After being unable to reach their expected potential last split, Fnatic is looking to win with a different strategy this season. Their previous roster iteration from 2022 debuted some of the best players in the LEC from 2021. Joining Upset and Hylissang, Fnatic signed Humanoid from a MAD Lions team that won both the Spring and Summer Splits. They also took a chance on a young jungler from an over-performing Misfits roster in Razork. Alongside those two rising stars, Fnatic reached deep into their wallets to sign the best top laner in the LEC, stealing Wunder away from G2 Esports.
What Went Wrong in 2022?
Despite constructing a team of the best players Europe had to offer, Fnatic’s 2022 season was disappointing. In the 2022 Spring Split, the “European superteam” did quite well, finishing the split just behind Rogue with a 13-5 record. However, the team was constructed to win the LEC in both Spring and Summer. While they came very close to taking over in the Spring Playoffs, they fell short in the Loser’s Bracket Finals to the eventual winners in G2 Esports. Now out of contention for the European MSI seed, the team set their eyes on the biggest prize: winning the Summer Split and a spot at Worlds.
Intending to grow as a five-man unit, the team refrained from making any roster changes in the midseason. The other contending LEC teams like MAD Lions and Misfits, on the other hand, made big pickups, raising the level of competition around Fnatic. As a result, Fnatic drastically underperformed expectations, falling to 5th through a string of three miracle wins over Astralis, Team Vitality, and Misfits.
While they had managed to rally and secure themselves a spot in the LEC Summer Playoffs, it was not pretty. Throughout the year, the team struggled to find an identity. With stars in every role, it became unclear who Razork needed to play through to win. It was not until their miracle finish that the true star of Fnatic rose to the occasion to decimate their opponents. Although Hylissang continued to disappoint, Upset stepped up tremendously. Putting the team on his back, Upset handily defeated his opponents, and gave Fnatic a clear strategy for success that allowed them to defeat Excel, Misfits, and MAD Lions to earn their spot at Worlds.
Despite being one of three teams to take a map off of eventual Worlds 2022 Runners-Up in T1, Fnatic fell short in the group stage, forcing the organization to reevaluate their roster in 2023.
After he failed multiple times to assess and properly deal with multiple draft threats from opponents in critical matches, Fnatic’s first priority became replacing their head coach, YamatoCannon. Yamato had proven to be a valuable asset since they acquired him in 2020, however, internal discussions led the organization to take their roster in a different direction for 2023. Replacing him, Fnatic have signed Hiiva from Misfits to act as their Assistant Coach alongside Crusher, their new Head Coach who they promoted from their academy team: Fnatic TQ.
Curiously, Fnatic have opted not to keep Upset for 2023. Unfortunately, the way contracts and buyouts work in the League of Legends scene have made finding a new team for the star problematic. While he is not on their active roster for 2023, Fnatic refused offers from other teams interested in him in the offseason, relegating him to what many players refer to as “contract jail.” Leaving the roster with him is their longest-tenured player in Hylissang. After being outperformed by almost every support he laned against in both the Spring and Summer splits, Fnatic rightfully decided it was time to move on. After nearly five years with Fnatic, Hylissang will be joining MAD Lions for the 2023 season.
Recognizing the talents of their remaining players, Fnatic has opted to retain Wunder, Razork, and Humanoid. While this trio struggled to cooperate throughout the year, their upside was proven by their individual performances on the biggest stage of the year: Worlds 2022. Alongside academy stand-in Rhuckz, Wunder; Razork; and Humanoid were able to take a game off of the likes of T1, the second best team in the world.
With Upset and Hylissang out for 2023, Fnatic did not have to look very far to find their new support. With very little practice, Rhuckz made an immediate and noticeable impact in the bot lane, allowing Fnatic to sail through play-ins and put pressure on elite teams like EDG and T1.
Alongside Rhuckz, Fnatic have signed LEC veteran and fan-favorite ADC superstar Rekkles. Rekkles had previously played for the team for five years from 2015 to 2020. Given Upset’s incredible performances this year, his return has shocked many, but has also excited an equal amount of die-hard fans.
To see this new roster in action, be sure to tune in when the LEC returns with their first-ever Winter Split in January 2023.