Fnatic’s run from their origins as SUMN FC to the VCT Stage 2 Masters Iceland final has been nothing short of a fairytale. They’re set on getting “revenge” against Sentinels, but Jake ‘Boaster’ Howlett wouldn’t mind an anime about their gargantuan rise either.
Fnatic have been a fan-favorite since they broke out onto the scene as SUMN FC in Valorant First Strike Europe, and it’s largely thanks to their enigmatic IGL Boaster.
Boring is definitely not a word you’d use to describe the former League of Legends vlogger turned Valorant pro. The 26-year-old’s antics in and out of the server have turned Fnatic into a formidable force in global Valorant.
In-game, he’s an innovative IGL, not afraid to flex the stratbook. Fnatic’s Agent compositions have been some of the most diverse and flexible at Masters, with everyone picking up at least three characters across the tournament.
Outside of the game, he’s… animated. All it takes is one look at his Twitter profile, or how he acts in press conferences or on stage to see what he brings to the table. He’s the heart and soul of the team. He puts it down to “craziness”, but his teammates have a different perspective.
“He’s definitely a hype man. He’s a rock to our team. If it wasn’t for his energy and his hype, I don’t think we would be here,” James ‘Mistic’ Orfila said in the press conference after beating NUTURN to qualify for the VCT Stage 2 Masters Iceland finals against Sentinels.
“When we play on that stage, we all just hype each other up. We win as a team, we lose as a team, and we’re just happy to be here. It’s a nice thing to have, and it’ll definitely continue to push us forward.”
The #VALORANTMasters Grand Finals is set!
Fnatic closed out NUTURN in three maps to get a rematch vs SEN! pic.twitter.com/Xyo21zU3w3
— Valorant News (@ValorINTEL) May 29, 2021
Fnatic managed to climb through the lower bracket after first getting trounced by Sentinels in the second round to earn their rightful rematch in the grand final. In the final match against NUTURN, they had to overcome fatigue from their first series of the day against Liquid to pull off a tight 2-1 win.
“I was cramming food into my mouth, the boys were eating fruit, whatever energy we could get in the 25 minutes we had [before the NUTURN game]. Mini was going through the anti-strat they had for the first map because we knew it was going to be Bind, and we were literally trying to soak up all the information while eating,” Boaster said.
It was a harder matchup than the team were expecting. Many came in with low expectations of the Asian rosters, but NUTURN’s strategic depth — and surprisingly fast playstyle — caught Fnatic off-guard.
“Even though we won Bind and Haven, they played totally different comps. Their playstyle was very different to the EU ones. Personally it was really tough to play against them, they played really well. I didn’t expect that,” Martin ‘Magnum’ Penkov said.
However, all eyes now rest on the final matchup against Sentinels. Their first outing wasn’t a close affair — the NA squad prepared a different style of game than Fnatic were expecting, and they were trounced.
“Coming into our first match, they had a free VOD on us because we had to play an extra game, so they had more time to prepare for us,” Mistic said.
“We have some sort of insight into them so we’re not going in blind, and we have the LAN stage experience now,” Boaster added.
“First team in, last team out. That’s been our speech we’ve been saying all through this tournament, and we’re going to stick to it.”
It’s a big game for the relatively inexperienced squad, especially when it comes to these moments in the spotlight. You look over at Sentinels and see a wealth of experience in names like Shahzeb ‘ShahZaM’ Khan and Hunter ‘SicK’ Mims. Fnatic doesn’t have that, but Boaster says he’s not letting it faze them.
“It’s some of these boys’ first ever LAN, and we get to experience it on such a big stage. This is the biggest stage I’ve ever been on. The boys stepped up really well, they reset, they bounced back, and here we are in the grand finals.”
“We won’t be choking. We played at like 65% the first time we played them and now we’re going to come all guns blazing,” Doma added.
Regardless of whether they win or lose though, Fnatic’s fairytale run will be one for the ages. From an unsigned team to almost winning First Strike, and now finally getting all the puzzle pieces together, it’s going to be a story for the ages.
The format Boaster wants it told in? Anime.
“It’s crazy man. I was thinking about this week, and it has been absolutely mad. I don’t think you can write this. I might be in an anime soon. I’d like that,” he laughed.
There’s a bit of history on Fnatic’s side. They won the first CS:GO major in 2013. The organization also took home the first League of Legends World Championship in 2011.
Claiming the first international Valorant trophy would be a nice addition to the set, and really, the plot line writes itself.
“It’s a really big feat and we’re trying to make history here, so Europe is hopefully going to take the crown on this one.”
The VCT Stage 2 Masters Iceland grand final between Sentinels and Fnatic starts at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST on May 30.