Why did Fnatic finish at the bottom of the LEC Winter Split standings in 2023?

Why did Fnatic finish at the bottom of the LEC Winter Split standings in 2023? ...

Fnatic was unlikely to finish in ninth place before the 2023 season. Nor did anyone else.

The 2023 League of Legends competitive season started in the worst way for the London-based organization. The team failed to qualify for the second phase of the LEC Winter Split, displaying a dismal level of team play. They struggled to resolve problems in a number of areas, leading to a vicious cycle that ended the year in the worst position in the organisation's history.

Fnatic finished bottom of the standings in the 2023 LEC Winter Split.

Is it a lack of a clear team identity?

Successful teams capitalize on each player's individual strengths or playstyle. It's crucial but also extremely difficult to achieve consistent results.

The current Team Vitality iteration has five capable players who can excel at playing well together: jungler Bo plays around mid-top, while ADC Neon maintains his weakside stats and scales slowly into the later stages of the game. Support Kaiser can be the jack-of-all-trades who either stabilizes the bot lane by absorbing pressure or acts as the roaming support that helps Bo make play around the map.

Due to the proliferation of ranged support champions who prefer to play the lane rather than roam, Vitality have found their own strategy to work around this while still having mid-laner Perkz and Bo as the main core of the team. In this case, it was top laner Photon who stepped up and took the role of a secondary carry.

Fnatic, on the other hand, seemed to struggle to adapt to the new paradigm of ranged support and find a suitable team identity to compete. He served as a player the team could use and provide resources to during skirmishes and fights, while also being the damage dealer during battles. Rekkles, on the other hand, prefers to scale safely into the later stages of the game without having to rely too much on the team to assist him.

Rekkles isn't the problem here, it's just that his playstyle doesn't match the team's previous identity—and Fnatic was unable to find a replacement.

Fnatic's Winter Split results aren't just due to one element or player doing poorly; they're also a result of several factors that all negatively impacted the team.

Fnatic's playstyle was not suitably represented in most of their games, and throughout the nine games, all teams picked the same champions over and over. When it's difficult to find innovative strategies or champions that can change the meta, teams usually stick to the current power picks.

Rekkles never played Lucian or Caitlyn in the split. These two were never considered pocket picks as Sivir or Tristana, but the fact that he never picked them in a meta where both are S-tier champions raises doubts. There are only two choices you can make if your opponents have this advantage.

According to Games of Legends, Fnatic banned Lucian and Caitlyn six and four times, respectively, over nine games, proving this was a team issue. The ban of these two champions opened the way for their opponents to draft other potential power picks.

The bot lane itself was also a mess. On the one hand, you have Rekkles, who wants to farm safely, scale into the late stages of the game, and fight with the appropriate item spikes. On the other hand, Rhuckz, who has performed better on engage-melee supports.

Double weakness is never a wise move.

Even if Fnatic cannot defeat Lucian and Caitlyn, two champions you want to play around, the team may still be successful if there are other strategies to apply map pressure. It will not be optimal, but it may still work if all other players, namely mid and top, effectively utilize the resources they have. This is where everything falls apart: Fnatic does not have those players.

Wunder, a Danish top laner who played nine games on tank duty in the previous year, has been a weakside player in recent years (three on Gragas, two as K'Sante, one on Gnar, according to Games of Legends).

Razork, on the other hand, is hampered by the jungle meta. The strong jungle picks currently aren't ones you want to invest resources into. As a result, Humanoid is the only player you can technically play around, since he would have to be the sole carry every game till Rekkles scales into the late game.

Fnatic would have no one to play around as long as Humanoid was neutralized. This is what Razork and Humanoid could do in the early game, which aimed to correct a large part of the deficit. Needless to say, it flopped dramatically.

These players aren't necessarily bad, it's just that the team didn't have enough spaces to play around and give resources to. While players can learn how to play in a carry-oriented style, it takes time to adapt. Fnatic, however, did not have the luxury of going away for three weeks.

Is there a solution for Fnatic and its players?

Fnatic is obviously breaking down, and it may be something else than the game itself. Regardless, the team and the organization's primary focus will be on attempting to find a resolution to the roster's issues.

Before the 2023 LEC Spring Split starts, Fnatic will have time to reflect on that. There's a possibility that roster changes would be made.

Upset is still sitting on the bench as a substitute player, so Fnatic may choose to bring him back as the starting ADC. If Rhuckz or Rekkles decides to leave, there are a couple of options the organization may consider going into the LEC Spring Split.

Fnatic can add one more laner (aside from Humanoid) that may serve as a carry if given the resources. This will make their drafts and playstyle more diverse and less predictable in a short period of time.

Regardless of who that player may be, someone will have to adapt and evolve.