Fnatic: A Quest for the Swedish Crown
The “Swedish Shuffle” saw the most accomplished players in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive history split into two separate teams. Fnatic retained two of their most consistent and high impact players in Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer Gustafsson and Dennis "dennis" Edman, while losing longtime partners in Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, Jesper "JW" Wecksell and Freddy "KRiMZ" Johansson to GODSENT. The reaction of the general public included the assumption that GODSENT won this player swap in clean fashion. In all fairness, it’s not a crazy idea to presume Markus "pronax" Wallsten reuniting with three of his fellow multi-major winning friends would find immediate success. Ultimately, that hasn’t happened.
Long Road Ahead for Sweden
Six weeks have passed and Fnatic has an opportunity to not only surpass GODSENT, but become the best team in Sweden with just a few decent results. NiP clearly hold the Swedish title, yet they have a ton of work ahead of them if they want to retain that position. The recent rule change by Valve has pulled Richard "Xizt" Landström back to the in-game leader role and a familiar face has returned to the team.
Per sources, Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi has resumed playing for NiP following his wrist injury and has large shoes to fill, considering the outstanding performance Mikail "Maikelele" Bill had as a stand-in. Their lackluster performance prior to his injury will not be enough to remain a top-five team in the world. GODSENT, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to qualify for any large events, highlighted by losing to Alternate Attax in the ELEAGUE Season 2 qualifier.
ESL One New York
Looking ahead to ESL One New York, Fnatic has an opportunity to make their mark and prove to the world that they shouldn’t be underestimated. Many teams, including Na’Vi and Liquid, are having a hard time adjusting to the Valve coaching changes and can be taken advantage of. Additionally, despite statistically being the best team in the world, SK has not attended a large event nor played much with their full lineup since their win at ESL One Cologne nearly three months ago. Astralis arrives as inconsistent as ever and has been rumored to be “at odds” with each other during their recent slump. The clear favorites for this contest based on recent form include Virtus.pro and G2, giving Fnatic a fantastic opportunity to not only reach the semifinal but win the event itself.
Many will look to the more inexperienced riflers in Simon "twist" Eliasson, Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson and John "wenton" Eriksson to step up to the plate and perform, but my eyes rest on Olofmeister. I look to him to take the pressure off the other guys and remind the world just how big of an impact one single player can have. He had his time to recover from his injury and find his groove, but right now is the time to perform. Counter-Strike is better for everyone when this guy is playing at a high level; he is just that good.
Only time will tell how Fnatic chooses to handle this gigantic opportunity. Will they take advantage of this volatile state of professional Counter-Strike or will we see a lackluster, boring display of ability? When we have this conversation again in January prior to the next major, I fully expect them to have qualified and be in the discussion to win it all.
How well do you think Fnatic will do at ESL One New York? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Photo Credit: HLTV, ESL-One, CyberPowerPC
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