Fnatic’s iconic League of Legends division, currently languishing with a 4-3 record in Group A of the EU LCS, are not where they want to be. The story of mediocre results, an abject lack of teamplay and difficulty to pick up wins against weak opposition continues to frustrate their fanbase on a weekly basis. Jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider has already been relegated to the bench, though the underlying issue of Fnatic’s disastrous pick and ban phase remains.
For a team of Fnatic’s stature, an organisation with extensive background experience and a prestigious head coach in the form of Nicholas “Nicothepico” Korsgård, fans certainly weren’t expecting the pick and ban phase to be their primary difficulty.
Yet as the European League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split enters its brief break, Fnatic’s curious drafts have left analysts scratching their heads and fans face-palming.
Following the inharmonious departure of Luis “Deilor” Sevilla, Fnatic opted to employ the service of former Origen coach Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård. Towards the end of his tenure, Deilor was frequently criticised for his sub-standard team compositions, though the arrival of Nico has done little to resolve these issues.
NicoThePico’s drafts have similarly failed to live up to expectations; the Fnatic coach has a below 50% game win percentage, with just seven game wins out of the 22 competitive games the team have played since his arrival. Of the 15 game losses Fnatic have experienced since his arrival, an alarming number have been conceded to low tier teams.
The newly implement ten ban system has certainly required players to demonstrate their depth of champion pools, though this is by no means justification for deliberately picking weak champions when power picks are still on the table. During Fnatic’s comprehensive series defeat at the hands of the newly promoted Misfits roster, fans were left baffled as Amazing picked the forgotten Jungler Elise into Ivern.
It was evident after the first game in the series that Amazing’s Elise – building full damage and coupled with an assassin in the mid lane – was going to make little headway against the damage mitigating Ivern on the enemy team. Yet despite the appalling outcome of the first game, NicoThePico drafted the exact same composition once more, unsurprisingly achieving the same result.
For many Fnatic fans, the depressing Misfits series was the final straw. Generally the community was willing to give Nico time to stamp his mark on the new roster, especially given the internal issues Fnatic faced during the previous season. But after running the same composition twice with almost identical results on each occasion, without addressing any of the problems, was a red flag.
The depressing trend continued as Fnatic faced off against their equivalent from Group B, Splyce. With game one already in the bag, it looked for a moment as if the team had turned a corner. Fnatic marched to a convincing victory in the opening game of the series, crushing Splyce by drafting a standard composition of accepted LCS power picks. With a repeat performance, Fnatic would record an invaluable moral boosting win over formidable opposition.
Nico seemingly threw away the drafting rule book and attempted to reinvent the wheel in the second and third games. Despite global recognition as a “must-ban”, Fnatic opted to leave the LeBlanc power pick on the table for Splyce, instead flexing Malzahar from support to the mid lane: Innovative… but certainly not effective. Naturally, LeBlanc ran amuck and Splyce were given an open door back into the series.
In the decisive game of the series, Top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer unveiled an unexpected Kled pick, showing a lack of respect to the opposition. As Splyce’s high damage composition scaled, the tankless Fnatic were left picking up the pieces of yet another series of disastrous picks and bans.
Fnatic’s roster and coach NicoThePico need to improve their drafting phase immediately, not every game needs to completely redefine the meta. In self-sabotaging their own team compositions, Fnatic may as well be playing with one hand behind their backs. If these basic issues are not addressed soon, it will only be a matter of time before fans demand to see more heads rolling; Nico will be the next figure to kneel at the guillotine.