Fnatic and the EU LCS Spring Split: A recap
Posted 2016-04-24 Lepertum
Now that the playoffs are over it’s time to look back at the first split of the season. Our goal this split is to grow as a team in every way possible in order to achieve our long-term goal of making it to the World Championship after crushing it in the Summer Split. Just as every team in the League we’ve had our ups and downs over the past couple of months. However, based on our playoffs results, it’s clear that the Fnatic squad is getting closer to peak performance. We’re not quite there yet but we’re sure as hell working hard to get there when the Summer Split comes around in June. Let’s take a glance in the rear view mirror and see what’s behind us.
LCS Week 1: 1-1
After an initial trial run against the Qiao Gu Reapers at IEM Cologne, our squad was one step ahead of the competition during Week 1. The first game of the split would put us against Origen and it resulted in our first win at the same time. The most memorable moment of that game and arguably one of the biggest outplays this split occurred when Gamsu went up against Amazing in the top lane. After killing Soaz’s Lissandra in a 1v1 tower dive with his Olaf, Gamsu was left with only 10% of his health, when he got ganked by a full HP Amazing on Lee Sin. What should have been certain death resulted in Gamsu dodging both skill shots thrown out by Amazing and killing the blind monk right then and there while also surviving himself.
Day two the team ran into a Vitality, a team consisting of several strong players that we would continue to have a hard time against until playoffs. A 2v2 lane matchup where Rekkles and Noxiak were still getting used to one another favored a dominant Vitality. We ended the week 1-1, a score that would set a precedent for the rest of the split.
LCS Week 2: 1-1
In a very back and forth game it was Fnatic who took the win from H2K in their first game of the second week. A great engage around 20 minutes resulted in an ace for Fnatic and a free Baron on top of it. The team kept up the pressure on H2K but an ace for them resulted in a temporary comeback. Unimpressed, Fnatic stayed focused and a final team fight decided the game in our favor.
In the second game, we went up against Steelback, who was a part of Fnatic alongside Febiven during last year’s Spring Split. After coming back from North America he joined the Unicorns of Love and with a score of 11/0/4 by the end of the game Steelback was one of the main reasons why they proved to be too much for Fnatic. After a 50-minute game our boys ended the week 1-1.
LCS Week 3: 1-1
Week 3 had us face off against a team that nobody would have considered to be a top of the ladder contender this early on in the split. All eyes were definitely still on the strong teams of the 2015 season and looking back with our current end of split knowledge we now understand why G2 gave our team such a hard time this game. It’s because by then, G2 was already in possession of the thing we were still working on: communication. The timing on our ultimates and teleports wasn’t quite as perfect as it should have been and this got punished. G2 kept pushing the advantage they had accumulated in the early game and left us with a 26-minutes loss against the team that wouldn’t let go of first place for the rest of the split.
Next up that week was Splyce, a team that was still building up to their maximum potential in Week 3. Fnatic got a chance to show off their cat-like reflexes by dodging the lasers from Sencux’ Lux all game long. They eventually closed out the game, which could have probably happened earlier by capitalizing on the advantage the team had accumulated, but they finally did it and ended the week 1-1.
LCS Week 4: 2-0
Week 4 meant we would play against two teams sitting at the bottom of the table, Giants and ROCCAT.
Our boys showed a dominating performance and snowballed the game against Giants after a couple of impressive tower dives in the bot lane. 24 minutes later the nexus fell in a game where Fnatic gave up only 1 kill and 1 tower.
ROCCAT came looking for their second win of the split the next day and they put up one hell of a fight to try and get it. In a 47-minute game it was them who controlled the pace of the game until Rekkles got up to full power. Caitlyn’s late game coupled with Lulu’s protective shields and the ult from Gamsu’s Malphite turned Fnatic into an unstoppable force who fought their way back to a win after being 1 inhibitor down. Because of all that, this game was incredibly intense and an absolute pleasure to watch as it kept you on the edge of your seat until the enemy nexus fell. Fnatic went 2-0 for the first time this split.
LCS Week 5: 1-1
With half the split almost over it was decided to let Noxiak go and get in Klaj as a replacement. A lack of synergy in the bot lane and Noxiak not improving as fast as expected were the main reasons. With the addition of Klaj, who is Swedish just like Rekkles, the team hoped to improve on these issues and create the best possible environment for the team so they could get ready for the final weeks of the split and playoffs.
Against Elements, the new team brought their A-game using a new tactic evolving around Gamsu playing a split pushing Nautilus with Banner of Command and Zz’rot Portal. When you add Febiven and his 7/0/5 Ahri to that mix, you quickly end up with a 15k gold lead and it’s just a matter of time before you finish the game. Klaj showed up alongside the others and even picked up First Blood!
