Steven R. March 16, 2019
Fnatic’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is reeling after being shut out by an underdog opponent.
The Swedish organization suffered an embarrassing loss at the hands of Poland’s AGO Esports in the semifinals of the 2018 World Electronic Sports Games. This comes just weeks after a flop at the 2019 Katowice Major.
For a time, it seemed that WESG was going to be a nice rebound for the popular team. Fnatic dodged a bullet entering the event as Katowice Major runner-up ENCE Esports pulled out of its group. That gave Fnatic an almost guaranteed spot in the playoffs, which it realized by splitting series with Windigo Gaming and Spain's Movistar Riders.
From there, Fnatic looked as formidable as it has in months with victories over Team Russia and OpTic Gaming. Though Team Russia was a mixed squad comprised of players from three different teams, besting a OpTic Gaming bode well for Fnatic's chances going forward in the event. With tournament favorite MiBR eliminated by Windigo Gaming days earlier, the Swedes seemed to have a clear path to a first-place finish.
That changed in the semifinals when it faced AGO Esports.
The series started as terribly as possible for Fnatic as AGO opened with a 16-0 victory. The first game didn’t involve a monster performance from anyone on AGO or dramatic struggles from any single member of Fnatic, but was just a bafflingly poor showing by the Swedish team as a whole on Inferno, historically its best map.
Fnatic regrouped from that sweep in the second game by taking a convincing win on Cache. The team opened the map with seven straight rounds on the CT side manufactured in large part due to some exceptional efforts by Jesper "JW" Wecksell. AGO threatened to turn things around but Fnatic dug in after halftime, and closed out the 16-6 win.
The deciding showdown on Nuke was a tricky one. With the map often determined by which team can muster the most lopsided CT half, Fnatic opened with a serviceable 10-5 line but had little room for error when it switched to the T side. Fnatic did find a couple of attacking round wins, but wasn’t able to muster up a real streak. AGO's took control and rolled towards a 16-12 comeback win to close out the series.
On its own merits, Fnatic losing a series against AGO would be cause for alarm for fans of the franchise. Though the Polish squad is a steady presence in Europe, it isn’t historically a force on par with Fnatic. What’s more, AGO wasn’t on any kind of upswing heading into WESG.
While fellow surprise finalist Windigo has been performing well in recent months opposite solid competition, AGO stumbled into China after a rough start to 2019.
It already felt like Fnatic needed to make some changes after the Katowice Major, which saw the team wash out of the Challengers Stage and become relegated to the European minor later this year. Now it feels like the team might need a complete overhaul.
Fnatic has one series left at WESG, facing G2 Esports in a third-place decider match. Win or lose, it’s not in good shape exiting the event.