Fnatic’s showing at the 2017 World Championship has made for uncomfortable viewing for their loyal European fanbase. The latest social media outbursts from top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer have provided an added level of negativity after a disappointing week.
The atmosphere after Fnatic’s crushing failure at Rift Rivals has returned once more after the opening week of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship.
Sitting winless at the bottom of Group B after three games, the odds of Fnatic reaching the knockout rounds are now nigh on impossible.
Each defeat has served to disrupt the team’s harmony in a different manner: the embarrassment of the Gigabyte Marines’ innovative strategy, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s fatal misstep that opened the door for Immortals and the humiliating annihilation at the hands of Longzhu Gaming.
The first week has no doubt taken its toll and the cracks in the Fnatic line-up are beginning to show.
The defeat to reigning LCK champions, Longzhu Gaming, was perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back – the camel, in this case, being sOAZ.
Isolated on a top-lane island for each of Fnatic’s opening three games, the Frenchman was left exposed once more against a scaling Nasus, with none other than Kim “Khan” Dong-ha – arguably the world’s best player – wielding the cane.
The outcome wasn’t pretty. As Khan approached the 20-minute mark unscathed, he chased sOAZ to his second-tier turret before dealing both the killing blow and the final nail in the coffin for Fnatic.
Something snapped inside of sOAZ, as he immediately posted a series of passive-aggressive remarks about his teammates on social media following the game defeat:
I wish i could play to farm for 20min without worrying about my team but this is just so sad
— Paul Boyer (@sOAZIZGOOD) October 8, 2017
Im just frustrated due to showing such poor team performance on stage when i know we are a lot better than this and showing better in scrims
— Paul Boyer (@sOAZIZGOOD) October 8, 2017
Though sOAZ’s remarks could be easily attributed to shere frustration, his Fnatic teammates’ comments served to validate the reasoning that all is not well in the camp of Europe’s third seed:
There are a lot of unsolved issues going on behind the scenes, and that game was the result of those issues.
— Jesse Le (@Jesizlol) October 8, 2017
Some tough days here in China, not sure what to say 😔 Thanks for all the kind and supportive messages though, means a lot
— Broxah (@BroxahLoL) October 8, 2017
It’s important to note that, for the majority of the Summer Split, sOAZ was a spearhead for Fnatic. The rightful recipient of EU LCS All-Pro status for his top lane performances, the veteran served to unify the FNC line-up as they looked to reinvent their style.
Though it is only over a three-game sample size, sOAZ is struggling to replicate the form he showcased in the EU LCS, but how much of that is really his fault?
A veteran of the game should know better than to air his team’s dirty laundry out in public after a series of disappointing defeats, yet the frustrations of the Fnatic top laner are certainly understandable.
Taking the defeat to Longzhu Gaming as an example, the difference in trust placed in the two top laners speaks volumes of the respective team dynamics.
Where LZ trust Khan to pick an off-meta champ and take the game by the scruff of the neck, for the third time in a row, sOAZ is forced to play a champion that is heavily reliant on the performance of his teammates… or as the frenchman infamously described this class: ‘dog-champs.’
Consider being forced into a losing matchup time and time again, meanwhile the rest of the Fnatic lineup flounder haphazardly around the map for 15 minutes until the game is essentially over.
Being consistently put in a position where he is asked to sacrifice himself for the good of the team is bound to take its toll, even for the most-seasoned of League of Legends veterans.
Such is sOAZ’s polarising nature that fans and analysts are quick to highlight the top laner’s KDA and scrutinise his performance. Getting solo-killed is inexcusable, but often by the point that is occurring, the game has already been lost by his teammates.
Nobody wants to feel like their own destiny is out of their hands, but that is exactly the reality facing sOAZ as Fnatic’s ‘unresolved behind the scenes issues’ continue to unravel.