karrigan: "The main goal is to close out the Grand Slam"
The Danish IGL sat down for a quick chat before FaZe's BLAST Premier Spring Groups campaign.
Editor's note: This interview was conducted before BLAST denied FaZe's request to use k0nfig at the tournament
FaZe come into the new year as the undisputed best team of 2022 but ready to get back to winning ways after they failed to add more trophies to their cabinet in the latter half of the season.
Their first event of the season will be a tough challenge for FaZe, with Håvard "rain" Nygaard and Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström both missing out on the Danish event. The Norwegian's replacement is still yet to be determined, as the team's request to use Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke was denied at the last minute by BLAST and FaZe now have less than 24 hours to find a new player.
You come into the tournament after the HLTV Awards, where you won IGL of the year, while FaZe also claimed team of the year. How does getting such achievements feel for you personally as well as the team, now that you had some time to reflect?
As a team we kind of expected it, to be honest, I mean the results talk for themselves, right? Super happy about last year, and for my individual reward it's obviously nice to be recognized for the work I've done for the team. But let's not forget that was last year, and the new season has already started and we have to work hard if we wanna win the same awards next year. It obviously gives us a bit more motivation to get such awards and have that focus on being the best team in the world.
As you said you had a successful 2022, but your form dwindled toward the end of the year. Did you need to change anything in the off-season?
During the off-season I don't think we talked about changing anything, I just don't think we ever got into gear. In the second part of the season, I feel like we played in fifth gear, after playing the first part in sixth. We also played against some good teams that managed to beat us in the tournaments we didn't manage to win, we lost to the eventual winners in three of them. When that happens, you know you played the best team at the tournament, and we kind of look at it from that perspective too.
The approach of the team is only changing one or two percent, we have our DNA and philosophy as a team, and now we need the players to play at the best level, and make sure to help them improve if they are struggling. So yeah, the next three months will set the tone for what direction we want to take as a team.
For the first tournament of the year, you will be without rain and RobbaN. How big of a loss will they be?
It's a big loss, we haven't practiced with the player we are using at BLAST Groups at all, because we don't know exactly what is happening given the situation, and in our mind, we tried to stay as ready as possible for Katowice, which is why we practiced with rain.
That's it, and now we come into the tournament and the goal is obviously to avoid the Showdown, we just have to play good individual CS and make good decisions, so it's kind of a step back for the start of the season but we have been in this position before, we will take it game by game, maybe they come back sooner when BLAST is ending, we don't know anything yet. We will take it day by day, play with whoever we need to play with and take it from there.
Given your success with substitutes up to this point, are you even worried?
I am always a bit worried at the start of the season, when we came to Katowice last year we were already warmed up after three months of the season. I was on vacation 11 days ago, so I'm not at my highest level, but we will do our best and I think we have a good possibility even with a substitute, and we will take it from there. You want to make it to the BLAST Spring Final because playing Showdown is really rough, especially online.
And have you received confirmation about who will be your fifth for the tournament?
I'm not sure actually how everything works, but I think what was discussed yesterday is going to be how it is. I expect that because otherwise, I have no idea what we will do.
sjuush named you as one of the best Anubis teams yesterday. Do you think you have a good idea of how to play on the map?
I think a lot of matchmaking with friends during COVID really helped with that, in the sense that I understand the map. We have a good approach on the map, and it fits our players and the style that we play. But let's not forget that if you lose one Anubis game, you might think that you need to change stuff, it is very hard not to overthink a new map in the beginning. All in all, so far what we played has been really good, and we will see if we are a good Anubis team in the next few weeks.
What are FaZe's goals for 2023, when the full roster gets together?
I think our goal for the last four months has been closing out the Grand Slam, that is definitely the top priority for the team and therefore it's a big part of what we wanna do in the first part of the season. We can do it at a lot of tournaments, but winning Katowice back-to-back would be a dream come true even though it is incredibly hard to win, I've been there many times.
So yeah, the main goal is to close out the Grand Slam, and then we can set new goals as a team after that, and everybody needs to make sure the pressure doesn't get to us and we close it out as fast as possible.
Some of your teammates were unhappy with some of the decisions at the HLTV Awards. Have you managed to calm them down so they can focus on the tournament ahead?
I think they went a little ham for five minutes, but it is what it is. I mean I agree with them, I think I need to make an article about how important RobbaN is to the team for people to understand, so they know why I took him to FaZe, he is the best coach I've ever had. Unfortunately, when you have a caller like me you apparently get robbed as a coach.
When it comes to the highlight, m0NESY's highlight wasn't bad, but what ropz did was history. If he wouldn't have won that round, I don't think we would have won Katowice and the Major after. So that's my point of view, and you can put everything else aside because that's the highest stakes at the highest level, against one of the best teams in the world in a grand final, for me that's a historic moment.
Just to follow your thoughts about RobbaN. Do you think it's hard for the general public to see what the coach actually does for the team because they aren't on the server?
Other coaches are doing more interviews and explaining all of the things they are doing, while RobbaN is always in the background. But when you look at our team and see how many comebacks you did and you realize that we don't have a sports psychologist, then you should understand how important he is to help us have that mentality to never give up. The most important thing I learned from him is that even if you play badly, never make your enemies win big against you, fight for every round to make sure you don't give an easy win away.
He also helps to keep me on track and works on improving the team. It's also very hard to coach an international team, I don't think people realize how hard it is, and that's why he is going under the radar. I feel bad for him, but I also know him well and know that he doesn't care that much, he just cares about the team and the family around him, but I do think he is the best coach in the world.