Fnatic - Stronger Than EverAfter landing in the bottom four at The International 5, Fnatic needed a drastic reimagining. Gone were up-and-comers JoHnNy and Kecik Imba, as well as the veteran kYxY. Mushi and Ohaiyo brought in their old friend Net from Team 123, as well as some players from outside of Malaysia—something new for the traditionally Malaysian-only teams Mushi was known for. DJ—a Filipino player who made a name for himself during his time with Rave and EoT Hammer—and more outlandishly, Black^—the globe-trotting German who spent TI5’s season in China and in America—became the final pieces of Fnatic’s rebirth.
The team started out doing well, collecting a first place finish in Beyond The Summit’s SEA invitational tournament as well as a qualifier spot for ESL New York, notching a victory over their SEA rivals MVP Phoenix in the qualifier finals. September’s victories would soon turn sour, as they failed to qualify for The Summit 4, WCA 2015, and finished in last place at both Nanyang Season 1 and ESL One New York. After limping into the Frankfurt Major by taking the 2nd qualifier spot behind Mineski, a weak group stage would set Fnatic up for another bottom four exit.
This was, sadly, another entry into Fnatic’s recurring history of qualifying for events, but failing to reach the ultimate goal at LANs. Dissatisfied with their fall season, they bid goodbye to Black^ and went for something different once again, rolling the dice on another new face with the acquisition of MidOne. Adjusting to the new line-up took some time, as Fnatic stumbled into a semifinals exit in BTS SEA #2, a last place finish at WCA after assuming one of the litany of evacuated spots, and drowning in group pools after qualifying for StarLadder i-League Star Series Season 1. Their redemption came when they bested MVP Phoenix to secure the first SEA qualifier spot for The Shanghai Major, setting the stage for a landmark performance. Their upper bracket appearance already improved upon their finishes at the previous two Valve events; and after dispatching Newbee and reigning major champions OG, Fnatic finished in an empowering 5th-6th place.
Despite setting a high water mark for the year, Shanghai would prove to be a pivotal moment for the team in an unfortunate way. Mushi fell ill following the event, causing the team to pick up 343 from Yamateh’s team, Taring, to fill in as a sub. After the roster lock came into effect and their TI-hopeful squad was finalized, the energized Fnatic went on an absolute tear in the run up to Manila. They took home two online tournaments (the first SEA Kappa Invitational and BTS SEA #4), qualified for a whopping five LANs (WePlay, EPICENTER, ESL One Frankfurt, Starladder i-League Season 2, and The Summit 5), and landed a coveted invite to the Manila Major. However, amidst their success came the hard decision of what to do once Mushi became healthy enough to play again. Ultimately, Net transitioned to a sub role and left the team. There was much outcry about Net’s departure—with some saying that Fnatic should forfeit their spot at Manila —but the drop was by the books. At the LANs heading into Manila, Fnatic claimed a top 4 finish at ESL One Manila, but faltered in the wildcard round of Epicenter. The Manila Major, however, proved to be another great performance, as Fnatic once again forged their way to an upper bracket spot and ultimately landed a repeat 5th-6th place finish.
Since then, though, Fnatic has cooled off. Despite collecting another first place finish in the second SEA Kappa Invitational, their LAN performances have been a mixed bag. On one hand, they bottomed out at ESL Frankfurt, and had a lackluster run at The Summit 5. On the other, they had a 3rd place finish at Starladder i-League Season 2, falling behind only a resurgent Natus Vincere and a Team Secret with everything to prove. Failing to get a direct invite to TI6 came as a shock to some, but without a top 2 LAN finish all year, Mushi and the boys still had to prove their mettle. They narrowly lost the top spot at the regional SEA qualifiers to the second open qualifier team, TNC; however, they bulldozed their way through the do-or-die playoff stage to the second qualifier spot.
The past year for Fnatic has been like two sides of a coin. They have had consistent performance, yet inconsistent results; success regionally, but failure internationally; respect, and still unworthiness. Where Fnatic has fallen short, MVP Phoenix has succeeded, and yet this year Fnatic will have more Major appearances than the Koreans. It’s hard to say which Fnatic will show up in Seattle, but one thing is for sure: they come motivated, teeth bared, and ready to claw their way to the LAN title that they have been striving for all year.
