The next in a series of articles on the top 10 teams in Counter-Strike going into 2019, today we’ll look at no. 9: Fnatic.
Fnatic may be one of the more interesting CS:GO teams heading into 2019. A recent addition to the top 10, this is one of the teams that could have a huge 2019. While the team had its issues this past year, their rise in form at the end of last year means that they have momentum, which they will certainly want to bring to Poland in just a few short weeks. To see why they are such an exciting prospect we first have to see how their current lineup came to exist.
A year of mixed fortunes
2018 started off well for the Swedish squad when they made it to the quarter finals of the ELEAGUE Major in Boston. They followed up on this start when they won IEM Katowice 2018, after defeating the international powerhouse FaZe clan. By May Fnatic hit their peak, rising to 5th on HLTV’s world ranking list.
Struggles and multiple roster changes
Though Fnatic’s highest ranking came in May, signs of trouble were already present as early as February. The first of these was an 11th place finish in ESL Proleague season 7. Following this came two disappointing events, IEM Sydney and the ECS Season 5 finals. One particular statistic that stands out is that, out of the sixteen maps that the team played over the two events, four of them ended with Fnatic winning less then ten rounds.
After ECS ended Fnatic would decide to change the roster that had brought them so much success at the start of the year. Maikil ‘Golden’ Selim was dropped in favor of awper William ‘draken’ Sundin, and Jonas ‘Lekr0’ Olofsson was replaced with in game leader Richard ‘Xizt’ Landström. Unfortunately for the team, this change would fail to give them new life. After five underwhelming events, four of which saw him with a negative K/D ratio, draken would be dropped and the lineup would be changed again.
Fnatic get the roster right
After their first lineup change failed to bring results, Fnatic finally made the change that would turn their momentum around. Right before ESL One New York in September, Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist would leave for Cloud9, forcing Fnatic to use a stand-in for the event. Fnatic would replace him and draken following this event with Simon ‘twist’ Eliasson and Ludvig ‘Brollan’ Brolin.
A mix of youth and experience
Fnatic is a squad that has a great mix of youth and experience. With the exception of Brollan, all the other players are veterans with 5 or more years experience. Three of their players, namely twist, Freddy ‘KRIMZ’ Johansson and Jesper ‘JW’ Wecksell are currently 23-24 years old, meaning that they have valuable experience while still being able to perform at their peak physically. From a team composition standpoint Fnatic looks strong.
Brollan: a potential young star?
Despite only being sixteen years old, Brollan has already shown serious potential since joining the squad. Of the four events he has played with the team, he has had a positive K/D in three of them including a +21 outing at IEM Chicago. Looking at his performances against other teams in the last three months on HLTV.org, he has performed well against every opponent with the exceptions of Astralis and North. Add a 1.05 K/D and a good ADR of 75.2 and his personal stats look strong considering his age and relative lack of experience.
Going forward it will be interesting to see how Brollan will develop in 2019. He has a very experienced team around him who can support him and help him learn. Playing on a team like Fnatic will also give him the chance to cut his teeth against other top players. Finally, his age means that he has the potential to play for a long time meaning that he should be a vital piece in Fnatic’s roster going forward.
A strong end to the year
Fnatic, for the most part, have managed to pull themselves out of their slump. They finished 3-4th at IEM Chicago, their second to last event of the year, and won the PLG Grand Slam to finish 2018. PLG in particular was a good showing for the players, particularly KRIMZ who went +71 and Brollan who went +33. Granted, they were by far the strongest team to attend the tournament, but its still encouraging to see them have a strong showing.
Momentum is something that can’t be overlooked when considering a team’s future prospects. From November to December Fnatic went from being ranked 25th to ninth in the world. They won their final event in convincing fashion with most of the players having average to great performances. If this lineup can pick up where they left off they have some good momentum coming off the player break .
Fnatic has the tools to be a dark horse in 2019. They have a great looking roster with good veterans and young talent. They should be bringing solid momentum into the new year, and if the players can continue performing at the level they ended 2018 with then they should match up well with other top teams. There are some concerns with their map pool, but this lineup has not played many events together, so it may take time for Xizt to get the team on the same page tactically. All in all, Fnatic is a team to watch once the action resumes in a few weeks.