Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool has stepped down as the head coach of LEC runner-ups Fnatic and has left the org in pursuit of other opportunities, the team confirmed Tuesday. In his farewell message, Youngbuck spoke of the disappointing 2019 that Fnatic had, which included shortcomings on both domestic and international level.
“This year, we still feel how painfully short we fell in two LEC splits before losing to FunPlus Phoenix at Worlds,” Youngbuck said. “We were obviously looking to create similar success in 2019, but we found ourselves quickly swamped by internal issues in Spring that we could not overcome as players and coaching staff by the year’s culmination.”
Called the “six-star general”, Youngbuck stands out as the most successful head coach in LEC history. The Dutch was the one who led G2 Esports to their four consecutive LEC titles, before moving to Fnatic to win two more in back-to-back splits in 2018. The same year, Fnatic also reached the finals of Worlds, where a loss to Invictus Gaming placed them second — still Europe’s best result at a World Championship.
2019, however, was a struggle for Fnatic. The team had to find a new mid laner after Rasmus “Caps” Winther left for G2, and Tim “Nemesis” Lipovsek was drafted. The young mid laner showed rapid improvement but still Fnatic didn’t feel like the juggernaut they were the year prior. In the 2019 Spring Split, they finished third behind Origen and in the Summer, they missed the LEC trophy by an inch, getting reverse-swept by G2 in the finals.
At Worlds 2019, Fnatic were also drafted in the group of death with SK Telecom T1, Royal Never Give Up, and Clutch Gaming. Despite a resurgence run in the second half that put them second over RNG, Fnatic ended up losing the quarterfinals in a one-sided 3-1 to eventual champions FunPlus Phoenix.
“2019 would have been an easy fix if this was the fault of an individual, but the problems became complex to where no solutions for our problems became clear in time,” Youngbuck continues. “As a result of that, while ending 2018 as my best year, I’d consider 2019 as the worst in my esports journey.”
Youngbuck will now explore other options for the future, and with so many accolades to his name, offers are likely to pile on his desk.