Looking back: fnatic after pronax
fnatic's lineup which they have kept together since the November of 2015 broke up as the core of the team went to GODSENT. Here is what they achieved together and why their story came to a close.
The best roster not to have won a Major trophy just disbanded following a dominant beginning during the post-Markus "pronax" Wallsten era in which Robin "flusha" Rönnquist & company won six LAN events in a row. The Swedes were then struck down with Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer's injury, resulting in neither him nor the team ever bouncing back.
While olofmeister and Dennis "dennis" Edman stayed with fnatic, rounding out their roster with Simon "twist" Eliasson, Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson, and John "wenton" Eriksson; Jesper "JW" Wecksell, flusha, and Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson joined their former in-game leader pronax and former fnatic player Andreas "znajder" Lindberg in GODSENT, therefore making GODSENT more fnatic than fnatic. The Legends Major status moved to GODSENT as the majority of the fnatic players are now a part of the aforementioned organization.
The Swedes made history
Although the now dissolved roster had a great potential and could have won countless tournaments if they stayed together, we'll never know what they could have accomplished. Instead, we'll take a look at what they already achieved and what lead to this breakup.
The lineup which featured dennis came around after the dominant era of pronax's fnatic ended. Following two Major victories with olofmeister crushing the competition, fnatic lost to Virtus.pro in the semi-finals at ESL ESEA Pro League Invitational taking place in Dubai in September of 2015, fell against Envy in the grand final at Gfinity Champion of Champions, and came third at PGL Season 1 finals in October. The straw that broke the camel's back was the result they got at DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, where they finished 5-8th getting eliminated by the would-be champions: Envy.
First TSM, and then Envy claimed the #1 spot in our Global Team Ranking—powered by EGB.com. The results and the ranking of fnatic would be considered decent for any other top team, but not for fnatic. They were 'the' team. They should have been able to win all those tournaments but they couldn't because pronax's individual performance started to impact the team badly, hence their removing him from the roster and bringing in dennis from G2, a former teammate of KRIMZ and olofmeister back in their LGB days.
pronax's performance did not suffice
fnatic adapted a more free style after the roster change, unleashing the raw fragging power—highlighted by olofmeister—of the team. In their first LAN match with this lineup, which took place at the end of November, the Swedes decimated Luminosity with a 16-0 victory which they followed up with a 16-4 beatdown of NIP in the group stage at FACEIT League Stage 3 Finals. fnatic went on to win the tournament after defeating Luminosity 2-1 in the grand final. They were back in business.
The second event they attended—Fragbite Masters Season 5 Finals—was in December and fnatic won their first back-to-back tournaments right after the addition of dennis. olofmeister had a commanding performance against NIP in the grand final as he posted unbelievable numbers including a 70:45 KDR and a 1.35 rating. This was the second grand final that olofmeister dominated after pronax left, and it was becoming more and more clear that the new run-and-gun style displayed by the team benefitted him greatly.
flusha & company finished the year with a bang, winning ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals with a 3-2 grand final victory over Natus Vincere. Although the Swedes secured the first two maps of the series, Natus Vincere replied with two of their own and the winner was decided on Cobblestone—olofmeister's domain. fnatic won the map 16-6 as olofmeister posted a 1.51 rating and had a 23:12 KDR. As the year came to an end, olofmeister was still the best player in the world and fnatic were able to regain the #1 spot.
olofmeister found his form after dennis joined
The Swedish team met Natus Vincere in another grand final at the start of 2016 when they met at the SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals in Minsk. This one was a bloodbath as fnatic gave up only 10 rounds in total in the best-of-three series, picking up their fourth consecutive LAN trophy. The dominance of fnatic was made particularly clear as they beat Natus Vincere, their biggest rivals at the time, twice in a row—this time without even breaking a sweat.
olofmeister's team won ESL Barcelona—a tournament where three losses got you eliminated—by picking up two victories against Astralis in their last matches. dennis and JW were the ones who carried the load this time around as fnatic became even more scary with all its players being able to step up in crucial moments.
