Joining the team ahead of tomorrow’s Intel Extreme Masters Cologne tournament, where the it will compete against a slew of other top teams from every region, are two new Korean imports and an up-and-coming support.
Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon, Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin, and Lewis “NoXiAK” Felix are Fnatic’s newest players, confirming reports from the Daily Dot. The moves solidify a roster that lost some of the highest profile players of 2016.
After winning both EU League Championship Series (LCS) titles, backed by an undefeated regular season in the Summer Split, Fnatic reached the semifinals at the World Championships to complete the best season by a Western League of Legend team since Fnatic themselves won the world title in 2011, before Korean teams competed at the event. But during the offseason, top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and jungler Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin joined American side Immortals. Then long-time Fnatic leader Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim left to join Team SoloMid, opening gaping holes on the Fnatic roster.
Of course, their core of mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten and AD carry Martin “Rekkles” Larsson still gave the team two talented players to build around, and it seems to have found some strong replacements.
The team’s new Korean top lane and jungle combo features the biggest free agent import in European League history, Spirit. The jungler for Samsung Blue during 2014, when that team rampaged through Korea, Spirit earned a reputation as the world’s top jungler even through 2015, when he nearly carried World Elite to an IEM title. He should be an upgrade over the departing ReignOver, assuming he develops the same synergy with his solo laners.
That shouldn’t be a problem considering he hand-picked his top laner, Noh. The former Dignitas player showed potential in North America but never truly shined, but Lee seems to believe he can develop Noh into a weapon. The two have duoed together extensively. While Noh may not have the rambunctious and endearing personality of the player he’s replacing, Huni, he has potential to provide a similar impact, if in a less exciting—and perhaps less risky—way.
The hardest departing player to replace, though, is likely YellOwStaR, the team’s veteran leader and shot caller. Incoming German support NoXiAK showed potential as a member of the ill-fated Meet Your Makers team in the Spring season, but he’s a relative newbie compared to YellOwStaR, whose shot calling the team will sorely miss. But Fnatic has players that could potentially step into that role.
We’ll get to see the new lineup in action very soon—they play at IEM Cologne, which begins tomorrow. With a first round bye, Fnatic won’t play until Saturday, when they’re scheduled to face the winner of Dignitas versus Qiao Gu at 11am ET.
Like last year, when Huni and Reignover were essentially complete unknowns, perhaps they’ve found the formula to carry them to yet another magical season.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr