Fnatic’s grand final appearance against EnVyUs at ESL One Cologne 2015 is a match-up that can easily be re-watched time and time again. Whilst reliving one of the roster’s biggest ever games, one specific moment was particularly notable – a moment which served to define the success of the Fnatic’s most dominant era.
Winding the clock back to 2015, Karrigan’s addition to the Danish Team SoloMid (now Astralis) roster at the start of the year had revitalised the side. With no more of the same CT-reliant, and one-dimensional T side play, TSM had become a highly dangerous side to play on LAN. This notion was never more true than when they played Fnatic in the middle of 2015.
Team SoloMid were regarded to be the Danish kryptonite to Swedish superiority – no matter when they faced each other, whether it be in the group stage or grand final, TSM would prevail more often than not. This meant that although Fnatic were one of the favourites to win Cologne 2015, they were by no means on the same immortal plane they had been earlier that same year.
Through Karrigan and company’s exposition of chinks in Fnatic’s armour, it appeared that ESL One: Cologne 2015 would be a battle between these two rival sides. However, looking back at the tournament bracket will show you that was not the case. That instead of the ‘Olofmeister versus Device showdown’ on the biggest stage Counter-Strike had ever known at the time, we bore witness to a fresh-out-of-the-oven, newly formed French side, facing off against the Swedish giants.
A lack of results developed a feeling of staleness from the once great LDLC, now EnVyUs roster in mid-2015. Shox wasn’t posting big numbers with the same consistency he had done in late 2014, SmithZz’s place in the roster was more questionable than ever, whilst Happy’s baiting style had became more problematic and apparent with every passing match.
As such, the paradigm shifting roster move of bringing in apEX and KennyS from Titan for shox and SmithZz bought about as much excitement at change, as it did concern for the success of either team. However, this concern was almost immediately washed away as EnVyUs spontaneously burst into a white-hot ball of synergistic form.
These unstoppable French phenoms, in their first tournament scored four wins over the Swede beaters TSM – on LAN. They carried this same form into ESL One Cologne, beating TSM in relatively convincing fashion in the semi-finals, and squaring off against Fnatic for the prestige of a Major championship, and $100,000 in the penultimate series.
Fnatic need to win this Grand Final series to stay on top and make the world forget about their struggles against TSM earlier that year. EnVyUs had just beaten the Danes themselves, and had only lost two games in the rosters entire history together, looking to make winning off the back of individual form a habitat, rather than a fluke.
The finals started with Dust II as the first map, historically a strong map for the French scene, and a map that Fnatic had only ever experienced defeat on to TSM. The game’s pace was set from the get-go by EnVyUs’s distinct style: Non-stop aggression with a devil-may-care regard for their in-game economy. Fnatic quickly found themselves at a round deficit, with the score 14:7 in favour of their enemy, they decided to call one of their infamous timeouts.
Fnatic responded to EnVyUs’ aggression around the map with a three man push onto B. Although they gained control of the site and secured a bomb plant, they were outmanned in terms of players, and outgunned in terms of weaponry. As EnVyUs began their retake, KrimZ out of nowhere pulls out a fundamentally flawless spray transfer that secures three quick kills and sealed the round for Fnatic.
This play turned the momentum of the game on a dime. Only two rounds away from defeat, Fnatic managed to then pull themselves into overtime, and clinch the win from there.
If KrimZ had not manifested that play, defeat was almost guaranteed. The retake would’ve more than likely been successful, bringing the game to 15:7, and the threat of a third map imminent. Even if history played itself out the same after that, with Fnatic then winning the second map – Cobblestone – in convincing fashion, Inferno could’ve bore a completely different story, with Inferno being the most played map for that iteration of the EnVyUs roster.
The threat of Fnatic losing that series would be elevated drastically if KrimZ hadn’t pulled off that one play. In fact, the very nature of the entire CS:GO narrative would be completely altered if Fnatic ended up losing to EnVyUs. They would no longer be one of two rosters to hold Major titles back-to-back, their dynasties mark would’ve been drastically diminished, whilst EnVyUs’s place in the fabric of the narrative would’ve been largely increased.
Those three kills were the staging point for defining an era, and just goes to show the butterfly effect that one individual can have on the scope of history.