While Team Secret dominated Europe with eight straight tournament wins, Fnatic was going through a quietly impressive streak of their own in SEA, winning six on the trot, starting with Summit 12 in March 2020, and ending with the World E-sports Legendary League in June. All was still well.
Up until Fnatic’s carry, 23savage, who broke out in 2019 with stellar performances with Team Jinesbrus, was replaced with Raven, a more accomplished and experienced player. What followed was an avalanche of roster changes as Fnatic struggled to fill their lineup, including replacing Jabz… with himself.
It looked to have paid off when the team dominated the first season of the SEA Regional League from January to February, earning direct seeding to the playoffs of the ONE Esports Singapore Major. Two series against Evil Geniuses and OB Neon and two losses later, it was back to the drawing board again--triggering another barrage of changes.
The second season of the SEA Regional League, running from April to May this year, saw Fnatic place fourth, in turn failing to qualify for the WePlay AniMajor. Without enough DPC points to break into the top 12 of the Dota Pro Circuit, Fnatic saw their rankings slip, thus missing out on a direct invite to TI10. Lacking the invite, they’d have to fight their way through a stacked last chance qualifier.
Omega Esports, OB Neon, and TNC Predator (twice) stood in their way in the SEA last chance qualifiers. Despite a relatively smooth sailing journey through the upper bracket, Fnatic would find themselves with their backs against the wall in the finals, two games down against a surging TNC, just one loss away from elimination.
Fnatic came out of the second game in a tough loss. The team had fought back while down two lanes of barracks, and an almost mythical, stray Centaur Conqueror four-man stun, seemed to be a sign that things were going to go their way. But it was not to be, and looking on as their Ancient fell, each player might have looked back on how strange the year had been.
The journey had not been easy for each member of the squad. Fnatic’s Carry Raven was fighting against TNC, the old banner he used to fight under. One where he earned honors for taking down the then-imperious OG at TI6, then struggled to return to international relevance.
Just months before this match, Fnatic’s mid laner ChYuan was flying high with Team Aster, winning the StarLadder ImbaTV Minor in March 2020 in style. Right as they gained steam, visa issues prevented them from traveling to the Los Angeles Major (even before the pandemic really shut things down.)
What could have been a championship quickly turned into a few months of career free-fall for ChYuan, before he was unceremoniously removed from Team Aster. He’d join Fnatic, but initially he was not at home in his normal role of mid lane. He played as the team’s off laner until the arrival of Deth.