A leading global esports professional player believes the UAE is going in the right direction to become a global esports powerhouse and is looking forward to returning to Abu Dhabi to compete in the BLAST Premier World Final.
Finn Andersen, known as ‘Karrigan’ in the esports world, will be part of the Faze Clan roster that will be in action in December’s BLAST Premier World Final at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena on 16th and 17th December. The team is one of eight sides that will be competing in the global showpiece season-ending Counter-Strike tournament that has a prize pool of USD $1 million.
It will be the second time that Karrigan will be participating in Abu Dhabi after last year’s event and the 33-year-old was impressed by what he saw of the UAE’s passion for esports, saying he would not be surprised if more global tournaments are held in the country in the future.
He said: “It’s important that in any discipline of sports, we reach as many people as possible around the world and that means playing in new cities. Esports is getting bigger by the year and we need to get it out there and show that Counter-Strike or esports is fun to watch in an arena than at home.
“This is why I enjoyed playing in Abu Dhabi last year. I was surprised with how passionate the fans were as they really do love gaming and I hope there will be World Final tournaments held there in the future as it was a great experience. I cannot wait to play there again in December.”
Since first playing Counter-Strike in the early 2000s, after initially playing football, Karrigan has rose to become one of the world’s best esports players in Counter-Strike. As well as helping Faze Clan to several prestigious titles including the IEM Katowice 2022, Antwerp Major 2022, IEM Cologne 2022 and ESL Pro League Season 17, while also being the oldest Major winner at 32-years-old after triumphing in the 2022 PGL Major.
It is a career that he very much enjoys and singled out his parents for supporting him during his journey so far.
“My parents have been open-minded about me playing Counter-Strike but also strict at the same time as long as I did my studies,” he said. “I managed to do both by also completing my Master’s degree and am grateful they were always supportive of me playing especially at a time when esports was not as big as it is today.”
He added: “I would describe my esports journey to date either as a bumpy road or rollercoaster. I have played every single role in Counter-Strike which I enjoyed while there’s been many ups and downs. When I do decide to end my career, I will look back knowing I did everything that I could at competing at the highest level. I have won a lot of different tournaments but have yet to win a BLAST tournament so that is one I want to win as well.”
In 2022, the UAE was ranked first with the highest percentage of adult gamers with nine in 10 people playing video games. Having experienced gaming as a hobby before, he says the one piece of advice he would share for those who are playing games is to ‘have fun’.
“I think sometimes when you’re so focused on the outcome, you forget how to structure your daily life. I had the problem myself where I just focused on the outcome,” he explained. “People need to understand that you’re not always going to win so self-reflection is important to understand how they can improve as a player.”
With the gaming sector growing in popularity, Karrigan says he has benefitted greatly from being a gamer from valuable skills to fostering connections.
He said: “I think one of the most important things I’ve learned in gaming is to mix friendship with your team-mates as it means you’re all in the same boat and working towards the same goals. I feel privileged to be in a position to be able to connect with different people of different cultures and ages from around the world which is great as it’s something you cannot do in any other sport and one that I really do like when it comes to gaming.”
Tickets to the BLAST Premier World Final can be bought on Ticketmaster and Etihad Arena with prices starting at just AED 160. Discounts of up to 20 per cent for those who wish to book four or more tickets and hospitality tickets are also available.