karrigan: "We could be a dark horse to go deep in this tournament"

FaZe's in-game leader is cautious but optimistic about his team's chances at the Major after going 3-0 in the Challengers Stage.

FaZe became the first team to punch their ticket from the Challengers Stage to the Legends Stage at the Major with a clean record, taking down Spirit and ENCE in best-of-ones before making it out of the group stage unscathed with a 2-0 victory over Virtus.pro. The international squad also did so displaying a wide variety of play, winning their matches on four different maps: Overpass, Dust2, Mirage and Ancient.

karrigan talked about topics ranging from the Major to team culture and having Olof back

FaZe, the lowest seeded team, didn't appear to be a top candidate to win three games in a row in the Challengers Stage as they struggled at IEM Fall just two weeks prior, where they scraped by into the Major after ending the tournament in ninth place, but they nonetheless brought out their star power to breeze through the Major's first Swiss group.

In the interview Finn "⁠karrigan⁠" Andersen walks us through what the team has been up to and how they're managing to curb the pressure they were under at IEM Fall while playing at the Major, touching on topics ranging from the return of Olof "⁠olofmeister⁠" Kajbjer and the addition of analyst Viacheslav "innersh1ne" Britvin as coach to the importance of culture in international teams.

We can start off with the way you came into the Major. IEM Fall wasn't your best showing, so looking in hindsight at such a strong performance in the Challengers Stage, what were your expectations and how have they matched up to the way things have gone?

We had a really good run at IEM Cologne, right? Coming in as underdogs, finally playing on LAN... and not to say that everyone else is bad, but the players we have play better on LAN. I call better on LAN, we can take more risks. So at Cologne we played really well and lost to the best team in the world in the semi-finals, right?

Then the break came and we played online, and our online game started to become better, although in the end we didn't qualify for the Pro League playoffs, which was really tough. Then we had a bootcamp and going into the RMR tournament the pressure was pretty high on us, knowing that we needed to make playoffs to secure a spot at the Major. It came out on the players and the way we talked, every game was a very important game, and I think the pressure got to us. Also other teams had nothing to lose, DBL Poney, SKADE and Fiend, so it was more the pressure.

After we beat OG and BIG I told the guys that we were going to go deep in the Major because when you go through these emotions you appreciate everything more. There was a chance that we wouldn't even be here.

You felt the pressure at the RMR with such an experienced roster, so how did you shed that pressure coming here?

The second we got home from the RMR we took a few days off, it was a long tournament in a bubble, but when we got back to practice everything was so smooth. We worked on the maps that would have been an issue, which is why you see us playing Overpass and Dust2 in best-of-ones, which we haven't ever done. So we worked on the maps that were an issue in order to not play other teams' best maps in a best-of-one like we did against Fiend on Mirage.

Here at the Major we just said 'let's play like we did in practice,' the last two weeks have been really good and we're just playing really smooth. It was still chaotic in the first game, like in all tournaments, but the most important thing is to grow into a tournament, which I think we're doing step by step now. And we played good enemies, Spirit, Virtus.pro and ENCE. All top 15 teams in my opinion, especially at a Major where the pressure is high.

As you brought up the map pool, all four of the maps you played in the Challengers Stage were different. How does that play into the way you can veto against tough opposition and how is that affecting your confidence?

We lost Nuke right before the RMR tournament which hurt our map pool a lot, so we had to avoid it at any cost. That's one map we've been working on a lot because we know people will punish pick it. But now I'm fine with that, especially now that we played the new Dust2 in an official game and it went well against ENCE, who have been really strong on that map.

The map pool we have now is really, really strong. Sure, some maps are worse than others, but right now I feel like we can play around the veto and pick into people's worst maps if we're comfortable on it.

We banned Mirage against ENCE and that was like the first time in three years that I banned it because it has always been a good map for me. Now we can also do respect bans instead of trying to avoid our worst maps.

Talking about you, personally, you had a really solid group stage individually. Not only in your calling, but also in your fragging output. What's up with that?

Coming into FaZe back in January I sat down with my girlfriend who is studying to become a sports psychologist and we put together some goals for the year and how I should work individually. Basically, what I've done, is put in one to two hours on my individual level, rewatching games or how I can improve my calling, and I decided that if I wanted to become a better in-game leader I also needed to work on my individual level and not try to be on top of the meta constantly. And now we have an analyst and a coach that can guide me if I'm doing something wrong, so I'm having that space to finally focus on myself.

The Challengers Stage has been really good for me individually, and there will be good and bad games, but I feel more comfortable and I had good timings, so having more crisp aim can help me turn the round around. So yeah, for now it worked out and I'm working hard on myself every day.

You brought up having an analyst, who is now actually standing behind you guys here. Tell me a bit about innersh1ne and how you work with him.