On day 2 we faced off against the Unicorns of Love again and sadly their team proved to be superior once more. The key turning point this match was a free Baron for UoL due to a lack of vision from Fnatic. A second blue trinket could have definitely helped prevent this. Fnatic went 0-2 against UoL overall after what was a very important game when looking at the standings going into playoffs.
LCS Week 6: 1-1
In what would turn out to be a week filled with upsets Fnatic first went up against number one team G2 esports. Great team fights from our opponent resulted in a 7k gold deficit, at which point it seemed like the game was over. However, G2 underestimated Rekkles’ Kog’Maw who was only just getting started and shredded their team when he was left alone for just a little bit too long. That 7k turned into 3k and Fnatic took down the team that only dropped 3 games in the entire split.
What happened on the second day was arguably even more surprising. Fnatic went up against Splyce in a matchup that, on paper, they should have been able to take with relative ease. Nothing was further from the truth however, when Splyce closed out a 30-minute game with a 13-0 score. Our map presence simply wasn’t there and Splyce had an easy time punishing mistakes.
LCS Week 7: 1-1
With only 3 weeks left in the split there were still some kinks to be worked for the team as they went up against H2K for the second time. Fnatic was ahead in kills for the entire game but H2K was a lot more dominant when it came to objectives, taking down 6 turrets versus our one. Baron also proved to be a problem after H2K’s Jankos stole one and the second one was picked up for free due to a lack of vision, resulting in great power plays and eventually the game.
Up next was ROCCAT and the team would now go up against Noxiak, who had joined their ranks after his replacement. The game was pretty much even, with kills being traded by both teams until a risky Baron got stolen by Spirit! The fight that followed resulted in a 4 for 5 ace for ROCCAT. One fight wasn’t enough to stop Fnatic though and they kicked back when Spirit used his Lee Sin ultimate to knock the enemy tank into their ADC, resulting in a convincing fight for Fnatic. Rinse and repeat once more and Fnatic took the game from ROCCAT, ending week 7 with their usual 1-1 score.
After 7 weeks it was time to finally trade the comfortable LCS stage for a much bigger one. The team traveled to Katowice, Poland where they played their first international tournament together. For Spirit it was his return to Katowice after upsetting the entire League scene with his incredible performance last year when he beat the GE Tigers (aka the KOO Tigers) as a member of Team WE. For Klaj, on the other hand, it would be his first time playing at an event of this size.
A rocky start gave the team the chance to build up momentum after they lost their first game against the Qiao Gu Reapers and they dropped to the lower bracket. Looking back, this loss was vital for the team’s success because it resulted in them playing a whole range of opponents at different skill levels, which let them adjust over and over before reaching full speed.
The team was up against North American team Counter Logic Gaming next and for a moment things looked dire as the team lost the first game in the best of three series. This was when the team turned things around and pulled out the big guns by picking Jhin as their marksman of choice for Rekkles. CLG did not know what hit them and soon enough the team closed out the series 2-1, accompanied by an incredible scoreboard for Rekkles. Up against the Qiao Gu Reapers in the next series, Fnatic pulled off the same incredible performance and after losing the first game with Kalista it was Jhin who was the key to closing out the remaining games.
Fnatic qualified for the semifinal the next day and went up against Chinese opponent Royal Never Give Up. RNG had to throw in the towel after three games when Fnatic proved to the world that they can also win without Jhin.
In the final Fnatic fell against reigning world champion SKT T1 and the team ended their Katowice run after having played a whopping 13 games in 2 days, more than they played together in the LCS so far.
LCS Week 8: 1-1
After their return from Katowice all eyes were on Fnatic and in their first game against Giants the team definitely delivered. We got to watch a very one-sided game where Fnatic showed the same great play as they did during the tournament. Febiven performed extremely well on Corki, going 8/0/4, and Rekkles was allowed to pick Jhin once more. A deadly combination against which Giants stood no chance.
The second game against Vitality that week wasn’t quite as convincing. The match was even for quite a while until Klaj getting caught in a Vitality deadbush secured them the first inhibitor of the game. In an attempt to keep the power level even, Fnatic went for a fifth dragon. The fight didn’t go their way and while retreating Vitality teleported into the base to stop the team from defending a nexus that was being swarmed by minions.
LCS Week 9: 0-2
In the final week of the Spring Split a lot of teams had very important matches to be played and so did Fnatic. A playoff slot was already secured but better results would mean the possibility of a more favorable opponent, so there was still a lot on the line.
