Fnatic shocked the Counter-Strike world Aug. 15 when the roster decided to split up. The decision came after a disappointing loss in the ELEAGUE Season 1 finals and amid tensions brewing between the players in Fnatic, specifically between two groups of players. In one camp was olofmeister and dennis; in the other was JW and flusha. Here’s how it all turned out.
Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer
Dennis “dennis” Edman
Simon “twist” Eliasson
John “Wenton” Eriksson
Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson
Freddy “KRiMZ” Johansson
Jesper “JW” Wecksell
Robin “flusha” Rönnquist
Markus “pronax” Wallsten
Andreas “znajder” Lindberg
When the rosters were announced, it seemed Godsent had won the shuffle. And why not? Four out of the five players had been part of the greatest CS:GO lineup of all time. The only mitigating circumstances were that KRiMZ and JW had shown recent poor performances. KRiMZ’s dropoff seemed momentary. JW had internal conflicts with the rest of Fnatic so he couldn’t play the way he thought he should. Now under a new team with their old leader, everyone expected the pieces to fall into place and for this team to succeed. At least in the short term.
That potential never panned out. On their first day together, they played against Virtus.Pro in an online match to decide who was going to get the seed into the next ESL Pro League. Virtus.Pro is a great team and was at the moment perhaps the best in the world, but its online form is infamously bad. Still, Godsent lost 2-0. We wrote that off as Virtus.Pro had just won ELEAGUE and Godsent had just formed, but that was the start of a disastrous fall that seemed to have no stop.
Godsent then went to their first LAN at Starladder i-League Season 2. In the group stage with Ninjas in Pyjamas, HellRaisers and Dignitas, Godsent beat Dignitas 16-3 before losing to NiP in the winners match and being eliminated 2-0 by Dignitas in the rematch. At the same tournament, they had to play an online series against ALTERNATE aTTax to qualify for ELEAGUE. They lost 1-2.
Surely, Godsent could not fall any lower than that. Again, we were wrong. Godsent went to the Gfinity CS:GO Invitational and played in a four-team bracket. Its first round opponent was mousesports, which is notable because mousesports has always been a team on the outer fringes of the top 10 and at the time had massive internal issues with their new player Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný.Oskar was removed from the lineup after the tournament as the internal problems were too great to reconcile. And yet, Godsent lost to mousesports.
Godsent’s problems became clearer. The players had assumed the old Fnatic system they had used in the past was all they needed to do, but it was missing the multiple key elements. First, olofmeister wasn’t around in the prime of his powers, so they lacked the raw aggression, versatility and firepower he contributed. Next, JW was unable to rebuild his form to that of early Fnatic team when he was the star. For that matter, KRiMZ had hit one of the worst levels of his career and never seemed to be able to recover. Flusha was still a great player, but he wasn’t on the level of someone like Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, who could single-handedly carry a lesser team against the best in the world. Pronax was having an abysmal performance as leader and player. Znajder was a system player, but in a system where everything isn’t working, there wasn’t much he could do.
The Godsent lineup needed three things: multiple players to rise, a completely new system and aggression. If this lineup had stuck together, I’m not sure what would have happened. Luckily for them, it didn’t.
In Ootober, KRiMZ activated his backup plan. He was the only player on the team who had no beef with anyone. In addition, the “Legends” spot for the upcoming ELEAGUE Major spot goes to the team with three out of the five players, which meant he was the swing vote. He could always choose between Godsent or Fnatic, as the Major seed was too enticing. Having lost patience or faith in the new Godsent roster, KRiMZ switched back to Fnatic.
With that, Godsent was forced back into the qualifying system; Fnatic took the Major spot and the two teams traded players. Fnatic got KRiMZ and Godsent got Lekr0. This move was bad in the short term for Godsent in losing the guaranteed Major spot, but in the long term, Lekr0 was part of what the team needed: An aggressive rifler with firepower.
Godsent’s fortunes started to turn. At the EU Minor, they had a few close matches against other teams like LDLC, Epsilon and HellRaisers, but were eventually able to scrape by with the win. At DreamHack Winter, Godsent reached the semifinals, beating Flipsid3 and Kinguin before losing to Gambit, which eventually won the entire thing.
As quickly as the outlook began to turn in a positive matter, however, it shifted again. Godsent lost to LDLC and Rogue at ESEA, losing a chance to qualify for a LAN and its chance to get into the next ESL Pro League season. JW put it best.
— Jesper Wecksell (@jwCSGO) December 5, 2016
So going into the Major Qualifier, Godsent was at best a dark horse candidate to get out. But this was the hardest Major Qualifier in history. At the end of it all, recent tournament winners like NiP and Cloud9 failed to qualify. But Godsent did and beat nothing but strong opponents to get there. In their first game, they beat G2 on one of their better maps (Overpass) 16-11. In the second round, they played Dignitas on Mirage, one of Dignitas’ better maps, and won 16-11. They then cleared their final hurdle in beating HellRaisers 16-11 on Train.
Four months ago, we believed Godsent was set to take the crown as Sweden’s best team. They failed and failed and failed. Yet there is no learning without failure. There is no victory without hardship. Godsent have lost match after match, but each time they got back up and persevered. All for this one payoff. Godsent has finally arrived. The crucible is over and the Major will be the players’ chance to vindicate their struggles and show they can still compete. They can still be the best.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE