Many consider the position of Head Coach for a League of Legends Championship Series team to be one of the most stressful jobs in eSports: a role heavily scrutinised, all-consuming and results orientated. This rule seemingly does not apply to Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård who, despite almost leading heavyweight eSports organisation Fnatic into the midst of a relegation battle in the Spring Split, has been named as Head Coach for the Ninjas in Pyjamas return to the EU LCS.
Amidst the drama surrounding the Ninjas in Pyjamas roster announcement for the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split, NicoThePico’s return to the top tier of European competition has flown largely under the radar. The NiP announcement triggered a series of tremors within the competitive scene, given that the organisation decided to completely replace the team lineup that earned promotion from the European Challenger Series at the end of the Spring Split under the Fnatic Academy banner.
Whilst the decision to replace core members of Fnatic Academy’s promotion squad with players generally regarded to be inferior – Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema replacing Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider or Hampus “Sprattel” Mikael Abrahamsson replacing Johan “Klaj” Olsson, for example – that any team would hire NicoThePico as the Head Coach of a newly formed roster has resulted in a widespread state of disbelief.
The majority of the 2017 Spring Split 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 NicoThePico, a short-lived and disappointing reign.
The Very Worst Of Fnatic’s Drafts Under NicoThePico
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.
Will be looking into oppurtunities moving forward, aiming to stick around ? Thanks for all the McDonalds offers but I’ll pass on them atm ?
— NicoThePico (@NicoThePico) 20 March 2017
Remarkably, following Nico’s departure for the gaming house, 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.
Defying all expectations, Fnatic swept H2K in a dominant series that guaranteed the team a 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.
One glance at Fnatic’s results, with and without Nico’s input, speaks volumes to his credentials as a Head Coach. At a glance, Ninjas in Pyjamas return to the EU LCS seems destined to fail. Introducing a disastrous coach to a roster that features a distinct disparity in talent and no prior synergy, not to mention the uphill public relations battle facing the organisation following the severed contracts of each member of the Fnatic Academy squad, it’s currently difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel for NiP.