karrigan: "Chemistry has been insanely good from day one; everybody is enjoying each other"
On day three of EPICENTER 2019, we spoke to Finn "karrigan" Andersen, who broke down the team's first two series in Moscow and discussed recent successes.
mousesports find themselves in the last-four stage of EPICENTER after topping Group B following a three-map series against Virtus.pro and a dominant victory against an Evil Geniuses team with Igor "crush" Shevchenko filling in. The ESL Pro League Season 10 champions now await the winner of the series between Na`Vi and EG to learn their opponent in Sunday's semi-finals.
After the Dane recuperated from his busy travel schedule and the two consecutive series, we caught up with him to talk about the recent result at cs_summit 5 and how the victory over G2 was achieved. We later talked about the team's recent success and how it is being processed by the players, and asked him to compare his squad with some of his previous sides.
The opening series against Virtus.pro saw an exchange of maps, followed by a grind of a Dust2 that eventually went your way at 22-19 in double overtime. Looking at Dust2 specifically, why did you struggle on the CT side and how did you manage to close out in the end?
First of all, I think Virtus.pro played really well against us. Obviously with getting woxic back after not playing with him for 11-12 days since the Pro League Finals there was some miscommunication and we were getting used to each other. I had changed my calling style at cs_summit 5 because of the stand-in situation, so I had to get back into shape with the way we play and make sure that everyone was on the same page. I think that's why we had that shaky start.
We knew Dust2 is a really great map for them, but it's a great map for us as well. I think we showed that at Pro League, even though we have a bad CT side, we can always come back on the T side with the way we play by making use of players and utility really well on the map. The CT side is really tough, I felt like I missed some shots on Long; when you die on Long on the CT side you open up the whole map for the Ts, so I think we played a bit badly on the CT side. woxic and I weren't on the same page in some of the rounds on A, but overall we played great as a team, and that's why we won the series.
The match against Evil Geniuses was one-sided. While they didn't have Brehze for the series, were you surprised that they left Train in considering how that map had been panning out for them in recent matches against you?
No, lately they have been perma-banning Vertigo and I also expected them to ban it against us. You don't want to play that map with a stand-in, it's a lot about rotations, protocols and how you abuse the mid-round. If the stand-in is not communicating well with the other guys, it's really hard to explain spots on that map when you're not playing together. I was not surprised at all, we would have also punished them if they had left Vertigo in, we would've picked it anyway, so I think all in all the veto went down as we expected.
I kind of expected a Dust2 pick instead of Inferno; Inferno can be tough to play especially if you start on the T side with a stand-in, so that was really the only thing that surprised me in the veto.
Let's talk about cs_summit 5 a little bit- How was the experience of playing with NaToSaphiX as a stand-in?
We had some time to figure out a stand-in, so we asked around, but in the end, I was happy we took NaTo. He's currently without a team, it's an easier transition and you know he's coming in fully motivated to do the best he can to showcase that he's a great player.
Obviously it's hard to play the way we usually do with a stand-in, so we tried to play as few maps as possible, that's also why you saw so many Vertigo picks by us. We thought it was easy to slot him in on that map, but we found out that NaTo hadn't really played it, so in the end, I think we showed up on Mirage, where it's easy to slot in a player like NaTo, and he did a great job, communication-wise as well. All in all, I was happy, and I think he was happy to lift the trophy as well.
You had to leave the grand final halfway through the series and Rejin had to hop into the server. Did you have any parting words or directions for the team?
I hoped that I would be able to play the first half of Vertigo, that's why we chose the CT side on that map, but obviously Mirage was an overtime game, and at that point, I told the guys: "Vertigo is going to be tough, so just focus on Train". That's also why we had Train as the third map, I believe that's a map where you can do great things with a coach on the CT side. I just said: "Make sure Alan (Rejin) rotates around on the CT side, and on the T side you need to decide how you want to play it". Alan decided he wanted to do my stuff in Middle and make some problems, but I think he made problems for the team instead (laughs).
