With The International 2019 fast approaching, it is time to take a look at our SEA representatives and highlight the journey they’ve undergone over the past 12 months to give themselves a shot at grabbing the bulk of the largest prizepool in esports history.
And what better way to begin than take a look at the most successful SEA team in the DPC table, Fnatic.
Amassing a whopping 2880 points over the course of the DPC season, Fnatic has definitely proven themselves to be a worthy contender. The team consists of some of the most talented players from across the SEA region, all coming from long, yet different, roads in the Dota world to unite as one. While their initial dominance has worn off as of late, they have the chance of being a formidable team at TI9 if they can maintain their focus.
Here's a run-through of Fnatic's DPC season and what comes next for the team.
After a disappointing performance at TI8 for the SEA region, iceiceice and Jabz decided to change alliances from Mineski and joined forces with Abed and DJ at Fnatic. MP was added as the final piece to the puzzle as Fnatic went on to form one of the strongest SEA lineups we’ve ever seen, on paper.
Fnatic debuted their new lineup in their own backyard at the PVP Esports Championship where they secured a 2nd place finish after going toe-to-toe against Team Secret, who were widely touted as one of the best teams in the world.
They used this momentum to ease past the Kuala Lumpur Major - SEA Qualifier in the first place and were all set to take on the best teams in the world at their home turf.
They kicked off the Group Stages relatively well, securing an upper bracket berth after quite a decent performance, only dropping a match to TI8 - runner ups PSG.LGD. Their 2nd place finish at the Group Stages meant that they had to go up against Virtus.Pro in their first game of the playoffs.
Unsurprisingly, Virtus.Pro 2-0d them knocking them down to the Lower Brackets. Fnatic would only secure, one more victory here (against J.Storm), before being eliminated by Evil Geniuses securing an 8th place finish and 450 DPC points.
With controversy brewing at TNC Predator, Fnatic were touted as the last SEA hope for this event.
At the Chongqing Major, Fnatic followed a similar trajectory to their run at Kuala Lumpur. They qualified from the SEA region with ease and had a better Group Stage performance, beating out EG to finish in 1st place. They were knocked down to the Lower Brackets in the first round of the playoffs, once again.
However, this time they’d manage to win two Lower Bracket matches (against J.Storm and Team Liquid) before being eliminated by PSG.LGD. They secured 900 DPC points from this tournament.
Once again, Fnatic secured the top spot at the SEA Qualifiers for The Stockholm Major overwhelming the rest of the region. They were truly a class apart.
Fnatic had a shaky start to the Group Stages this time around, only barely making it to the Upper Brackets by the skin of their teeth. However, they transformed into a completely different team in the playoffs. They knocked down Virtus.Pro 2-0 in the first round of the Upper Brackets before they 2-0d Keen Gaming as well.
They were inches away from beating Vici Gaming and making it to the Grand Finals before they were knocked down to the Lower Bracket finals after a 1-2 loss. Virtus.Pro would have the last laugh in this tournament after they knocked out Fnatic 2-1 in the lower bracket finals.
After their impressive performance, many lauded Fnatic as the team to look out for in the upcoming majors and expected them to improve upon their performances. However, this 3rd place finish would end up being the peak of Fnatic’s DPC season.
Fnatic dominated the SEA Qualifiers once again, and qualified to the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, only dropping a single game in the process.
However, their performance at the Major was dire. Fnatic lost every single series at Disneyland, only managing to win a solitary game against compLexity Gaming before being eliminated from the tournament in the very first round of the lower brackets.
The team crumbled, unable to adapt to the new meta, which forced them to make quick and often poor decisions. The team’s inability to make plays around the map when Abed and iceiceice were pressured was exposed at this Major.
However, there was one silver lining to take from this event. Fnatic became the first SEA team to qualify for TI9 after the tournament came to a close.
TNC Predator took full advantage of Fnatic’s struggles, pipping them to 2nd place in the SEA Qualifiers. However, Fnatic still seemed like quite a formidable team. After all, TNC Predator were becoming one of the strongest teams out there under the tutelage of Heen. We still expected them to perform well at the LAN event.
But, the Epicenter Major 2019 proved to be a disaster for Fnatic. They only managed to pick up one victory (over paiN Gaming) at the Group Stages before being unceremoniously eliminated by Forward Gaming.
The team looked lost tactically and their individual brilliance failed to provide a spark to resuscitate them at the Epicenter Major.
Things needed to change. Many expected Fnatic to go after an international coach to revive their hopes for TI9. However, Fnatic chose a different route.
In a move, widely criticized by the Dota 2 community, Fnatic decided to bench MP just before The International 9: SEA Qualifiers rolled out. They announced that Jabz would be playing in the carry role and that Fnatic’s coach, DuBu would move into the active playing roster, taking over Jabz’ previous support role.
Fnatic TI 2019 Roster:— FNATIC (@FNATIC) June 28, 2019
#5: @DubuDota@MentalProtector will be leaving the active playing roster. DuBu moves from a coaching role to support and Jabz returns to a core role.
READ MORE https://t.co/ZcsWZAz5ah pic.twitter.com/bRmRilL5UE
Fnatic hasn’t played a single official match since making these changes making it difficult to gauge the strength of their lineup after this roster change.
Coming into TI9, Fnatic is in no way at the top of their game. They have been figured out by quite a few teams, and so far in the 7.22 patch they are sitting at a 33.33% winrate after 9 games. They head into TI9 as an unfancied team.
However, they still do possess the individual brilliance that saw them rise to the pinnacle of Dota 2 at the Stockholm Major. If they manage to get their tactics and drafting right, they will pose a formidable challenge to any team they go up against, at TI9.