One of the top teams in EMEA, Fnatic could not compete at VCT Masters Reykjavik with the full roster. The team leaves Iceland without a single map victory, but can only take positives to improve from this event.

The VCT Masters Reykjavik Group A had two clear favorites coming into the event. DRX and Fnatic were the fan-favorites to top the group and advance to the playoffs. Even with Fnatic’s roster problems, many believed in the EMEA team’s experience and skill to tide it over. Unfortunately, it was not to be as Fnatic’s Iceland run has come to an end without winning a single map. 

Despite being one of the strongest teams in Japan, Zeta Division’s international results have been lackluster. Earlier in the tournament, Laz had said one of the team’s objectives is to secure its first international win at this event. With a 2-0 win against Fnatic, the team has already accomplished its goal, 

This win (against Fnatic), we have been waiting and longing for the longest time. To be able to accomplish one of our goals coming into Masters, we are very happy.

Laz

His teammate Crow felt the first win was a big hurdle, but now things will get easier for the Japanese players.

After the loss in Berlin, we have been longing for this win as well. We knew that as soon as we get our first win, it would be much easier for us,” said his teammate Crow.

Why did Fnatic perform so poorly at Reykjavik?

Fnatic’s Masters roster is a new team with two new players. The team has been focusing on getting its basics right and integrating Fearoth and Hiber into its ‘system’. With just a few days of preparation, the focus on ensuring team synergy and bringing two new players into its system was not an easy task. The over-reliance on this ‘system’ and dependence on Derke was a big reason for Fnatic’s early elimination. 

“We’re essentially a new team. You just watched a new team play the game. Obviously trying to watch a new team play on the biggest stage we’ve got, that’s what happens. We’re really good players but we had ten days as a team (Boaster corrects him to say they had eight days)”

Fnatic coach Mini

Magnum chimed in giving us a peek into his thoughts on why Fnatic lost against Zeta Division. He said there was a lot of panic within the team when things did not go their way. 

“We were tunnel-visioned on something else, the panic was high[…] I think a big part of us losing was ‘hecticness’”

Magnum

“Basically as a team, we are sometimes panicky when we lose momentum and mainly with two subs, it added to that. In some rounds, we actually weren’t in the rounds. We were tunnel-visioned on something else, the panic was high. In the end, I think both matches were a real problem with two subs. And yea, I think a big part of us losing was ‘hecticness’”

This panic, or hecticness as he calls it, was clinically exploited by the Zeta Division guys. Unaware of how Fnatic might play, considering they had two new players, the Japanese players took their time to study the Fnatic playstyle and adjust theirs accordingly. This, Zeta Division’s Laz feels, is the reason for their success against Fnatic.

“The match against Fnatic, we have lost a couple of rounds in the beginning due to Fnatic having a totally new composition for this match. In the first couple of rounds, we were just trying out the Zeta division style of gameplay. We were just watching carefully how Fnatic reacted to that. After timeouts, we were able to talk amongst the team about the (Fnatic) reaction and react to it. So how we were able to adapt to their reaction and the strategy was, I believe, the key to the successful result that we had today.” – Laz. 

Fearoth and Hiber

Fnatic did not play with its full roster at Masters Reykjavik. After two of its players were unable to play at VCT Masters, the rest of the squad had to quickly adjust with two new players for the international event.

Towards the end of March, Fnatic suspended BraveAF following an internal investigation following leaked chat logs where he supposedly showed support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I think Fearoth and Hiber are really good players. They performed really well on the team. I can’t blame them as players. […] I think these two subs, all credit to them, they played the best in our team maybe, they completely destroyed everything.

Fnatic played with two subs at Iceland.
Fnatic played with two subs at Iceland.

Adding to their misfortunes, Derke, arguably one of the players, not only in Fnatic but also the world, tested positive for COVID. Although he was present in Iceland during Fnatic’s matches, he could not compete with the roster. Fnatic used Fearoth and Hiber, two new players on the team.

Despite joining a new team with a different playstyle, Fearoth and Hiber have been two of the standout performers for Fnatic. Fnatic might have been eliminated early in the event, but Fearoth has been extremely impressive at Iceland. 

With a 1.11 K/D and a 148.7 ADR, Fearoth is just outside the top ten players at Iceland. The two players chimed in on how their experience working with Fnatic has and will help them further in their career. 

“I think it has been a great experience. When you’re playing officials, everybody gets a bit of nerves. And this experience has helped me so much,” said Fearoth. “When I was playing on the stage, I felt like I could do pretty much anything. Obviously, we didn’t win anything but still it felt like I can do anything. It was nice meeting the guys and everyone on the team has been really fun. This definitely has been a memory that I will remember for a very long time.”

Hiber had a fantastic performance against NiP in their opening match. Despite not winning the series, there were many instances when Hiber’s skill and reflexes made him a potential for MVP of the match.

“I think it has been a great experience. When you’re playing officials, everybody gets a bit of nerves. And this experience has helped me so much. When I was playing on the stage, I felt like I could do pretty much anything. Obviously, we didn’t win anything but still it felt like I can do anything. It was nice meeting the guys and everyone on the team has been really fun. This definitely has been a memory that I will remember for a very long time,” Hiber said about his time with the Fnatic players in Iceland.

“Watching both Mini and Boaster work has been super exciting for me. I am kind of looking at the game in a different way now. I am definitely taking many things from this experience back home.”

The Fnatic system

Both Boaster and Mini focused on the roster’s reliance on the Fnatic system and how they were unable to cope well with the sudden roster changes. Ther over-reliance on this tactical system is something that Mini feels Fnatic needs to reduce in the coming weeks if they are to improve their results. 

“I do have to say we rely a lot on a system that me and Jake (Boaster) have developed and worked really hard. I think we have an over-reliance on that system, a tactical system and obviously, Derke. 

There are two things we rely too much on Derke and we rely too much on the tactical system for us to win. I think going forward that is something we need to think about, as a team. And just have a bit more self-reliance and not have to rely on these things.”

Fnatic Magnum at VCT Masters Reykjavik, Iceland.
The over-reliance on the Fnatic system was an issue for the EMEA team at Iceland.

The over-reliance on this ‘system’ is not a new discovery for Fnatic. The players and coach have been aware of this weakness for sometime, but Reykjavik highlighted just how difficult it is for the players without this system in place. A big part of this system is Derke, who is a big part of Fnatic’s system.

It’s not like this event uncovered this ( a reliance on Derke). I think we’ve talked about it a lot. It’s no secret that we rely on a system and we rely on Derke getting us out of sticky situations. He’s one of the best players in the world and I feel terrible that he’s in the hotel room, he’s been in quarantine waiting to play.”

On whether Fnatic will make some changes to adjust, Fnatic Mini says it is upto individual players to put in the time and effort to free themselves from the shackles of this system that has served them well so far.

“As for the future, it just comes down to hard work. This is a reality check: ‘What happens if we don’t have Derke in our system’? I think it’s up to individuals to put in that hard work and for me to figure out a system to facilitate the player’s growth.”

Despite the 0-2 loss early exit from the tournament (an Icelandic vacation for Derke), Fnatic can gain valuable insights into its weaknesses. The Masters 1 Iceland event will only serve to help Fnatic fix its issues and come back stronger.

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Rohan - Content Editor

Rohan

Content Editor | Twitter: @rohan_esports | Twitch: rohan_3105

Started esports with Dota, moved to CS, then OW, back to Dota 2 and now a bit of Valorant. I love city-building games, have spent hours in Cities:Skylines only to have the traffic defeat me. Love travelling, an admirer of fine movies, writing a sci-fi novel in spare time and coding (Javascript)