It wasn’t the cleanest victory in esports history, but it was definitely one of the most dramatic. Fnatic, after dominating last year, are once again the European League of Legends champions after a tense 3-1 victory over SK Gaming in the finals.
It was Fnatic’s third consecutive victory, the vaunted three-peat.
Heading into the match, it was hard not to look at the very different paths both of these teams took. Fnatic, who entered the season as favorites, began with a seven-game winning streak. But then they fell in eight straight, plummeting in the rankings, causing many to wonder if they would even make the playoffs. But the team, rebounded climbing up the rankings to the No. 2 seed by the end of the season, then clawing past Alliance in the semifinals.
SK, on the other hand, had to rebuild their squad over the offseason. With many new faces, they took some time testing the waters of the LCS, but mounted a late-season assault to ascend into first place.
They were the last two teams standing.
The first game started off with an early Fnatic attack that left SK with two deaths, and things only went downhill from there. Knocked off balance, SK put up a grueling 40-minute fight, but eventually fell at the hands of Fnatic.
But game two told a different story. This time, SK mounted their own level 1 assault, giving up three quick kills to SK. The game seemed to be a reversal from the first.
But Fnatic wouldn’t go down that easily. SK began slowly tearing down towers across the map, but an attack in the top lane left them vulnerable to a flank from Fnatic’s star jungler, Lauri “Cyanide” Happonen. Fnatic flipped the tables on SK, taking down four players and the Baron, and quickly ended the game to go up 2-0 in the series.
With just one more victory between them and a third LCS title, Fnatic had the clear upper hand.
However, SK had other things in mind. Despite Fnatic scoring more kills throughout most of the third game, SK kept their eyes on the prize and took down objectives as often as possible. They eventually came out with a huge gold lead, and used it to swing a big fight at the Baron in their favor. Fnatic, now on the back foot, tried to fight back, but it was too little, too late. Could SK come back from a 2-0 deficit to take the series?
With the stage set for an epic comeback, the fourth game started off slowly. Fnatic was forced to respect that SK deserved to be in the finals just as much as they did. The turning point, however, lied in the hands of Fnatic’s strongest weapon, their rookie marksman Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
Larsson had only been killed once in the previous three games, and he seemed intent on keeping that clean sheet. A surprise flank by Fnatic’s mid laner, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez, gave Larsson exactly the opening he needed to close out the game.
His performance pushed Fnatic over the edge, and with Larsson raining down terror on SK, Fnatic drove for the win. Larsson ended with seven kills, six assists, and zero deaths, finishing the series with a 32.0 KDA.
As the last nexus fell, the crowd erupted, cheering for Fnatic who had once again taken the crown.
“We had better picks the whole time,” Martinez said after the match.
While Fnatic leaves with another trophy to add to their growing collection, all eyes now turn to the All-Stars event in Paris next month, where Fnatic will join a number of the world’s best teams to fight in a star-studded invitational.
The team had one last message for their fans.
“It’s really cool to see people coming every weekend [to watch the LCS],” Martinez said, “Thank you.”
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube