The Silent Genius of Fnatic Nemesis
Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek. A name that, to the many LEC regulars, really didn’t mean much coming into 2019. Heck, it probably didn’t mean anything at all if you weren’t following MAD Lions and their dominant showings in the SuperLiga Orange, European Masters and the Iberian Cup. But odds are, Fnatic Nemesis is a name you’re now well-acquainted with. If things pan out as expected, he’ll take over the Western scene in 2020.
It doesn’t feel like that long ago that Fnatic announced Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s replacement. The whole world was eager to find out who would replace the young prodigy. Instead of the miniscule Dane with a huge grin and boyish charm — who could also bend the rules and carry the team on his back like it was nothing — we were getting a seemingly solid performer. A young Slovenian talent who already made a name for himself, albeit in the “little leagues.”
In hindsight, there wasn’t a player deemed as a suitable replacement. After all, Caps took the world by storm in his inaugural Fnatic year. He dominated beyond measure, regardless of whom he was up against.
He was the missing piece of the Fnatic puzzle.
Then again, everyone loves a good underdog story. The odds were indeed against Nemesis coming into 2019. He was expected to fill a seemingly endless void and perform up to expectations in a staggeringly short amount of time. All the while wearing the jersey of the most legendary European team in history.
Talk about a tall order.
Things certainly didn’t start on the right foot. Nemesis’ play was subdued and meek, devoid of any aggression or playmaking prowess. He was a pale shadow who could barely keep his lane before transitioning into an equally mediocre and underwhelming mid and late game. There wasn’t much to get excited for. While he certainly had good games and a couple of standout moments, they were too few and far between for anyone to get hyped.
Welcome to Fnatic’s New Midlaner: Tim ‘Nemesis’ Lipovšek
No one wanted Caps to leave — no one who wanted a Western team to hoist the World Championship trophy that is. Fnatic nearly got the job done in 2018 before succumbing to a titan of unparalleled strength in the finals. While it was certainly a one-sided beatdown, we all wanted Fnatic to go back to the drawing board, work on their issues, and come back even stronger. After all, not a single Western team before them accomplished just as much in such a grand fashion.
With Caps leaving, however, most fans felt cheated of such a storyline. It felt as if things ended prematurely and without the denouement, many craved — without the finale we all wanted to see.
But contrary to what many believed, Nemesis’ first showing on the LEC stage was far from a bad one. His Spring Split stats tell the same tale. At first, he mostly did enough, as if he didn’t want to offend or disappoint anyone in attendance, rarely going for any risky or game-winning play. But as time went on, the young mid laner adapted, and so did Fnatic.
The two parties realized that they couldn’t play like they once did. Fnatic Nemesis was no Caps, for better and worse. He brought an entirely different set of weapons to the table. If they wanted to attain success, they would have to adapt and persevere through any inevitable growing pains.
Fortunately, in true Fnatic fashion, they didn’t need much time before they once again started playing at a respectable level. Their 1W-5L start to the season certainly got a lot of people worried, but once things “clicked,” it was as if they became invincible. With an eight-game win streak to close out the regular portion of the split, there wasn’t a doubt on anyone’s mind that they had all the right tools to once again compete at the highest of levels. Their playoff run was a successful one. Even though they fell short against Origen in the third round, they had nothing to be ashamed of.
The Silent Evolution
Once Summer Split began, though, things changed considerably. Everyone on Fnatic stepped up. We saw huge, mind-blowing improvement across the board. Nemesis was no longer a silent witness, but rather the one leading the charge. He ended the regular portion of the split with the highest KDA among mid laners (5.3), third-highest Kill Participation, second-lowest Death Share (a meager 16.4%), first in Gold Difference at 10, third in CS Difference at 10, and second in Damage Per Minute.
These numbers correspond with what we all saw as well — a player looking to prove everyone wrong. Fortunately for Fnatic Nemesis, he had the perfect skillset (and attitude) to turn such a goal into reality.
But the most interesting thing wasn’t the fact that he played so well, but rather that he played better than the man he replaced, at least often. Nemesis and Caps were, without a doubt, the two-best mid laners in the region. Whenever they fought against each other, we were not left indifferent.
It was like one of those flashy Dragon Ball Z fights in which two equally strong forces traded heavy blows; fights during which bystanders could scarcely make out what was happening amidst all the chaos, sparks flying and all.
But it wasn’t until they squared off in the two historic, back-to-back five-game Best of 5 clashes in the Summer Split playoffs, that we saw Nemesis run circles around Caps. It was the perfect end to his transformation. He went from a meek and passive performer to an individual graced with absolute confidence and bravado.
Now, no one’s exactly saying he’s better than Caps, or that he has a higher skill ceiling. We still need more time before we can rightfully compare the two, but it’s hard not to be impressed after seeing how much Fnatic Nemesis accomplished in such a short time.
He’ll now enter 2020 with a breadth of experience and confidence in his ability to compete with the very best mid laners the world of competitive League has to offer. Caps already felt that energizing jolt. He already came to such a realization at the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational. We saw how it affected his play going forward. Watching Fnatic Nemesis this season will be an absolute must.
Finally, it’s not just that he’s a stellar player or that he’s capable of being at the right place at the right time, but rather the deceptive nature of his biggest strengths and virtues. He’s not the kind of performer who’ll blow you away with a game-changing play, nor will he style on his adversaries with staggering ease.
Instead, he’s the perfect player. He’s well-rounded, defensive when necessary, aggressive if need be, always prepared to adapt and play any role required of him. He’s a jack of all trades, and as time went on, he even mastered a few.
2020 will grant the young Slovenian a chance to cement himself in the pantheon of Western mid laners. That is an opportunity of a lifetime. Will he be up to the task? Judging by his most recent season, the odds are certainly stacked in his favor. Now that he’ll have his old jungler by his side (SK Gaming’s Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek), you can expect to see Nemesis in the best shape of his life — energized, capable, confident, and well-equipped for the monumental task at hand.