karrigan: "I feel that we've improved a lot and that we can be proud of the results we've had in the last two weeks"
The Danish veteran discusses mousesports' turbulent year and the recent campaign in DreamHack Masters Winter Europe as they prepare for the BLAST Premier Fall Finals.
mousesports head into their final event of the year brimming with confidence following an interesting string of results that included victories over Heroic, Liquid and Cloud9. The international team won seven series in a row before losing to Astralis 3-1 in the grand final of DreamHack Masters.
It was the first time since April, in ESL Pro League Season 11, that mousesports were close to winning a title. The team hit a rough patch of form in the middle of the year and ended up replacing Özgür "woxic" Eker — who was ranked the 12th best player of 2019 — with Aurimas "Bymas" Pipiras, a young talent with little competitive experience.
Finn "karrigan" Andersen expressed a sense of relief to see the team back at the top after a disappointing few months, and admitted that his squad's inexperience played a role in Sunday's series against Astralis. Still, he refused to point the finger at any individual player when asked about why his team could not close out the final two maps.
The 30-year-old was coy when asked about his future and the reports suggesting that he might leave mousesports to return to FaZe, saying that his sole focus right now is on bringing his team back to the top.
You just played out a long final against Astralis, which you lost 3-1. Why do you think you were unable to close out the last two maps? Would you put it down to inexperience?
I think when you are playing a final against a team like Astralis, it's always going to be tough, it's probably the worst team to face in a final, I would say. As a team, they have a lot of experience together, and when you look at the two different teams, mousesports and Astralis, some of our players weren't even playing professionally when Astralis started winning big tournaments back in the day. With that in mind, it felt like experience was a key factor here and a few over-rotations in important rounds, but as a team, I feel that we've improved a lot and we can be proud of the results we've had in the last two weeks, but we also have to get back into the top 10. Our results in the last eight months have been terrible, inconsistent. Right now we're just looking forward to creating consistency around the results, and next time we have a final I think we can be better prepared as a team.
Were you still satisfied with your second place? Looking back, I think no one expected you to go that far...
If you were to tell me before the tournament started that we would be top two, I would obviously be happy. But with that said, I also feel that we didn't meet all of the best teams in the tournament and GODSENT beat some of those good teams, so we're only going to meet those teams that are winning, right? So in the end, when you look at it all, I felt that we kind of showed that we can become a top-10 team again, and therefore I'm happy we are playing good CS and are actually winning games and making it really close against a top team like Astralis. Overall, I'm satisfied with the results, but when you're in the final you always want more. I think if you don't have that mentality you shouldn't even play professional CS. Last night [Sunday night] was disappointing, but it is what it is, and we just have to evaluate what went wrong and try to learn from the mistakes for the upcoming tournament.
Bymas was brought in by the organisation as a sixth player and transitioned to the starting lineup after woxic stepped down. What can you say about his evolution?
When taking a young guy like Bymas, you obviously don't know much about him. The only information I had was how he had played in FaZe and how he could be, but you can quickly see if the guy has potential in the way that his mechanics work. You don't know the mentality of the player, you don't know what he's like, you've never really talked to him; so getting him on the team, the most important thing to me was that he lacked confidence. The situation he had in FaZe wasn't good for his comfort and so to get the best out of him you needed to put him in those situations where he wants to be in case it does make sense to the team. But I think he is pretty happy with the role he has in the team, he likes to go in first but we have a lot of players who also want to do that so he can trade off some of the players in the team as well. Getting experience takes time, so he will learn during the game when he needs to to be aggressive and when he doesn't, but his mechanics are really on point. I think you have seen that in all of the games. I think he will be even better once he's had more time and once he finds his comfort zone in mouz. For now, I am really proud of his development. You can see that in the games as well, that he feels way more confident.
You've been working with [coach] mithR for a few weeks now. What has he brought to the table? How would you compare him to Rejin?
I think it's really hard to compare the styles right now because I've only worked with mithR in theory for two to three weeks. He came into the team when the playbook was already made for the rest of the year. What he has done well is really focus on the pistol rounds and anti-ecos. I think that there were days this year when we were struggling because we could not win those pistol rounds or those anti-ecos. From my point of view, he has brought a structure around the team, which is really good. He is getting closer and closer with the team and getting to know everyone's personality. It's hard for me to say what the big differences between those two coaches are, but I'm really happy to have worked with Rejin and to be working with mithR. They're really good for me as a caller, and it's really important for me that we don't have clashing styles, they both agreed that the way I'm calling is the right way, so it's important for me that they have my back. We just have to wait and see, it'll be easier for me to answer this question in a month or two or the beginning of next year, when I will have had more time to work with mithR.
