It was heartbreak for Fnatic fans again today after their League of Legends team exited the Worlds 2021 group stage, but if they can their ability to adapt to change, upcoming rookies and aggressive playstyle gives hope for the future – if they can manage internal issues effectively – writes ENUK editor Dom Sacco in this opinion piece.
“Unforeseen circumstances and unforeseen results,” reads the tweet from Fnatic after exiting Worlds 2021 just now.
Fnatic had a curveball thrown at them literally hours before their first Worlds 2021 group stage game again Hanwha Life Esports on October 11th.
Fnatic’s ADC Elias ‘Upset’ Lipp had to return home at the last minute over an urgent family matter, prompting Fnatic to promote Fnatic Rising academy ADC Bean to the Worlds team.
Despite an extremely aggressive and exciting early jungle invade by Bwipo, it wasn’t to be, and Fnatic were caught out, with too many deaths, leading to Hanwha’s victory. Bean didn’t really get a chance to shine, and his support Hylissang took a lot of deaths to protect Bean and the rest of the team.
But change is something Fnatic have had to deal with in recent years as they try to find their optimal setup, and ultimately, find success. And they’re learning well from this change.
Last year, Fnatic’s star bot-laner Rekkles left for G2 in pursuit of Worlds glory (who ironically failed to reach Worlds from the 2021 LEC Summer playoffs), prompting Fnatic to bring in Upset.
On top of this, Nisqy came in for Nemesis in the mid-lane, YamatoCannon joined as head coach, and earlier this year, French rookie Adam was brought in from Karmine Corp into Fnatic’s top-lane, as Bwipo role-swapped to the jungle after Selfmade left.
That’s a ton of change in a couple of splits, and Fnatic adapted to it, proving the doubters wrong by reaching Worlds after an impressive lower-bracket run in the Summer 2021 LEC playoffs.
Fnatic have long-term potential. They’re clearly thinking about their next 10 years and making some big achievements in that time. They might not have got the wins they needed in the Worlds group stage, but with youngsters in Adam and Bean, backed with the experience of Hylissang, for me they have a well-rounded group of players. They will have learnt a lot as a unit through this Worlds exit, and I’m sure they will come back stronger.
I also admire Fnatic’s resilience and fighting spirit. They always seem to win in the LEC when it matters, and make their way far into the playoffs. It’s something I’ve noticed with some of their teams in other games too – they don’t always do well in league or group stages, but they love a playoffs run. For me, they’re a cup side, they want that final prize.
And their aggression, when controlled and translating to a lead, can be exciting to watch, and frightening for their opponents. Their attacking style, combined with their respected name, reminds me of Wenger’s Arsenal.
That’s not to say they’re perfect. Fnatic should have got through the group stage, they should have picked up wins against PSG Talon and Hanwha, though their surpising win against Royal Never Give Up was impressive and showed their potential.
Furthermore, there seems to have been internal issues that have caused conflict and difficulties in the past, leading to some unneeded rumours and discontent amongst the fanbase.
Bwipo was open and honest in an interview with Laure Valée today:
You can see more insight into the team in Fnatic’s behind the scenes Worlds videos.
Talent does come and go in a fast-moving sector like esports. But this is the black and orange – players shouldn’t want to leave, they should want to join, stay and fight, and Fnatic have some work to do behind the scenes to instil this once again, in my opinion.
Would Fnatic have gone further with Rekkles still in their side? You could argue yes, but Bean, for me, largely played well, especially given the fact he had no experience on the bigger stages like LEC or Worlds coming into this tournament.
Fans at the Fnatic Worlds 2021 viewing parties in London and Paris will be hurting this weekend, but as the slogan goes, #AlwaysFnatic. They will be back. Fans have a lot to look forward to.
“We truly gave it our all,” Fnatic said. “We bow out proud. Against the odds, we climbed through the LEC, the playoffs and more. And we’ll do it again. This is just the beginning of our #Next10 [years].”
I look forward to the drama, the highs and the lows that the future holds, as London’s long-running League of Legends org prepares for 2022 and beyond.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.