It’s been a frustrated season to be a Fnatic fan. After losing their talismanic captain ahead of the spring split, Bora “Yellowstar” Kim rejoined the ranks. His return was supposed to usher a return to the form that saw Fnatic rise to European dominance, instead the side have slumped even further down the rankings and look unlikely to even reach the World Championships. It’s looking like one season too many for Yellowstar.
From a fan perspective, Fnatic may well be the most frustrating team to support in their current state. The entire roster does precisely nothing positive out on the rift – they literally just sit around waiting for death, slowly suffocating game after game, passively waiting for the end. It’s at these moments that you would expect a veteran shotcaller to shine and demonstrate his invaluable game knowledge – ironically Yellowstar is not filling the void he himself created after Worlds 2015.
Right now Fnatic could be following the plays called by a magic conch shell…
“Oh magic conch, what do we need to do to win this LCS match?”
Yellowstar’s achievements with Fnatic should not be underestimated. The 18-0 season, having almost entirely rebuilt the synergy and the roster in the squad, will serve as one of Fnatic’s eternal narratives. With two EU LCS rookies under his wing, Yellow was instrumental in the development of Reignover and Huni – both of whom have validated Yellowstars influence during their time with Fnatic.
Yet in the case of every valiant leader and veteran figure within a competitive sporting environment, there will always be a moment at which you need to step aside. The League of Legends community will always hold a great deal of respect for Yellowstar and all that he’s accomplished. But his story is now closely resembling that of TSM’s own Marcus “Dyrus” Hill. Season 6 has just proved to be one season too many, Yellowstar is no longer pushing his team forwards as he did last season, he’s now holding them back.
Yellowstar’s decline has been hard to witness. It’s certainly not true to suggest that Yellow has always been Fnatic’s weak link, despite a number of emotional fans have suggested that the supports’ ‘legendary shot calling’ was in reality a case of Huni and Reignover doing everything, whilst Yellowstar simply reminded them to “stay calm.”
Even the most passionate of Fnatic fans would be hard pressed to deny that Yellowstar was a top tier support in Season 5, his roaming and vision control were consistently on point. Rather than suggesting he never had it, it’s probably fairer to say Yellowstar’s playmaking ability has deteriorated; he’s now lagging some distance behind his LCS peers.
A worrying trend that has emerged within the frenchman’s play style is his new-found willingness to sacrifice himself for teammates – though rather than saving his comrades, he simply dies alongside them time and time again. It started during his spring split with Team SoloMid, but is a trait he’s engained into his play back at Fnatic. The move is now so frequent, it’s almost at a point where it will be referred to as ‘pulling off a Yellowstar’.
eSports betting may be in its early stages, but if they could provide odds on the likelihood of Yellowstar playing Braum and jumping in to his death to try save a teammate, they’d attract an influx of new business. In his defence, a large number of Yellow’s deaths are a result of trying to rescue other people who got caught, but it’s a mistake he wasn’t making this time a year ago. Turning a single catch into a double kill is a sure fire way to snowball an opponents lead and lose the game.
The time has come for Yellowstar to realise his time as a professional League of Legends player may be over. If he is indeed following in Dyrus’ footsteps then he may yet want to consider coaching or analysing – lord knows that Fnatic could do with strengthening in both areas – their current pick and ban phase is enough for Fnatic fans to admit defeat before the game has even started.
Yellowstar needs to head for the exit sooner rather than later if he wants to stay involved and relevant in the evolving League of Legends scene. His influence within the team environment and evident knowledge of the game would make a career as a coach or analyst a viable career path – perhaps now, the only way in which he could improve Fnatic’s chances of Worlds success.