Written by: Unikrn
Fnatic has failed to qualify for the upcoming CS:GO StarLadder Berlin Major after slumping to a surprise 2-0 defeat at the hands of CR4ZY. It was a result that sent shockwaves throughout the Counter-Strike community, as it seems inconceivable that a team of Fnatic’s calibre could miss the biggest tournament of the year. It ends star player JW’s record of reaching every single CS:GO major in history and it could represent the final nail in the coffin for this struggling line-up.
Fnatic’s fall from grace has been pretty spectacular when you consider just how dominant it once was with the Counter-Strike scene. The Swedish powerhouse won the first ever CS:GO major on home soil when DreamHack came to Jönöpking in November 2013. Devilwalk, JW, flusha, pronax and schneider topped their group, breezed through the knockout stage and swept Ninjas in Pyjamas aside in the final.
The world's best team
Their dominance peaked in 2015, when Fnatic won both majors in supremely comfortable fashion. By then the legendary olofmeister and KRiMZ had joined the roster, linking up with JW, flusha and pronax to form an invincible collective. Once again they beat countrymen NiP in the final at ESL One Katowice 2015 to secure their second major. Later that year, they went to ESL One Cologne full of confidence and delivered another string of sensational performances before taking down Team EnVyUs in the final.
Yet JW and co have not reached the final at a CS:GO major since then. Fnatic’s League of Legends team is on fire, proudly flying the flag for Europe and claiming some impressive scalps along the way, but the CS:GO team has been letting the side down. Since 2015, Astralis has emerged as the dominant force within Counter-Strike, winning the ELEAGUE Major 2017 and both majors of 2018 to move level with Fnatic as the joint most decorated team of all time.
An opportunity missed
Yet the Danes have since gone backwards in 2018 and that could have opened the door for Fnatic to reassert their dominance over the pro CS:GO circuit. Instead Team Liquid has risen to the fore and Fnatic simply continue to tumble down the HLTV rankings. They are down to 14th after that shock defeat to CR4ZY, a result that simply compounded fans’ misery.
They went into the Europe Minor knowing that they had to be at their very best if they were to secure a berth at the Starladder Berlin Major. They began in imperious fashion, securing back-to-back victories over Ancient and North, and they were the favourites to reach the major, but they could not maintain their momentum. They ended up losing 2-0 to mousesports and that sent them into a decider with the up-and-coming CR4ZY for a place at the big tournament.
They quickly found themselves 12-3 down on Train, but Fnatic produced a remarkable comeback to tie the score at 13-13, only to lose out to late clutches from LETN1 and ottoNd in the final two rounds. The two teams then engaged in a pulsating showdown on Dust II and the Swedes looked on the brink of prevailing when they edged into a 12-10 lead.
Big players go missing
You would have expected Fnatic to close out victory, blessed as they are with major winners like JW, KRiMZ and xist, but CR4ZY were not to be denied. They overwhelmed Fnatic in the closing stages once again and battled to another 16-13 victory to complete a 2-0 clean sweep of their vaunted opponents. OttoNd finished with 27 frags and the Swedes were forced to go away and lick their wounds.
“Missing my first major in CSGO history,” said JW on Twitter. “Time to take a step back and reflect upon things. Thanks for all the support.”
These are worrying times for Fnatic and their fans. It is too big a name to simply vanish from the scene, but it might be time to overhaul the roster and rebuild.
If you check out these latest odds, you will note that CR4ZY are huge underdogs at big tournaments and given a very slim chance of winning the Starladder Major. They are the sort of team that Fnatic really should be beating, but something is not quite right with the Swedish side.
Time for Fnatic to rebuild
The players have seemingly lost a bit of passion for the game and they looked low on motivation, confidence and ideas at the Europe Minor. They have not won a tournament in more than a year and their last LAN victory came at the WESG 2017 World Finals, and that lack of success could well be weighing down upon these players. Star players are not delivering, and Fnatic have not gelled into a cohesive unit in recent months.
Fnatic boasts a glorious heritage within Counter-Strike and many fans will view their recent decline with sadness. They need to get back to the basics, put in the hard yards by training together more intensely, and look at making a couple of roster changes to reinvigorate the team and inject a fresh dynamic into proceedings. If they do not take drastic action, the decline is likely to continue.