Clash of the Titans: Fnatic's Dramatic Entrance Into the EU LCS Spring Split

Mon 26th Jan 2015 - 6:43am Gaming

The preseason had nothing going on and those of us who loved to watch the LCS were going out of our minds. So we all remember it. Rumors after Worlds that Rekkles was really hoping to join up with Alliance for the next Season. Rumors that xPeke had his heart set on creating his own brand and team; striking out on his own. Questions about how many members of the previous Fnatic would remain on the team for Season 5. We all know now that those rumors did come to fruition and the answer is one.

Looking back at the preseason as we were heading toward Week 1, of the LCS it was difficult for people not to think that Fnatic got robbed. Fnatic was a world class team with world class personas on it. Stars like xPeke, Rekkles, Soaz; they were the synonymous with Fnatic. With these players gone many began to wonder what Fnatic meant anymore. What was that brand worth without the players responsible for it’s legacy. Their Worlds placings; their endless top placings in LCS splits; the players who won those games and splits were no more.

What was Fnatic’s response? They imported a Samsung Galaxy sub and his duo-que buddy, an ADC from the challenger scene, and the star mid-laner of H2K; Huni and Reignover, Steelback, and Febiven. A lot of people thought of these acquisitions as sub-optimal and disappointing. Esports historian Thorin even released a “Thorin’s Thoughts”  Youtube commentary where he characterized Fnatic as having “lost” the off season. So with so many untested variables after such a dominating reign in the European LCS the question everyone looked to week 1 of the LCS to answer was this: did Fnatic’s top caliber LCS performance come from it’s star players or does the organization of Fnatic itself make a good LCS team? The upcoming Spring split will provide us with a pretty definitive answer. Week 1 of the EU LCS was the trying epic in Fnatic’s story going 2 - 0.

It seemed like for once the RITO gods had stopped actively waiting till my promos to match me with trolls and ragers and instead arranged for me the ultimate initial test for the new Fnatic. In the very first week Fnatic would face both the team that robbed them and the team they robbed. Fnatic was universally accepted as the number one LCS team in Europe at the beginning of last season and the end of the season 3. The team that rose to usurp  their throne in the summer split of last year was Alliance. In the end, Alliance took first place over the course of the summer split and summer playoffs, forcing Fnatic to take second in both. Afterwards Alliance took on Fnatic’s star AD carry Rekkles. Coming into this split Elements as they are now called was recognized as the other European superpower. In fact the LoL Esports preseason power rankings place Elements as the 10 best in the world. The new Fnatic would christen the spring split of the EU LCS with a face off against the super team that dethroned them back when the team was star-studded. Few but very dedicated Fnatic fanboys saw a victory here to be easy or likely.

Let’s be honest. It definitely looked easy. Fnatic saw through to Elements weakness in champ select and capitalized on it hard. They knew that Elements was going to have a passive early game and Fnatic picked a comp that would take advantage of that playstyle until Elements passively back up onto the fountain. Let’s break it down in champ select. When I watch a pick-ban this one sided I like to imagine that each champion that appears on the screen is making a statement to the other team that becomes a conversation between the two teams. Here’s how I saw the conversation between Elements and Fnatic that game.

The game pretty much went as spelled out in champ select. By picking early game dive/assassin champions who could synergize with movespeed from Sivir ult and Talisman of Ascension, Fnatic was able to chase down Elements despite the protective comp. When Lissandra or Rengar’s damage was not enough to pick off one of the tankier members of Elements Febiven was there with borderline clairvoyant Xerath ults to amplify the burst. By the time Elements had enough gold to start resulting in some late game tankiness their side of the map was devoid of turrets and Fnatic already has all the gold they need to take all three inhibitors and end the game. It appeared very well thought out and very well executed. What a great way to break into the EU LCS as a new roster. Throwing a loss at the EU giant that has your adc.

As if Fnatic’s storyline isn’t rich enough this week, Day 2 of Week 1 also contained an epic grudge match. H2K, the team that lost their mid laner to Fnatic (and almost their Top and Jung), was to face off against the new Fnatic with a Korean import of their own, Ryu.

This game did not begin with as resounding a start as Fnatic’s game against Elements with H2k picking up the first two kills of the game. But after a little overagression from Odoamne Fnatic bust the game wide open with two kills of their own and a dragon to boot. The name of the game indisputably became “turnaround.” Every time H2K thought they had someone caught they would all charge in all at once only to be subjected to brutal 3 man Tibbers stuns and 3-4 man Equalizers. After that H2K has to run, but they are running from Olaf and Zed so there’s pretty much no hope for escape. With another commanding win, Fnatic ended their week of grudge matches 2-0.

Obviously we can’t come to too many conclusions after seeing only 2 games from Fnatic, but with an almost entirely new roster with 2 foreign players joining up we can all agree that their debut in the LCS definitely looked stronger than any other LCS team after their korean imports. CLG and EG could only have dreamed of a start this strong with Seraph and Helios. Though we did see some growth in their performance we could even expect some from Huni and Reignover as well. Credit needs to go to Yellowstar the team captain and the organizations support staff for identifying individuals that could synergize as well as helping to put this team together. Hopefully, after a few more games we’ll be able to get a better sense of Fnatic’s new power. Until then guys, good luck, have fun, and thanks for joining the Arms Race.



Scott Kazmi

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