Fnatic is one of the founding organizations in Europe, the champions of the first ever League of Legends World Championship, but is 2023 Fnatic’s worst year ever?
Fnatic has, at previous points, been a name synonymous with repeat championships and excellence in Europe’s LEC. The organization has won multiple domestic championships and competed internationally at Worlds and MSI. While the organization has had moments of glory and even victories in recent history, 2023 has not been one of those moments. Looking back at the team’s history, is this Fnatic’s worst start to a year ever? By examining the organization’s history, we can find the answer and understand some of how it got to where it is today.
Fnatic’s origins as champions
Fnatic remains the only team from North America or Europe to ever win a World Championship-level event. Fnatic, containing a roster formed from xPeke, Cyanide, Shushei, LaMiaZIt, and Mellisan, surged to victory at the first-ever Rit-sanctioned international event in 2011. This was the first proper event that Fnatic would compete in League of Legends with a roster. It’s hard to imagine a higher high to begin a stay in LoL esports with.
This first season’s championship has earned itself an asterisk in the eyes of much of the League of Legends community. With China and Korea absent from this proto-Worlds tournament, many think it doesn’t count as a truly international victory. Considering that every subsequent Worlds championship has been won by an eastern team, it’s hard to disagree.
While Fnatic may have emerged into the League of Legends scene with a bang, the scale of a Riot Season 1 Championship win isn’t nearly the same as modern-day a Worlds trophy. Between then and 2013, Fnatic would compete in the League of Legends open circuit that was standard at the time. In early 2013, Riot Games was setting the groundwork for more regular and Riot-controlled competition by founding leagues like the LCS and LEC, then the EU LCS. The 2013 EU LCS Qualifier would set groups of two pre-selected teams against each other, with the victor of each bout being invited into the newly-formed league.
Fnatic beat Meet Your Makers 2-0 and joined Giants Underdoges, Copenhagen Wolves, and Season 1 Championship finals opponents Against All Authority as members of the EU LCS. This is where Fnatic’s history of regular split, playoffs, and the international schedule we know today begins. From this point forward, Fnatic would begin to establish itself as a truly premier organization.
EU LCS beginnings, the kings of Europe
Fnatic would begin to go on a competitive tear after joining the LEC. The team’s initial roster was composed of sOAZ, Cyanide, xPeke, YelloWStar, and nRated. The organization surged to the top of the 2013 Spring Split and Summer Split, placing first in both. Spring 2014 was the same, another resounding first-place finish for Fnatic. Europe’s first three splits had one victor and one victor alone, Fnatic.
This is how the organization began to set the expectation that it would compete for the status of Europe’s greatest team for years to come. During this time, bot lane Martin “Rekkles” Larsson would join the team as its young prodigious DPS talent. Rekkles would grow to be one of Fnatic’s long-lasting franchise players for many years, alongside French top laner and OG Fnatic talent sOAZ. These two players, in particular, would be foundational talents for Fnatic for crucial years of European League of Legends’ growth. Summer 2014 was a close loss to Alliance, Spring 2015 was another domestic championship against Unicorns of Love, same with Summer 2015 against Alliance.
A new generation of black and orange
2016 would show the first stumbles in Fnatic’s time in the EU LCS. Third place in Spring and third again in the Regional Finals in spring of that year as well. For the first time in three years of play, Fnatic was looking like less than the ever-dominant champions of Europe they once were. All this time, sOAZ and Rekkles were mainstays of the roster and consistent factors in Fnatic’s victories. Before that year, there weren’t any organizations that could compare to Fnatic’s legacy.
Fnatic 2023, a new year of potential
Fnatic’s 2023 roster was chock full of talent, history, and potential. In the top lane, Martin “Wunder” Hansen, a proven veteran of G2 Esports, considered the greatest domestic European top laner of all time. In the jungle, Ivan “Razork” Martin a jungle known for aggressive play and creating openings for his teammates. Mid-laner Marek “Humanoid” Brazda has been hailed as a standout performer on previous teams. A bot lane formed from a returning Rekkles and breakout Worlds substitute Ruben “Rhuckz” Brazda had enormous potential.
With multiple experienced players, each known for their ability to carry, and an aggressive jungler to establish gold leads for these players, it was a recipe for success. It seemed hard to imagine that roster wouldn’t be competitive if all went well. As the record shows, however, it didn’t go well.
Fnatic careened to 9th place in the LEC Winter Split. This meant that Fnatic was one of two teams who don’t participate in the Group Stage beyond the regular split. It wasn’t just bad, it was an outright disaster. Both Fnatic and Rekkles issued apologies for the disappointing performance.
Is this Fnatic’s worst split?
In terms of placement in the European regular split, 2023 was Fnatic’s worst-ever domestic performance. The team’s previous low came in EU LCS’ 2016 Spring Split. There’s no sugarcoating it, Fnatic looked worse at the beginning of this year than they ever have before. Winter split is over for the team, and they are suddenly faced with the possibility of reworking a roster meant to succeed.
What could have been a return to form instead became the team’s rock bottom ten years after qualifying for the league. Optimistic hopes for the Fnatic roster have been quashed by this split. The question is whether the organization looks to rebuild, try again, or something in between.