The Fnatic‘s formulae: Assembling of the open era’s greatest lineup
For Counter-strike lovers and enthusiasts, Fnatic is a household brand. Boasting numerous trophies and legendary players, one can make a case that fnatic is the greatest organization ever in Counter-strike. Little remember, however, how struggling the team was to find its footing in CS:GO.
- Wind of Change:
July 9th 2013, Fnatic abandoned their CSGO squad. No, not that one! I’m talking about the lineup featured the likes Martin “Trace” Heidt or Finn “Karringan” Andersen – such terrific Danish-Swedish mix won numerous events before switching to CS:GO. Nevertheless, the boys soon experienced the harshness of history as they found 1.6’s successor a much different game. They simply could not adapt, and the big dogs of Fnatic saw it.
August 6th 2013, Fnatic signed Ex-epsilon, the promising Swedish squad which consisted of JW, Flusha, Devilwalk, Schneider and Moddii. Hype, doubt but mostly didn’t care, little would imagine that Fnatic would build a dynasty out of a bunch of youngsters. After all, who had time for another Swedish team while the NIP’s Ninjas were on its holy war against “the Invasion of Baguettes”, ptff. Beware though Nip’s fan, as history reminds us how f0rest (yes, ironically), Carn and Dsn were gathered by the Fnatic’s flag under their radar. One of those three names still remains as manager and he means business.
- In the search for Identity:
Life wasn’t easy for the Swedes at the beginning. Their result was plagued with inconsistency, their in-game leader engaged in a scandal versus NIP at Dreamhack Bucharest, and the reliance on their streaky stars rather than strats meant little chance against titans such as NIP or Verygames.
"For quite some time we have been struggling with defining the player roles and responsibilities in our CS:GO division," said Carn. "Particularly we have not achieved as good as we would like to with the in-game leadership.”
In-game leader, yes it was! Fnatic’s manager realized how important leadership is to one team’s identity. It was on November 12th 2013, MarKus “Pronax” Wallsten was chosen to lead the Fnatic’s lineup in place of Moddii. The community, this time, went berserk, questioning the roster move just before Dreamhack Winter - the event that marked the open era of CS:GO. Few weeks later, Pronax silent all criticism as he led Fnatic to the biggest upset in CS:GO history.
Fnatic’s triumph at Dreamhack Winter 2013 not only made them the first major winner but also the first event that we saw the glimpse of today’s Fnatic. A highly skill-based style combined with smart mid-round rotations, Pronax had brought invaluable asset to the team. People were hyping Fnatic, saying that this is the next great team to come – and right they were.
But not yet!
- Finding the missing pieces:
Fnatic’s win began the open era of CS:GO, and soon they were overwhelmed by it. The old dogs from 2013 found them slipping in the ranking as Dignitas, Virtus Pro and Na’vi replaced them at the summit of Counter-strike. Fnatic’s problem involved despite possessing a unique style, they simply could not out aim a deeper line up on consistent basis. JW and Schneider were on decline, Pronax and Devilwalk were mere supports, and only Flusha could provide some consistency in the fragging area. After the humiliating exit from Dreamhack Summer group stage by the hand of SK, it was evident that Fnatic need a change.
Luckily for the London-based organization, the Swedish talent pool was deep enough at the time. In June 2014, the rising star Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer and his supportive companion from LGB Esport - Freddy “ KRiMZ” Johansson replaced Schneider and Devilwalk from the Fnatic’s lineup. Fifteen months after the transactions, this remains as the most successful deal in CS:GO history.
- Deities of the era
It was 15-7. Fnatic was one game away. They had not won yet, but everybody knew there is no way Fnatic was gonna let this go. And as Flusha secured the final kill on Happy, the crowd exploded in cheers and boos. Fnatic took home their third Major title in Cologne. Nobody else has ever won a second.
