faze karrigan
Credit: Starladder

Interview: Karrigan talks about age and BLAST: “We need to finish 2nd at least”


We sat down with FaZe Clan's in-game leader Karrigan ahead of their campaign at the BLAST Fall Finals to discuss the performances of the team, age in esports, and the return of LAN.

Josse van Dessel

Shox recently said that he wants to break through the age limit in esports. As one of the older guys, why do you think that once a player reaches a certain age, people start calling him out on it?

Karrigan

I have no idea why people talk so much about age. I think it comes down to priorities in life. If you’re 30 years old and have kids, it’s harder to compete at a high level. But I have found a balance with my fiancee; she lets me do everything I want to do in my life. She knows how important it is for me to grind. She’s constantly pushing for me to meet my boundaries, improve and reach my goals in life. 

I think it comes down to, if you reach a certain age, you don’t have the same motivation. 

For me, I have more motivation now than I had when I was 24. I realize I can push the age limits as well. The role I have is perfect for playing until you are 35. And we see it in other sports: when Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on the pitch in Football, there’s a personality on the pitch. He might not score as many goals as he used to, but he is still a factor for a team. 

We haven’t discovered the age limit in CS:GO. The game is still too young. I’m almost one of the only 1.6 pros who’s played their whole life competitively. I think we have to wait and see. My reactions are not slowing down. 

If you train them every day, for 20 years, you keep them up to date. It will be interesting to see where we are in five years, with players moving from star roles to in-game leader positions. We’ll see a lot of the older people helping younger guys with their experience. 

Josse van Dessel

Do you think you’ll be around in 5 years?

Karrigan

It’s hard to say. I told myself: the day I can’t be the best in what I do, that’s the day I don’t want to play anymore. I’ve sacrificed a lot in my life to reach the level I’m at right now, and if I don’t wake up with the motivation to improve as a player, as I do now, then I don’t see any reason for me to hang around. 

CS:GO is a lifestyle. You can’t just do it halfhearted. I did that while I was studying, and I told myself never to do that again. Now I’m living the full CS:GO life until the day I don’t want to play anymore. And that’s when I’ll stop. No one is going to tell me when to stop. I’ll know when to walk away from the game. 

Image: BLAST

Josse van Dessel

With esports slowly returning to how we knew it before the pandemic, do you think there are any lessons we can learn from the online era?

Karrigan

One of the things we learned is that some young and inexperienced players can perform on LAN. We saw a lot of big names left out of teams because young players with perhaps better skills took their places. 

Now, at Cologne, the RMR, and the Major, we’ve seen that the young guys have it in them to play in this environment. The lesson is that you can trust young players to perform on a high level in the right setting. That is one thing I learned. 

"No one is going to tell me when to stop. I’ll know when to walk away from the game".
Finn "Karrigan" Andersen

Josse van Dessel

Do you think that having events or parts of events online could help the work-life balance for pro players?

Karrigan

When I think about the time we spend on LAN, I don’t think it’s that much. I think it’s more important for every player to reset after a tournament. To be aware of when you are traveling again. With mousesports, in 2019, we had four tournaments in a row. 

Now, every organization knows that you can’t just play every event. You have to skip some tournaments. But when you’re on the grind to get into the top-10, top-15, as we were with mousesports… 

You usually want to play a tournament every three weeks. That’s the best possible scenario with LAN. With online, I felt every match was the same. So I don’t think it makes sense to have some tournaments online now that we have LAN again. 

When online is the only option, it gets some intensity, but for me, it would be hard to play a DreamHack Open online knowing there could be a DreamHack Open on LAN. It’s just two different feelings. 

Image: BLAST

Josse van Dessel

Do you still get nervous playing in front of an arena?

Karrigan

Sometimes I get nervous, yeah. It’s more the adrenaline. I always see nerves as a good thing. It’s because I want to perform at the highest level. All the emotions I have on that stage are things I embrace. I see pressure as a good thing. If you feel pressure, it’s because people expect you to do good. It means you’ve done something in your career correct to reach the level you are at now. 

If everyone expects you to win a tournament, it’s because you’ve earned those expectations. Even if I get nervous, it’s part of why I play the game. I feel a lot of emotions on stage, which I try to embrace. 

Josse van Dessel

Coming into the BLAST finals, Na’Vi seems way ahead of the rest. But the rest of the field is very competitive. How do you think FaZe matches up against the teams at the event?

Karrigan

Na’Vi is favored to win, for sure. But, they also go from winning the Grand Slam to winning the Major, to playing ‘just’ the BLAST Fall finals. It’s not the global finals yet, and they’ve already qualified. They took some time off after the Major to reset.

As you said, the rest of the field is very competitive. I don’t see a clear team to challenge Na’Vi. I think every team, on the right day, the right matchup, can go all the way to the final. I think we match up well against the rest of the teams. 

There are some questions about Astralis having a new lineup. It’s going to be a tough tournament. We play Heroic first, which is going to be very interesting. All in all, I look forward to it, as we’re going to be very competitive. But you have to respect every team you play. 

Josse van Dessel

You’ve only played Heroic once with FaZe. Is not meeting a team too often an advantage?

Karrigan

It’s tough to say. Once you play a team a couple of times, you know how you match up. You know your mistakes, and you know how they handle the things you do. Once you play a team a few times and win and lose a couple of matches, you know that you no longer have to change the bigger things, just focus on the small. 

Coming into this match, I’ll prepare the way I always do. If we had played them, let’s say five times in the past few months, I would prepare a bit differently, as I would know what works and what doesn’t. 

Josse van Dessel

I think the most exciting part of that match is seeing you go up against Cadian. You’re both very vocal and passionate leaders, he perhaps a bit louder than you. How did your style of leading a team suffer in the online era?

Karrigan

It’s tough, but Heroic played a lot in a bootcamp environment, where you can fire up your teammates. Sitting home in your own office, I can scream and shout, but you can’t see my body language. It also comes down to, on stage, I’m 5% more there. I want to entertain people, people who buy tickets to come and watch the games. They want to see something entertaining, right? They want to see it on the server, on the stage, they want to see a personality. If I’m sitting at home, it’s a very calm and collected setting. It’s very different to lead with that passion on LAN versus online. 

Image: BLAST

Josse van Dessel

You guys had your first bootcamp in June. Was that the point where everything started to click?

Karrigan

June was the second bootcamp. The first was with Coldzera in Serbia. That was a tough one. We couldn’t work out how to play as a team. Coming into June, we needed to decide when we would do our second: before the RMR (Flashpoint 3, ed.d.) or before the Major. 

We decided before the RMR to make sure we would qualify. We could have planned one before the Major, but if you don’t qualify. I think we clicked there because once you start bootcamping, you get close to each other, 

I think people saw on the vlog on my YouTube channel that we have an enjoyable environment. Being there together for two and a half weeks created a stronger bond, and you need that in a team. You need to know that the guy next to you will do anything to help you. 

When you’re online, you don’t know if that person is invested in the team. I think bootcamp makes that bond stronger in that period. That’s also why we got together for BLAST one week before the event. 

Josse van Dessel

The last time you played in Denmark, you won EPL S10. What does it mean for you to play in front of a Danish crowd?

Karrigan

It means a lot to play in front of my home crowd. I think that was the first time I won a big trophy in front of a Danish crowd. It was the best feeling, and I remember the emotions. I was first getting removed from FaZe, but coming back with young guys who had never won a big tournament on mousesports. It was a fantastic feeling. I knew those guys had it in them. But playing in front of the crowd, beating Astralis after being down 14-9 before coming back to 14-16, the crowd being completely silent. 

But in the final, they were obviously on our side. It’s hard to play on home soil if you’re not an entire Danish team; it’s different for Heroic and Astralis. But I expect that if we reach the final against Na’Vi, the fans will be cheering for FaZe. But being home, playing in front of Danish fans, it’s a special feeling, especially since I haven’t played many events in Denmark.

"I’m not scared to say we want to be one of the best teams in the world, and we want to show that on Danish soil"
Finn "Karrigan" Andersen

Josse van Dessel

Looking at the new maps in the pool, you guys left Ancient open quite a lot but still ban Vertigo. Why did you add Ancient to your pool, but not Vertigo?

Karrigan

We played Vertigo a lot and still keep it up to date. If we face a team that doesn’t play Vertigo, we can pick it. When you want to become the best team in the world, which we want to, you have to look at the top-3 teams. You have Na’Vi, who don’t play Vertigo. Gambit, the best team in the world on the map. It doesn’t make sense to play the map, as we’re not going to be able to play it against those teams. 

You always want to look at how you become the best team. You have to perfect your map pool. If we play Na’Vi, we can ban Nuke because they know we have played Vertigo. That’s how we can eliminate some of their strengths. And when we play Gambit, they will remove nuke, and we can ban Vertigo. That’s how you get an advantage in the veto. 

And we played Vertigo in Cologne against Spirit, and we won that game. It could have ended badly, playing our first official on Vertigo in an elimination match, but I know we can play it on a decent level from practice. 

Josse van Dessel

When you joined, you said that a semifinal at the Major was the goal. Looking at where the team is now and the progress you’re making, are you happy with the state of FaZe?

Karrigan

I set goals when I joined FaZe. I looked at how I can improve individually and what level we should be at the Major. I was thinking six months ahead. The Major was where we needed to peak and see how this lineup was. But all the goals we set before that point came crashing. We weren’t even top-10 at a certain time. We had to change players, and what is most important about goals is that you’re able to adjust them. 

After three months, we were ranked 40th. I’m not expecting us to win a trophy after that. You have to adjust your goals to where you are. When we brought Olof back, we had to wait a month to see the new goals. 

With Olof, we reached quite a high level quickly, top 4 at Cologne. So I thought we could still make semi’s, I kept that goal. But once you’re in a Major, it’s a very long tournament. A lot of stuff can happen. You saw us play in the challenger stage, smashed everyone, and didn’t lose a map. Coming into Legends, we started well.

Then we faced a rough time. After the tournament, I realized we were just two BO3’s away from my goal. If you put it into perspective, that’s not too much. On paper, it’s not what we wanted, but I realize it was in our own hands, and we gave it away. That’s CS; you have to look at who we lost to and how we played. 

I feel we’re in an alright spot, not good but not bad. Sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe shit. We’re working on our consistency because we have a very high peak, as you saw in Cologne and the Major, but we also have dips we don’t want to have. Sometimes we’re not playing as a unit, but we’re working on that. 

Josse van Dessel

Could I tempt you into setting a goal for the Fall Finals?

Karrigan

I’m going to be very careful. It’s been a long season. My goal was to play on the stage, but then I learned that every team will play there no matter what. I hope to get a top-4 and reach the finals. 

We want to go to the Global Finals, and for that, we need to finish second at least. 

That’s the goal. It’s a tough one, after Cologne and the Major. But I’m not scared to say we want to be one of the best teams in the world, and we want to show that on Danish soil.