fnatic had an up-and-down year, as their top eight finish at the Boston Major was followed up by a group stage, 0-3 exit at StarSeries i-League Season 4, after which they lifted trophies at IEM Katowice and WESG World Finals. Just before their two tournament wins, fnatic was ready for a player change, with JW now revealing that twist was one of the considered players.
With twist not being up to moving from GODSENT/Red Reserve, fnatic continued playing with Maikil "Golden" Selim before eventually replacing their IGL and Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson with Richard "Xizt" Landström and William "draken" Sundin. In our interview with JW, we went over the changes and how they impacted the team.
Let’s start with DreamHack Masters Stockholm—the most recent event—where you were underwhelming as a team. Walk us through the tournament, what happened?
Stockholm was a big letdown for us. Our preparation going into the event wasn’t necessarily bad so we were caught off guard, you could say we got a wake-up call. Prior to Stockholm, we only focused on becoming better during the bootcamp. At the event, we realized we had a few issues that we had to solve so after the tournament we focused on that instead of working on tactics. It was a big letdown but we can still rise from the ashes here at the Major.
How has everything been going with this roster in which Xizt is the in-game-leader and draken is the main AWPer? How does it feel?
For starters, Xizt is really easy to play with. He’s probably tied with pronax as the best IGL I have ever played with. He is always calm. He is a very calm person so he spreads that calmness across the team which I think is really good. What is taking more time getting used to is probably draken’s main AWPing and my moving into a hybrid role. That is a role I have played before but I have always been able to rely on the AWP and fall back on it, that’s the thing that needs the most work but overall we are feeling good together. Xizt is probably the best signing we have done in the last few years. I’m really happy we managed to do that.
Talking of the hybrid role, you were somebody that wanted to get away from main AWPing as far as I remember. Did it happen that way?
Both yes and no. I'm the kind of guy that would probably rather be the main AWPer if I could pick and choose. But the thing is, in our previous roster with Golden and Lekr0 it felt like when I played the AWP, we didn’t have anyone taking map control, someone that played really aggressively. Then when I played aggressively and took map control, we didn’t have an AWPer. When we decided to make changes and sign new players, we realized that we could not get anyone else other an AWPer at that point. Everyone including myself thought that the best thing to do was to move me to a hybrid role and let someone else do the AWPing because everyone is confident that I can do both.
Touching on draken, he had a few issues hitting those easy shots while he was with NiP. It sort of became a meme but it was partly true. How do you approach that as a team? Is there something you need to do to make him feel better so he can hit those shots?
I think what’s important is not forcing him into situations he’s not used to be in. I remember a few years back when I was a really aggressive AWPer, in one match on Inferno, I was forced to play really defensive. I was standing in Library and I had the easiest angle but I missed the shot because I wasn’t used to it. So the important thing is to let him be in positions that he is confident being in, not forcing him into peeks and angles that he doesn’t like. I don’t think it’s that big of an issue. It’s not like we are building tactics around him hitting easy shots. I haven’t felt that it affected our team so far.
Talking about the AWPers that you were discussing you could have picked up for fnatic, another Swedish AWPer in twist comes to mind. He has been around for quite a while and was touted to join NiP and fnatic way back in time. It really didn’t pan out, he’s just stuck in the third Swedish team all the time, except when he was with fnatic for a while but he didn’t keep his place. Did you consider him during your latest roster changes?
We considered twist after the early StarLadder exit when we still had Lekr0 and Golden. He wasn’t really interested in playing with us which I can understand, in a way. People think that we are harder to play with. As the core we have played together for a long time, so maybe people are scared to join us because they think we are hard to play with, or he just thought that Red Reserve is a better team for him. I can respect that as well, if it’s the case. We considered him because in my opinion, he is still the best player outside of NiP and fnatic, easily. Hopefully one day he can achieve the things he wants with his team because I really respect his loyalty. It’s quite rare, I would say, to have a player that turns down all the offers which you could say are better. I wish him success.
As fnatic you have a great history at Majors. What is the general feeling going into this one?
The general feeling is still just like before DreamHack Stockholm. We are going into it to win it. We got caught a bit off guard in Stockholm but it’s not really going to affect us here. It’s the Major and we are known to play well in them, we know that we can perform here. We are going in not relaxed but happy knowing that it is a high stake tournament that we really love to play, so I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t perform well here.
More interviews from the FACEIT Major New Legends stage media day:
jmqa: "After the last Major, our practice wasn't great, we didn't have good conditions"
flamie: "We still want to play Dust2 because no one is playing it well"
SmithZz: "We aren't completely ready at the moment, but we are getting there"
RUSH: "Hopefully, after the Major, our ranking will reflect how we actually are as a team"