After their third place finish in the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split, Fnatic looks like an entirely different entity to the team that had moped from the stage just a few weeks earlier. After watching their record plummet during the middle of the split, Fnatic barely maintained a playoff position with a victory in their final series of the split. Now, after a 3-0 dismantling of Misfits to claim third place, Fnatic looks to be a legitimate challenger heading into the next split.
Fnatic enjoyed a promising start to their season, with the new all-European roster taking reigning champions G2 eSports to three games in a series where Fnatic showed their potential and Rasmus “Caps” Winther looked to be the next European star. While there were some questionable decisions in and out of the game – ADC Kennen as the most infamous example that may now seem to be 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 as the clear third placed team in their group. Poor drafting, bad macro-play, and inconsistent laning forced Fnatic to make their first change: replacing Amazing with promising jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen from the Fnatic Academy. Any spark Broxah provided the team failed to ignite a consistent flame as the team continued to slide down the standings.
Fnatic was able to barely hold on and salvaged their season with a victory over Misfits in the final series of the split. Their prize was a first round match-up with the heavily favored H2K Gaming, seemingly a certain end to Fnatic’s split. Then the unthinkable happened…
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) 9 April 2017
Fnatic swept H2K in a dominant series that sent them to a guaranteed spot in the top four and a trip to Hamburg. After falling to the eventual champions G2 Esports, Fnatic faced off against Misfits in the third place match where they overwhelmed the rookie squad en route to their second sweep of the playoffs.
The team’s drafting looked crisp, and their stars dominated Misfits at almost every position. Fnatic’s “Baby Faker” mid laner delivered on the prodigal hype he had entered the split with, showing flashes of brilliance as he neutralized the highly touted Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage.
The other rookie on the squad, Broxah, proved he could be one of Europe’s best junglers in the series. Broxah registered only one death across three games, completely outmatching Misfits jungler Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon. His performance earned him the honor of “Player of the Series”, as he was involved in 41 of the 45 Fnatic kills in the series. After showing much promise on Fnatic Academy, this was the Broxah Fnatic had hoped for when they promoted him to the main squad.
The recipe for success for Fnatic seems clear moving forward, their composition of players and personalities makes sense from a team perspective. By mixing veterans Paul “sOAZ” Boyer and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson with exciting young talent, Fnatic is able to develop their future stars as well as provide the leadership role that Rekkles has long desired.
Make no mistake, Rekkles is still the star and leader of this team. His performance against Misfits on Kennan (18/3/18) reinforced that he is still one of the best in Europe and a world-class talent. The emergence of dynamic support Jesse “Jesiz” Le has only further unlocked Rekkles to carry Fnatic, and in the next split there is little reason to believe this will not continue.
After their 3-0 dismantling of both H2K and Misfits, it wouldn’t be a stretch to claim Fnatic might already be the second best team in the EU LCS. With a roster loaded with young talent and anchored by veterans who bring a wealth of experience, Fnatic should only get better as they progress through the next split.
Caps and Broxah will continue to improve, Jesiz will further adjust to his new role, and Rekkles… will continue to be Rekkles. Changes the team made late in the season are already paying dividends, and although they still have significant work to be a threat to G2, they could easily surpass Unicorns of Love for second place, earning themselves a trip to Worlds based on points.