Mineski had its record run come to a close on Thursday as they were beaten 2-0 by a roaring Fnatic squad who became the first team to conquer the defending league champions in a playoff game/series since their roster shuffle and in the process knock them out of the ESL One: Hamburg SEA Qualifiers.
Fnatic has since then been eliminated from the tournament after a closely contested 2-1 loss at the hands of Clutch Gamers.
When the Post TI7 season began, Mineski had quite a good start. They qualified for the for the World Cyber Arena 2017 with relative ease, besting teams like Clutch Gamers and Execration thanks to their new acquisitions iceiceice, NaNa and Jabz joining Mushi and ninjaboogie who had all failed to qualify for TI7.
But it really wasn’t anything shocking considering that the Stronger SEA teams like TNC Pro Team and Fnatic were busy with their Pre-TI7 preparations. So the playing field was relatively weak.
Fast forward a couple of months, the team stood tall amidst the chaos that is the SEA scene with a 22-1 win-loss record not dropping a single playoff series/game and had qualified for 3 different premier tournaments in a row.
Mineski were functioning like a ruthless, winning machine. They started their winning streak back in July as soon as the TI7 SEA qualifiers ended. iceiceice and Jabz joined Mineski after they were both shockingly eliminated in the group stages of the TI7 SEA qualifiers. Soon after, NaNa was recruited from WG.Unity to complete the roster.
They swept Clutch Gamers, Execration and Rex Regum QEON to qualify for WCA 2017.
Then they entered the first ever Valve Minor, SL i-League Invitational Season 3, as Darkhorses. They quickly became the favorites after crushing Clutch Gamers, BOOM ID and Execration in straight 2-0 sweeps on their way to the Grand Finals where they faced SEA’s best team at TI7, TNC Pro Team.
There they made TNC Pro Team look like an amateur PUB-Stack, their plays were immaculate and iceiceice showed us exactly why he is one of the most feared offlaners in the world when he systematically first with an unorthodox offlane Visage and then with his signature Nyx Assassin. He had a KDA of 6.0 by the end of the series which was quite absurd considering how aggressive he had been playing.
Their win-streak at 14-0 was ended by Fnatic in the group stages of the PGL Open: Bucharest SEA qualifiers. They lost to EternalEnvy’s Terrorblade in one of the best games of the Post-TI7 season. They quickly bounced back and demolished their way into the Finals after 2-0 ing off WG.Unity in the Semi-Finals.
There they would face Execration in yet another one-sided Grand Finals which ended 2-0 in favor of Mineski.
Mineski had won 18 playoff games in a row. No other SEA team has ever achieved this feat, not even Faceless or the TI3 Orange Esports. Only Newbee with 29 Games in a row and Navi with 24 Games in a row have better records.
Mineski had become the top dogs of the SEA scene. They had outskilled and outdrafted all of their opponents. Flawless was literally the only way to describe them.
ninjaboogie on the hard-support has been the backbone of this Mineski team. The longest-serving Mineski member has become one of the most stable supports in the world. His positioning and the uncanny ability to be almost anywhere, instantly, whenever his team needs him is certainly one of his best traits.
Jabz has been a revelation on the 4-Position. While his Mid lane play was quite ordinary, his support play has been nothing but spectacular, especially on his Earth Spirit. His consistency in hitting 2/3 man Boulder smashes is next to none. He also plays an excellent Naga Siren, Rubick and Kunkka making plays all around the map.
There is really nothing to say about iceiceice that hasn’t been said already. The man is easily the best offlaner in the world on his day and is certainly one of the most versatile. Be it farm-centric offlaners like the Timbersaw or space creators like the Nyx Assassin or the unusual ones like Winter Wyvern, iceiceice excels on all of them. He is the superstar of this team.
NaNa is the SumaiL of SEA. He is one of those really aggressive mid players who are not afraid to make high-risk, high-reward plays to solo kill an enemy mid. He is also one of the most mechanically-sound players in the scene, many forget that he was a major part of one of the only 2 teams to take a Game off OG in the Boston Major where OG was at the height of their powers.
