Fnatic is a name that is held in extremely high esteem in all esports. The organisation has enjoyed immense success and built a lot of its following from its immensely successful Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) team, and has seen a lot of success in League of Legends (LoL) as well. As such, while their signing of the ex-Mindfreak Rainbow Six: Siege roster earlier this year was a surprise, the serial success of the squad has proven its worth.
This team has been around for a long time, most notably making its mark at the 2017 Six Invitational as Mindfreak alongside Team Envy (now Aerowolf), although Mindfreak played on the Xbox back then. While their performance was uninspiring, it clearly left a lasting impression on the Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) region that has seen it grow to its current heights. Of that roster, only Acez remains as an active player on the current Fnatic team, with Dizzle now the coach.
After the introduction of the Pro League in Asia-Pacific (APAC), viewers got a look at the fresh new team with Magnet, Acez, Lusty, Kngz, and Pun. However, the team could only win their first game against an unimpressive NORA-Rengo, and was soundly beaten 10-1 by mantisFPS in the Semi Finals.
Swapping out Pun for RizRaz seemingly sparked an incredible fire in the team, however, and within two months, it was clear that Mindfreak was the best team in APAC. Qualifying to the 2018 Six Invitational, they made history as the first APAC team to win a game against at an international LAN event, and made it as far as the Quarter Finals on the main stage.
Returning home, their dominance continued as they beat ViewSonic.DarkSided 15-1 in the ANZ Cup Grand Final. Following that, they qualified for their first-ever Pro League Finals after finishing 1st in ANZ, and beating Sengoku Gaming Extasy 10-0 at the APAC LAN. While they were unable to win their rematch against Team Liquid, they put their heads down and pushed on in preparation for the Six Major Paris. This time they were unable to repeat their feat from the Invitational though, and only won a single game in the group stages.
Furthermore, this season, their dominance in ANZ was challenged by Athletico Esports. The favourites, Fnatic, were not only beaten to first place in the regular Pro League, but also lost to Athletico in the seeding match for the Tokyo APAC LAN. This means that the team will now face Sengoku Gaming once again in the Quarter Finals, and if successful, will face off against either Xavier Esports or mantisFPS to book their berth at the Pro League Finals in Rio de Janeiro. However, despite being seeded second from ANZ, underestimating Fnatic will be a death knell for their oppoonents' Rio dreams.
We had a chat with team captain, Etienne “Magnet” Rousseau about his team’s performance this season, and their expectations from the Tokyo event.
(The interview responses have been lightly edited for grammar.)
All of your team has been around the competitive scene for a very long time, with Acez (and your coach Dizzle) being the remnants of the very original Mindfreak Xbox squad. What are each of your histories in competitive Siege?
I've been playing Siege since the day it came out, and I instantly knew that I wanted to compete in this game. I played competitive Xbox Siege for about a year, then after the Pro League was announced for PC we made the switch to PC. At that time both Acez and Dizzle were still on the team. Since then, we have made a few roster changes with the main goal of finding out which people were best suited for the team and shared the same passion for Siege. This lead to the addition of Lusty, NeophyteR and RizRaz, who all have history with PC gaming from the beginning.
What is the least glamorous part about being a professional Rainbow Six player?
This would have to be the actual hard work and dedication that is required. While from the outside it might just look like we play Siege and have fun, but on the inside it is extremely hard work to always be one step ahead of your opponent, and it can definitely get super stressful a lot of the time.
Your roster signed with Fnatic prior to the Season 7 APAC LAN Finals after having spent a long time with Mindfreak. How have things changed for you with the new organisation?
Everything has changed since signing with Fnatic. We have unbelievable support in many aspects, and they were the ones to give us the opportunity to be able to call ourselves professional gamers. At the same time, we all feel so honoured to play under the biggest gaming organisation in the world.
The ANZ subregion has one of the healthiest domestic competitive scenes, and has been growing steadily? While growth is always good, as someone deeply embedded in the scene, what are some hazards that are present with such growth (if any)?
While the ANZ has been growing steadily, unfortunately we are still one or even two years behind the other regions. I don't see any problems with growth, the only problems I see are the ones that stop growth in our region. After talking with a number of people from the ANZ community, it seems that the reason why our region has been able to grow more rapidly seems to simply be immaturity. There are too many roster swaps in all teams in the ANZ region, and it seems that egos from players across a lot of the teams always causes internal conflicts.
This also means that constructive criticism in game is taken as personal abuse, so the team just isn't able to improve at all. If our region is able to start thinking and behaving at a professional level, our growth as a region will increase.
Your team has seen one of the most meteoric rises in quality, as seen in your quantum performance leap from Season 6 to the 2018 Invitational, and continual improvements until now. What has been the secret to this success?
I don't think there are any secrets to this one. What I can say though is that the key to improving is professionalism, hard work, dedication, and a passion for this game. The team also shares the same goal of wanting to be the best, so it was a lot easier for everyone to work together.
What are your team’s immediate and long-term goals? A Pro League Finals Semi-Final appearance, or something as big as a Major victory?
We want to be the very best, like no one ever was. We like to use short term goals in order to help us achieve a long term goal. Our short term goals would be to win the APAC Finals to guarantee a spot at Rio for the Season 8 Pro League Finals, and to also secure our spot at the 2019 Six Invitational. This would then help us reach our long term goal of securing a top-4 spot at a Major.
This season, despite being favourites, your side finished 2nd in the regular online season (with 3 draws and a loss) and lost 0-2 to Athletico in the playoffs. What were the issues that caused you to miss targets you were perhaps expected to meet?
The target was to make the APAC Finals, and we did. In addition to this, the way we prepare for a competition will ensure that we peak during the most crucial part, and not too early.
Despite that, your team are still arguably one of two favourites to qualify to the Pro League Finals in Rio. How do you deal with the mental pressure that is no doubt present, in addition to people commenting on your performance online, in esports media (like us!), in casts, etc?
As a team we are all professional enough to not let the comments about our team go to our heads. When it comes down to it, we like to play our own game, and stop outside factors from disturbing how we play. A super simple way this could be done is muting the stream when watching VODs, and turning off Twitch chat (because nothing good ever comes from looking at Twitch chat).
Is there anything you would like to share with your fans, and to the international audience that will read this?
Thank you for your continued support, we are always surprised with how much love you are able to send our way. Even to the haters though, thank you for motivating us to always be better.
The Fnatic roster is:
Etienne “Magnet” Rousseau (Captain)
Jason “Lusty” Chen
Matthew “Acez” McHenry
Ethan “RizRaz” Wombwell
Daniel “NeophyteR” An
Jayden “Dizzle” Saunders (Coach)
Catch all the APAC LAN action from Tokyo, Japan, on the 13th and 14th of October from 9:45 AM GMT+9 onwards at twitch.tv/Rainbow6.