Can the arrival of Karrigan boost FaZe Clan back up to world number one?
Since leaving the team two years ago, both Finn “Karrigan” Andersen and FaZe Clan have had their ups and downs. In the official announcement from the team on February 15, 2021, it was confirmed that the veteran IGL would be rejoining the roster in place of Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson, whose future is currently uncertain.
His time away
After leaving FaZe Clan, Karrigan had a temporary spell on loan for Team Envyus, however, after failing to qualify for the major with the North American roster, the Danish player quickly found himself on the mixed nationalities Mousesports roster alongside Chris “chrisJ” de Jong, David “frozen” Cernansky, Ozgur “woxic” Eker, and Robin “ropz” Kool.
Whilst the roster changed throughout his time on the roster and was sometimes a rollercoaster of results which left fans questioning the team; it is undeniable that Karrigan provided the much-needed strats that led them to the multiple events wins and peaking at the number two team in the world at one point - according to hltv.
By far the biggest of their event wins was the ESL Pro League Season Ten Finals, in which they defeated FNATIC 3-0 in the finals, cementing themselves as a team very much in contention for the best in the world. In the semi-finals of this event, they also managed to defeat world number one team Astralis 2-1, in a result that came as a shock to many fans.
Although, whilst wins like this showed that Karrigan was definitely still capable of leading his team to the very top of competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), on too many occasions the mousesports team failed to perform on the biggest stage or lose to teams that a majority of people in the community would have expected them to dominate.
FaZe since Karrigan
Since allowing Karrigan to leave the team back in December 2018, to say that FaZe have been inconsistent is probably an understatement. According to many people in the community, the biggest problem that FaZe had since replacing Karrigan was a lack of a true in-game leader. Whilst the talent on the team was undeniable, with top five players such as Nikola “NiKo” Kovac and Marcelo “Coldzera” David on the roster alongside the young star Helvijs “broky” Saukants, it can't be underestimated how much raw fragging power that the team possessed.
Although, what always hindered the roster since Karrigan’s departure was forcing players such as NiKo to take up the mantle of the in-game leader on the team, a role that diminished his individual ability to a certain extent as he could no longer just focus on his own gameplay.
Having said that, FaZe have definitely seen success since the departure of Karrigan, winning two Blast pro series events in 2019, followed up by managing to claim the throne of the IEM New York 2020 Europe tournament. However, considering the reported buyouts that they have paid over the years for multiple star players, including most recently Coldzera, the organisation, and definitely, the players on the team would have without a doubt have expected more success than they have managed to achieve without a true in-game leader.
Therefore, it came as no shock when reports started to surface that star player NiKo was looking for other options to play elsewhere for the first time since joining FaZe in 2017, and when the call came from G2 Esports to play alongside his cousin, Nemanja “huNter” Kovac, it was an offer too good to refuse and left FaZe Clan once again looking for an extra player to round out the team.
They have had a couple of temporary players on the team in recent months including former player Olofmeister who was only coming back to help the team until they could secure a full time fifth and Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye, the former major winner on Astralis. Whilst Kjaerbye did help the time lift the title of IEM New York, he never really seemed to fit into the team the way that they would’ve liked and for that reason along with the sudden availability of benched Team Liquid former top ten player Russell “Twistzz” van Dulken, FaZe once again opened the cheque book to acquire another talented rifler that they hope will be able to catapult the team back to the very top of CS:GO’s elite teams.
Heading into the spring of 2021, finally with what seems like a stable roster for the first time in months and back with Karrigan home as the stable in-game leader they have needed since cutting him back over two years ago, it seems that the sky is the limit for the newest iteration of the FaZe Clan roster, but as of now we will have to just wait and see whether they will be future world number one or just another hyped up team destined to fail.
Images via Dreamhack | Levelpush | G2 Esports