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Fnatic Completes Its New Roster With Meracle, DJ, and QO

We interviewed Eric Khor about the formal turnover of Meracle from Mineski

Izo Lopez

After Fnatic’s mini-disband after Raven and Eyyou returned to Philippine teams, and then just recently Mushi’s transfer to Mineski-Dota, Fnatic has finally unveiled their revamped roster:

  • Chong Xin “Ohaiyo” Khoo
  • Galvin "Meracle" Kang Jian Wen
  • Kim "QO" Seon-yeop
  • Kim "Febby" Yong-min
  • Djardel Jicko "DJ" Mampusti

The roster was completed after a formal trade by Fnatic with Mineski, as a collaborated effort to begin setting a standard for proper player trading practices in the region. This effort is timely in a region still rife with player poaching and organizations that are still learning how to properly contract their players. was able to interview Eric Khor, manager of Fnatic, about the negotiations involved in the building of this new roster:

Izoid: So DJ returns to Fnatic: what made you decide to take him back?

Eric 'ReiNNNN' Khor: The decision to get DJ back came very easily to me and the squad. Following our team's TI6 run, it became apparent that our team functions best with a high impact support player who is greedy enough to complement Ohaiyo's non-greedy tempo offlane. There aren't many players in SEA or even internationally who could play the support role like DJ does.

DJ and Febby are both very talented individuals who can play multiple roles at a high level. Acquiring DJ adds another level of depth to our supports in which both players can play both the 4 and 5 position. As Ohaiyo put it, these two are the dream supporters in SEA.

He has his own reasons as well for choosing to leave the Philippines again but I am sure that it was decided after much consideration and talks with his family. I think he wants to play in a strong team again and I think he believes that Fnatic will be able to assemble a TI-worthy team post-Kiev Majors qualifier. From my end, we will make his stay in Fnatic as comfortable as possible.

With such an internationally-diverse team, are there any communication concerns?

I do not think that the communication for this new team would be much of an issue. Ohaiyo has played with both DJ and Febby for a long time and they understand each other easily. From my multiple conversations with QO in various LANs, QO speaks very good English as well. The same would go for Mercy (Meracle). In case that language does become an issue, we could always arrange for a counselor to mediate things between them to make in-game communication easier.

I think that a lot of people have a misconception about "communication issues" in a pro team. I don't blame them because a team’s communication practices are usually played close to the chest. Often, communication issues arise not because language but rather wrong information or information that was not transmitted (positioning in fights, etc). These are the core issues that loses the team a game.

Obviously players' command of language is also a factor in getting their point across in crucial situations but I believe the players in this new team will understand each other fine and are great communicators. Prior to picking these set of players, command of the English language was also one of factors as to why we picked this set of players.

How did the negotiations go with Mineski-Dota, especially given that you wanted to acquire one of their most important assets?

I would have to say the negotiations with Mineski to trade Mercy's contract for stronger relations between our organizations went extremely well. I have to give credit to Ronald for that. Our talks began when I heard that Mineski was reforming their team without [Meracle]. After discussing with the players in my team, I approached Ronald to negotiate a buyout for [Meracle].

Ronald was very professional in his approach. While he was aware that he would lose [Meracle] if the deal went through, he constantly brought up points of discussion that would ensure that Mercy gets a good deal and won't be mistreated in terms of financial gains and various other benefits in Fnatic. After these agreements were met, we started talking about the terms for the trade.

Personally, I made it a point not to approach the player directly since that would amount to player poaching. Given two international and respected organizations in Fnatic and Mineski, conducting ourselves professionally was just as much a priority.

Sadly, player poaching has become quite rampant in esports and it is extremely unhealthy for the longevity of the industry. It is not only unethical but it is also unfair to the organizations and the players in the long run, however enticing the short-term rewards may be. I strongly believe that if a team has a legal contract for their players, the trade talks should happen between managers and not between players. I believe it is about time to start to have a deliberate effort to do such negotiations properly.

Could we know what for you are the essential requirements in these agreements, to help guide other organizations who are also learning to conduct trades and contract players more professionally?

I think it is rather sad but first of all players, especially the younger ones, do not read their contracts seriously enough and in some cases team owners have exploited the vulnerabilities of their contracts. Considering that the implementation of contracts is rather new to many young orgs in the Southeast Asian scene, players should really pay attention to make sure that their contract isn't too one-sided, disadvantaging them in the long run.

I strongly believe that the contract should be mutually beneficial with clear rules in terms of substitution, termination (reasonable for both parties), compensation (salary, increment, prize cuts) and responsibilities. It is important that the contract is able to cover all grounds so that neither the player nor the org can exploit each other or perform acts that aren't bounded by the contract.

Back to Fnatic for the last question. This is a renewed Fnatic, and an exciting roster: how do you honestly feel about a shot at another run at The International this year?

I think the short term goal here would be to qualify to The International 7 in the first place. As for placements, I can't really say for now since the team is so new but I am hoping we are capable of making top 8 with this many TI veterans in the team. A lot of serious thought and consideration was put into building this specific roster, and I think we can be confident about it especially given the esports pedigree of the players. Whatever happens, you can expect us to do as we have always done, which is to constantly look for ways to get even stronger as both a team and an organization.

Thank you for your time, and good luck with the new roster!

Fnatic will play in the upcoming Manila Masters SEA Qualifier.

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