Fall Of The Swedish Crown

The year is 2015. Sweden is the most decorated nation in Global Offensive. The 2015 Fnatic lineup is winning almost everything. 16+ Offline and Online events, two of which were Majors. At the time, they are challenged by the Danes of TSM, and the occasional upset deeper in the tournament. Fnatic’s Swedish counterparts, the Ninjas, are no longer as dominant but remain a team with upset potential and the occasional, deeper run in a tournament.

Fnatic at DreamHack Cluj-Napoca 2015
Fnatic at DreamHack Cluj-Napoca 2015
From left to right: JW, flusha, pronax, KRIMZ, olofmeister
Image via https://liquipedia.net/

All is looking well in the kingdom of Sweden, but over the years, unforeseen dark clouds eclipse the horizon. The once shining dynasties struggle to remain relevant in today’s world of Counter-Strike. How did the most prominent nation in the game go downhill so quickly?

Early Footprints

During the launch of Global Offensive in the year 2012, many teams rejected the game. And for good reason. It was a different beast entirely from 1.6 and was more akin to Source. Not to mention, players didn’t like the new grenades, like molotovs, and even sought out to ban them from competitive play.

However, in this disarray, there would be one organization to commit and even pay the players salaries for competitive. Ninjas in Pyjamas.

With an early start to the game and being ahead in practice hours, the Ninjas began dominating the scene. Tournament after tournament, they’d claim another title and their rivals, VeryGames, would remain second. But this was just one team performing so well in the international stage. As the years went by, other Swedish teams would join the fray.

More Soldiers Enter The Battlefield

2013 would see the arrival of 2 more Swedish teams – Fnatic and LGB. Both squads would play in various online qualifiers and smaller events but would have their big shot at the first Major in Global Offensive Dreamhack Winter 2013. All three Swedish teams would qualify for the playoffs.

LGB had to play against NiP in the quarterfinal and would even take away a map from them, Dust2, but lose eventually. The big upset came in the grand finals when Fnatic not just won the Major but done so against the best team in the world NiP.

Fnatic take first place at Dreamhack Winter 2013
Fnatic take first place at DreamHack Winter 2013

However, this Fnatic roster wouldn’t survive too long as they lost to LGB in IEM Katowice’s quarterfinals. After this loss, Krimz and olofmeister would join JW, flusha, and Pronax to establish the legendary Fnatic team. This is a key moment in history. For once, it helped establish the dominant roster for years to come. Secondly, this was one of the few moments in history the Swedes would make such a roster change by adding two new individuals simultaneously. The next time this would happen would be in 2016, more than 2 years later.

Problems On The Horizon

This has been one of the biggest issues in the Swedish scene. The inability to change players. For NiP, this meant keeping players like friberg and Xizt who passed their prime in 2015 but still remained in the team up until 2017 and 2018. NiP’s way to fix the problem? Changing the 5th player until something clicked. This allowed them to remain somewhat relevant but the glory days have long been gone.

NiP at DreamHack Valencia 2015
From left to right: f0rest, allu, Xizt, GeT_RiGhT, friberg
Image via https://liquipedia.net/

Fnatic wouldn’t have the same issue, but there’d be another problem they would have to face. Other than Fnatic and NiP there wasn’t any other Swedish team in the top 5 or even top 10. This meant acquiring talent with no previous experience in the top, or players who played on a high-level back in 2014.

The Godsent and Fnatic rosters of 2016 wouldn’t survive for too long and Fnatic went back to the original roster with dennis and remain as a contender for the top 5 but no trophies would be won that year.

The situation has only worsened since 2016 and both NiP and Fnatic are nothing like they were in 2015. It’s nice to see new talent finally given a chance to prove themselves, but even the pool of fresh talent is dwindling.

The End Of A Dynasty?

Some more roster changes later and here we are in 2019. NiP’s future is unknown at this point. Teases of upcoming changes in the team but nothing announced officially. Fnatic’s latest gamble to bring in some young talent and Xizt has given them some long-awaited height but has also brought them to some unprecedented lows. Was this an inevitable outcome of the Swedes inability to bring in talent earlier down the years? Or could all of this be avoided if they were more reluctant to change during the prime years of either squad?

It’s difficult to say, but one thing is certain, Sweden is still capable of achieving top finishes. To do so, however, might require some drastic measures. With veteran players from NiP and Fnatic still playing the game, it’s possible to establish another Swedish contender.