Number 19 on this year’s list is the Brazilian bad boy Lincoln “fnx” Lau, a key part of Luminosity/SK’s dominant middle of the year during which the Brazilian side won back-to-back Majors. Known to be a role player but also packing a punch, fnx makes an incursion into HLTV.org’s top 20 for the first time.
Lincoln "fnx" Lau is one of the most storied Counter-Strike players still active today. Going back to 2004, a 14 year old fnx was starting his career in 1.6 playing with the likes of Bruno "bit" Lima and Thiago "btt" Monteiro at the local ESWC and CPL qualifiers on teams like Global Challengers and GameCrashers.
It was in 2006, though, at the tender age of 16, when fnx hit the big times as Raphael "cogu" Camargo called him up to be part of the Made in Brazil team that beat the likes of x6tence, ALTERNATE (later ALTERNATE aTTaX), and Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg’s fnatic to lift the trophy at ESWC 2006 in Paris.
Young fnx and the rest of his teammates after winning ESWC 2006
After that win, fnx remained in mibr for the next two years on and off, winning events like the shgOpen 2007 in Copenhagen and DreamHack Winter 2007 and getting a few deep runs at other events. Since this period, though, fnx was already cultivating a conflicted personality, being dropped and re-signed for missing a flight to Korea with the rest of the team to play at e-Stars in Seoul. Between being dropped and re-signed, fnx beat mibr in the World Cyber Games 2007 Brazil final while playing for g3x.
After a brief stint playing CSS in the Latin American CGS with Brazil’s franchise team, Rio Sinistro, fnx linked up with Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo for the first time in FireGamers, a team that went on to beat his ex-team, mibr, at the WCG 2009 qualifier in Brazil. That team went to represent the compLexity brand, winning the IEM Season V American Championship Finals over Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert and Tomi "lurppis" Kovanen’ Evil Geniuses.
fnx stayed with FalleN, bit, Bruno "ellllll" Ono, and Renato "nak" Nakano through late 2011. In 2012 fnx hung up his mouse and announced retirement, although only momentarily. Not long after, in early 2013, he joined back up with FalleN and bit, who were in turn joined by Fernando "fer" Alvarenga and Vito "kNg" Giuseppe in PlayArt to give CS:GO a shot.
"I always liked the game, but it was only when I saw that the scene was becoming more and more competitive that I decided to rise from the ashes, literally. I love competing, I love being among the best in the world. Being at the top is something I have always wanted and that is where I feel fine."
After Afterall fnx linked back up with FalleN, this time in KaBuM, where they were joined by the Teles twins, Lucas "lucas" Teles and Henrique "hen1" Teles, and by fer. fnx would be on the wrong side of a merger, though, as he was cut when Progaming.TD and KaBuM joined forces in late 2014.
His next notable team was Dexterity, where he played with lucas, hen1, Epitacio "TACO" de Melo, Marcelo "coldzera" David (before he was signed by ex-Keyd Stars) and Gustavo "SHOOWTiME" Gonçalves. That team was dropped by Dexterity in mid 2015. Despite being dropped, though, team stayed together under the NTC brand, which is fnx’s apparel company, and won Games Academy’s Golden Chance tournament earning them a one-way ticket to play in North America under FalleN’s Games Academy banner.
The last move on fnx’s way to the top was getting signed by Luminosity, when he was brought up with fellow teammate TACO to replace Ricardo "boltz" Prass and Lucas "steel" Lopes. Two days after the addition of fnx and TACO, Luminosity lost 16-0 to fnatic. Four days later they were runners-up at Faceit’s Stage 3 Finals at DreamHack Winter 2015.
fnx’s year started at SL i-League StarSeries Season XIV, where Luminosity started to carve out a name for themselves amongst the world’s top teams after their DreamHack Winter miracle run late the year before. Here, fnx earned his first PotM award. The Brazilian team beat G2 and Natus Vincere before falling to fnatic, the undeniable best team in the world at the time, for a 3-4 place finish. Here, fnx had a 1.13 impact rating, the second highest he had all year, where he started to prove his value in the important rounds.
"The way I see it, either we entered the team willing to fight to be the best in the world or the changes would have been in vain. We finished second in our first tournament. We proved our critics wrong and we gave hope to the Brazilian fans who were still living that distant past called mibr."
Luminosity then had two back-to-back runs to the finals at DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig and IEM Katowice, where they lost to Natus Vincere and fnatic respectively. While fnx had a decent showing in Leipzig, Katowice was one of only two tournaments until the summer break after ESL Cologne in which he did not have an above average rating. He also had his lowest impact with a 0.79 impact rating and his lowest ADR, at 71.7.
Valve told fnx's story ahead of his first Major
Things picked up quick for the Brazilian as MLG Columbus, his first Major, loomed on the horizon. There, fnx crushed any doubts and ended with a 1.14 rating, the second highest in the team, was considered an Exceptionally Valuable Player, and scored green in pretty much every positive metric there is. Particularly memorable was his match against NiP, albeit a Pythless NiP, where he ended with a +20 KDD after 21 rounds and a staggering 147.7 ADR.
"We knew we would win things, it was just a matter of time. We had the structure to reach the top. The ball hit the bar a few days, but at some point it had to go in. Winning a Major brought us peace of mind and took a huge weight off of the team's shoulders."
On the other hand, DreamHack Masters Malmö was a disappointment, but not just for him, for his whole team. Going out in groups against TyLoo showed that Luminosity were still hungover after winning their first Major ten days earlier. In Malmö, fnx was a hundredth shy of a 1.00 rating, but like in Katowice he had little impact and not much damage dealt per round.
