It is no secret that Fnatic have had a rough time at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, beginning with an announcement that Louis “Bean” Schmitz would be their starting bot laner due to a family emergency for their normal starter, Elias “Upset” Lipp, and continuing with three losses to end their first round-robin 0-3.
Fnatic have been in similar situations before, particularly in 2017 when they started 0-4 but still managed to secure a tiebreaker and escape to the knockout stage. At Worlds 2021, they’re in need of a similar miracle run.
Just before the start of their second round-robin on Day 6 of Worlds 2021, Fnatic head coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi spoke with broadcast interviewer Laure Valée to discuss their precarious position, as well as the team morale from the beginning of the event through their final day of groups.
“I think the most difficult part was everything changed within 12 hours,” YamatoCannon said, referencing the team’s response to the news that Upset would not be joining them. “It was so tricky to know what kind of adjustments we needed to make because we didn’t play with Bean, we didn’t know exactly how this would interact with the dynamic. With time, we’ve had a chance to process it. We’ve had a chance to focus on what we need to focus on. So, coming into this day, we feel so much better.”
YamatoCannon said replacing a key member in the team at the last moment is difficult, but particularly on the international stage can cause some shakeups. Although Bean has done well so far at Worlds 2021, it’s tough to say where Fnatic would be with Upset in the lineup.
“Everything we do throughout the entire year is to learn to rely on one another and to built deeper bonds,” he said. “To remove a player from that aspect has been very difficult to deal with, but with every challenge comes great responsibility and with great challenge comes great experience.”
In a 41-minute Worlds 2021 behind-the-scenes video that was released the night before their second round-robin, Fnatic showed their fans glimpses of their trip to Iceland, including their reaction to the news of the substitution and their responses to each loss they faced in the first three days of groups. The video not only showed off the team’s outings to the volcanos and hot springs of the island nation but also their deeply emotional collapses that came alongside their defeats.
Despite the challenge of a last-minute substitution and 0-3 start, YamatoCannon reassured Valée and Fnatic fans that they were going into their final day of groups with a positive mentality. “I feel good about our preparation; I feel good about the vibe,” he said. “We’re feeling fantastic coming into the day, so I’m excited.”
And in their first game against Royal Never Give Up, the vibes paid off, with a 37-minute win to increase their chances of securing a knockout stage appearance. After the game, Valée spoke with Fnatic mid laner Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer about the series and his perspective of the team morale.
“This Worlds, it’s like, roster change at the end and all that kinda stuff got into my head,” he said. “That’s why I was really emotional on the third day against PSG Talon because I knew that game should’ve been a win.
“We actually know that we can beat them all and we just have some confidence back. Also, you can see, we just play as a team rather than individuals.”
Fnatic have two more guaranteed games in the group stage against Hanwha Life Esports and PSG Talon. If they win them both, they guarantee at least a tiebreaker. For now, the miracle run is still alive; they are in control of their own destiny.