The washing machine of Sweden’s CS:GO talent has created as confusing a timeline of roster addition as it has failed to yield a meaningfully consistent top Swedish side. That’s not to say there’s been a lack of big results, or reasons to be hopeful for the region. Sewn into the fabric of uncertainty outside the top five in 2018, both Fnatic and NiP have had their share of upsets and close maps. But they’ve been a far cry from ever actually breaching this elite barrier.
Recently, the rinse and spin of the wash cycle has seen twist and Brollan pulled up from Red Reserve (formerly GODSENT) with draken being grounded back with his old teammates and flusha sent abroad. All these moves happened individually over the course of a month, but as a general overview it can be seen as: +Brollan +twist -draken -flusha.
Draken, despite being the best Swedish AWPer of 2018 did not have the specific skill set to fix Fnatic’s issues. It felt as though he was joining a ship already halfway capsized though, given the inherent problems that had arisen between the JW/KrimZ/flusha core as JW outlined:
“Yeah, we've obviously been having some issues within the team, and we've tried to fix the puzzle with player changes, but the problem was within the main core. flusha wasn't happy with how he played, and how we played, so he just needed a change in life, I think. It's pretty hard and complicated to explain[...]
I think the biggest thing that will get us [to the top] will be to have really good individuals, but also a really good chemistry and team spirit. We haven't had that for a long time now, and you can't just shove your issues under the rug and try to hide them or blame problems on someone else. We need to become a team together because that's what we have been lacking the most for the past couple of years. We haven't been a team, we've just been individuals on a team.”
So while Draken is an excellent player, and will likely post insane numbers on Red Reserve moving forwards, he unfortunately joined at a rough transitionary time. This period was likely only going to be resolved with drastic roster moves which draken himself ended up becoming apart of. Because of this though, Brollan and twist are joining a Fnatic now more-or-less fresh and hopeful from the changes. The core isn’t battling with its own systemic problems because it doesn’t exist anymore. In-spite of JW and KrimZ being very familiar faces in the Fnatic jersey, this is a very new-look side.
There is a different ‘feel’ to Fnatic and its veterans. This is in most part due to the actual in-game changes the moves will bring, but also the dissolution of the three-man core which has scapegoated many of their problems thus-far. With these on-paper dynamics in mind, Fnatic should reasonably be situated amongst the top eight teams in the world.
The most prominent addition to Fnatic’s game by bringing in twist and Brollan is that of their AWP situation. JW has forever been an entity trapped between Fnatic’s simultaneous need for an aggressive rifler and AWPer. In their line-up featuring lekr0, golden, KrimZ and flusha, this problem caused noticeable stress on Fnatic’s game. Lekr0, Golden and flusha all are players more passively inclined. Lekr0 was forced to entry more than he had on the GODSENT roster, while also remaining the site anchor on CT-side. KrimZ, likewise, was forced to be more active on T-side, in-lieu of JW being able to hand-off AWPing responsibilities. This may be in-part why he was able to leverage such high numbers in this roster.
JW himself outlined this dynamic in an interview:
“I'm the kind of guy that would probably rather be the main AWPer if I could pick and choose. But the thing is, in our previous roster with Golden and Lekr0 it felt like when I played the AWP, we didn’t have anyone taking map control, someone that played really aggressively. Then when I played aggressively and took map control, we didn’t have an AWPer. When we decided to make changes and sign new players, we realized that we could not get anyone else other an AWPer at that point. Everyone including myself thought that the best thing to do was to move me to a hybrid role and let someone else do the AWPing because everyone is confident that I can do both.”
Draken definitely alleviated some of these woes. Firmly apart of the loose, free-wheeling Swedish AWPing kin, he was able to easily carry the responsibilities of JW when he replaced lekr0. But this obviously hinges on draken having an AWP in the first place. As Liquid, Na`Vi, Astralis, NiP, and North have show, there is great freedom in having hybrid flexibility on your AWPer. Draken was not this type of player. Twist is.
Twist carries the same brand of AWPing as draken at a slightly diluted level. He’ll still feel comfortable in a looser system, looking for aggressive plays. But he mightn’t hit as many crazy highlight reel shots. In place of that though, Fnatic acquire an excellent rifler, and one that’s also well-rounded with utility usage. Twist is as much a hybrid player as any in the world, playing with the rifle and/or AWP on many different rosters in his time. In his time on Red Reserve, despite being the star player of the team, he still posted the highest number of flashbangs thrown in a round - and by a lot. This was on top of having one of the higher entry attempt percentages and overall rating as well.
On-paper, in replacing Twist for draken, Fnatic are essentially bringing on a more supportive, less experienced JW clone while retaining JW. The two can easily share AWPing responsibilities based on the map or situation while also presenting formidable double AWP setups as well. JW can feel comfortable in having a well-rounded rifler capable of taking map control at his side as a T as also - something he hasn’t had since the heyday of GODSENT Lekr0.
On top of this very important dynamic, Fnatic also have made the noticeable investment into 16 year-old brooding star, Brollan. On Red Reserve, Brollan had the highest entry attempt percentage and rating as well. He would often trade off of freddieb on T-side, and lead aggressive, looser CT-sides with excellent movement. On Fnatic he has the benefit of former teammate twist as a peer to help guide his transition amongst such legends of the title. In the twist/JW dynamic alone, Fnatic have already found a huge upgrade. With Brollan, they potentially have a long-term thermonuclear device to launch at the top five. Brollan shouldn’t interrupt the space of KrimZ on either side of the map based on their roles, and will likely just fit into spots left-over from lekr0.
With this in mind, Fnatic have managed to keep the on-paper strengths of their core in this move as well. There’s nothing to suggest KrimZ and his proven top five rifling impact will be displaced by either addition. The comfortable calling structure of Xizt isn’t totally contrasting to the styles Brollan and twist played under in Red Reserve. They may have less micro-managed guidance and clear direction to get aggressive as they had with hampus, but the opportunity to do as much won’t be locked away by Xizt.
It has been a long time since it’s been reasonable to get truly excited about a Swedish roster move from the perspective of Fnatic. From Olofmeister, to dennis, to REZ, to Lekr0 each departure from Fnatic has gone onto a roster that’s succeeded far more than the mothership. The arrivals, in Xizt, Golden, draken, and ScreaM, by contrast, have rarely inspired the same amount of hope. Brollan and twist on the other hand bring solutions for Fnatic’s woes at the right time to do so.
Unlike draken who joined a sinking ship, both Red Reserve members are finding themselves as part of the hopeful resurged mentality of a long-stagnated line-up. The dynamic between twist and JW should dramatically spice up their T-side’s and add a double edged sharpness to double AWPs on CT-side. Both Brollan and Twist don’t dramatically displace any of the already fleshed-out structures on-board Fnatic either meaning we won’t see KrimZ sacrificed for their success.
Overall, it seems reasonable to expect them to rise back and become a consistent top eight entity. Depending on how well Brollan is able to realise his potential alongside KrimZ, the on-paper framework is there for Fnatic to rise a lot higher. Personally, I think this will be the roster that could blitz the end of 2018 and take a lot of people by surprise. Never count out the Swedes.