Esports: Glory and heartache for Europe's League of Legends trailblazers Fnatic
In part one of this two part feature, Simon Helgeson looks at the ups and downs of League of Legends trailblazers, Fnatic
By Simon Helgeson
Last Updated: 28/02/18 1:28pm
Esports team Fnatic stand at 7-3 and are tied top in the highly competitive European League of Legends Championship Series. Simon Helgeson takes us through the history of this storied team for those who are new to League of Legends.
Fnatic has endured a turbulent yet exciting history, dating back to the early days when the game was still relatively unknown. The story of Fnatic is a story about friendship, competition, victory, and defeat. Few teams can say that they are as integral to the history of the game itself as Fnatic. The rise, fall and second rise of the most beloved team in Europe is a magnificent epic, one that will be remembered long into the future.
The First Champions
Season 1, in 2011, was the time Fnatic experienced glory in League of Legends. The organisation itself was founded as a Counter-Strike team in 2004 and has since then expanded into many other games. Fnatic made their entry into League by acquiring the roster of myRevenge, a now-defuct organization based in Germany. The team - consisting of xPeke, Cyanide, Shushei, LamiaZealot, and wewillfailer - went on to win the very first world championship when they won a narrow victory over French team against All authority.
Their path to the World Championship wasn't easy, and the champions had to struggle a lot on their road to victory. Fnatic had troubles during the group stage due to their star player xPeke missing from the first matches due to a delayed flight, and with a 1-2 record, the team narrowly managed to escape elimination.
Fnatic continued to perform well in 2011 until the end of the year but struggled to perform in 2012. The organisation grew more powerful as the early meat of the game continued to develop and Fnatic picked up some big names, such as nRated, a top Support at the time, and sOAZ, against All authority's former top laner. Despite the roster changes, Fnatic failed to make it to the Season 2 World Championship.
The Gathering Storm
Fnatic entered 2013 with a storm. Fnatic added YellowStar, the skilled AD Carry that faced them in the finals of the Season 1 World Championship, to their roster and went on to perform well at the first premier tournament of the year - Intel Extreme Masters VII Katowice. It was in IEM that xPeke, team captain of Fnatic back then, made his famous backdoor play using the champion Kassadin, closing out a nail-biting game against longtime rivals SK Gaming. Fnatic went on to lose in the semi-finals against Azubu Blaze, a high-level Korean team.
2013 was the first year of the European LCS and Fnatic quickly asserted dominance by winning both the Spring Split and the Summer Split, earning them a spot in the World Championship. Worlds was now a big event, and the price pool of $100,000 back in 2011 had morphed into $2,000,000 in 2013. Fnatic performed great, placing first in their group and ending their run in the semi-finals where they got knocked out by Royal Club, the Chinese team now known as Royal Never Give Up that defeated them in the 2017 World Championship last year.
Fnatic continued their European legacy in 2014 when they finished first in playoffs of the Spring Split and second in the Summer Split, once again earning them a spot at the prestigious World Championship. This time wasn't as glorious as the five European legends would have hoped, and Fnatic were knocked out in the group stage with a disappointing 2-4 record. Internal division plagued the team, and Fnatic lost four out of their five players. Even Cyanide and xPeke, the two players that won the Season 1 World Championship, turned their backs on the organisation. Fnatic had lost their world-beating roster and even lacked a coach as the fifth season was looming on the horizon. Things were looking bleak for the European team.
Part two, where Simon Helgeson traces Fnatic's progress to this season, will be available to read next Tuesday.