First up was the game against Elements. The pickup of Soraka by Klaj as a support was an interesting choice but not one that made a big impression. Elements seemed to inch ahead during the entire game and were quickly 5k ahead before ending the game with a 10k lead.
Next up was Origen, a team that just like Fnatic had mixed results this split. For their final game they decided to sub in xPeke instead of PowerOfEvil in the mid lane and his presence on LeBlanc was definitely scary. Our squad simply wasn’t able to control the map and Origen was allowed to pick up multiple key objectives, giving them the advantage and the eventual win. The Fnatic team that did so well in Katowice was going into playoffs after their first 0-2 week of the season.
This split so far has definitely had it’s ups and downs and because of communication issues and roster changes, qualifying for playoffs became our main priority. In Katowice we saw the potential we have and everyone was hoping to see that very same team show up during playoffs where series are longer and it’s possible to adjust quickly between games.
Going into playoffs most people expected a tough quarterfinal series against Vitality. Not only did we go 0-2 in the final week but we also never actually won a game against Vitality in the past three months.
In the first game Fnatic decided to go with a slower scaling composition, picking up a triple AD comp with Kassadin for Febiven as an attempt to counter Vitality’s Azir pick. A correct choice as it turns out because Febiven picked up first blood. Only one other kill happened until the 35-minute mark when Fnatic aced Vitality after a successful baron fight. One more team fight after that and Fnatic won their first game in dominating fashion with an 11-0 score.
In the second game Kassadin got banned and it was back to Lissandra for Febiven. It didn’t really matter as Fnatic showed up fighting and finished the game in just over 30 minutes. The Jhin pick for Vitality gave them a chance to pick up a few kills but it was 2-0 for Fnatic nonetheless.
The next game turned everything upside down as it was Vitality who controlled every element of it. The score of the previous game was almost reversed as Fnatic only managed to pick up two kills against the enemies’ 14.
Game four was by far the most balanced game of the series and featured great team fights by both teams. Febiven played incredibly well on Lissandra and showed Vitality why it’s recently been seen as his signature champion. Beautiful ultimates helped the team get ahead around the 30-minute mark and after a five for zero ace Fnatic closed out the series 3-1.
G2 has had an incredible split and it would be a surprise if they didn’t show up strong for their first game of the playoffs. They definitely did and took a win against our boys in what was a good game with a disappointing ending. G2 played to the maximum of their abilities but the game never seemed lost until a disastrous team fight in our jungle resulted in a delayed ace and a sudden finish by G2.
The team did not want to let that happen again and went for some of their comfort picks to try and do just that. Spirit got to spearhead the game on Nidalee while Febiven showed G2 why you can’t let him have Zed. Fnatic evened the score in a quick 28-minute game.
The third game was a kill heavy match where G2 managed to inch ahead of Fnatic and close it out while game four showed us why G2 has been such a strong team the entire split. Fnatic managed to pick up some shutdowns during this last game but G2 was never going to allow a comeback and ended the game before Fnatic got another chance to do so.
After the semifinals there was one series left to be played that would decide if Fnatic ended the split in 3rd or 4th place and would earn 30 or 50 championship points this split. Febiven got a chance to play in front of his home crowd in Rotterdam and with an entire arena cheering them on the team had everything they needed to take it home.
Riding the hype train, it looked like Fnatic was going to close out the series 3-0 after the first two games. The team looked absolutely unstoppable and did not let H2K pressure them into doing anything they didn’t want to do. While the first game went on for 37 minutes the second one barely got to 25.
A questionable Kassadin pick in the next game and a ban for Gamsu’s Ekko gave H2K the opportunity to fight back and they kept doing so in the next game as well. These game were a complete 180-degree turn compared to the start of the series, and everything would come down to the fifth game.
For this all-deciding match Fnatic went for a ballsy Orianna pick coupled with champions like Maokai, Graves, Trundle and Ezreal for maximum wombo-combo potential. H2K initially got ahead but Fnatic knew that they only needed to scale and wait for a good team fight opportunity to tip the balance in their favor. That moment came at the 30-minute mark when a long team fight and a chase-turned-ace allowed Fnatic to take 3 middle turrets, an inhibitor, and the enemy nexus all before the H2K death timers ran out. Fnatic takes third place in the EU LCS Spring Split!
Playoffs definitely showed what the team is capable of when playing best-of series. We beat Vitality for the first time this season, had an intense series against H2K, and while G2 was too tough an opponent we still took a game from them as well. Obviously, it would have been better if we took home the title of Spring Split champions but the League of Legends esports landscape is constantly changing and evolving. Fnatic has done both as well and we’ve finished this split with a squad that is capable of putting in the work that gets them to another World Championship.