The Shanghai Major 201625th of February - 6th of March 2016Location: Shanghai, China
Prize pool: $3,000,000 USD
SEA Kappa Invitational Season 112th of March - 12th of April 2016Location: Online
Prize pool: $10,000 USD
ESL One Manila 201622th - 24th of April 2016Location: Manila, Philippines
Prize pool: $250,000 USD
The Manila Major 20163rd - 12th of June 2016Location: Manila, Philippines
Prize pool: $3,000,000 USD
SEA Kappa Invitational Season 222nd of May - 8th of July 2016Location: Online
Prize pool: $10,000 USD
SL i-League StarSeries Season 221st of July - 24th of July 2016Location: Los Angeles, USA
Prize pool: $300,000 USD
PlaystyleThroughout the year, Fnatic has had a bit of an identity crisis when it comes to assigning roles. Early on, when Black^ was on the team, Mushi and Net would sometimes take on the support role, and let DJ go mid or offlane. After Black^ left and MidOne came on, roles began to solidify, as Mushi gradually returned to his carry position while Net stayed on support full time with DJ. During Mushi’s brief absence, Net took his place as the carry while 343 played support with DJ. Once Mushi was ready to return, he played carry once again. If it sounds confusing, it’s because it is. What matters now is that since Fnatic cemented their roles, they have been able to focus and excel at their individual positions.
In recent months, Mushi and MidOne have been switching off mid and carry roles. They allow each other’s proficiency on their favorite heroes to shine through, which creates a more traditional four-protect-one style. The shining example is, of course, Mushi’s Medusa, who takes a fair amount of time to get up to speed, necessitating the others to create the space needed to come online. There is a lot of overlap between Mushi’s and MidOne’s hero pools, which adds a layer of uncertainty to drafting against Fnatic when early cores are chosen.
DJ and 343 keep all of the hamsters running behind the scenes with their own takes on the current meta. With jungling supports heavily in vogue, DJ offers up a selection of pushers to quickly take down objectives, showing off some impressive Chen play during Starladder i-League Season 2’s LAN finals and game-breaking Black Holes on Enigma at The Manila Major. 343, on the other hand, is hot on the flavor of the month, grinding out games on Riki and Shadow Demon in the past few weeks, but also pulled his weight through the TI6 qualifiers on heroes like Vengeful Spirit and Disruptor as well. Like most teams’ offlaners, Ohaiyo has been big on team fight and pick off heroes like Faceless Void and Beastmaster, though his Nyx Assassin and Broodmother have bugged out teams everywhere, from the regional qualifiers to the recent international LANs.
SEA Dota just wouldn’t be the same without Mushi. Having attended every International since TI2, he is back again for another round with old friends and some new faces. After a brief stint on the support role earlier on in the year, Mushi has returned to the hard carry role, specializing in heroes like Luna and Medusa to mow down creeps and grow exponentially. Utilizing quick thinking and fast reactions, the big plays he brings to the table are sure to be immortalized in highlight reels to come.
The hot new Malaysian mid laner picked up last winter, MidOne has come screaming out of the gates and has made his name known world wide. Compared to other starlets like SumaiL and Miracle-, the midlane master has shown that no matter what meta is in swing, high skill heroes like Invoker and Ember Spirit are always a threat in his hands. With his supports at his back and Mushi by his side, MidOne has been making Fnatic more than just a token SEA qualifier team this year, and a serious challenger to all those that oppose them.
As the final remaining member of Mushi’s old guard from Orange Esports, Ohaiyo’s rock steady offlane play has made him a cornerstone of this Fnatic squad. You may often observe him in game slinking around the enemy jungle as Nyx Assassin or Batrider, hunting for a pickoff, or just off to the side of his enemy’s tower waiting to unload a Chronosphere on his unsuspecting foes as Faceless Void. The meta has nudged him away from some of his more historically push-centric heroes like Broodmother and Nature’s Prophet, but rest assured that if Beastmaster falls into his hands, towers will fall all the same.
The lone Filipino on Fnatic, DJ has brought over all of the flashiness and style that made him such a joy to watch on Rave. Spending most of his time between lanes and ganking around the map, he exploits both jungles on Chen and Enchantress to lock up early game objectives and midgame advantages. Other teamfight-centric heroes like Earth Spirit and Lion have been a staple of his play when Fnatic’s game plan is about deleting heroes rather than deleting towers. Having been around for the ride since the team initial reformation post-TI5, DJ is ready to cash in a year’s worth of hard work for his place on the Aegis of Champions.
The final member to join this incarnation of Fnatic, 343 has his fingers on the pulse of this patch’s meta. Elevating the once laughable, but now feared, Shadow Demon and Riki into first round bans, 343 has become the steady career support player that the team has been searching for. Shouldering his team through the regional qualifiers on equally popular heroes like Vengeful Spirit and Disruptor, do not be surprised this August when he shows everyone just how deadly he can be.