The core of Fnatic is gone, leaving just Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson and Dennis “dennis” Edman. The famous olofmeister and Freddy “KRiMZ” Johansson duo is gone. Fnatic beat G2 and Gambit at the Major, losing to the runner-up of the tournament. Fnatic also lost to Virtus.Pro in the finals of ELEAGUE just two weeks ago. What is going on here?
Why did the roster change happen and in this way?
This roster change is quite perplexing, especially when discussing the break-up of the famous olof-KRiMZ duo and the LGB core, which was reunited a year ago. LGB, for those who don’t know, was the second/third best Swedish team. Key members of this team were olofmeister, dennis, KRiMZ and Simon “twist” Eliasson. Right along with them was Epsilon (later acquired by Fnatic), which contained players such as Jesper “JW” Wecksell, Robin “flusha” Ronnquist and Markus “pronax” Wallsten.
The reason why the breakup of the LGB core within Fnatic is so strange is that Olof and KRiMZ worked so well together. When thinking of other great duos, the pairing of Filip “NEO” Kubski and Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas comes to mind. NEO and TaZ, like KRiMZ and olof, have broken records with each other. Both are good players when not playing together, but when united, we start using words like best player ever to describe olofmeister and NEO.
The Poles know better than to separate, except NEO needed that to be reinforced one time. In CS 1.6, NEO had left his team to play with a foreign group of players. After one practice just a day after the split, he came back to play with his old team knowing that something didn’t feel right. He came back so fast that there was no time for an announcement that NEO had left the team. This recent split is more permanent though because of it being in the works for at least two weeks. Despite Olof and KRiMZ working well in-game, they must have had some out of game tension, like NEO and TaZ, but couldn’t or wouldn’t overcome it.
JW was also someone within Fnatic who had some problems with the team. A year ago, there were rumors about JW trying to leave Fnatic to join NiP. Multiple reports confirmed that everything was in place, but for some reason, it didn’t happen. JW is the kind of player who wants to win, but for the past year, he hasn’t quite seemed in his element. Nevertheless, he still played very well and broke the record for tournament wins in a row during his slump, which brings up another matter.
You never change a winning formula. In sports, they say never to mess with a streak, so some players will wear the same unwashed socks to maintain all of the factors that brought them the previous wins. Wearing the same pair of socks is probably not what brought that team their run of success, but the effect of wearing those socks is the added confidence they provide. Imagine Fnatic being presented the opportunity to remove JW for Mikail “Maikelele” Bill after the fifth tournament win during their streak. Would it not be crazy to remove JW for Maikelele? Even if a winning team could substitute their worst player for the best player in the world, it would be wrong to change that winning formula.
Few teams ever find that winning formula and that team has it. After a person really stops to ask why the best player in the world wants to join their team and why he hasn’t had as much success, they probably will find something in their character or playstyle that doesn’t suit him for success with his teams. When examining the weak link on their team, the player presented with the seemingly irresistible option will absolutely find reasons as to why that weaker player fits within the team. Fnatic is still a winning formula despite not winning recently.
The reason why Fnatic is still a winning team is due to fewer tournaments and olofmeister’s wrist injury. olofmeister had problems with his wrist, so Fnatic had to play with a stand-in and subsequently played worse without the best player in the world. When Olof returned, he lacked the confidence that made him the fierce player that he was remembered to be. As with everything, it takes time to build confidence, so Fnatic performed worse for a few more tournaments.
Without Olof, the rest of Fnatic was unable to play to the levels that we expect from them, even with accounting for the boost stars bring to their roleplayers. KRiMZ’ game was atrocious, flusha had flopped, and JW’s unorthodox style fell out of favor faster than the Hoverboard. While all of these members of Fnatic played poorly, dennis was rising in form, which may speak to why the still failing KRiMZ is no longer with Fnatic. A change had to happen, but it happening in this way tears me apart. Of the previously formed Swedish teams, GODSENT was the logical option for the exiting Fnatic players. pronax, their former teammate, was the team captain and founder of GODSENT, and in the case of JW and flusha, they will be reunited with their former teammate, Andreas “znajder” Lindberg. Though znajder is not the player he used to be, pronax still retains the remarkable mid-round calling that Fnatic used to be known for. The Fnatic players coming over to GODSENT understand the effectiveness of playing in a system and what Fnatic has been missing without one. Fnatic has Viktor “vuggo” Jendeby, who is an excellent coach with a great understanding of the game, but ever since pronax was cut or left Fnatic, which still remains unclear, Fnatic has lacked a direction and identity. This has made it difficult for the players to find themselves in a slump and in high pressure situations, as seen at ELEAGUE.
