Fnatic Eliminated From the 2021 LEC Spring Split Playoffs
An unexpected thing happened last Friday — Fnatic was eliminated from the 2021 LEC Spring Split playoffs. To lose is one thing, and it’s a natural part of any competition, including the competitive League of Legends. However, losing in 0-3 fashion is always an indication that something had gone wrong.
Simply put, Fnatic was out of its depth. Had they lost to, say, G2 Esports, MAD Lions, or Rogue, we’d be more inclined to give them a pass and say that they “just” failed to execute on the day and that they’ll be back stronger than ever. But to drop three games to Schalke 04 (of all teams), and in such one-sided fashion? That’s inexcusable for a team graced with so much depth, talent, and experience.
Now, Schalke 04 is by no means a shoddy challenger. They’ve subverted everyone’s expectations for the second year in a row and have done more than enough to earn our benefit of the doubt. They’ve given us ample proof that they’re hard-working and perfectly willing to roll up their sleeves and put in the hours. They’re surprisingly talented and are still finding new ways to grow and develop, both individually but also as a five-man unit.
So, by and large, Fnatic did succumb to a rival far better and more capable. Schalke might not have any true superstars, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if you had removed the name tags and just observed their moves and actions on the Rift.
Fnatic didn’t “just” lose: they were outmatched and outgunned in every which way. And that — for a team packed with seasoned veterans and adorned with one of the most beloved logos and color schemes — isn’t acceptable.
A Sign of Trouble
No one has the right to take anything away from Schalke and their incredible (and doubly unexpected) triumph. Still, it’s impossible not to mention just how much Fnatic imploded and how none of what transpired made sense given their depth and experience.
There was very little to praise and commend them for, and they looked about as far from a top-tier team as possible. Every single move on their end was made out of desperation. They were sloppy, slow to react, and seemingly lacked even the most basic synergy a team needs to compete. Macro was an afterthought and their teamfighting — generally considered one of their most prominent strengths — was as badly executed as possible.
Sometimes losses like these come along and they make you wonder. They make so little sense that it’s impossible not to start theorizing and conjuring up some excuse, but there’s very little room for
us to forgive and forget — we can’t use the same set of standards and criteria for the former “Kings of Europe” as we would, say, for Excel Esports or Misfits Gaming.
All of us expected more from Fnatic (and we had every reason to), making their one-sided loss all the more disheartening. The five Fnatic players — and their fans, of which there are many — have it worst.
Who’s to Blame?
Right now, at this point, it’s impossible to know for certain. As outsiders, we can only know so much. Frankly, we might never even find out what transpired and why Fnatic imploded as much as they did.
Still, one thing stuck out like a sore thumb: their lack of depth.
The Fnatic of 2021 attacked hard and often, but there were very little thought and calculation behind it all. It was skirmishing for its own sake — sheer, unfiltered aggression. Does that not remind you of every single team Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi coached over the years? This is by no means a callout, but rather a nuanced implication that maybe pairing him with a team like Fnatic didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the first place.
We said the same when this pairing was first nothing more but a rumor:
“His teams were like a sledgehammer. They’d attack early on with all their might. One swift charge and they’d deplete their reservoirs; there was rarely any “plan B.” The best teams in the region always knew how to prepare and survive this early onslaught best.
Combining such a head coach (one with a very distinct philosophy) with a team like Fnatic doesn’t seem natural. Now, the boys in black and orange are no strangers to throwing caution out the window and skirmishing like there’s no tomorrow, but they’re far more nuanced than any of the teams Yamato ever led. They can combine that unrelenting aggression with a much more layered macro game — a true testament to their depth and greatness. Will Yamato be able to handle such a fascinating mix of players? He deserves our benefit of the doubt, but one has to wonder.”
Rarely did this Fnatic bunch showcase their depth. It was as if they didn’t have a versatile arsenal of weapons to work with, and yet we know for a fact that that isn’t true. But in some strange way, they really did regress. They were more aggressive and confident than ever in their plays and engages, but they seldom focused on execution and set-up. They always fought like they had a five thousand gold lead and as if they were guaranteed to win the fight, and we all just watched, baffled and confused at their willingness to overextend. Time and time again, this Fnatic line-up threw their games away because they stayed for a moment longer than they should’ve.
That’s inexcusable for a team packed with so much veteran presence and backed by one of the most successful and revered organizations in competitive League history. Hopefully, they’ll manage to shore up their weaknesses and deliver once the 2021 Summer Split comes along. If their recent play is any indication, you really shouldn’t expect all that much from the former “Kings of Europe” in the future. We all need to readjust our expectations, as this is no longer the dominant Fnatic of yore.