It was supposed to be easier for Fnatic. The European No. 1 seed and fan favorites struggled throughout the first week of the League of Legends World Championships. They grabbed only an early victory over China’s Invictus Gaming in week one, losing to both AHQ Esports Club of the LMS and North America’s Cloud9. This worried fans of the team coming into week two. But then the team swept back with a dominating 3-0 scoreline.
Head Coach Luis “Deilor” Sevilla put the difference in performance down to preparation.
“I started preparing with about three days before our first match and it wasn’t really about the lack of time, it was the lack of information” Sevilla said. “The last patch AHQ played was a really long time ago. For IG, there’s no match histories in the LPL, and the last team was C9. Now C9 looked the weakest in the group coming in so we did not expect them to be that good coming in”
After the first week, Sevilla says his team “finally had some recent information to work with” and were able to fully prepare for the second set of games. Their extra preparation showed with the victories, but also in champion picks. Fnatic AD Carry Martin “Rekkles” Larsson pulled out AD Carry Kennen in two of their week two victories. “The Kennen pick is something that Rekkles told me about a long time ago.” Sevilla explained.
“Me and the team frequently talk about the meta and I really like trying to bring new picks so that we can get ahead of the meta, because if you are ahead of the meta the opponents do not know how to face you. It’s a pick we already had in our champion pool and now just seemed like the right time to play it and it worked.”
The change to the meta brought about by Riot’s latest patch was a major factor leading into the tournament. Some have pointed to this as the reason why Cloud9 were able to dominate the first week of the group stage with a 3-0 performance—and why China’s LGD failed to qualify out of the group, despite being favorites.
Sevilla disagrees. “I think that the meta change has absolutely nothing to do with some teams playing better or worse in this tournament.”
He continued: “Cloud9 overperformed according to many people, and maybe they did, but they only played one composition in all their matches. If they can do the same with maybe two or three compositions then maybe they are just a better team but they only had one.”
Cloud9 relied on certain champions in all of their matches: Jungler Hai “Hai” Lam played Lee Sin in 5/7 games, while AD Carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi looked for Tristana in five of their seven games as well.
“In the case of LGD, I think they went on tilt in the first game and just failed to recover from it. From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, the Chinese teams’ mental game is not that strong, they are prone to tilt and they can’t solve it that fast,” Sevilla said. “So even in a different meta, C9 could always do the same and just figure out one composition and LGD could have tilted”
While many other players and coaches have complained about the current meta, Sevilla is actually a fan of the changes, saying that it gives him “space to move in any direction” and that it “opens up the game to more innovation.” Innovation like Kennen at AD Carry, or perhaps the less-successful Yasuo in the top lane that Fnatic tried out against Cloud9 in week one.
Sevilla and his Fnatic lineup are in London preparing to face off against China’s EDG in what looks to be one of the closest matches of the tournament thus far. Both sides were predicted to be in or around the grand final in Berlin, but now one of them is heading home early. Sevilla is confident in his team. “I think if we are in the proper mindset, we can beat anyone. We have individual talent in every position, we have collective talent as a team, we have multiple strategies and we can play different styles.” he said. “We adapt properly to changes and we have a good mindset going into the game so we can win it.
Sevilla’s faith in his lineup will be put to the test on Saturday Oct 17 when Fnatic and EDG clash at the Wembley Arena in London. The game promises to be an intense affair with battles across the board. When the teams last faced off against each other at the Mid-Season Invitational, it was EDG who came out on top. Fnatic will be looking for revenge—and to make it one step closer to the final.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr
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