Poetic licence makes it tempting to start this article with a line about loyalty, trust and time to work, and many people have already characterised the end of Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen’s time in FaZe Clan as somehow unjust. Some have described him as one of the all-time great in-game leaders and said that any international team should snap him up, but the cold facts tell a story much closer to a man who had run out of ideas being put out of his misery.
This article is not designed to attack the player or the man (who seems to agree with the decision), as both are admirable and deserving of credit for their work at FaZe. However, in the wake of the 28-year-old's benching, the reaction to the news and assessments of his ability seemed to go totally off the scale in terms of their relationship with his recent history, and it’s worth pointing out that while his time at FaZe ending is sad, it is in no way an injustice, or a mistake.
“I consider Karrigan to be one of the all-time great in-game leaders in CS:GO history” – Stuchiu, VP
Above is the opening line from an article that received a good degree of praise on social media for the tone, in which the writer lays out why he thinks karrigan would be a fantastic pick up for any team that "truly has the ambition to be the world’s number one". So let’s examine that premise, as we have quite a good case study to hand, of an org that wanted to be number one and gave karrigan the keys to the bank.
We are, of course, talking about FaZe Clan, the team he led for slightly over two years. There is no universe where you could understand CSGO and not think FaZe wanted to be world number one, but if you actually compare karrigan’s level of achievement to that of his peers', it seems more like he isn’t the man for the job, if world domination is truly your aim.
In the time since he joined FaZe, in October 2016, there have been four Major Championships, of which two have been won by the core he used to lead. That core is now led by Lukas ‘Gla1ve’ Rossander, and represents Astralis, with the main difference being the loss of the ‘choking’ habit that haunted the early parts of their time together. The others were won by Gambit, and of course Cloud 9, at the Boston Major, where FaZe were runners up.
During Krakow, where Gambit beat Immortals in the final, FaZe were running at slightly less than full star power, with allu and kio alongside karrigan, rain and NiKo, but the squad was still very accomplished. Rain and NiKo alone should be enough to get you to the playoffs of a major won by a team with Zeus and Mou aboard, but instead FaZe went out in last place, 15-16th, behind teams like PENTA and FlipSid3.
Can't buy me love
At this point, many orgs would take the view that if you can’t beat PENTA when you have one of the hardest carries CS has seen in your team (NiKo), you should probably be working at a lower level, but FaZe doubled down and asked karrigan exactly what he needed to succeed. Like a spoiled royal son, he was allowed to buy anything he wanted, and promptly picked up two of the all-time greats, Olofmeister and GuardiaN, to create arguably the most talented squad in CSGO history.
So, at this point, he’s been in the team over a year, and finished last place at a Major with NiKo in his team, who let us not forget was the most expensive player in CS history at that point. You’d assume that given such a lack of success, there was at least a conversation between the money men and the leader when those deals were done, explaining that results had to follow, as he now had everything he’d asked for and more.
To some extent, that is what happened, as the team went on quite a run, and won a number of top tier events under his leadership, and going into the Boston Major were favourites for the title. Despite a loss to Vega in the early stages, they looked decent most of the way through, and after 2-0 wins over mousesports and Na’Vi in playoffs it was time for destiny, vs Cloud 9, in the Major final. And they choked.
Many will give the NA side a lot of credit for that win, but the fact is the last map was FaZe’s to lose, and lose they did. That made two majors with NiKo in the team for karrigan, and one with the most expensive, talented side we’d ever seen in CSGO, and not a single title to their name. Then came London, where they lost to BIG, nearly went out early, and eventually finished 5th-8th. You could see the team didn’t believe anymore, and you can’t really say that was unfair, as their leader was clearly bereft of ideas by that point.
To add the cherry on top of the icing and call back to the start, while all of this was happening the team he used to lead was dominating the game, or setting up to. With Dupreeh and Dev1ce, karrigan had failed, and now with all the money FaZe could muster he’d done the same, with an arguably better collection of players.
There is no doubt he’s a good leader, and a better player than he gets credit for, as he’s shown under NiKo’s IGL-ing, but to call him one of the all-time greats at this point ignores the fact that no leader has ever been given more talent and money to work with. Sure, there were good times, but they didn’t last and the lack of progress cost him his time in the best team he’ll ever get, which expired without them winning the title that matters the most.