With two of the greatest in-game leaders in CS:GO history and some of the best CS:GO teams in history, one would expect a back-and-forth rivalry. However, with Finn “Karrigan” Andersen and Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, it has been a one sided affair.
At MLG X-Games Aspen in January of 2015, Karrigan’s Dignitas made quick work of the underdogs of FalleN’s KaBuM.TD, defeating them 16-4. An easy victory for Karrigan and his team. What Karrigan didn’t know is that FalleN would become one of the biggest roadblocks of his career.
It would be nearly six months before the two would face off again. This time at the ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 Finals. Once again, Karrigan and his Danish team now known as TSM were big favorites against what was now known as Keyd Stars. However, this time, the Brazilians would cause the upset and take the game 16-12. A sign of things to come.
The rivalry begins
In the early parts of 2015, FalleN & Co were nothing but a BO1 upset team. The lack of firepower in the team meant that they had a hard time accomplishing much more than upsetting a few favorites here and there. Throughout 2015, the roster that eventually became known as Luminosity would make two key moves. First and foremost, the team would get their future Brazilian superstar Marcelo “Coldzera” David into the team, replacing the weak link, zqkS. In November of 2015, the team would acquire Epitacio “TACO” De Melo and Lincoln “fnx” Lau, and their new coach Wilton “Zews” Prado, in what would become a key move for the Brazilians. The first tournament for the new Luminosity roster was FACEIT League Stage 3 Finals. It would also be the first tournament where Karrigan and FalleN would face off in a BO3.
Going into the event, TSM were ranked 2nd in the world, while Luminosity were ranked at the bottom of the top 10 before they made their roster moves. However, it didn’t take the new Luminosity a long time to show what they were made of. Despite a 16-0 loss in their first game against Fnatic, they would defeat both EnVyUs and NiP to advance from their group. TSM had defeated Team Liquid and Virtus.Pro to take 1st place in their group, and the two teams were ready to face off in the semifinals. The maps were Mirage, Overpass and Inferno. Luminosity had always been known for their Mirage and it was no surprise that they chose the map. TSM defeated them easily on Mirage with a 16-5 scoreline, and it was time for TSM’s best map; Overpass. Had the story gone like everyone expected, TSM would have advanced to the final and the Luminosity story would have hit a bump on the road. Instead, in what would become one of the key maps of the rivalry. Luminosity gave TSM no chance on Overpass, defeating them 16-6. The series ended in a close encounter on Inferno where Luminosity won in overtime and advanced to the final. FalleN would deny Karrigan a spot in the final, but this was only the beginning.
At DreamHack Leipzig in January of 2016, FalleN would once again be a thorn in the side of Karrigan a spot in the final. Karrigan picked Overpass, which was a reasonable pick, considering their map pool, only to see his team lose on the map. This time Overpass was a closer affair, with Luminosity winning 16-12, but the Danes, now known as Astralis, would lose the series 2-0, falling to the Brazilians for the 3rd time in their history.
Things wouldn’t go much better for Astralis at the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals in May. After getting upset by OpTic Gaming in the opening game, Luminosity awaited them in the lower bracket of the group stage. With Luminosity winning the MLG Columbus Major, the tides had turned, and Luminosity were now the favorites in the series. This time, it was Luminosity’s turn to pick Overpass. They would win the map 16-12, and win the series 2-1. Astralis exited the tournament in last place while Luminosity won the tournament after an epic final against G2 Esports.
At ESL One New York 2016, FalleN would send Karrigan a parting gift on his way out of Astralis, with a 16-13 victory in the swiss group. This was one of the last tournaments for Karrigan on Astralis, but not the end of his struggles to defeat the Brazilian mastermind.
New team, same roadblock
Shortly after ESL One New York, Karrigan was removed from Astralis, and instead joined his new team, FaZe Clan. One of his first tournaments with FaZe was the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals. In the group stage, FaZe would face off against FalleN’s SK Gaming in a BO1. The map was Overpass, and as was tradition, FalleN would defeat Karrigan on the map. FaZe would get a BO1 win back over SK at IEM Oakland. Ultimately, the win didn’t end up mattering a lot, as SK still made the final, while FaZe were defeated in the semifinals by NiP.
Due to internal issues, SK would only play one more event following IEM Oakland with their full lineup. After ELEAGUE Season 2, fnx was removed from the team. Joao “Felps” Vasconcellos would eventually join their ranks, but until the ELEAGUE Major, the team had to use a stand-in. The Portuguese AWP’er, Ricardo “Fox” Pacheco.
If there ever was a chance to defeat SK, this was it. They no longer had the lineup that had won two Majors in 2016, and they had to play with a stand-in. Karrigan got his opportunity at the ELEAGUE Major in January of 2017. The teams faced off in the swiss groups, with SK getting a victory in overtime. But that wasn’t the end of it, as they would face off in the quarterfinals. FaZe got off to a good start on their map pick, Mirage, taking it 16-7. SK would come back with a 16-3 win on Train, before we once again went to Overpass. FalleN defeated Karrigan on Overpass, this time with a 16-5 scoreline.
