LoL Worlds 2019 brings together the planet's finest League of Legends teams, boasting some of the best players in the history of the game. Mamoon "TeaTime" Sabri profiles one of them, Fnatic's Broxah
“Everything went right for me early game, we had a lot of good ganks bot, I had a good start. I managed to pull off some sick plays.”
The group stage from Worlds 2018 saw Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen come out ecstatic in an interview with ESPN. He’d just finished up cleaning house with his Lee Sin pick, beating out the eventual world champions Invictus Gaming, to secure the first seed from their group stage. Multiple MVP level performances saw him on top of the world, as Fnatic finished with the highest rank a Western team had ever had at Worlds.
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“I just want to say sorry to all you guys, I apologise for us playing this poorly."
In stark contrast to just a few months ago, Broxah was seen shoulders hunched after Fnatic began a 0-4 to the inaugural split of the LEC. It had been a chaotic few weeks, with Caps’ departure hitting Fnatic harder than anyone would have thought, and Broxah no longer looking like the global force that he was before. Constant criticism being levied against him did come to a pause as Fnatic managed to make an impossible comeback to finish at third place.
That said, trials and tribulations continued into the summer split. Criticism from fans and their ilk is all part of the life and times of being a professional player. In League, where a single split could look to lead to the destruction of a player’s glory, fans are perpetually fickle when it comes to big brands with histories of domination like Fnatic.
Fnatic's familiar formula
It was a completely different ball game, though, when Fnatic made the announcement that they were going to go back to the formula they used in 2018. Daniel ‘Dan’ Hockley, was announced as the sixth man who Broxah would be sharing scrim and pro time with.
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Broxah was perturbed - and rightfully so. The previous year had seen Soaz - arguably one of the most decorated Western top laners - have his position usurped by rookie top laner Bwipo, who took Fnatic to new heights. Soon after, Soaz found his way into Misfits where he was destined for a year of struggling to even make the playoffs.
Broxah did not want a repeat.
This was where the climb began. No longer was this the "0-4 in Spring" Fnatic. Their first two weeks saw them winning all four games, to find themselves against the best in the world - G2 esports. A steamroll saw them move forward to continue their untouchable lead, Fnatic finished second place in the regular season - tying G2 1-1 in games played.
It wasn’t just Broxah cruising along, either. This was Broxah in full force, having five MVPs awarded to him - second only to his jungle counterpart in G2. Fnatic was finally a force to be respected, and it came off the back of Broxah regaining his footing like nothing else. Europe’s most historic team had a jungler who was finally starting to fit into the squad.
Unfortunately, playoffs are a completely different beast. Best-of-fives did not smile on Fnatic's fate the same way the earlier single-game showdowns had.
While the scoreline may have looked as though the series were close, the games showed something very different.
Not only did G2 look convincing in their initial reverse sweep, and the successive finals victory, the salt in the wound came from Broxah seeming outclassed in the finals. Jankos, the summer split MVP, went on and finished the finals in style, making it seem like a true case of “jungle difference”.
What little solace they could have went away when Jankos revealed in a later episode the sheer difference in mentality between both teams, and by connection both junglers. G2 esports had quite literally been saving strats for Worlds. Not just that, but they were already preparing for the world finals.
Broxah’s recovering stock never quite made it to where Worlds 2018 had him placing post-group stage. One year past, the player who was in the grand finals fighting tooth and nail for the highest honour a team could ever achieve, was down and out. Where he was once instrumental for Fnatic going as far as they did, now he’s not even in conversation as one of the best players at the tournament.
Three separate lists from different experts and coverage sites, each didn’t have Broxah in the top 20 players, or the top three junglers at the tournament. In fact, they even go as far not having him in the honorary mentions.
Broxah has recovered, and he is no longer considered deadweight on the Fnatic lineup, but he is still far from inspiring hope in the heart of fans to dominate the eastern juggernauts and their junglers.
European players have still gone as far as saying that Fnatic are not to be underestimated and could legitimately contend for the title, but the names that come up seldom make out as if Broxah can carry Fnatic to the finish line and beyond.
There’s been very few instances where a team has gone deep into the World championships without a remarkable jungle, and should Fnatic want to do the same then Broxah needs to be revived into championship form.
Not all is dark for the chiseled giant though.
Broxah's sights set on Worlds glory
The World stage is one for icons to shine, for experience to come through, and for veterans to flex their muscles. Each year, we see players heading in with their glory tarnished and their heads stooped low from the regional splits. However, this is where the past year will not mean anything. Fnatic out of any team know that legacy is created from the World Championships. Broxah, out of any player, should know that this is a chance to rewrite history.
Criticism may be levied all year long, but there is no telling who is truly going to reign supreme when regions clash. Be it through superior pathing, first-blood plays, or cohesion with Nemesis and Rekkles, Broxah is going to have prepared heading into the Worlds group stage.
Fnatic are a beast at Worlds, and there is no doubt that he will shed all fears and rise to the occasion.
This is the year of the West, and Broxah’s going to be damned if he’s not steering that ship himself.
Pictures: LoL Esports / Flickr