Worlds 2020 Group Stage Team Preview: Fnatic

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

We look at Fnatic, their path to Worlds 2020, and how they might fare in the group stage.

The 2020 World Championship is underway and the play-in teams are battling on the Shanghai stage. Awaiting them in the group stage is Fnatic, the second seed from Europe who have struggled through yet another trophyless season. This will be the seven-time LEC champions’ eighth Worlds appearance.

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The Season

Fnatic’s fierce rivals, G2 Esports, dominated European League of Legends throughout the 2019 season and cemented themselves as the LEC’s best team with a World Championship runners-up medal. Despite this, Fnatic made just one signing in preseason in an attempt to improve their roster and push for their eighth European title.

Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek joined from SK Gaming after an incredible debut LEC season, a move that saw 2018 Worlds runner-up Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen leave Fnatic after three years with the organization.

Expectations were lowered for the Spring Split as the new line-up would undoubtedly take time to gel and build synergies across the board. Even so, Fnatic continued their streak of finishing in the top two with a 13-5 regular season record and a second-place finish in the playoffs.

After a six month adjustment period, Fnatic fans were anticipating a stronger fight in the Summer Split but were left disappointed. MAD Lions and Rogue rose above the LEC’s best, leaving Fnatic in a heated battle for playoff qualification which ultimately saw them finish fourth with a 9-9 record.

Playoffs offered an opportunity for redemption and Fnatic took that opportunity besting Rogue and G2 en route to their third consecutive LEC final. However, G2 were once again the victors in yet another edition of this heated rivalry, cleanly sweeping Fnatic 3-0 for the second time this year.

As a result, Fnatic qualified for the World Championship as Europe’s second seed. Fnatic fans will be pleased with their team’s performance in 2020 – especially if they make a deep run in the Worlds knockout stage – but will no doubt be wondering when the org will make real strides towards closing the gap to G2.

The Roster

Top Lane – Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau

If Fnatic want to make big changes in order to challenge for major trophies, Bwipo must be one of the first players on the chopping board. The Belgian was incredibly inconsistent throughout the 2020 LEC season and often hindered Fnatic’s chances of success.

Although, there were still glimpses of the world-class Bwipo that the global League of Legends audience was introduced to back in 2018.

The top laner boasted a 15 KDA on Gangplank in a Player of the Game performance against Origen to equal their vital regular season head-to-head record. And in the final game of the regular season, Bwipo locked in Camille and single-handedly carried Fnatic to victory against SK, locking in a fourth-place finish ahead of the playoffs.

Jungle – Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek

Fnatic’s newest recruit has had an uneventful but promising debut season.

Selfmade was settling into the team in the Spring Split but wasn’t given the chance to express himself as Fnatic were the clear second-best team in the league. As for the Summer Split, the 20-year-old received the most Player of the Game awards (5) among his teammates and solo carried games through the playoffs.

Mid Lane – Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek

There is no limit to the potential of Fnatic’s mid laner, Nemesis. At just 21 years old, he has established himself as one of the best players in his role in Europe and is the player Fnatic look to play around in important matches.

Both Nemesis and Selfmade made a huge contribution to Fnatic’s playoff run and were the driving force behind their team’s climb from a fourth-place regular season finish to the LEC final. Even in defeat, the mid laner managed a massive 1003 damage per minute in one game against G2 Esports but was ultimately let down by his teammates.

AD Carry – Martin “Rekkles” Larsson

Rekkles has just appeared in his eighth LEC final and will soon take part in his sixth World Championship. With four LEC titles already under his belt, there are no prizes for guessing what trophy the marksman has his sights set on now.

Despite the marksman role being relatively underpowered and Fnatic playing largely through mid, Rekkles still managed to showcase his mastery of AD carry during the playoffs. Boasting a 5.1 KDA and a +285 gold difference at 15 minutes, Fnatic’s bot laner stood out above the rest in Fnatic’s title chase.

Support – Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov

The 2020 World Championship could be Hylissang’s last tournament in Fnatic colors following an underwhelming LEC season that has no doubt prompted the coaching staff to take action and plan roster changes ahead of next year.

It could be argued that the Bulgarian was the worst support in the LEC over the course of the season despite playing on the second-best team. For every one exceptional game, there were four terrible games as evidenced by Hylissang’s average death count of 4.6 in the Summer Split regular season.

Next. Ranking EVERY AD Carry at the World Championship. dark

90/50/10 Predictions

90% odds that… Fnatic lose one game against Team SoloMid.

It’s no secret that Fnatic’s LEC season was incredibly underwhelming and they were somewhat outclassed by much less experienced rosters during the regular season. This – plus the added pressure of expectations – will result in a loss against Team SoloMid forcing a potential tiebreaker to end the group stage.

50% odds that… Fnatic qualify for the knockout stage.

It would be a shock if Fnatic fail to qualify for the knockout stage, but, given their poor season, it also wouldn’t be a surprise. With TSM desperate to make it out of groups and Gen.G hoping to match their Korean counterparts, Fnatic have a lot of work to do to finish in the top two.

10% odds that… Fnatic reach the World Championship final.

Simply put, Fnatic have not been good enough to compete with the world’s best this season. They scraped through the regular season, were destroyed by G2 in the LEC final, and have two coin-flip players on the roster.

Fnatic fans would love a chance at redemption for their 2018 woes but, until a major roster reshuffle occurs, this looks incredibly unlikely.