DreamHack Masters: How Fnatic Roared Back To The Top
When infamous Swedish CS:GO player Jasper ‘JW’ Wecksell proclaimed on his Twitter that he ‘had lost this fight, but the war was not over,’ very few people in the Counter-Strike world took too much notice. After all, this was a team that had been on a shocking decline over the course of the year, reaching an all-time low by failing to even qualify for the StarLadder Berlin Major, the first time the three-time major champions had ever missed out on such an event.
What followed was a quickfire reaction from Fnatic, dropping veterans ‘Twist’ and ‘Xizt’ and resigning former legends ‘Golden’ and ‘Flusha.’ The all-Swedish side also swapped out former coach ‘Jumpy’ for ‘Samuelsson’ as they searched for a way back to the top.
Little more than a month on and Fnatic have won their first bit of silverware since their triumph at the World Electronic Sports Games in March 2018. It truly is a meteoric rise for the side, and one that no one in the CS world saw coming. How did Fnatic return to the top of the CS world?
The Return Of Flusha
Eyebrows were raised all around the world when Fnatic announced that star player Flusha would be benched in 2018. The Swede had been an ever present in the side since 2013, had played a role in all of the side’s major triumphs and was close friends with Fnatic stars ‘KRIMZ’ and ‘JW’. Flusha was widely regarded as one of the world’s best, reaching the rank of 5th in 2015, and was immediately snapped up by fellow esports giant Cloud 9 just four days after his benching in September 2018.
It doesn’t take a hindsight genius to see that letting Flusha go was one of the biggest mistakes in CS history, with Fnatic’s performance almost instantly beginning to tank following his departure.
With just under a month’s preparation, Flusha’s cool head and experience really shone through at DreamHack Masters Malmo, winning countless rounds for Fnatic with his individual brilliance, and pinpoint perfect calling. The Fnatic rifler has well and truly established himself back at the top of the CS food chain, toppling great players such as Astralis’ ‘dev1ce’ and Vitality’s ‘ZywhOo’ on his way to hauling both himself, and Fnatic, back to the winner’s table.
17-year-old Ludvig ‘Brollan’ Brolin is a wunderkind in every sense of the word. Signed by Fnatic nearly a year ago in October 2018, it has been a truly meteoric rise for the young star. If there has been one positive to what has been one of the worst years in Fnatic’s CS history, it has been the progress and performances of ‘Brollan’. One of the most competent riflers in the game, his fearlessness and aggressive plays have earned him plenty of praise amongst the community as well as provided Fnatic fans with a lot of hope for the future.
For ‘Flusha’, ‘JW’, ‘KRIMZ’ and ‘Golden’, the no.1 priority for Fnatic has to be cradling and managing ‘Brollan’ in the best ways possible. There is an extraordinary amount of talent residing in the young Swede, but maintaining his confidence and encouraging him to continue with his fearless playstyle could be a tough ask for the giant team.
Playing Off Expectations
Whilst very few in the CS world doubted the abilities of ‘JW’, ‘Flusha’ and ‘KRIMZ’, Fnatic’s triumph at DreamHack Malmo was still a stunning surprise. In a tournament that featured market favourites such as Team Liquid, Astralis and the ESL One Champions Evil Geniuses, very few expected a side ranked 23rd in the world to do much damage, particularly given the new roster had been untested at competition level.
There’s no doubting that this lack of expectation ended up working in Fnatic’s favour during their conquest of Malmo. With the pressure being off them throughout their entire run, the likes of ‘JW’ and ‘KRIMZ’, who both arguably needed success with Fnatic more than any other player, could firmly focus on getting their gameplay as polished as possible.
You could see the shock on the faces of G2, FURIA, Astralis and Vitality as they were all dispatched by thrilling moments of gameplay from each one of the Fnatic team members. Being out of the competitive loop for so long had meant that very few sides had actually taken the time to scout out and learn about Fnatic’s picks and strategies, giving the Swedes a huge edge in the vital clutch moments.
“Which one of you guys actually backed us to win?” ‘JW’ cheekily jabbed following his MVP performance against Vitality in the Grand Final, further demonstrating that even Fnatic were aware of just how outside the odds the team were going into the tournament.
The challenge for the side now will be maintaining this level of performance and continuing their trajectory to the top.