Former FaZe in-game leader Finn “karrigan” Andersen lost his leadership role to NiKo at the FACEIT Major, and never regained it. His performance while in an unfamiliar position on the roster eventually resulted in him getting benched. FaZe has loaned the Dane to Envy so that he could compete at the upcoming Minor, and he has signaled that after the tournament, he will be free to join a new team — if they are willing to pay his buyout fee of course. Many teams will suddenly have a possible opening now that this veteran in-game leader is a free agent. karrigan is at a crossroads in his career at which he can choose from almost any team, but three remain the most realistic options.
OpTic holds the title of the most individually skilled Danish lineup apart from Astralis. Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke has consistently been a solid star rifler for Dignitas, North and now OpTic. Under the Green Wall’s banner, Wienecke has had only two negatively HLTV rated LAN events. Role player Rene “cajunb” Borg is a former teammate of karrigan’s and a very effective site anchor. Ismail “refrezh” Ali has just joined the team after he proved the strongest player in Fragsters as they hit their peak. The team’s AWPer, Jakob “JUGi” Hansen, has grown inconsistent after joining on from Heroic but isn't set for the chopping block anytime soon.
The team’s in-game leader, Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer, was also picked up from Heroic alongside JUGi after their solid performances for the organization. But Pfeiffer has not led OpTic as well as he did Heroic, which has led him to be under fire.
When OpTic recruited Snappi, there was a wave of optimism around the roster. They had a talent-filled lineup which seemed destined to reach the top ten and overthrow North as the second best Danish team. But at a mediocre #19 in HLTV rankings, they have failed and are beating at a low ebb. Snappi is blamed for a weak in-game system that has led OpTic into this dire situation. His removal from the team seems almost inevitable, with karrigan potentially waiting in the wings following IEM Katowice.
To activate the potential of this team, and hammer them into the top ten, a change of leadership would be necessary. Snappi has been unable to bring his stars to life, marking karrigan, who has historically given platforms for players to shine, as ideal to replace him. Andersen has played with cajunb in the past and knows how to use his strengths in-game. Pfeiffer’s inability to provide structure to the team has been his biggest failure, and karrigan proved his excellence in providing structure with FaZe when he joined in 2016.
Despite being the most successful year, the Liquid organization is yet to have in CS:GO, there was an elephant in the room which blunted their accomplishments. Liquid did not win a single premier tournament and fell to Astralis at all the many finals in which they faced-off. Going into 2019 their fortunes are in doubt due to an unwanted roster shakeup, where they lost important support player Epitacio “TACO” De Melo, and traded him out for Jake “Stewie2K” Yip. This could deal damage to the balance of Liquid’s lineup. With much uncertainty on the horizon, the addition of karrigan could hold promise to stabilize the roster and lift Liquid to a new level.
Liquid consists of some of the most talented players from North America. 19-year-old Twistzz had a 1.13 HLTV rating on LAN over 2018, only dipping below 1.00 on three occasions. He has been an instrumental part of Liquid’s rise into the top three, finding form in spite of suffering from health issues. The arrival of NAF after the ELEAGUE Major Boston was the first move that brought success to the team as they immediately won cs_summit 2, largely thanks to his 1.23 HLTV rating. His consistency prevailed throughout 2018 as he won some phenomenal clutches, such as a 1v4 on Overpass against MIBR at the EPL S8 Finals. The consistent EliGE has taken a step back with NAF and Twistzz’ rise but is still an integral cog in Liquid’s gear system. Although he is no longer the star solo carry, EliGE performed solidly in 2018.
One of the most apparent issues in the new Liquid roster is a role mismatch. The remaining players on Liquid are unable to take over TACO's supportive workload, least of all Stewie2K. Stewie has tried to fill this position in the past on SK/MIBR, and the result was not good for him or the team. The trio of stars, EliGE-NAF-Twistzz do not want to take the more supportive role, and it would not suit them even if they did. Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella is also incapable of taking the role, as proven in past Liquid iterations.
This leaves karrigan as the prime candidate to pick up these supportive responsibilities and replace nitr0 on the roster. On FaZe there was no clear support player and Andersen inherited many of these roles. There was no TACO or Martin “STYKO” Styks type of player on the roster. That FaZe team was the #1 team in the world for a time under this arrangement and would have stayed within the top three if not for slumps from aging players, proving karrigan’s capability in a supportive role.
Besides filling the support assignment, nitr0 is the teams AWPer, but he is replaceable here also. Stewie2K can perform under pressure with the AWP, as he showed with the game-saving play at the ELEAGUE Boston Major for Cloud9. He can wield the weapon with confidence as he did for his former North American team when he secondary AWPed regularly on the CT-side. If he takes the sniping role primarily, that allows EliGE to entry, NAF to lurk, Twistzz to refrag and karrigan to support. That is a scary team for anyone to face, a frightening team composition that only karrigan could bring to life.
Despite adding Casper “cadiaN” Moller as the new in-game leader in September, North would love to recruit karrigan. Andersen should consider the offer if he receives it, as the youthful North have a lot more of talent on the team then their #10th place on HLTV rankings would suggest. Nicklas “gade” Gade is a very promising player who showed on OpTic that he had an aptitude for the game, and on North, the young talent has solidified this. karrigan could be tempted by the opportunity to mold gade into a phenomenal player and make him a focal point of North's future. Kjaerbye was a Major MVP for Astralis at ELEAGUE Atlanta 2017, and he has been at the forefront of the scoreboard for North. The opportunity to reunite with Kjaerbye would interest karrigan, who knows from history how good of a player he is.
In the past support rifler Philip “aizy” Aistrup was one of the most highly rated talents in Denmark. He demonstrated impressive form after IEM Katowice 2018, but since cadiaN joined, his individual performance has dipped. If karrigan joined, Aistrup might animate himself and frag out once more. The Danish leader helped Havard “rain” Nygaard reach his potential on FaZe so that he could do it for aizy as well.
Making #20 in HLTV’s player rankings for 2018 was Valdemar “valde” Bjorn Vangsa. His talent has been openly displayed this year, earning his ranking. He has achieved a 1.15 HLTV rating at LAN over the year, and this only slipped to 1.10 at premier LANs. Considering his relative inexperience, first playing professionally in 2016, these are stellar numbers. As with the other young talent on the team, the steady hand of karrigan would be perfect for cultivating it to blossom.
Even with all that individual ability on show, North has shown a more significant potential in another aspect. There have been three occasions that North faced the best team in Counter-Strike, Astralis. Twice at DreamHack Masters Stockholm and once at IEM Chicago. The matches at DeamHack both ended in 2-1 victories for North. The games played at IEM were more reminiscent of other teams experience facing Astralis, that being swift elimination. Regardless North have established their ability to beat Astralis, something Liquid, and the third-ranked team has not. While there is not any public animosity between karrigan and his former team, North proving able to beat Astralis has got to be a selling point for karrigan.
The Clear Path
All three potential moves have big posable upsides for karrigan, without question. The Green Wall has a very talented roster, with skilled prospects like k0nfig and refresh amongst its ranks. OpTic does have many disqualifying factors though, the largest being their lowly 19th place on HLTV’s world rankings. This by itself probably means that karrigan will not join the team; they are struggling too much for his high standards. Also, bearing in mind that OpTic just made a change, it’s unlikely they will want to change players again so quickly. That cuts down the most likely candidates to North and Liquid.
The American lineup is higher on the world rankings, but not being from karrigan’s native Denmark could dent their chances. The Dane has spent two years in the international FaZe lineup, so he may wish to move back home to be closer to family and friends. The opportunity to play with fresh talent from his native country might amplify this even further. The nationality of the players could be a deciding factor for Liquid also. Some Liquid players’ have made public admittance of relief in returning to an entirely North American roster.
Finally, North’s competence against Astralis might be the cherry on top, as they have landed more punches on the Danish titan than Team Liquid. With karrigan’s guidance, North would be poised to return to their former level and battle their way into the top five.
Image Via: ELEAGUE