I think it was really important that they switched up to a double AWP setup on the T side and suddenly went off on more of a free style. Once they got to the CT side, Alan "multikill" Petersen stepped up with the AWP and had a great showing. I think they knew how to play, so I didn't really say anything, I just said: "Do everything you can, have fun. It's a tough situation, so just do the best you can". I think they had fun in the end, just not on Vertigo.
The team came into EPICENTER with three back-to-back titles. How has the team been enjoying it? What is the atmosphere like?
I think what we did with our sports psychologist before China was really important. We kind of went back a couple of pages to fix our roles and get the mentality right. We've shown so many times within this team that, even though a comeback might look impossible, we can pull it off. Sometimes we don't finish it off, and since we had our good bootcamp before China we prepared all seven maps for upcoming tournaments. It allowed us to play around the veto and everyone felt confident.
The atmosphere since the bootcamp has been really great, we had to talk about some stuff, some of the other tournaments, what we could've done better, mistakes, etc. Everything was like a clean sheet, you could say. We tried to fix the roles and start off fresh, and that's what we did, now we've won three tournaments in a row. It's going to be tough to add a fourth one, we have been on the road for a long time, woxic came back into the team after not being there at cs_summit 5. I said to the team: "Top four here - if we manage that - we can finish off the year really well." We have an excuse within the team if we cannot perform at our highest level here, but now that we're in the semi-finals, we obviously want to win the trophy and end the year with four tournament victories in a row.
In terms of performance, if you look at the recent events, it has become apparent that individual form has really improved. Everyone has had a massive impact at all of the recent events where you have played. How was this form achieved, and how have you made the step from consistent playoff placements to trophies?
I think two players have been performing the whole year, that's ropz and woxic. They have had really good performances the whole year and I feel that, as a team, we couldn't capitalise on that. At the bootcamp I decided to swap some roles between chrisJ and frozen, and I think they have shown a lot of consistency. Frozen has been kind of a joker this whole year, but since China he has been consistently performing at a high level. Now we can use chrisJ as a joker because if he has one of those games, especially like the one against Astralis on Dust2 where he dropped a 30-bomb, he keeps us in the game to make sure we can finish off the job.
I think the role changes have given us a more consistent performance, especially from frozen, and we can use chrisJ when he goes off, because that is when he has a massive impact. The role change is the reason why you see the form improvement from chrisJ and frozen. ropz and woxic have been great the whole year.
Lastly, you've been an in-game leader for a while now, and over the years you've been the captain of a list of rosters. How does your current lineup differ from those you led before?
The three teams that I've reached the top with are three different teams. I came into TSM, who had a really strong core and they are still together. They could never really reach the big titles, and when I came in there, we won some titles. Obviously we didn't win the Major, I couldn't take them further.
Going into FaZe was a complete mess to begin with. There were superstars from different teams that people didn't really want in their team, like NiP and Danish teams, etc. There, I had to build with the pieces I had, and kept improving the team over time. That's what we did together with FaZe, and we won a lot of tournaments as well.
Coming to mousesports, it was a different story. I had the chance to create my team from the beginning. I could watch a lot of demos, I could get to know the person before taking them into the team. I did a lot of work behind the scenes to kind of figure out who I wanted, how contracts worked and how we could get the players we wanted for a reasonable price. That's what we did, and I knew when we started this team that 2020 was the year in which we had to perform. We set goals for this year with our sports psychologist saying we wanted one big tournament win this year and we wanted to reach top-five and take it from there next year. That's what we have done, and I'm really happy with the team.
What you never really know is the chemistry of the team, and I think it has been insanely good from day one, everybody is here to win, everybody is also enjoying each other. Having good chemistry in the lineup is really, really important, because you have it automatically in a domestic lineup, people always know each other from various teams, for example, but here we came in from four different teams and we had to figure out the playstyle we wanted. Everything is working great right now.