After the first week of the group stage at the League of Legends World Championship, Fnatic’s hope seemed dashed. Its poor looking 0-3 record somehow underrated how poorly the team played across the board. In Episode 10 of Narrative Wake, Wickd postulates that the lack of a captain figure within the team means that it would be even more difficult for Fnatic to pull out of internal issues that the team had. It seemed like Fnatic was done and sOAz wrote a tweet that he’d practice for the next three days to at least get one satisfying win.
In moments like these, one of two things usually happens. On one hand, the team lets the internal issues and egos run rampant. The rest of the team finds a player to blame, they stop working as a unit, and instead try to salvage whatever individual pride they have as players. “It wasn’t my fault that the team went to shit, I could only do so much.” The most public example of this was Team Secret at The International 5, when the entire team broke down and RTZ blamed KuroKy for the loss. Everything gets worse, and the team inevitably splits up. The players have already capitulated before the final games have finished.
The other thing that happens is that the players look around. They see all of this bad shit happening both inside and outside the game. At that point, they make a conscious decision. “We will not let it end like this.” So they keep going. The internal issues aren’t necessarily solved; they are just put away for now. The team could even already be dead and every player knows they’re splitting up after the tournament. But that doesn’t matter because they realize they are competitors and professionals. They put away their individual egos and they realize that right now this is the only moment that counts. The players realize they cannot control how the team plays, how they feel about each other, or how the group plays out. Their fate is out of their hands, but what they can control is their games. They realize all of that extra stuff doesn’t matter, that this game is all there is. They let go of their grudges, their problems, and they focus on the one thing that matters the most at that time: The game. They win that, then they go to the next, and then the next. Eventually five games later, they realize they aren’t dead. They are now in the playoffs.
I don’t know what happens to Fnatic after worlds, but they have shown a strength of poise. They put themselves into a position so that they could have a chance and when that chance showed itself, they took it. Regardless of how bad they were on the first week, in a tournament such as this, all that matters is how you finish. And Fnatic is not done yet.