Finn "Karrigan" Andersen was benched by FaZe on December 16th and ever since then it's been suggested by a few CS expert's that he could improve nearly every team in the Top 30 almost overnight. Ironically, he's ended up in Team Envy who aren't among the Top 30 currently. For Envy, this is a move that has no downsides. You get a legendary IGL on loan to help your mix of young and veteran players navigate the Americas Minor in late January, and you didn't have to pay a buyout to get him. I don't see much downside for Karrigan either. If he fails to progress to the Major with Envy the community and experts will say it's because the rest of the lineup was terrible and it's just a temporary move anyway. If he does progress, it's because you are a genius and you have carried the Envy lineup to new heights. It's a win-win for Karrigan.
Just how Karrigan ended up on a team outside of the Top 30 is the more interesting story. The prevailing thought I've seen on Reddit and Twitter is that the buyout and contract were "too complicated" and it made a permanent move to a decent team difficult. According to sources, FaZe made the process as easy as possible for Karrigan to move to a rival team, that many had suggested would be a good fit, and that team wasn't interested in adding him to their lineup. I'm sure after the Major Karrigan will have more attractive offers than Team Envy, but for now, it seems this was the offer available to him.
A Frezh Start
OpTic are looking to put an up-and-down 2018 behind them quickly. They have signed young Danish rifler Ismail "Refrezh" Ali to their lineup on a two-year contract. Refrezh makes the move from Fragsters who enjoyed some success throughout last year. Refrezh, most recently, was a stand-in for Cloud9 at Blast Pro Series Lisbon where he impressed in one of his first premier events as a pro.
To make room for Refrezh, OpTic removed Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen who had been playing with the roster since September. VP of esports for OpTic Gaming Jacob "Maelk" Toft-Andersen, who graciously took time away from his stint as a Theon Greyjoy stunt double, said in an AMA on OpTic's subreddit that OpTic and niko had yet to agree to on his individual terms as a player as of November last year. Considering he was never formally announced as a player or formally benched by the organization, it's a good bet that the two sides never came to an agreement which might explain part of why niko was the one to go. OpTic's first appearance with Refrezh will come at the EU Minor in Katowice on the 16th of January.
— OpTic Gaming™ (@OpTicGaming) December 31, 2018
The End for Flash Gaming
Flash Gaming founder “Enndy” came out with a statement saying he would be disbanding the team completely. In the translated post on reddit, Enndy claims a number of things including rampant match-fixing, cheats, and even live GOTV demo streams in the Chinese Counter-Strike scene. YuanZhang "AttackeR" Sheng and YuLun "Summer" Cai had recently moved to Tyloo from Flash on a three month-loan which is widely considered a move that will be made permanent.
The move to disband the team leaves Yangyang “ayaya” Zheng, KunHua “LOVEYY” Bai, and QiFang “Karsa” Su as free agents. The biggest accomplishment for Flash Gaming's Counter-Strike team was playing at the ELeague Boston Major in 2018 after Tyloo had to withdraw after VISA issues arose.