One of the great things about watching this new Fnatic roster play is that you never know what type of strategy they are going to try to pull off. While they try to find what works best for them we’ve seen them draft heroes that have been long forgotten in the Dota 2 scene, things like Puck, Underlord, and Visage. Their willingness to think outside of the box when it comes to the draft is a great strength as it showcases their confidence in themselves. Confidence is a bigger deal than it seems as well, we’ve seen what happens when teams try to play safe, or as some analysts put it, play to not lose, as opposed to playing to win. Fnatic shows no signs of a team that is afraid to task risks and chances, sure sometimes it doesn’t work out but if you want to be among the best teams in the world, and beat those teams, you need to be willing to take risks.
We saw some terrific team fight coordination coming out from Fnatic in their bo5 series against Team Secret as well, with MP’s Faceless Void, DJ’s Nyx, and Abed’s Templar Assassin all putting in tremendous work to keep Team Secret’s cores away from killing Jabz’ Phoenix Egg. Even though it did end up usually going down Team Secret paid the price for it every single time. This became a pattern in Fnatic’s games, with the team quite quickly punishing teams for fighting regularly. They identify what needs to be done during team fights, what the enemy’s win condition is, and combine that into an overall awareness of what the opponents will be looking to do to them, which lets them create some counter-play opportunities.
Jabz has taken over the role of captain for Fnatic and with his move to the 5 position it marks the third role he’s played in competitive Dota. Previously, he played both mid and 4 position for Faceless where he was also teamed up with Iceiceice, who came to the team with him. It’s still pretty early to say exactly how much impact Jabz’ shot-calling has during Fnatic’s games but his impact as a 5 position support is undeniable. He often plays heroes with big teamfight ultimates, like Phoenix, Crystal Maiden, Silencer, or Winter Wyvern, which often means opponents will be forced to focus him down at the start of a fight or risk having him win the fight for his team with the press of a button. Jabz is all too happy to take the attention away from his cores during fights, as we often see him die in return for a won team fight — such is the life of a hard support!
Even while behind, Fnatic has shown some great tenacity, winning fights while behind in gold and exp on multiple occasions. The way they prioritize targets during a fight makes it clear they are all on the same page and their communication must be crystal clear.
The SEA region in Dota 2 has always been one of the most competitive, but despite that there have not been many international success stories. Fnatic in the past has had terrific results at The International, placing 4th at TI6, but that has been the highest placement the region has ever obtained outside of the first TI, when the scene isn’t quite what it is today. Part of what has hurt upcoming teams in SEA is that when a new player gets recognized for their skill, it isn’t uncommon for them to be approached by teams from other regions. Abed himself spent some time in North America after he first made a name for himself.
There have always been one or two teams who have fought over the title of strongest team in South East Asia but Fnatic looks to put that discussion to rest with their overpowering nature. During the King’s Cup 2, Fnatic went up against some would-be hopefuls for that title but after 2-0ing Clutch Gaming, and beating Lotac in the finals without breaking much of a sweat, it is pretty clear Fnatic is the top dog in SEA.
Iceiceice has been on multiple teams that have held the title of “strongest” in SEA, even having some success abroad in the past. On Fnatic he’s taken a liking to playing Necrophos, playing the hero seven times already, winning five of those games. While the offlane has changed a lot over the years, Iceiceice’s role remains relatively the same. He pressures the safelane carry and forces supports (and in some cases other cores) to spend all their time and attention trying to defend against his relentless aggression. Sure he may die a couple of times in lane because of this, but it is often to the benefit of Fnatic’s other lanes. Usually he ends up winning his lane outright with the assistance of either DJ or Jabz despite dying once or twice which sets Fnatic up for some of their great early to mid-game team fights to take control over the game.
As mentioned before, even when their early game plans don’t quite work out, Fnatic seems to always have a way to get back into the game. Against Secret, while behind tremendously, they were still able to come out ahead in certain fights due to the level of expertise on the team. There was no hesitation in their initiations and it seemed like all five players were moving as one. Going toe to toe against Team Secret and Fnatic’s domination of the SEA scene at the start of the year paints a very bright picture for Kuala Lumpur, and two players in particular.
The Brightest Stars
When Abed was 14 he began to gain some notoriety as a player for his incredible Meepo and Invoker but at the time no one took too much notice of pubstars, believing that while he was capable of dominating a pub game, the competitive world would not be as easy for him to succeed in. Two years later, during the TI6 wildcards, Abed made a return with his Meepo that forced everyone to learn his name. He took down Complexity with an 18-0 Meepo performance and from that, took control of his own destiny. Abed would travel to North America to compete and would end up taking his team to TI7 as well. Although he never garnered the results he wanted, he returned to SEA by signing with Fnatic and has competed at three different Major’s and The International 2018 with the organization. Only Abed and DJ remain from the TI8 Fnatic roster and both of them know just how close they have been to toppling giants in the past.
Together with Abed, DJ has finished 2nd while on Fnatic on three separate occasions, and have made the semi-finals of Major’s twice last year. DJ has long been considered one of the best supports in the SEA region, proven by his 4th place finish at TI6, numerous qualifier wins, and grand finals appearances throughout recent history. DJ and Abed made up the core of the old Fnatic lineup, controlling games from start to finish, and with their new teammates they will be looking to push Fnatic even higher over the course of the season to come.