The Swedish side won its first big CS:GO event on home soil after defeating NiP, Astralis and Vitality in the playoffs, with steadily improved performances as the event went on, culminating in a close 2-1 victory in the grand final over the Frenchmen.

The run of their lives

It was the first test for many of the revamped rosters in the CS:GO scene, and it was the GoldeN boy who ended up with all the plaudits as the curtain fell in Malmö. Though it was quite clear from the beginning of the event that those who were involved at ESL New York just a day before were fighting jetlag just as much as their opponents in the server, the ensuing upsets hardly take away anything from Fnatic’s impressive showing in the playoffs, rolling back the years in more ways than one en route to the trophy.

Read more: The impact of coaches in CS:GO, or the hidden story of Fnatic’s Malmö win

It took a flawless run through the lower bracket for the Swedes to make it to the arena after losing 16-7 to ENCE on Mirage in the opening round. It was the same map where they would clinch the title against Vitality five days later. Slow and steady improvement was the name of the game throughout as they dropped a game to TYLOO in the next series before crushing G2 on two maps (16-4 and 16-5), following it up with arguably the most exciting map of the tournament in a marathon against FURIA on Overpass which took them six overtimes to settle, with the Swedes eventually closing it out 34-32 and defeating their deflated opponents in quick fashion on Inferno after that to confirm a spot in the quarterfinals.

Playoff time

Fnatic’s win over NiP in the playoffs marked the fifth time in a row that they’ve defeated their domestic rivals in a best-of-three series at LAN, and most thought this would be the end of their run as they faced Astralis for a spot in the final. The Danes haven’t lost a single map up until that point – winning 2-0 over Vitality in the upper bracket final of Group A –, but JW and co. stunned them on Overpass with a convincing 16-9 victory. The real surprise only came after that as they also managed to beat them on Nuke, though gla1ve’s men managed to beat back four match points to push the map to overtime. It “only” took three attempts this time for the Swedes to win, setting up a date with Vitality in the final.

It was a hard-fought and well-deserved victory for Fnatic who could have easily closed out the match in just two maps, throwing away a 14-12 lead on Dust 2 in the opening map. They almost gave up the whole series on Inferno, unable to close it out in regulation despite a 15-9 lead on the CT side of Inferno. It only took a single overtime to settle this one, and it was a much-improved performance on Mirage which gave them the victory in the end, trailing 6-9 after the first half but completely shutting down Vitality in the gun rounds on the CT side.

Again, it was a somewhat closer finish than expected as ZywOo and co. rallied at the very end, winning two rounds to get back to striking distance, but a spectacular eco round confirmed Fnatic’s first major title win since IEM Katowice 2017 – an event where both GoldeN and flusha were still in the lineup. It turned out to be the happiest of reunions for the Swedes, with strong individual performances from KRIMZ and JW plus some impressive fragging displays by their in-game leader. Meanwhile, Vitality still only had ZywOo with a positive K/D in the grand final, indicating that their top-heavy nature isn’t going to be a quick fix.

Since the conclusion of the event, Fnatic went on to the grand finals of StarSeries i-League Season 8, suggesting signs of a long-term improvement. An underappreciated aspect of their success was the change of coaches, removing Jumpy after around two and a half years of having him behind the quintet on the servers.

Photo: HLTV