Every game matters: Fnatic's experience in best-of series
Posted 2016-05-31 Lepertum
A couple months ago Fnatic surprised friends and foes by making it all the way to the Grand Final of the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice after being middle of the pack during the first part of the LCS season. Things could have gone totally different, however, as the team lost their first game, a best of one against the Qiao Gu Reapers. This knocked them down to the lower bracket where they were expected to play several best of three games if they wanted another shot at the final victory. At that point, it seemed like an almost impossible feat to pull off but nothing was further from the truth.
The series against CLG was the first official best of three the guys played together. After losing the first game the team was able to show their full potential by dominating the final two games. Of course, one series doesn’t mean anything and you could call their win an anomaly if it wasn’t for the fact that they went on to win their next bo3 as well. They even knocked out the same team that originally beat them: The Qiao Gu Reapers. Fnatic repeated themselves once more the next day and went on to beat Royal Never Give Up in a similar fashion. At this point, Fnatic had shown three incredible series already and they were ready for their best of five against SKT T1.
SKT was too much of an opponent but a clear pattern did arise over the weekend: Fnatic is generally very strong in best-of series. However, coming home from Katowice we had to go back to playing best-of-one games in the LCS and the team didn’t manage to finish all but one week with more than a 1-1 score. The question we should ask ourselves after all this is whether or not we would have done better if we got a chance to play best-of-twos, -threes or -fives instead? The answer is almost certainly yes.
Last month, our squad went on to prove this once more by defeating Team Vitality 3-1 during the Spring Split Playoffs, something the team wasn’t able to do during the regular split. While future Spring Split champion G2 Esports proved to be too much, we did manage to come out on top once more in a very close best-of-five series against H2K. The (often international) experience some of our players have with longer series must have played into our advantage. Let’ take a look at where all this is coming from.
Febiven is no stranger to playing and winning series that go longer than one game. Two years ago he played in the Challenger scene for C9 Eclipse, dominating his opponents before joining H2K and fighting his way through the expansion tournament to make it into the LCS. Febiven then joined Fnatic and went on to win the Spring and Summer playoffs with the team before going to worlds and making it all the way to the semifinals. A quick count reveals that Febiven played a whopping 32 series since 2014, winning an impressive 84% of them!
Rekkles has been playing in tournaments for even longer and while he has also played for the Copenhagen Wolves and Alliance, most of his achievements come from series he has played with Fnatic. It was in 2012 that Rekkles first started playing for our organization and since then he has amassed a win rate of 78% in 68 best of threes or best of fives!
Looking at the rest of the team we have two players who started their careers in Korea, where best of series are the bread and butter of the scene and often include a blind pick fifth game in case of a tie.
Spirit was once the jungler for Samsung Blue and got experience with long series during the HOT6iX Champions 2014 Spring and Summer league, before fighting his way to the semifinals of the 2014 World Championship where he also got his first international best-of experience. After making the move to the Chinese Team WE he picked up even more knowledge by making it to the final of the IEM Katowice World Championship in March 2015.
Gamsu, on the other hand, decided to leave Korea for North America. In NA he got used to playing best-of series as a part of the Summer Promotion Tournament and the Summer Playoffs for the 2015 season. He also got a taste of what Europeans are like by travelling to IEM Cologne with Dignitas later that year.
Yellowstar, of course, needs no introduction. Having just returned from NA, he is a great example of the variety of experience the team has. As a part of Fnatic, he has attended various IEM events as well as the Mid-Season Invitational and multiple World Championships. His time at TSM only grew that number of international events and Yellowstar has now played in more than 53 best-of series, averaging a win rate of almost 70% dating back to season 1.
It’s clear that together Fnatic has almost seen it all. We’ve played in five different regions, have 4 World Championship semifinalists and all combined our guys have played over 200 best-of series! That’s a lot of experience.
No matter how impressive these stats are it is important to remember that experience alone means nothing without a proper support staff. A team like Fnatic counts on its managers, analysts and most of all its coach to prepare them for the different scenario’s they can come across during these series. Deilor’s role as a coach is also to make sure the team stays focused in between games. He knows each player inside and out and has to guide them in the right direction, especially when a series isn’t going well. Because of his key role we asked Deilor how he thinks the best-of-two format will affect Fnatic this split.
Luis "Deilor" Sevilla, Fnatic Head Coach
LCS games are like high quality scrims so being able to play twice us much means that we will be able to improve faster towards Worlds. Some aspects that weren't trained enough in the best-of-one format are mental strength and adaptation from both players and coaches. With the change, you need to keep your head cool after the first game. We have to focus on the next one and prepare the draft and in-game adaptations, just like for a best-of-five. This change will be valuable for both the Summer Playoffs and Worlds.
Based on Deilor’s insight it’s safe to say that the new Fnatic squad has a bright future ahead of them in the Summer Split. Our first series will be against GIANTS on Thursday, June 2nd at 9PM CEST followed by the matches against Vitality on Friday, June 3rd at 7PM CEST.