Fnatic officially announced its much-anticipated roster for the LEC’s 2023 season. The black and orange squad undergoes two changes in the player lineup, and two in the supporting staff department.
The most noteworthy change coming to Fnatic—and perhaps the most noteworthy roster move this year—happens in the bot lane. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, long-time Fnatic team icon, returns to his former home. The bot laner left to play for G2 Esports in 2021 but found no prizes there. In 2022, Rekkles played for Karmine Corp in the LFL, with whom he won the Spring Split EU Masters title.
Fnatic promotes Rúben “Rhuckz” Barbosa from their academy team to the main lineup to support Rekkles in the lane. Though Rhuckz did not play LEC matches for Fnatic yet, he did play for the squad at Worlds 2022. During the Play-In Stage, while then-starting support Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov was still traveling, Rhuckz successfully competed in two games. Fnatic’s top side stays the same, with top laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen, jungler Iván “Razork” Martín, and mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda retaining their spots.
Gonçalo “Crusher” Brandão, previously coach of Fnatic’s academy team TQ, also receives a promotion and will be the team’s head coach in 2023. He’ll be supported by former Misfits Gaming strategic coach Aleksi “Hiiva” Kaikkonen.
Quenching Fnatic’s title thirst
Fnatic’s roster revisions come after a disappointing year for the organization. The team entered 2022 guns blazing, fielding what many considered to be a ‘superteam’. They struggled to find synergy early in the 2022 LEC Spring Split but, by the end of the regular season, seemed to have found their footing. It was the only glimpse we received of the superteam in that split, though. Up 2-0 against Rogue, Fnatic’s hopes of a grand final turned to dust in a reverse-sweep. Fnatic struggled more in the Summer Split but found its way to the semifinal in spite of the bumpy road. This time, eventual champion Rogue crushed Fnatic’s dreams much more quickly and more convincingly.
At the 2022 League of Legends World Championship, Fnatic found itself in the Play-In Stage. The squad, adjusted for the first two games because of two COVID cases, seemed to be in good shape at first. They escaped their group in the first place, conceding only one game. Fnatic’s honeymoon continued in the Group Stage: they beat Cloud9 and T1 in their first games. Unfortunately, that’s where the bubble burst. Fnatic lost all subsequent matches and dropped out with a 2-4 score.
For Fnatic, the LEC’s 2023 season will grant another opportunity to reclaim a long-lost throne. The team dominated the EU LCS (which became the LEC in 2019) for years, but their last title dates back to 2018.