The League of Legends World Championship 2021 was a frustrating time for Fnatic, EU’s second seed.
Fnatic’s main AD carry left the event and was forced to play with Louis “Bean” Schmitz instead. Despite a strong showing in the LEC’s summer playoffs, Fnatic’s implosion at Worlds had plenty of factors.
The obvious change in Fnatic’s Worlds 2021 run was the departure of Elias “Upset” Lipp from the tournament due to an urgent family matter. Fnatic’s playstyle in the LEC had often been heavily reliant on the ADC’s consistency and mechanical skill to bring home team fights. His replacement, Bean, had shown potential in the NLC and European Masters, placing second in both.
However, 16 hours of notice is certainly not enough to fully mesh with the other parts of a LEC finalist. Regardless of Bean’s skill, changing even one out of five players can dramatically change the way a roster communicates and plays.
Fnatic took home a final record of 1-5 in the group, the only win coming in week 2 against Royal Never Give Up. The game featured Fnatic sporting a relatively standard team composition. Jayce top lane, Viego jungle, Ryze mid, Miss Fortune bot, and Nautilus support. This traditional composition allowed them to squeeze out a win. This wasn’t particularly different from the losses in terms of strategy, but it was early objectives and consistent momentum that allowed Fnatic to eke out a victory.
The simple truth is that Fnatic’s team collapsed at the last moment due to factors outside of its control, and the team was forced to restart its strategic play less than a full day before the tournament. Fnatic did its even best to play a similar style to the tactics that got them to the finals of the LEC’s summer split, but it wasn’t enough. Fnatic was playing without the person it had been training with all year.
This performance was far below expectation, and fans to opted to pick up Fnatic on Fandex can’t have been happy to see Upset depart last minute. The team stood a chance of making it out with its full roster, but the lack of practical experience playing together as five once it was forced to substitute its primary AD carry seemed too much for the players to bear. Fnatic fell well below expectation with only a single win in the group stage and certainly dropped in value throughout the tournament.
Bean’s performance was nothing short of impressive, however. Stepping into Upset’s spot at such short notice was a monumental task. Bean’s play was likely too constrained by Fnatic’s existing playstyle for fans to gauge much about his personal style at the highest level. But a LEC rookie taking a game off of Royal Never Give Up after being subbed in a day before the tournament is a storyline that fans can get excited about. With this many eyes on Bean, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him appearing in the LEC in 2022.
The pressures of Fnatic’s environment are difficult to overstate, and it seems certain that we won’t be seeing Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau in 2022, given a recent statement on social media. It seems that Fnatic’s implosion has taken its toll on at least one other member, though his public statement makes clear Bwipo is taking time away from the scene to focus on his personal relationships.
Fnatic’s unfortunate series of events at the World Championship may spell a sudden end to a promising roster. While there’s still the possibility of the roster returning, it seems Bwipo may be stepping away.
Worlds 2021 playoffs begin October 22, 2021.