A few months ago, a new international project suddenly sprouted from the ground. In the beginning, few believed in its success. Simply put, it all seemed way too risky. Nowadays, however, its members have proved all the naysayers wrong. Not only are they a perfect combination of new blood and seniority, but they definitely know how to correctly utilize the amount of firepower they allegedly possess. If someone is to thank for their rise, though, it is none other than the Danish prodigious team builder and in-game leader, the man who can take almost any team all the way to glory: Finn “karrigan”
On December 16, 2018, karrigan stepped down as FaZe Clan’s leader among a general feeling of hostility towards his approach to the game. FaZe Clan had not been tremendously successful along the last few months, and Nikola “NiKo”
Kovac, more well-known for his egocentric personality than for his second-best-in-the-world level mechanics, decided that something needed to change. karrigan, thus, was benched, and NiKo went on to take over his role instead.
During the time when karrigan had been an active player in FaZe’s roster, the squad had always maintained a relevant position within the international competitive landscape. As soon as the Dane disappeared, however, FaZe’s results started to worsen, and not even the presence of a new in-game leader in Filip “Neo”
Kubski has been able to fix the problems in the line-up. Nevertheless, karrigan did not care about FaZe-related issues anymore.
karrigan while on FaZe. Photo via: Starladder.
At first, he announced that he had been loaned to Team EnVy, with whom he would compete at the Americas Minor for IEM Katowice. His foray into the North American scene, unfortunately, did not bear fruit, and, on March 14, 2019, karrigan was finally allowed to seek his new team, as he entered into the FA market. Being one of the most solicited players in the world — due to his success with a wide array of teams throughout the years — the Dane most probably had to consider a bunch of offers, and theories about his upcoming destination started to appear.
One option would have been going to a Danish organization. However, none of them except Astralis, which had no interest in him, looked promising enough, and karrigan did not want to just fill in a team and adapt to them. What he wanted, rather, was to create one from the dust, to leave his footprint on an organization for the ages. In order to do so, he would have to play, once again, with players from other countries. Following these criteria, thus, the Dane made up his mind and decided to sign with mousesports. Little did everybody know at the time what an influence that decision may, after all, end up having on CS:GO esports.
A promising but dangerous prospect
Photo via: IEM.
Ever since Janusz “Snax”
Pogorzelski replaced Martin “STYKO”
Styk in October 2018, mousesports had struggled to find anything similar to consistency. The move seemed doomed to fail all the way from the get-go, and, even though Snax was playing for the team when they crowned themselves champions of ESL One New York 2018, it shattered the aspirations of a core of players, that, once in the past, had realistically pursued being the best team in the world.
Not even the reversal of the change, as they brought STYKO back into the line-up, had any sort of positive effect on the team’s results, and, when they failed to qualify for the IEM Katowice Major, the organization decided that things could not keep going that way. STYKO, Tomáš “oskar”
Šťastný, and Miikka “suNny”
Kemppi were then dropped from the line-up, and in came karrigan, Özgür “woxic”
Eker, and David “frozen”
Fans were initially confused by the movement. Getting rid of a very reliable support player, a legendary AWPer, and one of the team’s main sources of firepower respectively did not seem like the most brilliant move at first glance. Furthermore, their replacements were karrigan, who was an exception since they could not be rightfully doubtful of him, frozen, a youngster who seemingly had the potential to be a fantastic player, but who had not proved himself at the higher echelons of competitive CS:GO yet, and woxic who, although with all of his career still laying ahead of him, was at the time considered a downgrade from the veteran prowess of oskar.
Robin "ropz" Kool. Photo via: DreamHack.
The remaining members of the old mousesports lineup were Chris “chrisJ”
de Jong and Robin “ropz”
Kool. The latter, although a potential superstar, had been playing below his capabilities for a few months, and fans did not expect that to change anytime soon. karrigan, however, had the perfect answer for that. The Dane’s in-game style was a loose one, which let every single one of the players in the team reach their maximum potential in terms of firepower. Moreover, karrigan was famous for figuring out which roles and spots his teammates were more comfortable with, and, from there, designing a system in which all of them got to perform tasks that allowed them to go off when it came to statistics.
