Why Fnatic is a Leading Brand in Esports
Fnatic is one of the oldest leading brands in esports. A staple of the European esports scene, Fnatic has risen to become one of esports’ most elite organizations since its founding in 2004. Esports fans associate the name “Fnatic” with top teams competing for championships.
Fnatic’s social media presence (with over five million followers across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter) reflects the public’s interest in their endeavors. With their recent re-branding heading into 2020, Fnatic looks to continue into the future as a leader in the esports industry.
How did Fnatic Become an Industry Leader
The key to Fnatic’s success is relevancy. The organization is always ready to pivot into new games and quickly rise to the top of its domestic scene. This presence in European esports as a top competitor ensures that the Fnatic brand never fades from public consciousness.
Since 2004, Fnatic has fielded teams in nearly every premier esport. This includes Counter-Strike (1.6, Source, Global Offensive), World of Warcraft, DotA and DOTA 2, League of Legends, Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege and FIFA. Fnatic has also been a consistent early investor into any new title with esports potential, such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile, Apex Legends, Overwatch and Paladins.
This is not a unique approach with larger organizations. What keeps Fnatic ahead of other similar multi-game esports organizations is championships. The organization understands that in sports, winning is the quickest path to popularity.
Fnatic’s rise in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends (LoL) exemplifies this approach.
In LoL, Fnatic has remained a top competitor since the inception of the European league. The organization holds the record for most domestic European championships with seven lifted trophies, tied with rival G2 Esports. Fnatic also won the first LoL World Championship in 2011, and remains the only Western team to hold that distinction.
In CS:GO, Fnatic was indisputably the best team in the world from 2014 to 2016. The roster featured the at-the-time best CSGO player in the world, Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson. Under the Fnatic banner, the all-Swedish line-up made history as the first team to ever win three Majors.
During this period, Olofmesiter under Fnatic made two historic plays on the map Overpass: a game-winning bomb defusal amidst flames and a controversial bug exploit to boost himself to an untouchable sniping position. CS:GO developer Valve immortalized both plays by adding art to the locations on the map referencing his achievements.
How did Fnatic Establish its Brand
By signing historic teams and players, Fnatic becomes ingrained in that esports’ history. The organization then leveraged its history into developing a consistent brand. Most prominently, Fnatic has established its brand as one loyal to a national market.
Within all versions of Counter-Strike, Fnatic’s rosters have been completely or predominantly Swedish. This gives Fnatic a consistent identity across the different Counter-Strike games and a reliable Swedish fanbase. Even now in 2020, Fnatic still competes in CS:GO with a completely Swedish team.
Beyond Counter-Strike, Fnatic is resolutely all-European. All of its fielded teams compete in European tournaments and consist of majority or completely European players. By winning consistently, domestically, and internationally with European players, Fnatic positions itself as Europe’s champion. This gives access to a broad fanbase across the continent and a position of prestige. Fnatic can then leverage this prestige for its high profile partnerships.
There is an exception to the European brand strength. When its comes to Dota 2, Fnatic is the undisputed SEA powerhouse. Ever since 2015, Fnatic has fielded a Dota 2 roster comprised of players from South East Asia. This has build a strong audience and fandom for Fnatic in the region, as well as an easier access to The International year upon year. This once again ties into “Fnatic never fading from public consciousness”.
Their rosters are always present at all Major esports events like The International, LoL Worlds or IEM Katowice.
Fnatic’s Partners are just as important
Earlier on, Fnatic secured sponsorships from endemic gaming brands such as MSI, SteelSeries and DXRacer. This led to deals with brands brands such as energy drink manufacturer Monster Energy and sports betting websites like Dafabet and Rivalry. Still in 2020, Fnatic continues partnerships with gaming brands and has even launched a Fnatic-branded computer with PC Specialist.
Fnatic also produces its own branded lifestyle merchandise and gaming equipment. The organization sells team jerseys as well as clothing items, accessories, and other branded memorabilia. With Fnatic GEAR, Fnatic also produces gaming hardware such as mice and keyboards. This hardware is used and endorsed by players competing under Fnatic, such as Carl Martin “Rekkles” Erik Larsson on the LoL team or Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson on the CS:GO team.
During the 2017 League of Legends Worlds Play-In stage in Wuhan, you could see more Fnatic merchandise worn by Chinese fans then merch from their local teams or any other team at the event.
As the esports industry grows, Fnatic is expanding beyond the gaming spheres and focusing on its lifestyle brand. The organization has now partnered with mainstream brands. In April, Fnatic (alongside other esports organisations Cloud9, FunPlus Phoenix, G2 Esports and T1) partnered with luxury vehicle manufacturer BMW. In this marketing partnership, BMW sponsored Fnatic and the other four teams under the campaign slogan “United in Rivalry.”
In June 2020, Fnatic partnered with fashion label Gucci to unveil the limited-edition Fnatic-branded Gucci Dive watch. Rekkles acted as the model for the watch.
In 2020, Fnatic employs hundreds of staff across the world. The organization has grown from a single team into one of the leading brands and competitors in the global esports industry. Its growth is part of the wider development of the esports market, in which Fnatic is a key player. It will be interesting to see how Fnatic evolves in this next decade as esports surpasses traditional sports.