Steven R. February 13, 2019
Fnatic is now on the brink of elimination from the Katowice Major.
Following a disappointing loss to Vici Gaming in the first round of the Challengers Stage, the Swedish squad was dealt another blow at the hands of Winstrike Team. This turn threatens to send Fnatic home on the first plane out of Poland.
The game was played on Train, arguably the most skewed map in the tournament rotation. The first half saw Winstrike leverage the CT side’s advantage with ease, effectively working the map’s choke points and winning almost every trade. This translated to a 13-2 half for Winstrike that had Fnatic visibly frustrated.
There was a glimmer of hope for Fnatic after changing sides. The team opened the second half with seven consecutive round wins and managed to maintain its momentum through an extended pause due to technical issues. But that early deficit would ultimately prove insurmountable.
A three versus one clutch by Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov swung the second half’s momentum and put a regulation victory out of reach for Fnatic. That seemed to demoralize the Swedes again, and led to a 16-11 final score for Winstrike not long after.
Though the loss can partly be chalked up to Winstrike heroics, Fnatic just hasn’t played up to its potential to this point.
Despite entering Katowice as the top seed in the Challengers Stage, the team now finds itself on a tightrope until the end of the week. In order to advance to the Legends Stage, Fnatic will have to win its way out, which would require Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson to lead the squad to victory in three best-of-three series.
Fnatic wouldn’t be the first team to dig itself out of such a hole. Cloud9 did so en route to winning the 2018 major in Boston. But with how Fnatic has looked to this point, it is hard to feel bullish about their chances of coming back.