Two years ago, FNATIC were on the verge of exploring or had at least considered engaging with two APAC stars for their 2022 plans, which could have led to an entirely different timeline compared to the present.
UNITED KINGDOM – During the OFF//SEASON, most teams often undergo changes as organizations seek to secure the most promising talent at the time, whether it’s through the acquisition of free agents or via market transactions. Despite some being predictable, there have been surprising moves that seemingly emerge out of thin air such as Kevin “xccurate” Susanto’s move to T1 or former FURIA coach Carlos “Carlão” Mohn moving to ZETA DIVISION.
However, what’s commonly announced by organizations only scratches the surface of the process. Before a player secures a permanent signing, there’s an extensive process behind the scenes—scouting, interviews, deal negotiations, trials, and more. In the end, only a few of these potential deals actually come to fruition and become officially confirmed.
What about the moves that did not happen or fell through in the process? What about the negotiations that almost relocated a star player to another corner of the world, potentially reshaping the tier-one VALORANT scene? What about the ones that could’ve, but didn’t?
Coach Jacob “mini” Harris, who has been a part of FNATIC’s support staff for the past three years, shared insights into what he and his team could have been before the period when the team claimed victory in São Paulo and Tokyo.
Surprisingly, the scouting list at that time included two players from the Pacific region, both of whom were considered around the beginning of the 2022 season. In total, mini revealed five potential options that FNATIC had in mind while they were in search of a Sova player, with the final choice ultimately settling on Andrey “BraveAF” Gorchakov to replace Domagoj “Doma” Fancev.
The potential recruitment of Gustavo “Sacy” Rossi, currently with Sentinels and previously with LOUD, would have been an incredibly impactful move that could have completely altered the course and potential outcome of the entire 2022 season.
At that time, Sacy was still a free agent from Team Vikings when FNATIC approached him to join. However, the 26-year-old declined, choosing instead to remain in Brazil and compete with LOUD—a decision that led the Brazilian powerhouse to secure second place at the 2022 VALORANT Masters Reykjavík and claim victory at VALORANT Champions Istanbul. Reflecting on this potential move, mini said, “At the time, I don’t think either of us really believed that would be possible! So, fair play.”
Jason “f0rsakeN” Susanto was also under consideration by the British coach at the time, with mini praising the Indonesian player’s exceptional statistics while playing as Sova, describing them as “insane.”
The FNATIC coach admitted, “The thought did cross my mind.” This took place when Paper Rex had only finished their inaugural year in VALORANT, securing qualification for VALORANT Masters Berlin in 2021 while f0rsakeN had just begun transitioning to a Flex role following the arrival of Wang “Jinggg” Jing Jie to the team.
In 2022, Paper Rex soared to greater heights alongside f0rsakeN, securing qualification for all three international events and advancing to the grand finals of VALORANT Masters Copenhagen before winning the regional VCT Pacific League during the following 2023 season.
Another name that emerged was Kim “Lakia” Jong-min when he became available on the market after playing with DRX (previously Vision Strikers), where he had only participated in two series over a span of six months as a substitute. However, mini stressed that the consideration to acquire him was very brief and lacked substantial depth. “The thought was very very very very mildly entertained,” he clarified.
Lakia debuted internationally at VALORANT Masters Reykjavik in 2021 where he led NUTURN Gaming’s scoreboard in three out of four appearances against Version1, Sentinels, and FNATIC themselves. The Korean player recently joined Gen.G after competing in the tier-two Korean circuit with Dplus KIA. He is set to make his debut in the upcoming season of VCT Pacific.
Other players considered for FNATIC at the start of the 2022 season were current GIANTX player Kirill “Cloud” Nehozhin and Daniil “1ndra” Sergeev.
Cover photo courtesy of Liu YiCun, Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games