YamatoCannon Rumored to Join Fnatic as Head Coach
If the rumor mill is correct, Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi will be taking on the role of head coach for Fnatic come 2021. This, in short, is quite a surprise. Heck, “surprise” doesn’t even begin to cut it. On the one hand, YamatoCannon is an experienced veteran coach and is more than worthy of leading a team as revered as Fnatic. On the other, this pairing doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on paper.
Yamato has often been linked to young line-ups and players who have a very singular, almost “carnivorous” playstyle throughout history. They’ve always excelled at the “kill or be killed” style of play, which — while one-dimensional — always ended up entertaining the masses. Teams led by Yamato often telegraphed their plays in advance. You knew what they were going to do and how, but they still found a way to succeed, be it through sheer force or willpower. They were underdogs through and through, and even though they rarely stood equal with the “kings of Europe,” they nonetheless found a fair bit of success over the years. As a result, teams led by Yamato often hovered near the very top without ever breaking through. Regardless, they had a ton of bravado and pizzazz, making them fan favorites regardless of meta.
Splyce and Team Vitality fought with a lot of heart, but they always lacked depth and long-term potential to challenge the LEC throne. And, frankly, it became obvious that it all trickled down from their head coach. Yamato is a strong individual with a very clear idea of how the game should be played, but how he teaches macro — as evidenced by his players — often leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not that he lacks in knowledge, but rather that he rarely succeeded in transferring those more nuanced concepts over to his players.
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.
Regardless of how things eventually pan out, this is a twist no one saw coming.
A Change in Scenery
If Fnatic does end up signing YamatoCannon, Alfonso Aguirre “Mithy” Rodríguez would be out of a job. That’s the second part of this confusing coaching staff kerfuffle. The things he accomplished under the Fnatic banner throughout 2020 were by no means insignificant. Finishing Top 2 in both splits is nothing to scoff at, and for his very first year as a head coach, Mithy did far better than most expected. He wasn’t always perfect, but neither were his players — most of which struggled mightily throughout the year, especially early on.
According to Jacob Wolf, Mithy is currently going over his options. The most alluring one is a move that no one thought was possible: going back to North America and becoming an assistant coach for Cloud9. Doing so would potentially reunite him with his old teammates Luka “Perkz” Perković (who’s proving to be the most sought-after free agent of the off-season) and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. The Croatian mid lane legend is currently in talks with C9, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll move across the Atlantic and compete in the LCS.
In any case, we’re bound to find out more in the days and weeks ahead.