A few years ago, you knew that any CS:GO tournament Fnatic played in, they would win it. Yet in recent times, the team had been going through a dry spell with IEM Katowice 2016 being their last trophy.
That was until earlier this month when Fnatic once again claimed Katowice as their own to become the first ever, three-time IEM champions.
It’s been a tough time for the team, especially with veterans like Olof ‘Olofmeister’ Gustafsson leaving. The legendary player was replaced by Fnatic Academy graduate Maikil ‘Golden’ Selim, which was a lot of pressure for the rookie.
Fnatic winning IEM Katowice 2018 ended a two-year trophy-less spell for the prestigious team
It was even harder for Golden as he was instantly made the ‘in-game leader’, taking charge of the squad’s strategy while surrounded by some of the game’s biggest names. He admits settling into the team wasn’t easy: ‘There’s so many aspects that go into joining such a team, they have been together for so long. Everyone has been really understanding though, and helped me a lot.
‘Being in-game leader for these guys was very hard at first, I had to adapt my leading style to the team and we also compromised for each other – coming up with something in the middle. Jumpy helped me out a lot too, figuring out what the team did before and what we could do going forward.’
Trying to adapt must have been taxing for Golden but that wasn’t the last of the mental obstacles he had to overcome. FaZe Clan had previously beaten Fnatic in two semi-finals and Golden says beating them in the group stages first gave the team a massive boost: ‘FaZe are really like our kryptonite, but this time we played them in the group stages and it was a best of three.
‘We won that game 2-0 which meant a lot to the team. On both maps I called as bit differently to what I had done against FaZe before and I think it worked out pretty well on Inferno. That gave us a lot of confidence, or at least for me and Lekr0 I think because FaZe is the only team we don’t usually play to our highest-level for some reason.’
There was a lot of pressure on Golden, coming straight into the team as the in-game leader
It’s a credit to Fnatic and their coaching staff that they were able to deal with the pressure and overcome their previous struggles. Their coach, Jimmy ‘Jumpy’ Berndtsson, complimented his team’s mental strength during their intense seven-hour series against FaZe: ‘I didn’t necessarily try to keep the team’s emotions in check because the game was an emotional roller-coaster.
‘I just tried to keep them in good spirits and maintain good energy. We’ve been working on having the mental fortitude to win games for a long time now and I think this game was the best we ever used that strength. We started off really bad, especially our comms as we took no initiatives and everyone was really quiet. I kept nagging the players to talk and do more and then on Inferno, when we started getting a few rounds together, we started to get activated.
‘We turned the whole match around, even on train we were able to grind back rounds to overcome FaZe and win the match. I was really proud of the guys and how they handled everything.’
Jumpy (left) praised his team’s mental fortitude and resilience during the seven-hour final
Fnatic certainly have looked strong this year and one of the biggest factors in their new form,according to Golden, was a bootcamp they had earlier this year: ‘It was in the beginning of January and there we synced up so well it was insane. Our team-play was on point, everything was right and we did everything together without even having to say.
‘Afterwards, all of us said it was one of the best bootcamps we ever had and that gave us a lot of confidence going into the Major, it was just unfortunate we weren’t able to beat SK.’
Fnatic are riding high but will they be able to once again dominate CS:GO? The scene has changed a lot since then but Jumpy thinks his team can at least challenge once more: ‘If we can keep playing like we did in Katowice I think we can be a strong contender for future tournaments. We need to keep this form and ensure that even our lowest point is still a good level.’
Golden added: ‘Winning Katowice could be a starting point for us to be the best. But, like Jumpy pointed out, we need to find more consistency. I think we just need to believe in ourselves more.
‘At the moment, I still think FaZe is the best team in the world. Yhey’ve been in so many finals that it’s insane. We have to prove ourselves more if we want to be considered the best.’
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