This changed the expectations for the new squad completely. If karrigan were able to continue with his record of making teams mesh well together and individuals step up to the plate in a short time span, mousesports actually had all the tools they needed in order to succeed. Woxic could share the AWP with chrisJ from time to time, as oskar did before, and he and frozen could split the role of entry fragger depending on the situation. Should ropz, frozen, woxic, and chrisJ reach their prime under karrigan, as the Dane influence seemed to ensure almost every time, the amount of talent that the Danish in-game leader would be able to work with would become immense.
All in all, mousesports was certainly a risky prospect, but it was an amazingly promising one as well. If karrigan managed to do a good job with the youngsters and chrisJ, he could very well get to defeat his former team, FaZe Clan, which had betrayed him after having reached new heights under his leadership, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. In the past, he had already done the same with Astralis after leaving them for FaZe. This was, after all, what karrigan had always done. He always wandered from team to team, turning the new ones into international contenders and letting the old ones crumble by themselves. Now, it was time to do it all over again.
A sudden rise to relevance and a steady establishment process
Being a completely new line-up, mousesports were assumed to need some preparation and adaptation time before jumping onto the server for an official match. With karrigan as an in-game leader, however, teams do not usually need very ample time spans in order to figure themselves out at all. In 2017, for instance, the Dane took FaZe Clan’s all-star roster all the way to the trophy at ESL One New York just a month after its creation. If mousesports had had to attend a tournament before they actually did, they would have most likely been completely ready.
Nonetheless, their first LAN event came one month after the lineup’s inception in the form of the ESL Pro League group stage. Initially, mousesports should have taken the tournament as a training ground for future, more important affairs, moreover when they had another chance of qualifying for the EPL finals even if they did not win their group. That is not what karrigan did at all.
Instead, mousesports went on to only lose one map in the whole tournament, defeating Optic Gaming, ex-Space Soldiers, and North on their way to their spot at the finals in Montpellier. ropz popped off once again, leaving his months of individual mediocrity behind, and, overall, the whole team stepped up to the plate, as not even frozen seemed to get the first-time jitters many had anticipated. mousesports was already being talked about on talk shows and podcasts, which presented them as a group of underdogs that were destined to obtain glory as long as they stayed under karrigan’s guidance.
chrisJ and co. now had to demonstrate that their encouraging start had not been just a fluke or caused by the famous honeymoon effect. In order to do so, they had to wait for another half a month to pass by. IEM Sidney played out on April 30, and, that same day, mousesports faltered against a struggling BIG 16-14 on Inferno. Resolved to at least make the playoffs, however, they went on to defeat B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape, Renegades, and take revenge against BIG in order to end up playing at the Qudos Bank Arena.
Once there, they put up a good fight against MiBR, but, ultimately, they could not overtake the Brazilians, who at that time were not in such a critical situation as they are nowadays. karrigan and the squad would have definitely wanted to vie for more than they did, but, all in all, reaching the playoffs of their first-ever top-tier event showed the world that mousesports were a team to be considered by all those who may have initially rendered them harmless.
From there, they went on to raise the trophy at DreamHack Open Tours after dismantling lesser opposition. A few weeks later, they qualified for the upcoming European Minor with ease, and, once the EPL finals came around, they were strikingly able to top their group without losing a single map, including victories over MiBR and karrigan’s former teammates in FaZe. Team Liquid ended up overcoming them in the semifinals, not without having to reach overtime on Nuke, and they had to make do with a third-place outing. At the time, however, that did not matter.
mousesports, once seen as nothing but a risky gamble, were now not only respected but actually feared within the higher echelons of the competitive scene. karrigan had done it again, and, coming into Cologne, the mice were expected to put up a show and demonstrate how worthy of recognition they really were. The cathedral of Counter-Strike was ready to see them shine, and they were ready to make the final breakthrough at the most legendary tournament of the year. The outcome, however, would end up being completely different.
