In what will come as a surprise to most, Fnatic has signed Léo "Alphama" Robine after the Frenchman had an unsuccesful 2020 stint with North American team eUnited, with any outgoing movement currently unconfirmed.
Despite the change, the Fnatic roster's move to Japan is still unconfirmed. Currently in a state of emergency, the country has barred immigration until the South Africa and UK strains of COVID-19 are under control. As such, the team's struggles with high latency may continue from 2020.
With this move, Alphama, widely rumoured to be headed back to Europe with Team Vitality, will become the first player in Rainbow Six to play in three international regions. He will also be rejoining his former coach Laurent "Crapelle" Patriarche after having been together for about a year on LeStream Esport and Giants Gaming.
SiegeGG thus spoke to Head Coach Jayden "Dizzle" Saunders, Strategic Coach, and Alphama to find out more about the well-hidden transfer:
Congratulations on signing with Fnatic, Alphama! Fair to say this came out of left field for us, was it the same for you? What attracted you to Fnatic and was the old connection with Crapelle, your former coach, a contributing factor?
Alphama: I didn’t expect the offer to come so early after our release from eUnited, especially because I knew that Laurent was thriving in the Fnatic project (we kept in touch during my stay in NA). Not many people know this but after I was benched on Giants, I only messaged one team to inquire about possible roster changes -- Fnatic.
I could already see at the time that the team environment they were building was very much aligned with my mindset. Still, at the end of November 2020, being a free agent so far away from the transfer window, (the offer) caught me off guard, of course. I immediately realized that my growth as a player in NA had put me in an even better place to join their team. I then jumped on a call with the staff and things clicked straight, and for once, that was expected.
The players, the team, the organisation, the growing region and the new leagues -- everything seemed like a great way to pursue my growth as an IGL (In-Game Leader) in an ideal environment with similar goals and a similar work ethic than me.
It’s only been a few weeks but I already feel home and I can’t wait to start playing official matches.
This is the third region you are playing in, Alphama, and have thus become the first R6 pro to do so. How were your experiences in EU and in NA, and how do you anticipate they will be here in APAC? I am sure you recall your last game against an APAC team well!
Alphama: Haha, yes, and I even have the so-called “Giants Slayer” Pat (MentalistC) on the team to remind me of those dark days!
More seriously, though, I feel extremely lucky to be able to travel so much at such a young age. It’s not easy to go live so far away from everyone you love in the middle of a global pandemic, but I found a new family in America, one that introduced me to their culture and their values. It grew on me and made me flourish as an individual.
I learned a lot in-game too, playing at top level in EU and NA is very precious.
All-in-all, that makes my player profile very unique; young yet experienced, and after a stable individual growth into In-Game Leadership, I’m proud of what I bring to my team.
I feel l have found my ideal role, one that gathers all my best qualities in the best possible way.
Your North American fans will want to know, Alphama, what exactly did not work out with eUnited?
Alphama: I think we had such conflicting ideas within our first iteration that it really prevented any good results. The team was tearing apart constantly, and it caused huge rifts and it showed on game day.
The second iteration was much closer to a classic way of playing Siege, based on everyone’s input, meepeY’s leadership and my IGL-ing. I was already confident in my calls and in my game vision, but what mainly made the difference was the natural synergy, I think.
It’s sad we couldn’t close out our leads versus the best NA teams, but I still have a lot of great memories with every single teammate from eUnited. And I will obviously forever cherish the brotherhood that was born on NA soil with Yeti; you cannot put a price on how precious that relationship is.
Fnatic's season in 2020, mildly put, did not go to plan. What prompted the signing of Alphama and how did it all come together?
Crapelle: After the year we had with players stuck in Australia and our relocation plans put on hold, we suffered a very difficult period in the roster’s history. The ping certainly brought its challenges, but it also highlighted opportunities for some of our key areas of development, as well as other areas that could do with some improvement.
Those are what prompted our interest in bringing a strong support player such as Alphama to bolster our lineup and its support structure, as well as bringing a young yet very experienced IGL to the team.
We had a few names on our list, but Léo quickly became our top priority as we considered him to be the best fit in and out the group.
Due to COVID-19, Fnatic's plans to move to Japan were also indefinitely delayed. What is happening to them now and will Alphama be moving to Japan as well?
Dizzle: All members, including Alphama and staff, have everything required to relocate. We were ready to move at the end of last year, but Japan entered a state of emergency as we were in the final steps of the process.
Now, we wait for the Japanese government to ease the state of emergency and allow entrance, as well as re-engagement with the Australian government to allow us to leave our country.
This does come with the caveat that we are unable to return for a significant amount of time due to how stringent our bio-security is.
How will the team structure work now with these seven players?
Dizzle: This is still to be ironed out completely. As with most people, our year has consisted of us having to make the best decisions on cloudy or incomplete information. There is a world in which Japan opens only to APAC residents and not to Europe, as well as many other potential issues that could go wrong.
For this reason, the main focus is to get all players into Asia and having them aware that any and players be ready to play.
What are your expectations of this roster in 2021 in light of your 2020 season and this roster change?
Crapelle: With relocation looking closer than ever, we are looking to reconquer our crown in APAC and take back the number one spot in the region. It is possible that we may still be in Australia for a few weeks, so hopefully we don’t fall too far behind, but by the end of the year we want to be back on top of the region.
The arrival of Alphama brings a new dynamic and depth to the team’s style and structure, which we’re excited to develop in order to reach new heights under the Fnatic banner.
Alphama has spent most of his career so far in Europe, with teams such as Supremacy and LeStream Esport (later Giants Gaming), and has been to one Six Invitational and two Pro League Finals in the three years he has been active.
After being dropped by the European Giants Gaming roster at the end of 2019, he had moved to North America to join eUnited. Due to visa issues, it was only in the second half of Season 11 of the ESL Pro League when he got to play, but there, and in the subsequent FACEIT-run North American League (NAL), eUnited only finished in seventh place each time.
It is yet unclear who Alphama will be replacing on the core roster due to the aforementioned travel restrictions, and it is also unknown if Fnatic will have a member of its now-seven-man roster depart.