With electronic sports booming, the Fnatic team is quickly becoming one of the most competitive groups in professional gaming.
It’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and you’ve probably never heard of it. Electronic sports, or eSports, is a term used to describe the organized video game competitions (with cash prizes) that are quickly rising in popularity as more gamers become fierce pro competitors, especially those on Fnatic teams.
You don’t have to be a professional to participate in eSports, but it’s common practice at the big competitions, such as Major League Gaming (MLG) events. There are a number of player circuits and championships to win, but well-known tournaments include the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) and the most recent Evolution Championship Series (EVO).
Each event specializes in one genre. EVO, for instance, is all about fighting games, while at other competitions, real-time strategy, first-person shooter and MOBA (massive online battle area) games are played. Competitions are held in various venues and the setup is intense — there are monitors, gaming PCs and consoles lined up in wall-to-wall stations. Just like a ball game or tennis match, fans can come watch the face-offs, and broadcasters commentate on the action.
The goal of most players when they set their sights on eSports is to get sponsored and/or join a team. They spend countless hours training to be good enough for competitive play. You need considerable skills and talent to get sponsored and picked for a team. Once you have the backing of a sponsor, that’s when things (including how much money players can win) get serious, and one of the organizations that actively recruits top players is Fnatic.
Founded in 2004 by Sam and Anne Matthews, Fnatic is one of the most well-known and respected entities in the eSports world. Headquartered in London, their mission is “to turn enthusiasm, passion and entrepreneurial skills into a thriving global business at the infancy of a new world sport. Achieved through the creation of the most prolific and well-known eSports team and brand.”
Fnatic is one of the strongest European teams with some of today’s most recognizable players. It has a history of showcasing gaming’s best in a wide range of games including Counter Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II, League of Legends, Dota 2, World of Tanks, Battlefield 4 and more.
The team placed second in this year’s Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice, Poland, and has won several awards, including Team of the Year in 2006 and 2009.
You can go down a list of who’s who whom have been part of the Fnatic lineage of gaming experts. From former Fnatic players like Archi and Shushei to current ones like Cyanide, Rekkles, Morte and flusha, Fnatic has maintained a high standard in eSports.
The players’ names are considered a call sign. You don’t do battle unless you have a cool name that people can fear and remember. These names are simply the online persona of the person playing.
We recently convinced a couple former and current Fnatic players to take a break from gaming to answer a few questions. One of them — Perfect Legend — recently left Fnatic to pursue other goals, and the other, DRUNKKZ3, is currently working on his sniping skills in Battlefield 4.
Perfect Legend, a three-time world champion, made a career in the fighting game genre. Here’s what he had to say:
What was it like when you joined the team?
It was a very memorable moment. A lot of my worries had disappeared knowing that I was being backed by the prestigious Fnatic and we would do great things together.
How often do you refine your skills for competition?
I practice as much as I can. Usually depends on my mindset how well the practice is going. I need to have a clear mind so that I can be creative in practice mode to come up with counter strategies against my opponents. If my mind isn’t clear, I have to let whatever it is run its course so that I can get back into focus.
If there was one game you’d like added to Fnatic what would it be?
Rock’em Sock’em Robots!
How long do you plan on playing and competing?
Until I collapse.
And if you’re curious if the first person shooter team members have a different mindset, here’s what DRUNKKZ3 had to say:
What’s your name and what do you do for Fnatic?
Hey everyone, I’m Florian Le Bihan, better known as DRUNKKZ3 by the community, and playing Battlefield 4 for Fnatic. I’m the latest addition to the team. It’s been already four months though!
How often do you refine your skills for competition?
Well, we’re making sure to stay on the top at any time. We’ve been doing very well lately, and we plan to keep going this way. If we start struggling a bit too much against some teams, we make sure to practice more and to fix what is going wrong in our game. Overall, training daily is very important in order to always stay on top.
What’s a normal day like for you leading up to the actual competition and playing against other players?
We’re scheduling our practice every day, and we also add some “strats sessions” to this as we want to make sure to have very diversified game play. We also compete in all-online tournaments where we can find the best teams playing so we can always have an idea of how we are doing compared to other teams.
What does the future hold for Fnatic? The 2014 season has already begun, and the 5-7 player Fnatic teams are deep into some intense battles. Each team has a good mix of veteran players and newcomers like Rekkles has seamlessly integrated into the Fnatic level of play. Their team members continue to be some of the toughest competitors in eSports.
It seems eSports gaming is here to stay. New games continue to challenge players, MLG continues to set trends and Twitch TV will soon enter the game. Gamers are finding more opportunities to play competitively, especially with the increase in multiplayer-only games (Titanfall, Evolve and many others are perfect for competitive action).
Perhaps the biggest clue about the future of eSports is the recent decision from ESPN to broadcast Valve’s International Dota 2 Championship, which was held July 18-21. The best players of the video game Dota 2 competed, and the winners (a Chinese team made up of five players) took home $5 million. This isn’t the first time that ESPN has taken an interest in eSports, but it’s a very positive push towards the momentum that eSports has gained over the years.
Images courtesy of Fnatic.