Following a triumphant end to 2014, aside from the now infamous incident at DreamHack Winter, it was a safe bet to assume that the all-star swedish Fnatic side would continue performing throughout 2015. The start of the year did turn out to be a struggle for the swedes, however, as a fourth place finish at MLG X Games Aspen saw 2015 start out in a disappointing fashion for the team, as their early exit was paved with losses to rivals NiP Gaming, as well as Team Dignitas (Astralis).
Team of 2015: FnaticRobin "flusha" Rönnquist
Jesper "JW" Wecksell
Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer
Freddy "krimz" Johansson
Markus "pronax" Wallsten (until 2015-11-12)
Dennis "dennis" Edman (from 2015-11-12)
Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg (coach until 2015-06-05)
Viktor "vuggo" Jendeby (coach from 2015-06-05)
After their dramatic loss in Aspen, Fnatic wasted no time as they travelled to Denver and conquered ClutchCon. This seemed to be what the team needed to get back into gear, as they managed to win five additional tournaments in 2015's first quarter, including the first Valve major of the year, ESL One Katowice. At said event, Fnatic were put through an insanely hard bracket stage, where they defeated hometown favorites Virtus.pro in the semis and eventually NiP Gaming in a nailbitingly exciting grand final. The core of the team, then consisting of Markus "pronax" Wallsten, Jesper "JW" Wecksell and Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, also became historic as they became the first players to become two-time major champions.
Silver after silverShortly after their triumph at the major, Fnatic's air of invincibility disappeared, as they dropped several finals in a row. Notable examples include the ESEA Season 18 finals, where Virtus.pro emerged as champions, as well as the PGL Kick-off season which saw TSM defeat the swedes in dramatic fashion. The danes soon became Fnatic's Achilles' heel, and dispatched of the swedish team at the FaceIt Season 1 finals and the Fragbite Masters Season 4 grand finals. Despite the rise of TSM, the swedes eventually regained their footing as they won both DreamHack Summer and the inaugural season of the ESL ESEA Pro League in rapid succession.
Hard times leading into the second majorTwo victories were seemingly not enough to get Fnatic going properly, however, as they suffered heavy losses leading up to the second major of the year. This included losses to a peak performing Cloud9 at the FaceIt League Stage 2 semi-finals. Fnatic also only managed to grab a second place finish at the Game Show CS:GO League, once again falling prey to Team SoloMid. Whilst doubts towards Fnatic certainly were present, they were still considered favorites in any tournament they entered.
So when ESL One Cologne, the second Valve major of the year, took place in LANXESS Arena, the shaky results were still not enough for anyone to truly count Fnatic out amongst the list of favorites, which included Fnatic rivals TSM and the newly assembled EnVyUs. In the end Fnatic won their group, defeated Luminosity in the quarter finals, a performance they followed up by once again dispatching Virtus.pro in the semi-finals. A 2-0 victory over EnVyUs secured the swedish team's second major title of the year, and Fnatic once again made history by becoming the first team to ever win back-to-back majors.
Hard choices for hard timesTheir victory in Cologne was followed by a series of minor victories, but at the time of the first big tournament since the major was set to start in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the swedes once again lost their footing. They left the tournament after dropping out to eventual winners Virtus.pro, and a mere two weeks later Fnatic dropped the Gfinity Champion of Champions in second place. The teams attending said tournament consisted of all four major champions in CS:GO history, and also became the last time the five players would share the stage in a grand final together.
With said baggage leading up to the third and final major of the year; DreamHack Cluj-Napoca, Fnatic quickly encountered hard times in Romania. Fnatic only managed to exit their group in second place, following a dramatic upset by the brazilians in Luminosity Gaming, meaning that they would be facing EnVyUs in the tournament's quarter final. Despite their encounter going the whole nine yards, the final map saw the swedes get torn to shreds after a 16-2 blowout by the frenchmen.
This historic dip in performance called for drastic action, and in the end Markus "pronax" Wallsten willfully left the team after exactly two years of loyal service. His replacement came in the shape of Dennis "dennis" Edman, who rose to prominence together with Team Kinguin/G2 Esports (FaZe Clan) during the summer.
Fnatic made their first roster move in a year when dennis (left) replaced pronax (right) on the team.
All's well that ends wellGiven the loss of their praised in game-leader Wallsten, concerned voices were raised in regards to how well this new roster would perform on the international stage. In his stead, Robin "flusha" Rönnquist would be making any strategic calls along with their coach Viktor "vuggo" Jendeby. As it turns out, this story ended up having a happy ending.
The Faceit League Stage 3 finals, which took place at DreamHack Winter, became the new quintet's offline debut, as well as their first trophy. The following week the team showed that the victory in Jönköping wasn't a fluke, as they won Fragbite Masters Season 5. If this was not enough to silence any doubters, the team travelled to Los Angeles and won the second season of the ESL ESEA Pro League, the final international tournament of the year. With their three titles in as many weeks following such a dramatic change in their line-up, one can only consider dennis' recruitment as one of the best in history.
The jury's voteWhilst the description of Fnatic's 2015 showcases why they are the team of the year, we would like to add an extra level of transparency and explain how the Fragbite CS:GO Awards jury actually voted. This was the biggest landslide vote of the entire awards, as all members of the jury voted for Fnatic. On top of this an additional 90% of our readers, both swedish and international, voted for the swedish team.
Original article written by André "rich" Åkerblom