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stuchiu
Written By: stuchiu

Esports writer in search of the play.

Apr 24, 2019

Finn “karrigan” Andersen is one of the greatest in-game leaders in CS:GO. He has consistently proven that he can work with players from any culture or region and make the team’s sum greater than its parts. The Dane has led three different lineups to elite status and now faces a new challenge with the current iteration of mousesports.

The rebuilding of Mouz

When karrigan was first benched on FaZe in December 2018, mousesports was one of the first teams that everyone thought he should join. Their lineup at the time featured Chris “chrisJ” de Jong, Robin “ropz” Kool, Miikka “suNny” Kemppi, Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný and Martin “STYKO” Styk. That team looked like the type he had elevated in the past.

Mouz were a top four team in decline. They had become stale and teams had figured out their playstyle. Many of their players were going through slumps of form, most notably suNny and ropz. These were the exact problems that karrigan was able to cure in his older lineups. At the end of 2014, Dignitas/TSM was in a similar position to where Mouz was at that time. Karrigan gave them the shot of leadership they needed to become one of the best in 2015. In terms of individual players, last year’s Mouz lineup was similar to the FaZe that karrigan initially joined with Havard “rain” Nygaard, Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad, Aleksi “allu” Jalli, Philip “aizy” Aistrup and Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey. One of the key differences to note was that the 2016 FaZe lineup was far more dysfunctional as it didn’t have a set identity or established roles for the players. Even so, karrigan pulled out a miracle as he constructed a Ferrari out of the disparate parts and made them an international playoffs team.

So when reports surfaced that the Dane was in talks with mousesports, it looked like history was going to repeat itself. Instead, Mouz decided to rebuild the entire team. STYKO and ChrisJ were benched while Oskar was released from his contract and suNny was in talks of leaving the team. They eventually ended up with karrigan, ChrisJ, ropz, Özgür “woxic” Eker, and David “frozen” Čerňanský.

While there is a lot of potential, mousesports also significantly increased the risk. Oskar and suNny were the primary win conditions and the two most consistent stars of the old team. Their new roster must start from scratch and karrigan will have to find out what the identity of this new team is.

The most notable difference between the previous Mouz squad and karrigan’s lineup is the experience. Ropz, frozen, and woxic are all early in their careers. The Estonian’s rookie year was fantastic considering it was his first stint in a pro team – however, he eventually hit a slump in the latter half of 2018. While he fulfilled his role well, he was no longer an impactful star that could consistently sway the game in the team’s favor. For karrigan, enabling ropz and helping him realize his potential will be a critical part of the new Mouz lineup.

In addition to ropz, the Dane will have to help both woxic and frozen. The former has some experience playing with HellRaisers, but that was a different team. HR polarized their identity around his AWP and gave him all the resources strategically, economically, and positionally. In this Mouz team, woxic will have to learn how a new system and how to work with other stars in the lineup.

Frozen is the biggest gamble of the three players as he has had no experience at this level of Counter-Strike. Most players don’t have a good sense of what their strengths and limits are as an individual player until they play at the higher levels of competition. This is because the opposition at those levels challenges players in a way that they don’t get at the lower rungs of competitive CS.

The only veteran experience karrigan has on the team is ChrisJ. He has proven himself to be a soldier, someone willing to do whatever role is required of him to make the team successful. While he provides many options to the team (entry fragger, second AWP, second caller), the big problem with this lineup is that they don’t have a consistent role player who can create a base of teamplay. As that’s the case, it will likely fall on karrigan and ChrisJ to do so.

Not everyone can play at the highest levels

The best way to display the challenges of the new mousesports lineup is to look at other IGLs in the scene. Throughout CS:GO history, there are certain leaders that have specialized in helping raise young talent and taking them to the highest level. Among those leaders, Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen and Damian “daps” Steele had the most success in recent years in my opinion.

Both made a career out of taking up-and-coming players and leading them up to the next level. Both were incredible at scouting and cultivating talent. Even with all of their success though, they don’t get all of their picks right. MSL wasn’t able to get Daniel “mertz” Mertz to become the next great AWPer in Denmark or make Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen the next domestic success story. Before daps finalized the 2018 lineup, he wasn’t able to get either Allan “AnJ” Jensen or Edgar “MarkE” Maldonado to the next level.

Apart them, the success rate of rising stars falls down rapidly. If you look out across the scene, you’ll realize that there have been far more potential up-and-comers who have failed than made it. We’ve seen multiple hyped-up talents come and go: William “draken” Sundin, Joakim “disco doplan” Gidetun, Jakob “JUGi” Hansen, Bektiyar “fitch” Bahytov, Kenneth “koosta” Suen and many others have risen and fallen.

There is no way to know how these younger players will do on a big stage. We’ve only seen a few examples of players who have gone from complete competitive unknowns to international star players. Even when they successfully make the jump, it doesn’t mean they can stay at that level forever. The biggest example is Abay “Hobbit” Khasenov, the rookie of the year in 2017. His trajectory looked like he was set to become one of the future superstars of the game. That potential was never realized as his form crashed. His fall from grace was just as meteoric as his rise.

A New Challenge for karrigan

For karrigan, the Mouz lineup is a new challenge compared to other squads he has led in the past. On Dignitas/TSM, he led a Danish structured team to international success. When he went to FaZe, he showed that he could work with distinct disparate parts and make them reach international relevance. On the last iteration of FaZe, he displayed the ability to lead a loose style of play that built on the superstar firepower he had at his disposal.

Now the Dane must show a new side of his in-game leading as he isn’t working with a lineup that has a pre-existing synergy. He doesn’t have a team that is made up of one culture or a group of international superstars. The only lineup that he has ever led that is comparable to this one was the original FaZe. Even they had veteran experience where he had to figure out the puzzle and create a team identity from scratch.

Here, he will not only have to put the pieces together, but also has to raise them up to a level that many of them never reached before. So far, so good: after a month of playing together, karrigan has decided on the roles.

“chrisJ is going to be a hybrid, the secondary AWPer, secondary caller, and he can play any role I need in a round…. ropz, the FPL God, is going to be an important piece in this lineup, he'll lock down the small sites as CT and play a lurking role on T. woxic, the crazy Turk, is going to be the guy with a happy mood and will be the main AWPer. I’ve had my eyes on him for a long time, so I was happy we were able to get him on board. frozen is going to be our entry, he has really solid mechanics and is able to do some crazy stuff.”

Things already seem to be clicking in-game. In the ESL Pro League Season 9 group stages, Mouz topped group A with victories over OpTic, North, and ex-Space Soldiers. What was remarkable about the run from a tactical standpoint is how karrigan has enabled his players. The two primary examples were on Train and Mirage T-side. On Train, the Dane has started to wield double-AWP strategies to emphasize both woxic and ChrisJ. He’s also used the Turk as an AWP lurker to keep the defenses from over-rotating.

As for Mirage, he’s found a way to reactivate ropz on the T-side of the map. In 2018, he was left to find his own plays in palace. It worked for the first half of the year, but as teams got used to him, he stopped having impact. To create more space for the young Estonian, karrigan uses himself as an entry piece from T-connector to take first contact, feeding information to him to enable a play on that side of the map.

Everything seems to be coming together. If karrigan can elevate this team to the highest level, he will add another dimension to an already legendary career as one of CS:GO’s greatest leaders.

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