Fnatic’s adventure at the last Major ahead of The International 2019 ends abruptly. After an underwhelming group stage where the only victory for the SEA powerhouse team was over the Brazilians from paiN Gaming, they were pitted in the playoffs lower bracket against Forward Gaming (FWD).
While Fnatic have already secured their place at TI9, and perhaps afforded to play in a bit of a more relaxed mode, Forward are in Moscow at EPICENTER aiming at a top 6 finish. “Everything beyond top 6 would be amazing,” said Quinn “CCnC” Callahan in the official interview for EPICENTER ahead of the playoffs matches. The lower bracket started with a brutal best-of-one and Forward Gaming came prepared to outplay Fnatic on all aspects. The draft openers of the NA team were misleading, as Jakiro and Spirit Breaker were the first two picks of FWD.
Trapped to believe that those were Forward’s supports, Fnatic would find only with the fourth pick that Johan “pieliedie” Åström’s hero will, in fact, be Undying. The pick alone forced Fnatic to switch a bit their laning plans as they had a support Tiny and initially an offlane Centaur, but the potential Strength steal from Undying forced Fnatic to send Pyo “MP” No-a in the offlane on Leshrac. Nonetheless, all their three lanes were lost, with the only Fnatic kill coming around the 6th minute.
This marks the second Major in a row when Fnatic is the first eliminated team. Last month they got knocked out from the MDL Disneyland® Paris Major also in the first round of the lower bracket. Keen Gaming were the ones to send them packing back then, and while the Chinese team is now in the upper bracket quarterfinals at EPICENTER, Fnatic are looking at a strong signal that they perhaps have a lot of work to do in the weeks leading to TI9.
headline picture courtesy of EPICENTER