I got to now Slava, our analyst, when there was a shit storm at MOUZ due to the coaching ban and all of that. He had been an analyst the our previous coach, I didn't talk to him much back then, but as our coach was not able to help us anymore he stepped on and did analyst work to a really good degree during that period.

Coming into this tournament I wanted to bring him on as we were in talks and I told RobbaN that I think this guy can make a difference as me and RobbaN focus more on the team and how we feel. So far he's done a really good job, it's his first time actually coaching, his first LAN and it's a Major. He's a little nervous, but I'm trying to guide him every day and he's learning a lot by being here and learning how I see the game and also how I call in official games. For now he's doing great and has a lot of room to improve, which he's doing every day.

You went 3-0 in the Challengers Stage against tough opposition, so what do you expect going into the top 16?

I said when I joined FaZe that I wanted us in the semi-finals of the next Major, that was my goal. Let's just say my goals have been a disaster in the start, it took a long time to get FaZe at a level where it belongs but I've just come to peace of mind taking in stage by stage. We've gone 3-0 here but who knows if we lose the opening game. We have the pieces to win the tournament but we also have to understand that if we want to win the Major we have to peak because I was in the final of a Major where someone was peaking against me and that's what happens.

You have to be on top of every game and if you lose a game you need to figure out what happened, what went wrong, and try to focus on the good stuff. So that's what we're going to do match by match. The next group stage is going to be a brawl looking at those teams. Some will be huge underdogs, others will have really high pressure, like NAVI, everyone is expecting them to win. Can Gambit deliver at their first Major? So definitely a tough group stage incoming but we could be a dark horse to go deep in this tournament.

What has taken FaZe so long to get things sorted?

If you look at my career in TSM and FaZe everyone looks back at how in four weeks we become one of the best teams in the world, but if we actually look at MOUZ and no with FaZe again it has taken me six months to get a team at a level that's decent. In MOUZ it took us 6-7 months to break through, but when we did we really hit a high ceiling. So maybe it's the way I've been working in the new teams, focusing map by map so once you go six months into a lineup you are strong on six maps.

There were also issues with coldzera not working out, that kind of set back all of the team's goals. Bringing in Olof, I know what he's capable of and he knows how I like to work, and I think that has made rain perform really well. If he plays the way he has the past two months, then we're a really dangerous team, he's the key element in FaZe. So yeah, it has been tough but we're here now.

Speaking of Olof, he's been going in an out over the past years, so it's hard to gauge where he's at. What have you noticed seeing him come back?

I talked to him when I was in MOUZ about joining that team at some point. I think Olof has always been a mood player in the sense that if the environment is good he's very good and enjoys playing CS. He's been on the top for so many years that if he doesn't enjoy practice with the lineup he has or the players he's playing with then he doesn't play the game.

I can see the way he is at bootcamp and how he's playing at the Major, he's working really hard and he's just the typical Olof you want. He's very calm and collected and he's making the whole team play better. He's also making me perform better, his experience is very good and he also makes broky and Twistzz chill out a bit more in chaotic situations on TeamSpeak.

FaZe has always been an amalgam of players with different backgrounds, how is that aspect of the team culture playing out now?

The difference here compared to MOUZ, for example, is that four of us if you include RobbaN come from the same culture, we're all Scandinavian, where we all kind of think the same way about life, manners and those kinds of things. We're similar, so we have a basis there.

Then we have a very young Latvian guy and a Canadian guy, but the culture differences aren't really there because there's not a huge difference in how we are as people. In the game it's also easy because rain, olofmeister and RobbaN know how I want to call and do stuff, so it wasn't a big adjustment for them to get used to the way I see the game or the way we see the game as a team.

In other teams that has been an issue and I think it will always be an issue, you just need to be on top of that as a human being an understand that different things are normal in different cultures. The way people talk or act, it is how it is, so you have to be good with people in an international mix, that's the key element. I learned that during my past five or six years playing in international teams. Just be who you are and accept that some people have different views of life.