While FaZe had managed some decent results with Karrigan in the lineup, the playoff finishes were not enough. Karrigan had joined FaZe with the goal of winning trophies. After DreamHack Masters Las Vegas in February, the Bosnian superstar Nikola “NiKo” Kovac joined their ranks. A little more than a month later, FaZe won their first tournament, StarSeries i-League Season 3. On the way to their victory, they defeated SK in the swiss group stage in a BO1. SK were still struggling to figure out their new style with Felps in the lineup and perhaps FaZe could have defeated SK in a BO3 if that matchup had taken place.
Instead, the teams would face off in a BO5 about a month later in the finals of IEM Sydney. Unfortunately for FaZe, SK had returned to top form. The deciding map was Overpass once again, with SK taking it 16-11 and thus taking the series 3-1.
Off the back of the IEM Sydney victory, SK would continue their excellent form and return to their spot as the number one team in the world over the course of the summer. They would cross paths with FaZe once again at the ECS Season 3 Finals, defeating them in a BO1 in the groups, and once again in the final in a BO3. The ECS series was the closest encounter between FalleN and Karrigan. Karrigan and FaZe would take the first map, Mirage, 16-11. The next two maps, Inferno and Train, went to overtime, with SK coming out on top on both maps. Even with a series that could have gone both ways, the one-sided rivalry continued.
At ESL One Cologne 2017, the teams would face off in what ended up being the final battle between these two lineups. In spite of a monstrous performance from Rain on Cache, FaZe would fall short once again, losing the series 2-0. With the victory, the SK lineup reached their peak with Felps, as they took their 5th tournament victory, defeating Cloud9 in the finals. Despite numerous attempts, FaZe could not dethrone SK and would eventually end up changing their roster and try to become the best team in the world.
Their latest encounter took place at EPICENTER 2017. This time FaZe were the favorites, considering their fantastic run of form with their new additions of Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs and Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer. SK was playing with a new player in Ricardo “Boltz” Prass, and this time the ball was in Karrigan’s court. FalleN surprised everyone by picking Overpass, one of the most reliable maps for the new FaZe lineup. With FaZe picking Inferno, and Mirage being the 3rd map, FaZe had the chance to play their three best maps against SK, making it a prime opportunity for Karrigan to finally defeat FalleN. But it was not to be. FaZe won Inferno as everyone expected, but SK surprised everyone and took both Overpass and Mirage in convincing fashion and later won the tournament.
With that being the latest encounter between the two, we can truly see how one-sided the rivalry is. While Karrigan has some BO1 victories, FalleN has won all the eight BO3/BO5 encounters between the two.
The Overpass problem
A common trend throughout all these encounters is Overpass. The map has usually been an excellent map for most Danish leaders, and Karrigan is no exception. Some of his teams were arguably the best in the world on the map. Despite that, Karrigan is 0-9 against FalleN on the map. While Karrigan and his teams had issues with the CT side in the matchup, the T sides were always the biggest problem. On the T side, Karrigan and his teams have a 21.85% round win rate against FalleN and his teams, compared to a 44.57% win rate on CT side. Even though the map is CT sided, and neither win rate is impressive, the T side win rate is especially notable. The Brazilians themselves have been one of the best teams on Overpass, but even at the times where they’ve had issues on the map, they have defeated Karrigan’s teams. A lot of times, the SK stars like Coldzera and Fernando “Fer” Alvarenga would have crazy individual performances against Karrigan’s teams on Overpass, even in the close matches. While you can’t put nine victories down to over performances, it’s probably worth noting that the stars of SK have always been a problem for Karrigan on Overpass.
“There is something about their CT side that cracks me up every time. Fer on A is impossible to handle, FalleN is everywhere, Coldzera is a lockdown on B. You have all the conditions for them to win on this map, especially with Fer playing alone on A just wrecking everyone. You don’t even get to take map control,” – Karrigan on his issues on Overpass against SK.
A rivalry to be continued
SK and FaZe are the two best teams in the world at the moment. With that in mind, the competition between the two is bound to keep on going. With SK coming out on top in yet another encounter at EPICENTER, they have the chance to solidify their position as the best team in the world at the next few tournaments coming up. If things go as expected, SK and FaZe will face off in a final of a tournament within the end of the year, with FalleN and Karrigan having yet another showdown. SK went with a dangerous strategy when it comes to map picks at EPICENTER, beating FaZe on some of their best maps. With the 9-0 record on Overpass throughout history, you can hardly blame FalleN for wanting to play the map against FaZe, but with the crazy fraggers of FaZe, you are playing with fire when you pick their best maps. A more reasonable pick for SK would be Train where FaZe has had a lot of issues. Ideally, we would see the climax of the rivalry over the next few months, leading into the ELEAGUE Boston Major, but with SK having to use Felps as a stand-in for some events including the major itself, Karrigan has a massive opportunity to get his first BO3 victory against the Brazilians. When SK is at full force, they are one of the few teams that can compete with FaZe when it comes to firepower, and you have to give them the edge in terms of tactics and team play.
The rivalry between FalleN and Karrigan has never been more exciting, and with the two teams vying for the number one spot in the world, we are bound to see some epic matches. If Karrigan does have some kind of mental block against FalleN, it could cost his team greatly, as SK could put an end to the FaZe era before it even begins.