A stellar showing from Fnatic's longest-tenured member sends the squad to their first Major playoffs since 2018.
Over the last few years, Counter-Strike fans have had to say some of the toughest goodbyes to legends of the game, whether it be Major winners, Grand Slam champions, or CS:GO pioneers. Well, just mere hours ago, one of those legends turned the clock back to take his team back to a Majors playoffs.
KRIMZ, at the spry age of 28 years old, just took down the German squad BIG in 2-0 fashion to punch his and Fnatics proverbial ticket to IEM Rios playoff stage. KRIMZ dropped 48 kills with a +16 ratio, leading his team in both categories. Reminiscent of old Fnatic, KRIMZ locked down Mirage with a 115 ADR and 1.84 rating to end the series.
KRIMZ and Fnatics run from Challengers to the Champions stage gets even crazier when looking at the last time both made a Majors playoff bracket. Youd have to go back to nearly four years ago, an eon in the world of professional Counter-Strike, to the 2018 ELEAGUE Boston Major. That was one of the last few all-Swedish lineups Fnatic ever had, with two all-time Fnatic greats in JW and flusha alongside KRIMZ. That squad barely qualified for the Champions stage, and was narrowly edged out in three games against FalleNs SK Gaming team.
The team standing in KRIMZs way of returning to that Champions stage, BIG were looking for similar redemption after consistent shortcomings of their own. The German side did not make it easy either.
Fnatic had four match-point rounds on Overpass to take a map lead in the series, but it ultimately all came down to round 30 for all the marbles. It wasnt KRIMZ to clutch it; the newest member of this Fnatic roster, Dion FASHR Derksen, with three clutch kills to secure the map. KRIMZ would go on to show flashes of his older self dominating on Mirage as mentioned before, with Fnatic securing their Champions spot 16-7 over BIG.
Now the Rio Major has two teams qualified for the Champions stage that had to battle all the way through from Challengers: Fnatic and Cloud9. As for their expectations, though, the two couldnt be further apart. In the HLTV rankings, sit as the fifth-best team in the world, a spot they held coming into the Major. Fnatic came into Rio at No. 19, and only now have moved up to No. 16 after a hot start to the Legends stage culminating in a playoff run. C9s run was awesome to watch, but everyone expected them to be here once the dust settled, no one saw this coming from Fnatic.
This Rio Major is already shaping up as a potential turning point in the world of professional Counter-Strike with heavy favorites FaZe Clan and now Vitality exiting early. With so many other CS vets out of the tournament, it is shocking yet amazing to see KRIMZ step up among them all to make his return to Major playoffs with much of Europe behind him once again.