Sweden Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
2021-10-27 17:14
1 reply
2021-10-28 08:52
i am | 
Finland iBait
FaZe wins this shit, calling it now. All of these kiddos who've never played in front of a crowd are gonna get their world rocked come playoffs
2021-10-27 17:17
4 replies
2021-10-27 18:13
They can beat everyone, but I think they wont be able to beat NaVi even if b1t/perfecto shit their pants
2021-10-27 18:22
0/8 name doesn't check out.
2021-10-27 23:12
This aged well lmao can’t even get top 8. Overrated team.
2021-11-09 19:26
dark horse? they're favorites to get to semis
2021-10-27 17:15
2 replies
+1, everyone knew they would be strong on LAN it was only a question of how strong. I honestly think they could make it to grand finals with this form (not gonna beat Navi tho)
2021-10-27 17:17
1 reply
dont jinx your team bro there was no way navi lose to ence as well
2021-10-27 17:31
Russia brezyyy
Dark horse Bruh Should be decent tier 1 team capable of doing so
2021-10-27 17:15
Finland uSnaj69
2021-10-27 17:15
Finland AliSabid
lets go mens!
2021-10-27 17:15
Faze are not the underdogs. They have just been playing like shit recently
2021-10-27 17:15
2021-10-27 17:16
2021-10-27 17:17
Denmark NipoCS
olof getting chubby? in that pic at least.
2021-10-27 17:17
5 replies
same with broky, hopefully they do not continue the way that they have been eating, likely just the lockdown body showing in full force for both of them
2021-10-27 17:54
3 replies
Haven't u learned??? Fat coldzera, Niko, zywoo??
2021-10-28 01:00
2 replies
2021-10-28 02:19
Finland Nollegee
Imagine fat s1mple :o
2021-10-28 13:56
he has been working out in gym if I am not mistaken
2021-10-27 18:36
FaZe c LAN ez
2021-10-27 17:18
they wont
2021-10-27 17:18
Lol no.
2021-10-27 17:18
no LMFAO Top 8 max
2021-10-27 17:19
No, they're deserved this spot on Legend stage :)
2021-10-27 17:19
2021-10-27 17:20
lol he's jinxing himself
2021-10-27 17:20
gogo faze
2021-10-27 17:20
Georgia Bochora12
2021-10-27 17:21
Why not white horse? Racist
2021-10-27 17:22
4 replies
binary gender horse
2021-10-27 17:25
India Da_to
Unicorn then
2021-10-27 17:25
Singapore FallBlade
rainbow pegasus*
2021-10-27 17:44
1 reply
Finland Nollegee
2021-10-28 13:56
2021-10-27 17:23
ez top 8
2021-10-27 17:24
xD good one Karrigan
2021-10-27 17:26
I believe in Karrigan.
2021-10-27 17:30
how exactly would they be dark horse? everyone acting like they just won the major and is the best team in the world already?
2021-10-27 17:32
8 replies
Do you understand what a dark horse is? They aren't favorites by any imagination but have shown good form. And have a good chance to have a deep run, despite them being against tougher opponents. I know you are an ence fan, but learn to read.
2021-10-27 17:35
7 replies
but faze are not that far from favorite? for me they are top 4 to win lol, better than nip or vitality on lan easily... heroic gambit onliners so...? wtf u saying kiddo
2021-10-27 17:57
6 replies
"how exactly would they be dark horse? everyone acting like they just won the major and is the best team in the world already?" ? Nt kiddo
2021-10-27 18:11
5 replies
yes so how are they dark horse if everyone thinks they gonna win? please make some sense
2021-10-27 18:20
4 replies
People had them 0-3, nice bait. Every analyst in every game expects them to lose and talk about them being shit.
2021-10-27 18:21
3 replies
"people had them 0-3" pls show a single relevant people who had that analysts are stupid then... on betting faze was always favorite to win so...
2021-10-27 18:22
Finland Nollegee
2021-10-28 14:00
1 reply
Tldr. Explain?
2021-10-28 15:42
Interesting to think that there was a chance of Olof going to mousesports. It would've been crazy.
2021-10-27 17:34
brrruh we are the most expected team to win major , what are you talking about
2021-10-27 17:36
Always nice to hear from Karrigan, such intelligent answers
2021-10-27 17:46
Spain Sebox
2021-10-27 17:47
olofmeister & karrigan duo is amazing
2021-10-27 18:25
Turkey razendd_
Really good leader
2021-10-27 18:27
Good luck karrigan :) <3
2021-10-27 20:32
Macedonia whitel
karrigan you came and fixed the team, i love you brother #FaZe
2021-10-27 20:43
"I got to now Slava, our analyst, when there was a shit storm at MOUZ due to the coaching ban and all of that. He had been an analyst the our previous coach, (...)" nice england hltv
2021-10-27 22:42
Ukraine VoidWave
karrigan is cool very good arcticle and interview
2021-10-28 00:35
Loving it so far, from one of the best IGLs
2021-10-28 01:30
lets go karrigan! Faze is really coming alive right now and its great to see. They have the potential to go very deep this Major.
2021-10-28 02:05
alex | 
Poland SebL
I think the map-pool is actually what made the difference for FaZe in this tournament, can you imagine them playing that well on Dust2 or Overpass 3 months ago? I don't. I think FaZe will make TOP 8 at this Major at the very least, for me, they absolutely have a chance to win the whole thing, they showed it here, and overall when you look at this team it just has everything to become the best. I also feel like now the atmoshpere in FaZe is so much better, like those ppl seem to like each other, and in previous FaZe back with NiKo and cold it didn't really feel that way, maybe it's only me but that's just how I feel. Let's go FaZe!
2021-10-28 15:17
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