Cologne: A setback, for sure, but not irreparable damage
Photo via: ESL.
If mousesports managed to do well at ESL One Cologne, their status as a top-ten team in the world would finally solidify. The German city was home to arguably the most meaningful tournament in the whole year, and mousesports, a German organization in its origin, was ready to surprise fans and analysts alike one more time. Their opening game, against Oleksandr “s1mple”
Kostyliev’s Natus Vincere, though, did not go the way of karrigan and co., as the CIS squad managed to topple them 16-14 on Train.
mousesports themselves were not entirely to blame for this result, however, as they had not been able to study their opponents before the event since NaVi’s new lineup had not played a single official match yet. They came in unprepared, trying to play their game and forget about ways of countering their opponents, and it did not turn out well. Apparently, the Russian-Ukrainian squad had them somewhat figured out.
Once in the lower bracket, mousesports dispatched both MVP PK and FaZe with relative ease, once again reminding NiKo and co. that they had certainly made the wrong decision. There was only one match left in order to reach the playoffs, the match that would decide whether mousesports played at the Lanxess Arena or went home with empty hands. Who would their opponents be? Unfortunately, NaVi stepped on their way once again.
This time, mousesports was definitely not willing to grant s1mple and co. an easy victory. They made it all the way to overtime on Inferno before evening out the series on Dust 2. Train, however, would prove too much of a challenge for karrigan and co., who ended up congratulating their opponents and accepting what was a very bitter loss for them. Not only did they not get to play at the Lanxess, but, due to not doing so, everyone has seemingly forgotten about them.
karrigan has always been able to take whatever team he has been on to the best of its abilities, but, in the same fashion, he has found it difficult to stay with the same lineup for a long amount of time without trouble breaking out between the players. karrigan’s system usually bolsters the individual talent of the members of the team, and, when everybody in the team thinks they are insanely good, ego problems tend to come along. If that will ever happen to mousesports, however, their bad result at Cologne does not mean that it has happened yet at all.
Rather, it seems to have been caused by a lack of time to prepare against a certain opponent — in this case, Natus Vincere. Over the past few months, karrigan has been able to take a completely new roster to heights that are totally new for some of its members. frozen and woxic have now become internationally feared players, and mousesports have established a reign over Train and Inferno, where they hold 84.6% and 66,7% win rates over the last three months. They do not have a single weak map, Overpass being their worst one with two out of four games having ended in losses for them.
Individually, most of the players are currently at their all-time prime. Four of the five players in the lineup, all except karrigan himself, have averaged over 1.10 ratings on LAN throughout the last term, with both ropz and woxic making it over 1.20. With their disappointing result in Cologne, many fans have moved on to pay attention to different up-and-coming teams, be it FURIA Esports or Peter “Stanislaw”
Jarguz’s NRG. Regardless of their unfortunate run at one of the most important tournaments of the year, however, karrigan and co. still have lots of great matches of Counter-Strike to play, and, most importantly, a consistency that may ultimately take them to unforeseen levels of prestige.
Up until now, mousesports has done nothing but evolve, and they are definitely willing to continue that trend no matter the little setback they are just experiencing. Yes, their result in Cologne was obviously not the most exciting they could have obtained, but, giving mousesports some more time before rendering them stagnant seems like the most logical thing to do. You may have expected more from him, and you may have been left wondering what mousesport’s future may actually look like, but, just for now, please, let’s keep the faith in karrigan.
Lucas "LuckyNeck" Chillerón is a vivid esports fan who loves following as many competitive scenes as he can in order to write articles about them. If there is anything you would like to discuss with him or let him know, you can do it at @lucprd.