Mushi is back. Last season was brutal for him. His reputation amongst fans took a hit after 'True Sight'. Add to that, several disastrous roster changes and abysmal performances throughout the year, many thought that Mushi was done for. But as always, he has bounced back. He built this Mineski squad, bringing together the best of SEA. He for his part has been solid, taking full advantage of the space iceiceice, Jabz and NaNa create with their aggression and almost always finishes the game as the hero with the highest net worth.
Mineski truly looked like a genuine team with the ability to go toe to toe against the best of Europe and NA. We expected them to dispatch Fnatic in the ESL One Hamburg qualifiers after they extended their streak to 20-0 in playoff games after beating Team Alpha Red 2-0 in their first game of the tournament.
On the contrast, Fnatic looked like they had put together yet another all-star team. Xcalibur, EternalEnvy, and PLD took a page out of the 1437 playbook and moved to the SEA scene. They joined forces with the best of TI7 Fnatic; Ohaiyo and DJ. Many including ourselves thought that they would be the favorites for any SEA tournament they entered alongside TNC Pro Team.
But they fell flat on their faces, Fnatic would flop spectacularly in the SL i-League Invitational Season 3 SEA Qualifiers, bowing out in the very first round after two straight losses to WG.Unity and Fire Dragoon. They looked uncoordinated and frankly unimpressive in their short run.
In the PGL Open: Bucharest SEA Qualifiers, Fnatic would somehow land the only blemish in Mineski’s near flawless record but a surprising loss to Happy Feet would cost them their chance at the playoffs as they were unceremoniously eliminated thanks to a time-ruling.
Fnatic had become a very weak team in hindsight, contrary to the high expectations that we had when they first announced this roster. All of their players were out of sync with each other and did not play to their potential.
EternalEnvy, in particular, looked like he just couldn’t adapt to the SEA servers. He was erratic in his movements and as a result was getting caught out of position in so many of their games.
Perhaps his adventures in the SEA pubs played a part in this.
PieLieDie, DJ and the rest of the Fnatic crew too looked like a shell of their former selves in the games we’ve seen them play. So when they were set to play Mineski in the ESL One: Hamburg SEA qualifiers we were more or less expecting a stomp in the favor of Mineski.
Mineski started off the game pretty well with Mushi dominating his lane on the Clinkz offsetting the repeated deaths of iceiceice on Nature’s Prophet. They built up a steady net-worth advantage on their Clinkz which was crucial for Mushi to get a lane of barracks within 27 minutes while the rest of his teammates distracted the Fnatic squad who were doing Roshan.
But Fnatic playing an unconventional Visage, Venomancer core didn’t give up (Contrary to EE’s adventures in SEA ranked pubs). They fought back and steadily reduced Mineski’s networth lead. Around the 43-minute mark, Mineski assaulted Fnatic's base, finishing off both top and middle Barracks, but were team-wiped in the retreat.
This cost them heavily as Fnatic took full advantage and went straight for the Tier 4s ignoring the potential to get mega creeps forcing diebacks and closing out the game.
Fnatic was now even more ruthless with momentum on their side. Their early-midgame lineup managed to gain enough of a networth lead to force Mineski to fight early, something they couldn't do efficiently. Mineski with a Spectre as their main damage dealer just couldn’t deal with Fnatic.
Mushi on the Spectre to his credit did pickup early fighting items like Drums and Diffusal Blade before finishing off his radiance to fight as early as possible, but the Fnatic cores were too big, too soon for him. He could only watch as Fnatic took all three barracks without any casualties around the 32-minute mark.
Mineski were forced to call GG as a result.
Fnatic would have been looking for a signature win to reassure the fans and themselves coming into this week, and they may have found it. While EternalEnvy’s carry style is still a question mark, and Ohaiyo's offlane is still an issue. But when Fnatic fight as a team, they're hard to stop.
Mineski will be disappointed in the loss, but there's no reason to despair. They are still by far the best team in the SEA scene. Even in this series, they continued to experiment with picks like the offlane Winter Wyvern and a Clinkz Lineup. This is a team with more on their mind.