By Petar Vukobrat
November 13, 2019
After two years filled with both seismic triumphs as well as more than a couple of underwhelming defeats, Fnatic will part ways with their head coach Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool. YoungBuck is as eminent and revered a coach as they come and is, in fact, the most successful coach in the history of the region with six LEC titles behind his belt — two of which came during his Fnatic stint.
In an official statement, Youngbuck highlighted that 2018 was the best and most successful year of his entire career, whereas the year that followed stands out as the worst of his esports journey.
With him leading the charge, Fnatic was able to achieve a historic run at the 2018 World Championship before ultimately succumbing to Invictus Gaming in the finals. It was an incredible achievement and will surely be remembered for years to come.
Perhaps most importantly, YoungBuck and the 2018 line-up of Fnatic put the LEC “on the map.” Europe was always highly competitive on the international stage, but last year — in no small part due to YoungBuck and his guidance — was the moment when Europe overtook Korea and solidified its spot as a region that had all the right tools to challenge for the Worlds throne.
We say farewell to the Six-Star General.— FNATIC (@FNATIC) November 12, 2019
He arrived as a four-time champion. @JoeyYoungbuck departs as a Worlds finalist who steered us to our sixth and seventh Split win.
FULL STATEMENT 📰 https://t.co/oA3y1uzdgh pic.twitter.com/yfBrEIQ2ax
2019, on the other hand, wasn’t as fruitful. After Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther left the team for G2 Esports (citing internal issues that he felt were unfixable), Fnatic fought tooth and nail to get back to their winning ways with a brand-new mid laner. To their credit, they didn’t need much time to get back to the top of the region, but they never quite looked the same. They were less strong and flexible, and in a meta that favors flexibility and a fair bit of creativity, that was often their biggest problem.
They were still the second-best team in the region by the end of 2019, and the fact that they failed to dethrone G2 isn’t a blemish on their otherwise spectacular record. On the contrary. The fact that they nearly took the LEC champions down twice in a row speaks volumes about their skill and work ethic. Many predicted certain doom for a Fnatic line-up without Caps within their ranks, and yet they still attained a great deal of success both regionally as well as internationally.
Now, there’s still no news as to where YoungBuck will go next, but seeing how he’s one of the best coaches Europe has to offer, it’s fair to say that he has the luxury to pick and choose his next team. Many top-tier North American organizations are looking for head coaches for the 2020 season, so don’t be surprised if YoungBuck goes across the pond and starts coaching a top-tier LCS team. Now would be as good a time as any, that’s for sure.