You're about to face Vitality, who have been the best at using a six-man roster. Yesterday [Sunday], when you played Astralis, they also used all six players. From the perspective of an opponent, is it harder to prepare for a match when you might not know which players could play on certain maps?
I would say no... not at the moment because it seems Vitality have a clear plan when to use the sixth man and who to play. But if suddenly they change that style and start using Nivera on all maps then something can change, yes. As far as I've seen for Vitality, they have a set plan when to use the different players. If it comes to a best-of-five, I think it's an advantage as a six-man roster because you have to stay focused and play for a long time, and that can be fatiguing in those games. So for now, it's not like they are completely changing up the lineup. If you had seven or eight players, then yes, because you can do a lot of variations of the team. With a six-man roster, at least the way that I've seen, it's very map-dependent in terms of who is playing, and it's not really about how they are feeling on the day.
So did you expect Bubzkji to come on for Nuke?
We had a big feeling that Bubzkji would play on Nuke, they had done it the day before. If I had been the team playing the day before, I would have obviously been surprised by Bubzkji coming on because the answer you have [for the match] will change. You also have to look at the roles he's playing. He's playing the lurk in lobby, which means you only don't know that info, because the whole gameplan doesn't change. But if you change an entry fragger or AWPer then that style will change fast in the game. If you're a lurker you just lurk differently. It didn't change much from the answer we had, we looked at the game with Bubzkji and we also looked at the games they played with Xyp9x and they kind of looked similar, but Bubzkji is a more aggressive lurker than Xyp9x.
There was a lot of debate about chrisJ's peek on Nuke at 13-13 that probably cost you the map. How do you bounce back from a situation like that? How do you think that chrisJ is dealing with the fact that he is the main AWPer of the team?
You're never going to blame a player for doing a mistake in a crucial round, that can happen to anyone and it has happened to me. But Chris knows it was a mistake and that's the most important thing, he knows he made a mistake that round and that's just how it is. Mistakes just happen, but we can easily recover. Sometimes he's not making mistakes, sometimes he is. It goes for all the players and sometimes it's in an unfortunate situation or a round where it's expensive.
Chris becoming the main AWPer has been really good compared to what I did for the team. We had a different style when I was main AWPing for a month, but so far I feel like he has been really good at recovering and getting into that zone, and I obviously think he had a bad game yesterday against Astralis, the same with me. And that can happen as well, it's a role he has to get used to and it's not that easy. He understands the role well and what he needs to do for the team. He can be the star AWPer, but he can also be a more supportive element for the young rifle duos we have.
frozen played a big role in the team's success in 2019, but he went through a slump in form in the middle of this year. Now, he seems to be getting back to his best. Was it a matter of confidence, or have you changed some things to make him more comfortable?
I don't think much has changed. I think Covid and the results we had in the team had an impact on a young guy like him. Coming from being ranked No.2 in the world and winning a lot of tournaments to starting to lose all of a sudden, you're probably going to look towards yourself and say, ‘maybe it's my fault that we are not performing’, and stuff like that. But then again, it is a team game and we all fell off a cliff after March. It kind of hurt him, but I also feel like now with woxic out of the lineup he is taking more responsibilities in his role and I also told him he needs to do that because we need him to take up that star role in the team. Before that he was more like a joker, we didn't need him to perform on his highest level constantly to win games because we had woxic and ropz performing at a constantly high level. But with woxic out of the picture you're looking towards frozen to be a star on the team, and I think he's been doing that lately and I'm just proud of him for doing so well and improving mentality-wise, in-game-wise, day by day.
You will re-enter the top 10 in the rankings after six months. What does it mean to you to end the year on a high note, and does this give you extra motivation heading into the BLAST Premier Fall Finals?
Finally entering the top 10 after six months out in the cold is obviously good. I'm proud of our work and we have been working our asses off for I don't know how many months to get back here. That's a good result to end the year with, but obviously, we want to be higher. It gives us motivation going into BLAST as well, that we can compete and we are a top-10 team in the world and nobody sees us as a small underdog and kind of start to respect us as well because of our results. It doesn't give us more motivation to work harder because I already work so hard and can't work harder than I do at the moment. It just means what we're doing right now is the right thing and I think it gives a little more confidence to the team that we are starting to grind the rankings again like we did last year. We just have to take it from there and go with fresh mindset into 2021.
There have been some rumours about where you might be playing next year. What can you say about your future?
For now, I'm just focusing on mousesports and on becoming the best team we can be, so that's where all my focus lies. That's what I need to focus on and make sure we can become a top team again.