It's a matchup nobody expected right up until it became a reality: two exciting young sides are going up against one another for one of the most prestigious trophies on the calendar. It's mousesports versus Fnatic in a best-of-five barnburner in Odense after they've collectively knocked out Astralis, Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses and Na'Vi as they made it through all the way from the quarter-finals.
Here's what we wrote about these two teams going into the playoffs stage of the event:
Fnatic deserves massive credit for unexpectedly elbowing themselves into the top four conversation. Lingering in limbo for what seemed like an eternity, their first “Golden era” at Katowice 2018 was cut short by internal politics. Just like the arrival of stanislaw, the return of two ex-players didn’t inspire confidence at first. It seemed a distinctly NiP-esque move, banking on goodwill and nostalgia instead of looking into the future and making hard choices.
Turns out, admitting you were wrong in the first place is one of the hardest choices out there.
Fnatic have been revelatory since Golden’s return, both on an individual and on a team level. Formless like water, loose yet not completely without shape, this roster packs enough punch to go up against the best of the CS:GO scene. It feels like there’s always someone ready to frag out or do something crazy, but they’re not quite as reliant on individual heroics as the Xizt-led iteration was. It’s a playstyle which separates them from the other top sides and feels like a worthy sequel to the old Fnatic showreels. Strong T sides coupled with leaky CT showings symbolize their approach so far. If you’re an optimist, you can point at this as a straightforward way to improve. You can also treat it as a glaring deficiency which will ultimately limit this side. Only time will tell the answer to that – and whether the internal dynamics have truly improved since the last time these players were together.
Also, an underappreciated aspect of their recent successes is the growth of Golden’s fragging potential: though his numbers are still in the red, his rating is on an upward trend and he’s much more capable of getting impact kills in big matches as he was in the past. He won 11 out of 16 clutches since his return to the Fnatic lineup, a decent chunk of which came against top-tier sides. Not bad for someone who was originally deemed surplus to requirements once he was shoehorned into the entry fragger role.
Though karrigan’s men deserve credit for their flawless run through the European groups – beating FaZe, BIG and OpTic with just a single map dropped to secure their spot at the first time of asking – and their remarkable comeback to win CS:GO Asia Championships 2019, they had by far the easiest run on the way to the playoffs here. Two wins over ATK and a 2-1 triumph over Renegades was enough to reach the quarterfinals, and you could easily argue that their close upper bracket loss against Liquid was their most impressive performance so far at the event. Of course, it wasn’t the first time they had a close defeat to the North Americans: cast your mind back to the major where two overtime heartbreaks confirmed their elimination in the final Swiss round.
That was their last meeting to date, and it’s been a rollercoaster of showings since, with oft-repeated discussions about the ceiling and the inconsistencies of this young side. To win the event, they’d have to carve a path through EG and Astralis, not to mention their eventual opponent in the grand final. It’s a tough ask, even if you give a lot of weight to their impressive demolition of tarik and co. at their very last event. The rematch today will be a telling and fascinating encounter in more ways than one: at StarSeries & i-League Season 8, stanislaw’s men showed great resilience and adaptability in their direct rematch against Fnatic, beating them in the grand final in straightforward fashion after a closer game in the upper bracket, with a 16-9 score on the same map they’ve lost 16-2 in the previous series against the Swedes. It means that the Overpass-Nuke one-two sucker punch mouz pulled in the veto is unlikely to work so well this time around. Whether they can adapt on the fly to new challenges will be key to their potential success.
You can read the rest of our analysis here.