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How FNATIC really plays Bind

How FNATIC really plays Bind

Kim "vserov" Panagos


FNATIC have a long history on Bind, and have often been a meta-defining team on the map. Though their form on Bind fluctuated during 2021 and early 2022, by VCT EMEA Stage 2 Challengers there were promising signs that the map could become a cornerstone of their map pool. Despite suffering reality checks in defeats against FPX and PRX at Masters Copenhagen, their potential on Bind has been fully realized at VALORANT Champions, where they’ve racked up dominant performances against 100 Thieves (twice) and Team Liquid. Let’s take a look at what’s been driving their newfound success on the map.

Composition: a mix of old and new

FNATIC’s Bind composition has mostly remained the same throughout 2022. Three agents; Raze, Viper, and Skye; have been mainstays. The key development at Champions has been Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev trading in his Raze for Chamber. In his stead, Emir Ali “Alfajer” Beder is now on Raze, while Enzo “Enzo” Mestari traded in Fade for Viper. By effectively swapping an Initiator for Chamber, FNATIC opted to sacrifice utility and information gathering for faster rotations, a more secure flank, and a genuine Operator threat on defense. Another subtle, but nonetheless important change has seen Jake “Boaster” Howlett move back onto his trusty Brimstone after flirting with Astra during Stage 2. The results have been impressive, with FNATIC putting up a 75% round winrate on Attack, and a 60% winrate on defense. These figures are a marked improvement on Copenhagen, where they won only 43% of their attack rounds, and 49% on defense. 

Defense: Finn it to win it

FNATIC’s defense is relatively fluid. Derke shifts around the map, gathering information by holding deep angles with an Operator, Tour De Force, Headhunter, or Marshall. In fact, as well as swapping on to the French agent, Derke has also taken responsibility for IGLing FNATIC’s defensive sides.

“I felt more comfortable on Chamber as I played it on every other map. I think it was a good deal to put Alfa on Raze instead, and then the fast TPs help me and playing Op helps me. Also it helps me a lot that I can call on our defense what we do because then it’s easier for me to get picks or read more into [the other team’s] stuff.”

Figure 1: This map highlights the positions and movement of FNATIC’s players during the first 20 seconds of their defense rounds on Bind.

There are two constants in how FNATIC set up their defense. James “Mistic” Orfila tends to hold towards B Long, while Alfajer plays around Showers and A Site. The other players tend to shift between A and B, most frequently in a 3-2 alignment. Whichever site is manned by two players will also have Derke’s Trademark, usually positioned in either Hookah or A Short. 

Figure 2: An example of FNATIC’s standard defensive setup.

Out of this base alignment, FNATIC usually doubles up on one of the two lanes into each site. They are experts at this, and frequently fight aggressively to disrupt impending site hits coming from within their lane.

Mistic’s gameplay around Long B has been particularly impressive in this respect. He makes great reads off of his flashes, forcing FNATIC’s opponents to invest significant resources in order to take Garden. 

In rounds where Mistic isn’t pressed into fighting for B Long, he’s also FNATIC’s most relentless flanker. At Champions, a number of his kills came from pushing behind the attackers on A Short during retakes.

Figure 3: The locations of Mistic’s kills while FNATIC is on the defense side at Champions Istanbul.

The other dimension to FNATIC’s proactive defensive play on Bind is their grasp of when to conduct teleporter crunches. Though they didn’t run these plays often at Champions, they always yielded at least a man advantage.

Thanks to their defensive proactivity, FNATIC won an impressive 42% (10/24) of their defensive rounds at Champions by killing the attackers before they could even plant the Spike. They’ve also done well at retaking the A site, where they have a 57% success rate. If they’ve had a weakness, it’s their B retake, which failed in all six attempts. Admittedly, since FNATIC have only played three games since debuting their new Agent composition we should expect to see some of these numbers cool off. But for this event at least their defensive approach proved to be quite effective.

Figure 4: How FNATIC are winning (and losing) rounds on their defense side.

Attack: absolute dominance

As good as their defense has been, it is on attack where FNATIC found the most success at VALORANT Champions. They’ve put up dominant 9:3 and 10:2 scorelines against TL and 100T respectively in the two full attack sides that they’ve completed at the event. They often begin rounds in patient 3-2 or 4-1 defaults, with Derke typically being the lurker in the latter alignment. Boaster gives him a lot of freedom, and he’s not afraid to take early duels if he feels he can find an advantage.

For their site hits, FNATIC favor executing out of B Long and A Short, and rarely attempt to challenge Hookah during the first 30 seconds of a round.

Figure 5: Heatmap showing the positions of FNATIC’s players during the first 30 seconds of their attack rounds.

As a result, they tend to plant the Spike a bit later than most pro-teams do on Bind. Rather, they prefer to use the first 30-40 seconds to work the map and establish a strong position to execute from. Derke will sometimes hunt first bloods, but more often, the team will either hold patiently for pushes, or do a bit of initial probing in an area like Showers before eventually grouping up for an execute.

Figure 6: A graph of FNATIC’s attack speed on Bind at Champions. It highlights the times during the round when they are most frequently obtaining pre-plant kills, and also when they most commonly plant the Spike.
Figure 7: For comparison, a graph depicting the attack speed of all teams on Bind since the release of Patch 5.04.

These hits often occur in numbers, usually in force from Garden, or by bursting out of Enzo’s Toxic Screen on A Short after Mistic has cleared the close angles with a Trailblazer. Though FNATIC will sometimes contact when carrying out a late hit, they are usually very methodical, bombarding the site with Incendiaries, Snake Bites and Paint Shells in order to clear dangerous spots before pushing out.

As if all this wasn’t enough, FNATIC also excel at getting value out of their Ultimates, and will often tailor their gameplans around them. For instance, against 100T a methodical push into Showers is followed by a Viper’s Pit from Enzo which, in concert with an Orbital Strike towards Heaven from Boaster, creates sufficient pressure for Derke to walk up A Short and pick up an easy entry onto a helicoptering William “Will” Cheng. 

Conclusion: the benefits of adaptation

At Masters Copenhagen, FNATIC’s Bind was found out by savvy teams who were able to exploit the fact that their gameplan and comp had not changed since Challengers. They seem to have learned their lesson at Istanbul, presenting their opponents with fresh looks, while also moving their star players onto more comfortable roles. The results speak for themselves, but whether they can be sustained into 2023 will be an interesting question, particularly with the possibility of a more substantial Chamber nerf on the horizon. Nonetheless, FNATIC have shown themselves to be adaptable and innovative, and it will doubtlessly be a pleasure to see what they can brew up on the map in São Paulo next year. 

But for now, stay tuned to Run It Back for more breaking news, interviews, and features, including the previous installment—on Leviatán’s Ascent—in this series of deep dives looking at how a Champions team plays their best map. You’re also welcome to join our Discord, where you can use our analytical platform, interact with fellow VALORANT aficionados, and win prizes! 

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