The majority of 2017 has consisted of little but misery for fans of Fnatic’s League of Legends team. Following the departure of Luis “Deilor” Sevilla, Fnatic opted to employ the services of former Origen coach Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård, a short-lived and disappointing reign. Fans were set to write off their team’s chances, but a late revival has seen FNC not only reach playoffs, but crush H2K-Gaming in the quarter final round. Who is responsible for Fnatic’s miraculous turn around?
Heading into 2017, having lost all but one of their heroes from the 2015 World Championship, the heavyweight eSports brand faced yet another testing season. With NicoThePico at the helm, Fnatic needed nothing more than stability, yet what the former Origen coach provided was the biggest period of uncertainty and disharmony the team has experienced in recent years.
Fnatic’s issues were widely publicised – dodgy drafts, miserable morale, troubling teamplay – at one point or another, the roster endured every issue a team can experience within a single split. After a catastrophic nine weeks in the EU LCS Spring Split, featuring a number of even-more disastrous team compositions, the heavyweight European organisation finally acted to relieve their coach of his duties.
In his place Finlay “Quaye” Stewart stepped in as Interim Head Coach for the remainder of the split. Quaye has previously self-confessed to being devoid of in-depth League of Legends knowledge, expressing his reliance on the team’s analysts and challenger coach to guide the team through their difficult period:
“I am of the belief that we have a truly talented group of players capable of far more than where we currently sit in the standings.
“I will do my best to give the players a better structure and the resources needed to succeed.
“Together with remote coaches, analysts and our players, we will make sure to give ourselves the best chance at playoffs.”
Finlay “Quaye” Stewart
Fnatic’s recovery was near instantaneous, beating Misfits after posing a serious threat to G2 eSports in their previous fixture. With a playoff spot secured, FNC would face rivals H2K-Gaming, a game in which many expected a whitewash given the two teams’ contrasting form over the regular season.
FNC provided the biggest upset of the weekend, cleanly dispatching H2K with a 3-0 victory. The team’s fanbase and the wider League of Legends community were left rubbing their eyes in disbelief, as Fnatic unveiled an assortment of weird and wonderful picks.
Twitch ADC, Camille Support, Vayne ADC, Aurelion Sol Mid, Kennen ADC: H2K had no answers to Fnatic’s unexpected compositions and cohesive play style. Whilst Quaye stood on stage, many Fnatic fans credited the strategic masterclass to the team’s unknown member of staff pictured infrequently on camera, the man with an eerie likeness to the team’s former coach.
“Budget Deilor”, as the figure came to be known, was quickly hailed as ‘one of the best things to have happened to Fnatic’ – but who exactly is Fnatic’s saviour and analyst?
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) 9 April 2017
Whilst being named in Deilor’s honour should only ever be treated as a complement, the man at least partly responsible for Fnatic’s revival is Jens Hofer, Fnatic’s mental coach. It is thought that Jens was initially brought on board to work closely with the team, notably captain Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, who expressed he was seeing a ‘therapist’ back in March.
A former basketball coach, Jens made the switch to become a mental coach almost a decade ago. Having previously worked with athletes and teams in Sweden, Hofer made the switch to Berlin to join up with Fnatic. Whilst providing a valuable service for the mental stamina of the roster, Jens Hofer is not the man solely responsible for remoulding Fnatic into a winning team.
The man standing beside Jens Hofer however, is Marcus “Blumigan” Blom, Fnatic’s strategic coach – he is the man who should be reaping the plaudits from both the Fnatic and European League of Legends fanbases.
Blumigan is the saviour of fnatic
— OLOF (@flaxxish) 9 April 2017
blumigen turning fnatic into superteam?
— Jørgen Elgåen (@HatrixxLoL) 9 April 2017
I also do beleive (since my boys stomped h2k yday) that im going to Hamburg with the mainteam. Cya in playoffs ??
— Marcus (@Blumigan) 10 April 2017
With NicoThePico no longer calling the shots, Blumigan has pressed forwards with his own school of strategic thinking. With a newfound sense of freedom and resiliency, Fnatic will fancy their chances against a meta-favouring G2 eSports. Victory over inarguably the EU LCS’ strongest roster in the regular split would certainly serve to push both Blumigan, and indeed Jens Hofer, closer towards the limelight.