Fnatic delivered the biggest shock from the first round of LCS Spring Split playoffs, delivering a 3-0 sweep over last year’s World Championship semi-finalists, H2K- Gaming. The victory was underpinned by a dominant performance by Fnatic team leader and star AD Carry Martin “Rekkles” Larsson. The series victory over H2K may have given Fnatic more than just a dignified end to their split, it may well have saved them from the departure of their captain.
The 3rd seed for playoffs, H2K came into the series as a heavy favourite to dismantle the Fnatic lineup. The FNC organisation barely found its way into contention, after a disappointing split that saw them finish with a 6-7 record. A month ago, it appeared a near certainty that this split would be the last in which Rekkles would don an orange and black jersey.
As his discontent and frustration with Fnatic’s poor results grew, it was obvious from his behaviour both on and off the stage that Rekkles was a man at the end of his road with Fnatic. His social media grew increasingly pessimistic, to the point where players on other teams (including former teammates) began commenting on how they felt bad for Rekkles and his situation. With another disappointing finish looming, Rekkles seemed destined to be traded or retire.
“I feel kind of sorry for Rekkles because I think he’s performing pretty well – as usual, actually.
“It’s not looking that good, they already had problems with the team which I expected.
“I’m glad I avoided it and made the decision to move to H2K.”
Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten
Fnatic had a promising start to their season with the new roster, taking reigning champions G2 eSports to three games in a series where Fnatic showed their potential and Caps looked to be the next European star. While there were some questionable decisions in and out of game – ADC Kennen as the most infamous example that may now seem a stroke of brilliance – Fnatic’s problems seemed to be correctable, with the team once again primed to be a part of the European elite.
As the season continued, that did not prove to be the case. As the IEM break approached, it was clear Fnatic had issues they were not able to correct quickly enough, leaving them the clear third best team in their group. Poor drafting, bad macro-play, and inconsistent laning forced Fnatic to make their first change in replacing Amazing with promising jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen from Fnatic Academy. Any spark Broxah provided the team failed to ignite a consistent flame, and the team continued to slide down the standings.
Not sure where to go from here other than the fact that I’ll have to get through this. Just hope it’s not going to tear me apart.
— Martin Larsson (@RekklesLoL) 10 March 2017
I would never be able to live with myself if I were to give up now, but if things remain the same I might have to reconsider.
— Martin Larsson (@RekklesLoL) 11 March 2017
Everything changed for Fnatic with the unexpected and rapid rise of Team ROCCAT. Winless halfway through the season, ROC seemed like a team who provided little threat to Fnatic. Although Fnatic had struggled, their spot in the playoffs seemed an almost certainty until ROCCAT surmounted a late-season surge that included a victory over the previously undefeated G2 eSports. With victory over G2, ROCCAT had finally overtaken Fnatic for the final spot in the playoffs, and what looked set to be a disastrous end to Fnatic’s season.
In Action: The Very Worst Of Fnatic’s Drafts Under NicoThePico
With their backs against the wall, Fnatic was able to upset fellow playoff team, Misfits, to secure their place in the playoffs. Although Fnatic had started to look stronger towards the end of the season, including a close 2-1 series loss to G2, they still came into their first round matchup against H2K as heavy underdogs. The script of the split seemed almost certain, ‘Fnatic finishes with a 6-7 record, only to be clearly outmatched in an early playoff exit from H2K’. But the surging Rekkles and Fnatic had other plans, sweeping H2K in a series that in many ways salvaged their season.
Now guaranteed a top four finish, and with, what now looks like, a winnable series against G2 ahead of them, the outlook for Fnatic feels very different than it was even two weeks ago. The development of the team and the deliverance upon the promise of a lineup built around Rekkles has finally started coming to fruition; victory over H2K may have sealed another split on Fnatic for Rekkles. What looked to be a curtain call for Rekkles with the team, is now an emphatic encore as they march on through the EU LCS playoffs.
Rekkles is the heart and soul of Fnatic as they look to the future. His departure would be devastating in the wake of the departure of other greats such as Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, and Bora “Yellowstar” Kim from the line-up that had been deemed possibly the best the west had ever seen.
The dramatic fall from just over a year ago had left Rekkles down and looking for his way out, but the victory over H2K may have been the spark he needed to return and continue to carry the mantle for Fnatic in future splits.