Fnatic vs Cloud9: Same start, opposite trajectories

Fnatic and Cloud9 entered 2019 as Western powerhouses, but ended up on very different trajectories by the middle of Spring Split. How did they get here?

by Daniil Volkov

(Image Credit: Riot Games)

Fnatic and Cloud9 had a very similar start to their 2019. Both came off an impressive Worlds run, and both were faced with the loss of their powerhouse mid laner. However, a single glance at their LEC and LCS standings shows they dealt with this issue in very different ways to very different results.

Cloud9 had a shaky first match against Team Liquid, but they quickly gained momentum and established themselves as one of the best teams in their region. Meanwhile, Fnatic suffered a staggering fall from grace to the point they look nothing like the team that took the 2018 World Championship by storm. Which begs the question: If the circumstances were the same, why are the results so different?

The first thing that comes to mind is the choice of mid laners.

Fnatic chose a high-risk, high-reward option of recruiting a promising rookie in Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek, but Cloud9 went the safer route of signing a proven veteran in Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer. It would be easy to portray this as a game-changer. After all, the former doesn’t have the confidence or the game knowledge to fill the shoes of his predecessor, while the latter has an already developed skill set and years of competitive experience to fall back on. 

But while Fnatic took a shot in the dark with their mid laner, it’s hard to claim they missed. They didn’t hit the bullseye, sure. Nemesis isn’t a world-class talent that everyone hoped he would be, and his first stage games were undeniably shaky. Once he got over the initial nerves, though, he proved himself capable enough to stand up to most LEC mid laners. 

It’s not like Nisqy had a perfect start either. His debut against Team Liquid was hectic at best, and even though he got much better at navigating fights and working together with his teammates throughout the split, he’s not an overwhelming presence that can single-handedly win C9 games. 

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Daniil Volkov