Despite the pitfall in Malmö, and now that they had proven they could win an event of the highest caliber, Luminosity started to throw their weight around starting with their easiest win of the year at DreamHack Austin. There, fnx earned his second EVP award and went back to hitting good numbers like he had at the Major.
Having found their groove, Luminosity and fnx were able to win back-to-back tournaments, this time the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals which were played in England, and once again fnx was awarded an EVP performance after being crucial for his team on their way to conquering the title, including a best-of-five against G2.
The next tournament was one on Luminosity’s adopted home soil, in North America, but would prove to be the most hostile. ELEAGUE Season 1 started out really well as the Brazilian squad flew out of the gate and plowed their way to winning Group A and the Group A playoff, dropping only a single map to Cloud9.
In Atlanta fnx was en route to an absolutely smashing tournament as he already had three PotM awards (his highest this year), a year-high 1.25 rating and 1.25 impact rating, and an 89.1 ADR. Then the Luminosity/ SK fiasco happened and the team was eliminated before they could play for the title in the playoffs.
That wasn’t a huge bump, though, as Luminosity were by far and wide considered the best team in the world and dominating the international scene. They were unable to win their next event, the ECS Season 1 finals, where they lost the final to G2. Nevertheless, fnx was hitting his top form and had again played at the EVP level, scoring his highest ADR of the season, 90.5.
The second and last Major of the year came around in July. Now under the SK banner, fnx was as ready as ever to show he was capable of hanging in the best team in the world. In Cologne, he posted a 1.15 rating and won his 5th and last EVP award of the season, helping his team all the way to the first place on the podium, and therefore becoming a back-to-back Major champion.
After the Major came the off-season, and when the next season rolled around things weren’t going to be the same anymore for fnx. SK’s first event of the season was ESL One New York, and there fnx played his worst event next to IEM Katowice, ending fourth worst in the team with a 0.90 rating.
At EPICENTER: Moscow and ESL Pro League Season 4 in Brazil, on home soil, fnx was able to get 1.03 and 1.04 ratings respectively, but still far from the 1.1X performances he had shown he was capable of during the first half of the year. As his statistics dropped, SK struggled to win a tournament, going out in semifinals in Moscow and losing the ESL Pro League Season 4 finals to Cloud9 on home soil.
SK were able to stay as the most consistent during the parity era, getting no worse than a semifinal run in fnx’s last couple events. At his last two events, though, IEM Oakland and ELEAGUE Season 2, fnx ended with the team’s worst rating, something he had only done once, at IEM Katowice, all year long.
"Every champion has ups and downs. I am not a machine, I am human, like the other players on the team."
In short, fnx had a great beginning and middle of the year, where he was posting ratings above 1.10 regularly, with an ADR around the mid 80s, but tarnished the year with a weak last quarter which brought his final averages down. His average rating for the year at the aforementioned events was 1.06 in the 139 maps played, with 80.5 ADR. Most notably, during the middle of the year when SK were dominating, fnx was posting a KAST percentage of around the mid to high 70s, but ended up with “just” 72.6% (still very high, but under his potential) with three of the last five events of the year under 70%.
"There were only good moments this year, and I have many plans, but I will only reveal them when they come true. Stay tuned because many new things will happen!"
Why is he the 19th best player of 2016?
As he has been described before, fnx quietly assassinates people everywhere while the stars get credit for the multikill rounds, and in a team where the stars shine so bright that’s not always an easy task.
"I have always been a player who easily fits in all tactics. I have never been upset about that, I am an all-round player, experienced, a winner, confident and decisive. That is why I am called the 'clutch master'."
Throughout the 15 events SK played this year, fnx was named an Exceptionally Valuable Player five times. Out of those five events, MLG Columbus, DH Austin, ESL Pro League S3, ECS S1, and ESL One Cologne, four of them are considered “big” events. Especially complicated, though, was becoming an EVP in both Majors, a feat that only a small handful of players achieved. His rating at the Majors was 1.14, the 4th highest in the world.
Before the summer break, when fnx was playing his best CS, he was third in the team consistently ratingwise, even hitting second best at both MLG Columbus and ELEAGUE Season 1, and was the best rated player on Luminosity at the ECS Season 1 Finals. While that is impressive, one reason fnx isn’t ranked higher is because most of the time he wasn’t the star, but rather the one who lifted his teammates, and therefore other players in the end had greater impact.
Putting it into numbers, fnx has some very impressive team oriented stats. His deaths were traded 23% of the time, the ninth highest, he was sixth in assists per round, with 0.17, and was the fifth player with most rounds with a contribution to the team with 72.6%. Other than that, he was the 11th player with the most 1vsX situations won—not amongst the best of the best, but up there—and was ranked third in most grenade damage per round. When asked about that curious statistic, fnx said:
"[I have] game awareness and experience. I always tend to have a present for my opponents."
If fnx could have maintained his level of play similar to his early and middle of the year performances throughout the last quarter, chances are he could have climbed up the ladder in the final ranking, but in the end he has much to be proud of.
"I was able to help my country return to where it should have never left, which is the top of the world."
What did you think of fnx’s 2016? Where would you rank him? Let us know in the comment section below.
We asked fnx to name one player who is yet to break through, and who could in his opinion become a Top 20 candidate in 2017, but the Brazilian player declined to comment despite being pressed to make a prediction.
"I would not like to name a player because there are many who have the ability to be among the top 20, and if I named one I could be forgetting five others."