Harsha's Hot Topic: We can no longer deny Fnatic
Photo courtesy of ELEAGUE and FACEIT.
Fnatic is not traditionally the team you would associate with the top of North America—that would fall to EnVyUs and Cloud9, most likely, with "Seagull's team" receiving a mention as well. While people who keep up with the scene know that Fnatic is certainly a good team, many who do not pay as much attention to the scene tend to forget about them. I don't think Fnatic is just a good team, though; I think that they are the second best team in North America.
To preface, EnVy are clearly the strongest team in North America, and potentially the world. ELEAGUE and FACEIT's Overwatch Open remains their final test, but should they win, there is no reason not to give the title of best in the world to EnVy. Cloud9 (our current 2nd ranked NA team) has steadily declined since the closed beta, on the other hand.
While C9 emerged as the "kings of beta" they took a break from competition for about a month, and metagame changes combined with the formation and relocation of Team EnVyUs lead to a sharp drop in performance. While Cloud9 is clearly a good team, they no longer look like the beasts they once were, and their LAN performances have not been particularly inspiring. At gamescom, they lost to the eventual tournament winners—Rogue—and their kryptonite team in compLexity, but the manner in which they lost was the most worrying part. Against compLexity in the deciding match, Cloud9 stumbled and were not even able to manage a single checkpoint on Dorado. Their performance at ELEAGUE's Overwatch Open was fair, but losing to Method after a month of practice does not give me any confidence, regardless of how close the match was.
Enter Fnatic, the team that quietly managed a top 4 spot at gamescom and a regional finalist position at the Overwatch Open. If you check their recent performances, the only real knock to Fnatic is their loss to Cloud9—a 2-3 reverse sweep that occurred near the formation of the roster. Fnatic has been one of the best teams in the world in recent times, and though they are not always mentioned in the same breath as Cloud9 and EnVyUs in terms of reputation, they certainly deserve that position. For these reasons, Fnatic will continue to improve, and prove themselves as one of the best teams in the world:
1) iddqd is one of the best players in the world
Time and time again, iddqd has shown moments of insanity, where he looks flat-out unstoppable. His McCree is second to none, and his Tracer always provides a good showing. In the Overwatch Open, Fnatic opted to often put iddqd on Mei, a far more supportive character, and he still proved his mettle by filling the role incredibly well. Though I would argue that Seagull and Nevix had the most impressive Mei in the tournament, I think iddqd was able to keep up, and played her incredibly well on payload maps.
As long as McCree continues to be relevant, teams will have to be exceptionally fearful of iddqd. That's not to say that iddqd is only good on McCree—rather, if you appear in iddqd's line of sight, you can expect the crosshairs of his revolver to be centered on your head.
2) buds has improved so much that the team can play around him
While HuK has received a bit of flak over the past few days, one comment he made is undeniable: buds is certainly one of the best Reaper players in the world. He was a good Genji player during the previous meta, but has really found his home on this other hero. Lately, Fnatic has showed that they are willing to build their whole team around buds, despite having a superstar like iddqd as well. With iddqd on Mei to provide zone control, Fnatic set Custa on Ana to provide a continuous stream of Nano Boosts, allowing buds to create a highlight reel fresh out of the Overwatch Open.
While the metagame will certainly change in the future, buds's continuous adaptations to whichever hero is currently strong makes me hopeful for his place in the team. He will likely continue to improve along with the team as he has done so far, and as long as he can cover the projectile DPS role for his team with confidence, we'll see buds continue to make highlight reels.
3) The supporting cast is extremely solid
Stoop, custa, Vonethil, and coolmatt69 are all incredibly solid players with months and months of experience. While they might not receive the brunt of the praise—that goes to their world class DPS players, iddqd and buds—they've set the team up for success time and time again. Vonethil in particular has really come into his own as the team's in-game leader, as Fnatic's strategy and playstyle have been rather good. While it's hard to stand out on Lucio, the amount of speed the hero provides makes him a perfect fit for Vonethil, who can see as much of the battlefield as possible without missing out on much, due to the healing aura.
Stoop's reliability and coolmatt's versatility are not to be understated. The two play the meta tanks very well, and it's rare to see Stoop make a mistake outside of the rare spurt of over-aggression. coolmatt has shown his ability to play Reaper, Roadhog, Zarya, and whatever other hero a flex could desire, which frees up Fnatic to pull out whatever combination of heroes that they'd like. Finally, custa has shown his ability to play whatever support is necessary for the composition. His Zenyatta was top tier, and his Ana in the current metagame has been very good, evidenced by his constant rate of Nano Boosts for buds.
ZP said it best on broadcast: When you look at Fnatic's roster, you won't find a real weakness.
Photo courtesy of ELEAGUE and FACEIT.
4) This isn't even their final form
At this current point in time, iddqd and Vonethil live in their home country of Sweden. While they can practice on the European competitive ladder, they're stuck with around 170 ping every time they want to play a scrim against North American teams (likely most of their scrims). These training weights will likely disappear in a short amount of time, should they move to a team house in North America (as announced). With a dedicated, experienced supporting staff in their coach and manager, Fnatic will likely improve even more when they make the move.
While nobody can accurately rate teams across the world against each other at this current point in time, given the relatively inconsistent bracket formats, I am willing to bet that Fnatic would match up well against the top European teams of REUNITED, Rogue, Misfits, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Dignitas, and so on. We have already seen Fnatic take down Misfits—twice—at gamescom, but in order to accurately find Fnatic's place in the world's pecking order, matches against the current LAN kings, Rogue, and the rest of the top teams in Europe will have to occur. Hopefully we will have some good future LAN competition to truly test the roster's limits.
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