Fnatic became the first Dota2 team to secure a spot in the finals of DOTA Summit 12 following an incredible display against Evil Geniuses, who had to admit defeat to their Southeast Asian adversaries earlier on Thursday, March 12.
Fnatic began their venture into DOTA Summit 12 with a clean sweep against Team Liquid in Round 1 of the upper bracket. The said match was fairly one-sided from the get-go, and Fnatic needed just under an hour to seal both series and earn their ticket for the upper bracket finals. There they met with Evil Geniuses, who entered the tournament as one of the favourites, yet failed to live up to that name, as they ended up suffering a reverse sweep from Anucha "Jabz" Jirawong and company, who showed immense quality and determination to fight back.
Fnatic approached the first game of the series with a somewhat questionable draft, as they opted for Axe support, which backfired badly. From the first minute, Evil Geniuses looked like a stronger side and barely 10 minutes into the game already held onto 3,500 gold lead. As the game progressed, Evil Geniuses continued extending their lead and held onto an impressive 15k gold lead at 22 minute mark, at which point, Fnatic were more or less only waiting for the game to end. EG closed out the first map of the series in precisely 24:15 and looked set to pocket a clean sweep.
All of EG squad performed well, yet it was Roman "RAMZES666" Kushnarev on his Night Stalker and Abed "Abed" Yusop on Templar Assassin, who shone the brightest, and finished the match with 7/1/7 and 8/0/6 score respectively. Abed also earned mouth-watering 15.4K gold, which was almost 20% of total gold earned across both teams.
Despite their dominant performance in the opening match, Evil Geniuses failed to see the same success in game two. Instead it was Fnatic woke up and finally played like a solid team. Their team fights were extremely well executed and the decision making from the team was nearly flawless. Nuengnara "23savage" Teeramahanon even had a surprisingly strong performance on Shadow Fiend, finishing the game with 7/1/9 and 13.1k gold in the bag. That is not to say other players failed to deliver. Jabz ended the match with 0/0/18 on Lion, while Djardel "DJ" Mampusti put up an equally impressive 3/3/14 on Tiny.
Evil Geniuses could have easily won their second match, but instead opted for a very questionable draft, which relied too much on the hard-hitting and long-cooldown ultimate abilities, which ended up backfiring.
Fnatic managed to translate the momentum from game two into the third and final fixture of the series, where they stomped Evil Geniuses and sealed the reverse sweep in 34:21. Jabz had another great performance, finishing the game with 3/5/20 on Oracle, while his teammates 23savage and Kam "Moon" Boon Seng did not fail to impress either with 9/2/17 on Riki and 10/3/15 on Death Prophet respectively.
Fnatic are still awaiting their final opponents before they can claim the DOTA Summit 12 title, however, if they can continue playing at the same pace, they just might secure their first LAN title since SEA Kappa Invitational Season 2 in 2016.
Although they had a lacklustre performance at MDL Chengdu Major, where they finished ninth-12th, Fnatic managed to step up at the DreamLeague Leipzig Major, where they defeated Team Aster and Nigma in the group stage and even put up a solid fight against Team Secret and TNC Predator in the playoffs, however, got eliminated in Round 2. While Fnatic failed to improve upon their placement from MDL Chengdu and finished Leipzig Major at a ninth-12th place, they were quite unfortunate to face off against two of the strongest teams in their opening fixtures of the playoffs.
While Fnatic still have a long road ahead of the before they can establish themselves as one of the elite Dota2 teams, their performance at Summit made it clear they are not to be underestimated.
Unfortunately, Fnatic won't be able to test their strength at ESL One Los Angeles Major, which was postponed amid coronavirus concerns and visa issues which prevented a handful of teams from fielding a complete roster, as they were unable to secure travel documents for their players. Nonetheless, Fnatic have shown immense growth throughout the season and if they can keep themselves on the upwards trajectory, Fnatic just might break the stigma and finally make a deep run at The International - something they failed to do since 2016, when they finished fourth. Since then, however, Fnatic claimed 17th-18th, 13th-16th and 13-16th place finish at TI7, TI8 and TI9 respectively.
After losing the upper bracket finals, Evil Geniuses are now set to clash with OG Seed in the lower bracket finals, where they will be chasing a ticket for a rematch with Fnatic. Regardless of their iffy display on Thursday, however, Evil Geniuses remain a dangerous team, as they are known for their ability to bounce back and produce comeback performances.
Fnatic and the winner of Evil Geniuses versus OG Seed will duke it out in the DOTA Summit 12 finals on Friday, March 13 at 13:00 PST. The champion of the tournament will pocket US $50,000 in tournament winnings, while the runner-up will be awarded a $25,000 consolation prize.