After securing tournament wins in January and February, fnatic won IEM Katowice after defeating Luminosity 3-0 in the grand final. Although two of the maps went to overtime, fnatic emerged victorious with olofmeister's carry performance of 81:57 KDR and 1.31 rating.
fnatic were winning everything before the Major
The event winning streak was at six and fnatic were about to go into the Major as the clear favorites. They were expected to win their seventh tournament in a row, and adding a Major to that winning streak would one up NIP's 87-0 map streak. What happened next completely threw the team off its trajectory. olofmeister—the best player in the world at the time—sustained a arm injury.
fnatic went to MLG Columbus at the end of March with olofmeister despite his injury. The Swedes finished their group in the second place and bent the knee to Astralis in the quarter-final, losing 2-0. olofmeister, who had a 0.73 rating in the quarter-final was but a shadow of his former self, and he wasn't the only one to underperform. All of fnatic's players had less than a 0.95 rating—a rare instance in which everyone failed to deliver.
The team which was everyone's pick at the Major got eliminated early in the playoffs, but how bad was the damage? Would the injury hinder olofmeister's—and effectively fnatic's—performances going forward?
olofmeister's injury spoiled fnatic's plans
The answer turned out to be yes, as the team missed DreamHack Masters Malmö and recruited Niclas "PlesseN" Plessen as a stand-in while olofmeister was recovering. The Swedes revised their decision not much later and brought in wenton instead due to PlesseN's lack of experience. They finished the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals in 3-4th place after losing to G2 in the semi-finals. This was the only LAN tournament they attended without olofmeister, and even without him they managed to reach the semi-finals.
olofmeister returned in the middle of June for the group stage of ELEAGUE Season 1 where his team won their group and advanced to the playoffs. He averaged a 1.24 rating across 11 maps, sending a clear message that he was back.
After the ELEAGUE Season 1 group stage fnatic travelled to London, UK, where they competed at the ECS Season 1 Finals. The Swedes easily got through to the playoffs after beating Cloud9 and TSM. They met G2—a team on the rise and to whom they lost at EPL S3 Finals—in the semi-finals where they came up short, losing 2-16 on Overpass and 13-16 on Dust2.
KRIMZ started to struggle after the streak came to an end
The run-and-gun approach wasn't taking fnatic to its peak anymore. They had at one point in time been able to answer problems with sheer fire power, but eventually the problems they faced as they tried to get opening kills without proper set pieces got to be too much, and they ended up crumbling. They didn't have the same olofmeister who won rounds by himself or an in-game-leader like pronax who could make the right calls on the fly.
The fact that fnatic were drawn into the group of death at ESL One Cologne made the situation even worse for the Swedes, although they managed to finish second in their group by eliminating G2 and FaZe. After beating Gambit in their quarter-final match, s1mple's Liquid, a team notorious for choking, defeated fnatic—the Harvey Specter of CS— 2-0 after coming back from 11-13 deficits on both maps. This was the fourth consecutive tournament in which fnatic failed to reach the grand final. It was like a curse after their six tournament wins in a row.
Their tale ended after the ELEAGUE Season 1 playoffs
The Swedes finally had the chance to win a huge tournament again after beating Natus Vincere in the semi-finals of the ELEAGUE Season 1 playoffs. They broke the so-called curse by reaching the grand final, although they were ultimately unable to win it against Virtus.pro. The Poles were hungry for the trophy, as well, and they managed to be too much to handle for the Swedes, and thus becoming the nail in the coffin for this fnatic roster.
This lineup could have stayed together and won many other tournaments including a Major in the future. They could have implemented a modest tactical aspect to their playstyle and made it work, but they decided to split up to try their chances with different rosters.
Although this fnatic lineup lack what a lot of fans consider a sign of greatness—a Major championship—, they are without a doubt amongst the top five greatest CS:GO teams of all time. Winning every tournament for four months right after having made roster changes and losing their in-game-leader puts them side to side with the legendary rosters that ruled the scene. Even after olofmeister's injury, they only placed once below top four. While this roster gave us one of the richest legacies so far in CS:GO, it also gave us one of the biggest "what if" questions ever: What if olofmeister had never gotten injured?
* By rolling the cursor over most team names in the text, chronologically accurate lineups will show up.
BenjaCS is a staff writer at HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter.