karrigan the 'Conman'
karrigan has built his entire career upon a facade, hiding his true intentions from his teammates, opponents, and the community. karrigan managed to “con” FaZe, a notoriously aim-based team, into believing that they could use tactics, which has become a staple of FaZe’s game. karrigan has made opponents and viewers believe that FaZe possessed a seven map pool, but in reality, he used the veto to his advantage and would veto based on the opponent. Only now has karrigan’s deception come to light.
karrigan left Astralis a defeated man. As someone with a Master's degree in Administration and Auditing, many thought he was soon to retire. You have to understand, FaZe and international mix teams were not taken seriously. FaZe was a place where abandoned and washed up stars went to collect checks. In truth, joining FaZe was to be the twilight of karrigan’s career. karrigan, instead, had something else in mind.
Three days after joining FaZe, karrigan helped FaZe in getting out of a group at ELEAGUE Season 2 that they otherwise were unlikely to get out of. This was immediately impressive to pundits, but karrigan’s improvement of FaZe was not temporary. After leading FaZe for one month, karrigan not only increased their win rate but also increased the depth of their map pool. The standard deviation of the percentage wins on each map in the three months prior to karrigan joining the team was 8.6. In the first month after joining, the standard deviation was reduced to 5.8. They went from having three maps that they depended on to win to spreading their wins across six maps. Since the win rate went up, this increased depth of maps is undoubtedly a good thing and not a reflection of FaZe getting worse on their best maps.
The improvement of FaZe’s map depth was not based on easy Bo1 wins, which were all that FaZe seemed capable of doing before karrigan joined. karrigan doubled the Bo3 win rate from 40% to 80%.
This improvement is especially miraculous considering the type of team he was working with. FaZe was a ragtag bunch of discarded stars. The one redeeming quality found in these players was their skill, and despite being among the most skilled in the world, that skill was not enough to produce any meaningful results. Somehow, karrigan managed to convince these players to go against their instincts and adopt a more tactical and team-oriented style. How he did it is uncertain, but what he did with it is marveled at by all.
In the two remaining months of 2016, FaZe made three out of four semifinals. That was a huge improvement from the zero playoff appearances for FaZe since their inception at the beginning 2016. When compared to other teams, like FalleN’s new SK line-up, the six months that it took for FaZe to win may initially appear paltry, but FaZe had a much weaker track record than the previous SK lineup. SK won six tournaments with felps in 2017. Not only did the FaZe lineup before karrigan never win an event, but two of his players, rain and aizy, never won anything in their entire career. SK prior to boltz joining was one step away from winning, but prior to karrigan joining, FaZe was ten steps away. The fact that SK was able to win something and so quick is impressive, but the improvement that FaZe went through under karrigan’s leadership is far greater.
The con does not begin with the results of FaZe; karrigan’s con takes shape with how the players play. His con goes so deep that it is difficult to say whether it actually is real because a large portion of FaZe’s results comes from the players. Even so, player transformations, like that of olofmeister, are usually credited to an in-game leader under these circumstances because the in-game leader is supposed to have a large say in what players do and when they do it.
The tweaks to olofmeister are among the most baffling. olofmeister is now a support player. The best player in the world not two years ago is playing to make his teammates better players! First, that just goes to show how much skill there is on FaZe for one of the greatest CS:GO players to be playing a supportive role rather than a star one. Second, the success of this transformation shows how good of an eye karrigan has for Counter-Strike. When the Olof to FaZe move was announced, it appeared as though there would be too many cooks in the kitchen. NiKo, GuardiaN, and rain--to a certain degree--were playing as stars. How could there be room for the man at the forefront of Fnatic’s domination? I am still uncertain of this, but what I can say is that it takes a special kind of vision to enact what karrigan has.
With the close proximity of the GuardiaN and olofmeister changes, karrigan must have been thinking of transformations of players he had yet to play with and of a team they had yet to play for. The closest analogy for what karrigan has done is that of the card counter. A card counter is unable to see any of the cards, but they are able to artificially see via a mathematical system that assigns probabilities to cards being drawn. karrigan, before GuardiaN and Olof joined the team, already had the basis for two radically different playstyles that ended up working.
On some maps, GuardiaN takes the role of star player, and on others, that title goes to NiKo. Every so often, olofmeister and rain are able to contribute big numbers to the scoreboard. rain, in particular, can be counted on for having a star-level performance when no one else is able to. FaZe has gone from being a team with no definition, no stand out star, to being one with multiple defined stars that shine depending on map and team atmosphere. The number of options FaZe has to draw on is one of the largest reasons why they are a very difficult team to beat right now.
FaZe also had an inflated number of options in terms of the map veto. karrigan’s command over an admittedly inflated map pool is a sight to behold. Typically, inflation is a negative concept, but when it comes to determining the skill of an in-game leader, inflation is a very good sign. An in-game leader that inflates his team’s map pool is like making oneself appear bigger so as to scare off a predator, such as a bear. After being exposed at EPICENTER, the way in which karrigan vetoes has been among the most striking examples of karrigan’s deception. Post-IEM Oakland, Wallabeebeatle tweeted that FaZe “have a amazing record overall (28-4) on 4 maps: Inferno, Mirage, Overpass, and Cache.” They also had an underwhelming “3 wins across  tries on Nuke, Train, and Cobblestone.” karrigan was able to get FaZe to the point of a “seven map pool” by correctly removing and selecting maps based on the opponent.
The final of the ELEAGUE Premier is a good example of how karrigan vetoes. FaZe began the veto by removing Train--a map they had no wins on since they formed the new lineup and Astralis had a 75% win rate on. Astralis removed Cobblestone, which is a map that Astralis never plays but a map that the new FaZe had never played. That was not necessarily a good move from gla1ve because FaZe could have turned out, which they have, to be to be a bad Cobblestone team. These comfort bans are the way in which karrigan takes the map veto edge because FaZe have none. FaZe picks Cache--a map they have one win out of one attempt on and Astralis has two wins out of three attempts on. Despite having a respectable record on Cache in the three months prior to meeting FaZe at ELEAGUE, Cache has been Astralis’ worst map in 2017. Astralis pick Overpass--a signature map for themselves but also a map that was already becoming one of FaZe’s favorites. FaZe removes Nuke, leaving Inferno. Nuke was among FaZe’s worst maps prior to ELEAGUE Premier while Inferno was among their best, which also happened to be a map that Astralis only had a 50% winrate on. One cannot go so far to say that FaZe won the series before it happened, but karrigan gave them a pretty good advantage going into it.
To enjoy a movie or a book, one must suspend their disbelief. An in-game leader like karrigan is a conman that makes you believe. He promises all sorts of fantastical things, but unlike a typical conman, karrigan makes it become true. He made the best player in the world into a successful support player. He gave FaZe a seven map pool. He made FaZe a winning team. karrigan is able to do this because his con is incredibly large. He conned his players, the other teams, the fans, and the experts into believing something that was not true. The material results of FaZe Clan before karrigan joined were non-existent, but if you believe a lie long enough it becomes true. Humans are nothing more than talking monkeys, but we have come to believe that we are something divine. It has taken thousands of years for that fact to be realized. How long will karrigan’s con go on?
Image credit: Esportsify, GosuGamers
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