After a Season 10 disappointment where Fnatic lost to Aerowolf in the quarter-finals of the APAC Finals (thus missing out on the global Finals in Tokoname and auto-qualification to the Six Invitational 2020), Fnatic has signed Aerowolf's Patrick "MentalistC" Fan and Team SiNister's Tex "Tex" Thompson, formerly known as Copper. Outgoing from the team will be Ethan "RizRaz" Wombwell, who had been with the team since after Season 6, and Ryan "Speca" Ausden, who had only recently joined as a sixth player.
The team will be continuing with a six-man roster for now, with the first competition the team will take part in set to be the Six Invitational ANZ Qualifiers in early December, and Matthew "Acez" McHenry will be continuing with the team as the sixth member. While Speca was dropped from the team, RizRaz has retired from competitive Rainbow Six itself.
The move may come as a slight surprise, given that MentalistC had only just left Aerowolf, citing the inability to successfully balance full-time Rainbow Six with his studies. However, with this change, he is now quitting his studies in pursuit of his Rainbow Six career and will be moving to Brisbane, Australia, where he will stay with Dizzle in the process to compete in the ANZ subregion with Fnatic.
To understand the rationale behind the changes and the new team structure, SiegeGG spoke to Fnatic coach Jayden "Dizzle" Saunders:
MentalistC is certainly one of the top talents in Siege. Was there any hesitation to sign him when he became available?
When I had seen the situation that Mentalist was in, and having known him for 4 years (since he was 14, wow)... he is such a prominent figure in the APAC region. He had only just started as he turned 18 this year and was looking like he had to give it up already.
When the possibility of a scenario of keeping him in APAC and under the Fnatic brand, it was something that I was eager to make happen. When it was something that also was of interest to him, there was no hesitation at all. It wasn't easy and I am glad that we could all come together to help keep such a bright and talented individual in our scene and more importantly in our region.
Would you agree that the Speca "experiment" failed? Could you shed light on why things didn't seem to work out?
We live by a win or learn mentality. Whilst short term it may not have delivered the results, the experience let us really come back to our roots and set a path forward that we were happy with and wanted to achieve. Whilst the results in game were not desirable, outside of game it has given us new perspective that I think will prove invaluable at such a pivotal time for our team. I think Siege is a game that is developing so quickly, teams at times need to be able to develop to stay in front. What we initially picked Speca up for... Siege has changed since then.
Tex is a relatively unknown name outside of ANZ. What, specifically, attracted you guys to him?
Tex has a reputation of having a deep understanding of Siege. After working with him for a bit whilst in Japan, his knowledge and approach to Siege at such a young age is a desirable foundation upon which he could develop to be an exceptional talent. At such a young age to have his approach and thought process with the little experience he has had is something that would be of great benefit to the team.
MentalistC is well-known on the international scene after him and his team's scintillating Season 10 run, where Aerowolf had first defeated Fnatic, and then NORA-Rengo and Wildcard Gaming to become APAC champions. Not satisfied, the team had gone on and taken down the European side of Giants Gaming at the Season 10 Finals as well before falling to DarkZero Esports.
Tex, on the other hand, first appeared on the scene in the ANZ Cup 2018, then known as CopperNBack and playing for Team Tahoot. A joint-seventh place there was then followed by a long wait to turn 18 as he stuck with the team as an underaged substitute through their times as DedSet and ex-DedSet. In Season 9, he finally got the chance to make his mark, joining the core roster of the team which was then playing under Avant Gaming.
With Copper, Avant finished in fifth place, just two points behind third, and was then signed by Team SiNister for Season 10, where the team struggled significantly more, only just avoiding the drop into the Challenger League thanks to a better head-to-head against Team CryptiK. Despite their travails in the Pro League, SiNister was doing well in the Six Masters 2019, and made it to the LAN Finals, losing to FURY in the quarter-finals.
Speca's departure does not come as a complete surprise after his inclusion into the main Fnatic roster was -- at least by results -- not the resounding success as was hoped. While Fnatic did finish at the top of the ANZ Pro League, their qualification to the APAC Finals itself was in doubt at one point and the team lost to Aerowolf in the quarter-finals. He did have success with Fnatic, though only domestically, as the team was victorious at the Six Masters 2019.
On the other hand, not many would have expected RizRaz to be have retired, given his long history with the team and Rainbow Six itself. With Mindfreak his team made it to the quarter-finals of the Six Invitational 2018, taking down Room Factory (now Team Empire) and Team Liquid in the process, before being signed by Fnatic.
With Fnatic came long and sustained success; a Season 7 Finals appearance, a joint-ninth finish at the Six Major Paris, a semi-finals finish at the Season 8 Finals after defeating Evil Geniuses, a Six Invitational 2019 quarter-finals finish after a knockout loss to NORA-Rengo, a Season 9 Finals semi-finals finish and wins at the Six Masters 2018 and 2019. The Six Major Raleigh, though, saw them knocked out with no wins, and it seems that the failure to qualify for the Season 10 Finals was the last straw.
Speca has not yet announced his future, though it is possible that he will be signed by a team for Season 11 of the Pro League given his experience. Acez, on the other hand, will continue with Fnatic as the team keeps with its ethos of a six-man roster.
With these changes, it is certain to be an uncertain future for Fnatic as the team fights to return to APAC supremacy, but with Aerowolf weakened after the loss of MentalistC to their closest rivals, it is more than possible that the Fnatic team achieves its goal.
As such, the Fnatic roster now is:
Etienne "Magnet" Rousseau
Jake "Virtue" Grannan
Jason "Lusty" Chen
Patrick "MentalistC" Fan
Tex "Magnet" Thompson
Matthew "Acez" McHenry