A look at the teams for ESL One Cologne: Part 12 – FNATIC.
Part 1 – Cloud9
Part 2 – Immunity
Part 3 – mousesports
Part 4 – Virtus.pro
Part 5 – FlipSid3 Tactics
Part 6 – Kinguin
Part 7 – Luminosity Gaming
Part 8 – EnVyUs
Part 9 – Titan
Part 10 – Natus Vincere
Part 11 – eBettle
FNATIC is one of the most established teams in CS:GO, and it is also one of the few teams at the top who haven’t made any roster changes since the addition of KRIMZ and olofmeister back in June last year http://www.hltv.org/news/12713-krimz-and-olofm-join-fnatic . Their results speak for themselves as they have shown that they consistently make the top placements at lans.
FNATIC was a dominating force for the majority of the year, and it was not until Team SoloMid ascended to their current level that FNATIC had an opponent, aside from Titan who had an impressive matchup record against FNATIC, who could challenge them and push them to their limit every time they faced each other.
Aside from Team SoloMid elevating their play, it was also a FNATIC who showed cracks in their armor, and while JW, KRIMZ, flusha and olofmeister took turns to be a super-star it is not possible to maintain that level of play for a long period of time. Furthermore, with FNATIC being the undisputed Nr. #1 team for such a long period they have also been the most studied team, which makes their placing as number 1 for such a long period of time even more impressive.
Their second placing at ESEA Global Finals Season 18 was partly due to a well-playing Virtus.pro, but also that one of the maps was Season, which isn’t played as a competitive map normally and was a gamble by Virtus.pro, and it ended 16:14, but could just as well have been 14:16 instead, but Virtus.pro would most likely have won the event as due to the format where FNATIC who came from the lower bracket had to win two Bo3s, whereas Virtus.pro had to win one.
At CS:GO Championship Series Kick-off Season they faced Team SoloMid in the upper-bracket semifinal which they lost 12:16 (Dust2), 13:16 (Inferno), and in the lower-bracket they met EnVyUs who they beat 16:9 (Mirage), 16:14 (Inferno). In the lower-bracket final they faced their countrymen from Ninjas in Pyjamas who they smashed 16:6 (Mirage), 16:4 (Cobblestone). The Grand finale was a Bo5 with the winner from the upper-bracket, Team SoloMid, had a 1 map advantage. The Danes was again too strong for FNATIC, and won 1:0, 16:11 (Mirage), 11:16 (Dust2), 16:11 (Overpass), where not even a flusha on fire was able to secure more than one map.
FACEIT League 2015 Stage 1 Finals was their chance to get revenge against the Danes, and in the group FNATIC first stomped Liquid 16:1 (Cobblestone), 16:3 (Mirage), then they faced Ninjas in Pyjamas who they bet comfortably 16:7 (Mirage), 16:12 (Dust2). In the semifinal they met Team SoloMid, but again they fell to the Danes 13:16 (Mirage), 11:16 (Inferno).
DreamHack Tours 2015 was an event without Team SoloMid, and in the groups they won against Awsomniac 16:4 (Mirage), and against the other Danes from Dignitas 16:12 (Cache). In the semifinal they faced HellRaisers, who managed to take the first map before FNATIC put their foot down and showing their dominance on the last two, ending the match 16:19 (Inferno), 16:2 (Overpass), 16:6 (Dust2). In the Grand Final they faced EnVyUs who they beat 7:16 (Dust2), 16:10 (Mirage), 16:5 (Cache).
In the group stage at GFINITY Masters Spring 2 they didn’t look as dominant as their usual standard suggest as they first played 1:1 with Vox Eminor 13:16 (Cache), 16:13 (Dust2), and again playing 1:1 in a close match against Ninjas in Pyjamas 16:14 (Dust2), 20:22 (Overpass). When they faced Natus Vincere they did play more like their usual standard winning 16:13 (Mirage), 16:10 (Overpass), but then they played 1:1 with Liquid 16:4 (Cobblestone), 9:16 (Cache). In the semifinal they faced one of their historical though opponents, Titan, who they beat 16:3 (Cobblestone), 11:16 (Cache), 16:9 (Inferno). In the Grand Final they were able to get revenge against Virtus.pro by beating them 16:10 (Cobblestone), 16:9 (Cache), 19:16 (Dust2). While they won GFINITY they did lose maps to teams who they shouldn’t have as Liquid and Vox Eminor.
At Fragbite Masters Season IV they won against Natus Vincere 16:13 (Dust2), 16:11 (Cobblestone), and won against the pesky Danes in the upper-bracket final 17:19 (Mirage), 16:8 (Cache), 16:8 (Cobblestone). In the Grand final they met the Danes again, but this time the Danes proved too strong and FNATIC lost 5:16 (Cobblestone), 16:7 (Mirage), 11:16 (Inferno), 7:16 (Dust2).
DreamHack Summer 2015 was not a super stacked event with only Natus Vincere, Titan, Ninjas in Pyjamas and Dignitas as the threatening opponents. In the group stage FNATIC won 16:13 (Cache) against LGB, and then stomped Titan 16:2 (Mirage). In the semifinal they faced Ninjas in Pyjamas who lost 16:6 (Dust2), 16:14 (Train). In the Grand final they faced Natus Vincere who despite the best attempts by GuardiaN and Edward was unable to force the Swedes to a third map ending the final with 16:9 (Mirage), 16:14 (Train).
ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 was a tournament where there was not one, but two, hugely surprisingly upsets. In the group stage FNATIC faced Counter Logic Gaming who quite surprisingly was able to beat the Swedes 16:12 (Mirage), and while it was a quite impressive display by CLG it was not a full-throttle display from FNATIC, and there is no doubt that there was quite some anti-stratting involved from CLG, and I doubt FNATIC had done much research towards their North American opponents. FNATIC got upset by CLG, but the Brazilians from Keyd Stars did also beat Team SoloMid, and this meant that FNATIC and Team SoloMid would be battling out who was going out in a Bo1. FNATIC edged out a win 16:14 (Overpass) in a match that could be described as olofmeister vs. cajunb with both of them trying to drag their team through.
When FNATIC faced the Brazilians they won 16:5 (Dust2), 19:16 (Train). In the semifinal they met Virtus.pro who they won against 12:16 (Cache), 16:3 (Overpass), 16:9 (Dust2). In the Grand final it was Cloud9 who was the opponent, and it ended up being a really close match, but in the end FNATIC edged out a win 14:16 (Cobblestone), 16:6 (Cache), 16:14 (Overpass), 19:15 (Dust2). With three maps being really close it could have been a 3:1 to Cloud9, but could also have been a 3:0 to FNATIC, and in addition aside from Cache olofmeister had no impact as it was flusha who was dragging his team across the finish line.
FACEIT League 2015 Stage 2 Finals at DreamHack Valencia was the last event we saw FNATIC in action, and in the group stage they won 16:9 (Dust2) against Liquid. Then they faced Team SoloMid who wanted revenge from ESL ESEA Pro League, and got it, 16:10 (Overpass) where JW went missing and nor olofmeister, KRIMZ or flusha was able to off-set that. Against their fellow Swedes from Ninjas in Pyjamas they played two close maps, but olofmeister was able to drag his team through on Train with 39 kills ending the match 16:14 (Train), 16:14 (Mirage). In the semifinal they faced Cloud9, but this time the Swedes ended up being the losing part as Cloud9 played well, but also in large part due to almost everyone aside the team captain pronax, who played extremely well on Train, was underperforming heavily and FNATIC one of the most skilled teams in terms of individuals got out aimed consistently ending the match 16:7 (Mirage), 21:19 (Train).
FNATIC was a dominating entity at the beginning of the year, and while some of their players no longer is at their super level they was able to almost rotate between them, it is still a very potent team. Their main rival Team SoloMid is also one of the only teams, who in terms of combined skill on the team that can rival FNATIC. Their last performance at FACEIT League was not an impressive one, and with almost everyone underperforming it looked like a team that could use a vacation, which can sound odd, but they are one of the few teams, who have been competing if not every week then almost every second week at a major event. At some point you are most likely going to run out of steam, and need a vacation in order to recuperate. Also with such a heavy schedule, and playing online qualifiers as well, it is also quite difficult to implement and practice new strategies, and that does not become a problem until people find a way to counter how you play a map e.g. on Cobblestone where olofmeister was almost unplayable when he went on B-plateau until people found a way to counter him.
FNATIC is one of my favorite teams to watch, as they hold a high individual skill level, and if it is olofmeister who just runs around wreaking havoc. KRIMZ denying entry to a site and playing smart CS. JW who takes whatever weapon he has and does things that simply shouldn’t be doable, or as successful as he makes them, and when it works he can win a round single handedly, but if he fails there is still KRIMZ and flusha to be contested. flusha is one of the players I really enjoy to watch because he can turn an almost impossible X v. Y situation into a win, and he plays really smart CS. While the ingame leader pronax rarely boasts as impressive numbers as his teammates, but that is not his role as he often plays the supportive role and sets up his teammates for success, and he is one of the best ingame leaders in the game.
In terms of maps they are strong on: Inferno, Mirage, Cache, with them being decent on Train, Dust2, Overpass, and until recently I would say that Cobblestone was one of their decent maps, but they seems that the other teams have found out how to play them, and their recent results on it haven’t been impressive.
They do not have a directly weak map, and in a matchup against most teams they have a fairly strong map pool, which also with the way that the Bo3 system works gives them a better chance than e.g. Natus Vincere.
It is not a secret that the overall level of FNATIC has dropped over the last couple of months, but they still managed to get a top #4 placing at every event, and only losing more than once to Team SoloMid, and even when they were playing below their capacity they had a player who could step up and carry them through most of the games. A team that is not playing at their best is still able to win, if that isn’t a testimony of their abilities then I don’t know what would be. I think that FNATIC is one of the top contenders, and unless they find their full form again I don’t think they are a clear-cut favorite to win Cologne, but they are one of the favorites along Virtus.pro, EnVyUs and Team SoloMid. Furthermore, looking back on their past matches they rarely lose to other teams than Team SoloMid, as they have won the majority of matches against Virtus.pro and the previous EnVyUs lineup as well as against Natus Vincere.
With their first match being against eBettle I do expect them to win, but also to see if they have recovered some of their level, or if the level that they have shown the last couple of months is the real FNATIC level whenever they do not have someone to play at his peak performance.
In any case I am looking very much forward to watching the games that FNATIC plays.
Links taken from HLTV.org and Liquipedia.