Fnatic might just be a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive elite once again.
Competing on home soil, the Swedish team took first place at DreamHack Masters Malmo by defeating Team Vitality 2-1 in the grand finals. The victory was a massive one for a Fnatic roster that underwent significant changes following several tumultuous months.
The starting showdown on Dust 2 started off well for Vitality. A good opening in the pistol round from Richard “shox” Papillon led to a conversion that was extended by a massive play by Cédric “RpK” Guipouy. The momentum from that strong start evaporated after a huge round from Robin “flusha” Rönnquist that savaged Vitality’s economy and allowed Fnatic to take the lead by halftime.
A massive clutch in the second pistol round from RpK seemed to breath new life into Vitality. Star player Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut came fully online and helped Vitality take the lead. Fnatic wasn’t easy to put away, though. The team battled back and nearly took map point, but Vitality managed to string together four straight rounds to seal up the game 16-14 inside regulation.
Fnatic looked ready to exact revenge early on Inferno. Though Vitality took the pistol round, Fnatic secured the plant, successfully force bought in round two, and jumped into an early 6-1 lead. Vitality rallied and tied the game back up, but a crafty play from Jesper “JW” Wecksell followed by a successful second pistol round allowed Fnatic stay in control.
A risky force buy from Vitality paid off and stalled out the game, but Fnatic reached map point at 15-9. It seemed as though the Swedes were set to force a third map but instead, Vitality once again came through with a late winning streak to force overtime.
Fnatic’s struggles ended with regulation, though. The team opened 3-0 and went on to take game two with a 19-16 score.
The deciding game on Mirage started as a slugfest with both sides winning a few rounds at a time off massive plays, including Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin hitting huge shots with his Desert Eagle for Fnatic and Alex “ALEX” McMeekin scoring a huge ace for Vitality. As is often the case for Vitality, ZywOo proved to be a difference-maker, with his huge damage output helping his team maintain a narrow lead throughout most of the game.
That changed in the second half, though. Fnatic started stringing rounds together and Vitality just couldn’t find a way to answer back. The team seemingly became desperate, which resulted in a few critical mis-plays that saw Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson repeatedly score devastating multi-kill rounds.
Once again, Vitality showed late game resilience. Fnatic took advanced to match point and Vitality looked ready to force overtime again. Instead, Brollan came through with his pistol, scoring a series-ending triple kill with a CZ75. Fnatic closed out the map 16-13 and won the tournament with a 2-1 series.
Only one team could become the champion of DreamHack Masters Malmo, but the event still stands as a great one for both teams. Fnatic and Vitality both entered the event coming off significant roster changes and needed to post strong results. They did exactly that.
Vitality cut their way through incredibly stiff competition, defeating the likes of ENCE, Mousesports, and Natus Vincere. Fnatic’s early journey was easier by comparison, but the team scored a colossal 2-0 win over Astralis in the semifinals.
Time will tell how strong these teams are, but both are looking poised for big things over the coming months. They will look to turn these victories into momentum for the ESL Pro League Season 10 and ECS Season 8 regional stages.