There are added benefits to joining GODSENT for the declining Fnatic players besides playing with pronax. GODSENT, a player owned organization, provides the players with a tie to esports once their career is over. On Fnatic, however, once a player’s career is over, they are out of esports. Many pros really enjoy being around esports, and becoming a caster or something like that isn’t usually an option. Even if keeping the core three players of Fnatic were an option, they probably would prefer the insurance of being in esports for a long time over playing with their current org.
The GODSENT players coming over to Fnatic are a mixed bag. twist has been sought after by NiP during their searches for an AWPer. Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson is a young and unproven talent. pauf is now completely out of the equation. Instead, Fnatic brought in wenton, the sub for olofmeister. This makes sense as a temporary solution. The players on Fnatic during olofmeister’s respite all seemed supportive of him, though he was no olofmeister. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t good. wenton will probably only be on Fnatic until someone better is found.
Until then, Fnatic can bide their time, since there are no LANs anytime soon. In fact, this shuffle is an upgrade skillwise to Fnatic. One year ago, it would have been a completely different story, but the departing players have been in a downswing for so long that looking to new blood may be Fnatic’s best chance at reclaiming their empire as it has been so many times in the past.
The players joining GODSENT have been called old and in decline, which is true to an extent. That statement only extends to the recent past, where they underperformed at ELEAGUE, the Major, and the tournaments where Olof was gone. The other half of that statement is flat out wrong. They are certainly not old with the average age of GODSENT players being 23. The players from Fnatic have been a part of a winning formula that was doing things no one else has done before. It is important to remember that and their ability to always come out on top. Look at pronax. He was cast off into the wastes and fated to retire after playing with some friends. pronax, instead, created a team that will be competing in the next Major. with Legend status
Teams similar to the current GODSENT have done very well in the past, and some of them turned out to have another phase of their career. Cedric “RpK” Guipouy, for instance, left CS:GO for years, and when he returned, the game had evolved from the infantile state from which he left. Through the work of a talented in-game leader, he was able to learn the game again and play on the highest teams.
Virtus.Pro, a continuing story of return, was thought to have ceased being relevant many times. In the past year, barely making out of the group at the MLG Major was a knock against them. Getting relegated from Pro League was another. Then, things changed, as they always seem to do. They came back to win StarLadder, ELEAGUE, and take a top four finish at ESL One Cologne.
None of this should have been possible, but Counter-Strike is about the impossible. Swedes were thought to be immune from these dramatic French roster shuffles, yet recent events prove otherwise. Fnatic was thought dead after pronax left, but they have won tournaments without him. Fnatic players are truly a different caliber than the rest. The best of the Fnatic players was olofmeister, and he will be remaining with Fnatic. With the added firepower, Fnatic should do better, since their style was predicated on aim. Fnatic wasn’t quite that simple though. Fnatic did have a very loose style, but there were some very key roles that people filled so that Fnatic could be so great. KRiMZ backing up olof on CT side and JW going wild are of the most unique and important roles. If olofmeister cannot find a good, stable, partner among the new players coming over to Fnatic, then he is just another good player and not the emperor of Counter-Strike.
The new Fnatic will be in a massive slump to start. olofmeister will have no confidence, which is critical for him to play to his potential. The new players will struggle to find a balance between their styles and the ones that made Fnatic great. This is because Fnatic worked quite differently compared to most other teams, meaning most players will have a hard time adapting. If it were easy, then everyone would do it, and Fnatic wouldn’t have been on top for so long.
For a long period of time, both teams will probably struggle to find success, but GODSENT playing in the Premier League gives them an excuse for the time that it takes to reform. Given time, both teams will probably make roster changes. Fnatic will get rid of wenton as soon as they can find someone better, and rumors suggest that znajder has limits on where he can compete or what he feels comfortable with, making him a likely candidate as well. One thing is for certain, if there is any team that has benefited from their being only two Majors in 2016, then it’s Fnatic, as it gives them a lot of time to make changes.
After all of the dust settles, there is still no true favorite in this exchange as there have been in previous roster shuffles. The one loss in this whole shuffle is that the dynasty has been broken. We will never see that Fnatic team compete again. We will never see them come out of that slump, even though they did make it to the finals of ELEAGUE.
The division of this empire is like the division of the Roman Empire. When Constantine separated the two halves of the Empire, the total dominance and power that once was Rome would forever be dispelled. If the rest of the history of the Roman Empire becomes the history of Fnatic, then one side will fail and eventually disperse, and the other will prosper but in a shadow of their former glory. The history of the Broken Empire is still in the making. Now, only time will tell if Fnatic truly was a great empire and unlike anything else.
Photo credit: Sonyaandtravis.com, CSGObetting.com, HLTV.org,
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