former players and teams to his advantage in the pick-ban phase. The king of pick-ban is notorious for developing wide map pools with all of his teams and ensuring his pick throws his opponents off, making deep preparation on a specific map ever a danger against a karrigan-led side. Against the kjaerbye era Astralis he was able to beat his fellow Danes on all seven of the maps in the pool.
Facing the G.O.A.T. Astralis line-up, perhaps the squad with the strongest map pool in history, he was forced to be more specialised, taking it to them on maps they had rare weaknesses on like cache, overpass, train and dust2.
In beating his boys from FaZe, karrigan has won on five of the maps in the pool, missing only Nuke and Dust2. His frequent picks of Train harken back to the struggles his FaZe Clan line-ups had on that map towards the end, playing into their weakness on the T side. That FaZe has picked different maps on all three occasions and lost all of them speaks to the degree to which karrigan's corner office in their heads is still very much occupied.
Most impressive of all of these feats has to be the early ones in FaZe and those now in mouz, as karrigan was each time forced to start over with lesser-valued names than the team he had just been kicked from. Truly, karrigan is an ex to be feared and respected.