The Krimz-Olof combo worked wonders for Fnatic. Upon joining, Krimz has brought a new aspect to Fnatic’s game. His insane CT push up combined with the ability to defense a whole bomb site by himself means Olof can early rotate with minimum risk. Consequently, fakes were abortive to Fnatic’s great wall. In a map where fakes are sold like melons such as Inferno, Fnatic is almost indestructible.
While the former helped Fnatic defined their CT–centric meta in 2014, Olofmeister rose to stardom in 2015, empowering Fnatic on both sides of the game. Generally considered the most versatile player ever grace CS:GO, Olofmeister is miraculous in almost any category. He is a monster riffle, a godly pistol player and an accomplished awper. Combined with exquisite entry fragging and clutching ability, very few have been able to stop the young Swedish god this year. Adding his synergy with Krimz, together they formed arguably the most deadly duo that CS:GO has witnessed thus far.
Moreover, after Olofm and Krimz joined, JW was released from the burden he had always carried (unsuccessfully). Krimz’s unique ability and Olofm’s versatility means Fnatic could deal with 4v5 situations better than anyone. This free JW’s game as he took on a more freestyle roles within the team, constantly going for blood as soon as he has a chance. While the other three stars ensure stability, JW maintain a healthy dose of unpredictable element. For the past year, the only concern for JW seems only involve which to choose, the AWP or his trademark swag-7 (Named: Fnatic’s Bank). And Mr Oink Oink loves his new job.
Since the roster move happened, Fnatic has attended 24 Lan events, won 13 of them (and I’m not even sure I have counted enough), made final in 17 occasions and only failed to make top 4 once. Out of 4 Majors they took part in, this legendary line up has made final 3 times out of 4, securing 2 wins at ESL Katowice and ESL Cologne-back to back in 2015. Their run of success is plainly unmatched, not even by the classic NIP line up as CS:GO is more competitive now than ever.
- The Fnatic’s formulae:
Tracking down the history of Fnatic across Esport titles, one notices that their success came from no fluke. It was, by all mean, the result of extraordinary strategy combined with uncanny decision making in the process. The Fnatic’s triumph recipe can be broken down in 3 steps:
- Securing young talents: This is the first step of the process. Whenever venturing into a new game (or their old line up somehow breaks down), Fnatic always secure the brightest talent they can possibly find. This requires fantastic scouting and vision. JW and Flusha from CS:GO, Huni and Febiven from Lol, f0rest and Dsn from the old 1.6 were some primary examples of the first-gen talents Fnatic took under their wings.
- Appointing Leadership: Fnatic’s management team knows that individual skill alone is not sufficient. A best team needs an identity, a leader to define its strategy, roles and approach. From historical point of view, Carn and Pronax stand amongst the finest In-game leaders of Counter-strike, while entrusting the leading role to veteran Yellowstar bring their Lol division immense achievement.
- Perfecting the Line-up: The first two steps of the process build the foundation for the team, and the next stage is to bring the game to the next level. Hardcore fans would certainly remember the recruitment of GeT_RiGhT and Gux in 2009, transforming the sturdy 1.6 lineup to a winning machine, or the acquisition of Rekkles result in a 21 game win streak of Fnatic Lol at LCS summer 2015. Astonishingly, Fnatic is always able to find the right pieces. And when they do, without hesitation, action is taken. Olofm and Krimz were signed as soon as the LGB lineup disbanded, Trace was secured right after getting kicked from SK and Rekkles came fresh out of a disappointing season.
Simple as it sounded, few could execute their plans better than Fnatic did. It took their arch enemy – team Dignitas (now known as TSM) almost 2 years of choking to recruit Karringan as their IGL (Funny though, another Fnatic alumni). The Swedish Ninjas had chances to secure Olofmeister under their service, and they never did. Now TSM is still searching for its first major title. And NIP, is facing disbandment.
The king of Europe was not born, but nurtured.
Welcome, again, and again, to the Fnatic’s era.