With the European League of Legends Championship Series roster lock on the 1st of January and the split starting on the 14th of January I thought it would be appropriate to break down each of team in the order they finished the Summer Split. These team breakdowns will include looking at the rosters primarily and anything else important to note.
We will be starting with Fnatic, the team that infamously went 18-0 in the Summer split regular season before only losing 2 games in the play offs. This was with a team that, bar the AD carry, in Spring of 2015 not many people rated or expected to do well. The team went on to reach the semifinals of the World Championship, losing only to the eventual runners up, Koo Tigers.
Before we look at the current roster, we have to look at the 3 players that decided to emigrate to the NA LCS; Huni, Reignover and YellOwStar. Huni was the carry of Fnatic due to his high level of skill on carry champions, especially in a meta built around top laners. When Huni was put into positions of danger, he could always rely on the presence of Reignover to be there. Reignover was the Watson to Huni’s Sherlock. He was always there when he needed him and while people wouldn’t think of Reignover, if Huni’s name was ever brought up, Reignover was talked about. The true loss for Fnatic has to be YellOwStar though. The captain of the team, the shotcaller and the only remainder from the 2014 line up. Without a strong leader and shotcaller, as seen with the case of Cloud 9, it can all go wrong for a team. If YellOwStar’s responsibilities aren’t taken over, this spring split could be a split of consolidation for the newly banded roster.
Enough about the players that have left now though and moving onto the players that have either chosen to stay with the organisation or are making a move to join them. The current roster that has been confirmed and since took part in IEM Cologne, placing 3rd-4th, is:
- Top – Gamsu
- Jungle – Spirit
- Mid – Febiven
- AD Carry – Rekkles
- Support – Noxiak
- Coach – Deilor
The majority of these new players are well known, with Noxiak being the only player who people may not have heard of before. Gamsu is moving from Dignitas, a team who finished in 6th place of the NA LCS Summer Split for Season 5. Gamsu, as a player, is a similar player to Huni, in that he plays carry top laners and hasn’t had as much success on utility champions. While it has to be taken into account that Huni played on a much stronger team in summer, both players statistics can be compared to show the similarities of the two.
As seen in the stats, we can see that Huni had a higher KDA over the split and was regularly ahead in farm while having a lower percentage of his teams gold, albeit only by 0.4%. Looking only at the KDA can be misleading however, as his death share was a lot higher than Gamsu. If Huni has died more often than Gamsu, him having the higher KDA shows the amount of kills or assists that he has to get in order to retain his KDA. Gamsu did however, have problems with the English speaking team, a reason for his team play not being complete. Overall, Huni is a much better top laner, but with the coaching from Deilor, Gamsu has the potential to replicate how Huni played within the team and the levels that he reached.
Spirit. This is a player who has placed highly multiple tournaments while playing for Samsung blue, a team that made it to the semifinals of the 2014 World Championships after placing top 2 in both spring and summer of Champions (LCK). Since then he made the move to China, like many other Koreans, and joined Team World Elite. Playing for WE, he didn’t ever make the impact that he made on the Korean scene, partly due to his team not being up to the same level as previously. As a consequence of this, he took it onto himself to carry the whole team. This resulted in his preferred champion, not most played champion, being Nidalee, a champion that he had a 77% win rate with, over the whole year. There are two ways to take this. Either you say Spirit was a good player able to carry a thoroughly mediocre team, or you say he was a selfish player, putting his own playstyle before the team, in a meta where the jungler was usually a tank who worked with his support to prioritise vision. During his Samsung Blue days, Spirit was a shotcaller for the team, giving Fnatic an choice to replace YellOwStar, even if he isn’t on the same level. While this does give Fnatic a made replacement, this does offer problems in itself, with Spirit currently on speaking Korean. Depending on how long it takes him to learn English, the lack of a shotcaller could cause problems for Fnatic, especially in Spring Split. Spirit has all the potential to be the best jungler in EU and even one of the best players, but it depends heavily on his ability to learn English and adjust his gameplay to work better in a team environment, which we did see in his Samsung Blue days.
We now move onto the remaining two members of Fnatics roster last split, and these are top players in the region, let alone their roles. Febiven is the first player to talk about. Ever since his H2K days playing in the Challenger Scene, we knew he was a good player with the potential to become a European great. This potential was reached last season and he is now seen as the best mid laner in Europe and most definitely in contention for the best player. If we talk about Febiven, his multiple solo kills on Faker at MSI are some of the first things that come into mind. While this isn’t the only thing that makes him a great player, it highlights how far he has come since playing under the Fnatic banner. It will be interesting to see how he does this split with a more aggressive jungler like Spirit coming into the team to offer more kill pressure to his lane.
It will be interesting to see Rekkles playing with a new support on Fnatic’s line up since him and YellOwStar were one of the best bot laners for the past year. With Rekkles being a passive laner the majority of the time, it gives Gamsu the ability to play his style and go aggressive knowing that he will have the back up of Spirit to cover for him. This isn’t a massive change from the past season and Rekkles won’t have to completely change the way he plays his game, except to match up with the new support, Noxiak. Rekkles has the potential, along with Febiven, to carry this roster during the early stages of the season while other teams are learning how to play together but eventually they will get to a stage where mechanical skill isn’t enough and they will need to be able to play together at a top level, if they want to carry on Fnatic’s dynasty in the EU LCS.
Moving lastly onto a player that not many players will have heard of, Noxiak. As a player, Noxiak has spent a lot of his time playing in the Challenger Series but has often been drafted into LCS teams near the bottom of the standings to play support for them as a substitute player. While playing for MYM in the last 3 weeks of the Spring Split, the team won 3 of the 6 regular matches that they played, showing a vast improvement from the 2 wins they had over the other 6 weeks in which they played 12 games. While he was unable to save the team from relegation, he helped them to at least pull themselves back into contention to save their LCS spot with a tiebreaker against Giants. He was again brought into a team fighting for their LCS survival in the summer split, when he joined SK Gaming for their relegation series against Gamers 2, which they ultimately lost 3-2. It is unfair to judge Noxiak on the fate of these teams, as he was brought into two teams that were floundering but brought stability to them and almost kept both teams in their LCS spots. Before he made his appearance on MYM, he was part of a Fnatic Academy team that had Rekkles playing for it. This will help the bot lane pairing as they have already played together, giving them the advantage of knowing each others playstyles, albeit a year ago. Noxiak favours champions with heavy lane pressure, such as Alistar and Braum, which will allow Rekkles to farm his way up to carry point before having a support prepped to peel for him. It will be interesting to see how Noxiak does on an organisation that is expecting to finish top 2, since his cameo appearances in the LCS have been for teams struggling to win games.
Fnatic as a team, should just be looking to make the play offs in the spring split of Season 6 with the members of the new roster each having specifics that they need to learn. If both Korean members can learn English in time, they have the mechanical skill to play at the highest level of the LCS but this is completely dependent on how well they are able to communicate with the rest of team. Lacking a strong leader for the first time in it’s history, the organisation will be looking for a player to pick up the mantle and lead the team. All we do know is that you are never able to write off Fnatic. We learnt this from this past season where they had an even bigger overhaul of their team, yet still managed to win both splits and come home with a top 4 finish in Worlds. Only time will tell to see how they do.
My prediction for Fnatic – 4th