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Stories from Katowice: Karrigan's biggest challenge

It’s very difficult to find one as accomplished as Finn "karrigan" Andersen. Star player turned in-game leader across different versions of Counter-Strike, Karrigan now has a legacy behind him of taking the best and making them better. With the greatest of all battles looming over the horizon, Faze sought to offload him but could not risk letting their prized serf into the hands of a great rival. Although OpTic, Liquid, Mousesports and countless other teams could be propelled into greatness overnight underneath Karrigan’s capable hands, he was sent instead to Envy – a team with relatively little to offer. Karrigan-1.jpg Yes, Karrigan finds himself in dire straits. But at the same time, there is an opportunity. Karrigan is a man who paved the path for the stars themselves, the greatest of all time, and as a man who almost broke the very bedrock of Counter-Strike by bringing together the individual deadliest players of their respective times. What better way to prove himself as the greatest of all time? What better way to flex your skills in front of the ultimate adversity? Who could possible discredit Karrigan for any success he manages to get with this team? He has the pieces to make it work. There’s players who have been touted again and again to be the next upcoming talent, Noah "Nifty" Francis and Josh "jdm64" Marzano. There’s a support player who could in the best case scenario be called a veteran, Stephen "reltuC" Cutler and there’s the unknown quantity who has never even been given a chance at the big leagues, Tayler "Drone" Johnson. So now you potentially have two players who can frag underneath the right leadership and two supportive element players. Why is this the test to prove that Karrigan is the greatest of all time?

Unfulfilled promise

For all the Reddit comments about Jdm and Nifty being NA’s big upcoming talents back in their heyday – with Jdm being compared to prime Skadoodle, and Nifty flaunting some rare skills as an IGL AWPer – the stat behind them are a little bit dismal. Jdm’s time in CLG – when all the hype surrounded him – saw him having only a 1.05 rating on LAN. However, he was surrounded by a weaker team that didn’t really have many chances at victory so his stats were naturally going to be somewhat deflated. These excuses however, no longer rung true once he found a new home in Team Liquid. JDM-300x200.jpg Now in a much more effective team, jdm still was yet to show off the talents that were touted in him for so long. On LAN, he still only had a 0.99 HLTV rating. Over time, the lineup shifted. No longer was he dealing with the same level of internal conflict and problematic IGL situations, now he had none other than the fabled OpTic saviour of Stanislaw guiding him. Again, his rating nosedived even lower, to 0.96. Soon without a team, JDM was left to the wilderness to rediscover what the eye test had once shown us. Similarly, Nifty is the other potential fool’s gold in this lineup. Where his true value had been as an IGL who could also frag in a core role, Nifty never really put up star level numbers on a consistent basis. He wasn’t someone you could truly style your entire team around. The problem with Nifty seemed to be less of a problem of ability to perform, but more a disparity in his statistics from the top levels to the lower echelons in a time when the top 10 were significantly stronger than they are now. Regardless, the two players have a certain spark. North America’s always been lamented for its lack of great in-game leaders to develop and bring up talent - something that is slowly being remedied. What greater challenge could there be to prove his worth at every level for Karrigan? To bring up two of the ‘promised’ players of NA, and finally prop them up on his shoulders to give them the chance to be what fans have been touting them as for so long. And yet, even if he manages to make the dynamic duo work, there still isn’t reason to believe that they can rise to the top. So comes his next challenge.

A fragging in-game leader

For Karrigan to now give his team a shot at the top 16 of the major – a point beyond which they’re guaranteed out of the minor danger-zone – he now needs to step up individually as a player and take the burden of putting up some numbers himself too. In a time where more and more IGL’s are demonstrating their ability to have an impact on the scoreboard, especially in the lower echelons of pro teams, Karrigan has now found himself in a position where he too must grace the scoreboard with his presence. [caption id="attachment_107161" align="alignnone" width="600"]Karrigan-FaZe-300x226.jpg Credit: ELEAGUE[/caption] With Cutler’s prime being long past, and Drone never having played a single match on LAN versus a top 30 team, the third fragger on this team can’t really be anyone other than Karrigan himself. Yet, it can’t really be denied that the man’s been one of the sleeper IGL’s when it comes to putting up when his team needs it. While his numbers over the past year have been nothing to boast about, things become a little more interesting when you look at his clutch rates on LAN. Amongst the top 10 teams on HLTV (as of 12th January), Karrigan’s clutch statistics are ridiculous. As far as 1v1 goes, he has the highest successful clutch rate across the board. When it comes to 1v2’s, then Karrigan is still amongst the highest numbers, with only Lekro and Nitro truly ahead of him. With him no longer having the ultimate heavy-lifters surrounding him, it’s time for him to show off the one skillset that’s been hidden away since his non IGL days. Yet, there’s one last player who could be a challenge for Finn.

Drone: The Unknown Quantity

What to say about Drone? Individually, he hasn’t been enough of a standout player to be picked up by another team once his departure from Splyce in April 2018 came through. At the same time, it’s clearly evident that there is a problem endemic to the North American scene. Younger players are unable to come up easily without showing themselves off as an ultimate force to be reckoned with on the server. They lack the subtle nudges towards becoming a player that can properly play a role within a team. More often than not, its players who make their way into stardom, and on the way down their skill bell curve, they switch to role players. Drone-CSGO.jpg This is where a unique opportunity comes in. A clean slate. Now, clean slates aren’t something that Karrigan’s shown off his skills with in recent years. It’s something most noticeably absent in his repertoire ever since he’s been in the conversation as a GOAT leader candidate. But at the same time, as a result of Olofmeister’s injuries last year, we also know just how much Karrigan can do with players who are willing to listen to him and mold themselves into his team philosophy. Jørgen "cromen" Robertsen comes to mind. A completely unknown quantity, Cromen ended up winning a tier one tournament and looking like an absolutely stunning player underneath the Faze system. With Done, there isn’t much time, and that’s where Karrigan’s reputation for speedy work gets put to the test. This is Karrigan’s biggest challenge yet. It’s not just to take a group of stars and turn them into a dark horse over the course of a week, it’s to take a group of could-have-beens and never-were’s and turn them into players that can fight it out with the best in the world.

The New Legends Stage

It isn’t enough to just take this team to the Major and get stickers. Don’t get me wrong, that in itself is a big accomplishment. In order to cement his legacy as the ultimate IGL, the man who can work with anything in front of him and with any time, Karrigan needs to take his team to the top 16 of the major, and carve their names in stone for the subsequent major as well. Karrigan-Astralis-300x169.jpeg It may seem like an absurd task, but this is a question for Karrigan to prove himself as the greatest leader of all time, beyond Glaive and his tactics, beyond Fallen’s Brazilians, and beyond Pronax’s three majors. Karrigan’s already worked magic with the structured stars of Astralis, he almost broke the game with the beasts of Faze. Now, the question is, can he now turn the tide for Envy and make them a top team? Can he take the rusted iron that everyone had shunned as useless and turn it into a dark horse? Only time will tell.