Fnatic wanted to play Vitality—how will Vitality respond?

Fnatic don't think Vitality pose much of a threat. But will the French side take that slight lying down?

Photo via Riot Games

This is the matchup Fnatic wanted. Well, they really wanted to play Splyce in the first round of the LEC playoffs. With that choice unavailable, they chose to face Vitality instead.

The reason they did was simple. These are two teams heading down different trajectories. After a hot start, Vitality have cooled off noticeable in recent weeks, and it seems like if they can’t split push or backdoor their way to victory, things can fall apart.

Meanwhile Fnatic look like gangbusters. After starting the split an almost-unfathomable 3-7, they came roaring back in week six with a 2-0 game score capped by a victory over Vitality.

Vitality is where the Fnatic run to the playoffs really started, and in their playoff match on Friday March 29, Fnatic will look to keep the good times rolling.

All they do is split

Photo via Riot Games

Vitality coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi is known for one thing: coaching split push teams. It’s worked for him—his teams have made Worlds a couple times despite having what on paper looks like a shaky roster. Hell, Vitality even had the gall to backdoor the defending world champs last year at Worlds.

Many teams say they want to split push, but when objectives come, they abandon the map and head to the fight. Vitality are not that team. They are comfortable trading objectives like Baron or Dragon for Turrets and Inhibitors. Sometimes they trade for the game.

That type of play is exciting, but it also has its downsides. This year, they’ve strayed a little too far from those major neutral objectives. Their Baron control is last among all playoff teams. Their dragon control is even worse.

Last summer, Vitality were a great early game team that turned tempo into dragons with the best drake control in the entire league. Their Baron control wasn’t far behind. But this season, it seems like the allure of turret gold and things like Rift Herald has proven too enchanting.

The weird part is, for a team that loves to play fast and set up their 1-3-1, Vitality actually don’t have great early game numbers. And that’s weird because their solo lanes are crushing the lane phase. Some of that is due to how supportive jungler Lee “Mowgli” Jae-ha prefers to play.

But there is another lane that’s holding them back as well.

Can Attila possibly beat Rekkles?

Photo via Riot Games

The LEC made the playoffs a lot more interesting this year by forcing teams to pick their own opponents. It creates better storylines, especially for the teams being picked—somebody thinks you’re bad and that you’ll be an easy victory.

We can’t fault Fnatic for thinking that. In a meta where marksmen are prioritized, they don’t think Rekkles can lose to Attila. They think Attila’s bad, and they have the lane and damage numbers to prove it. This is a massive shot across the bow at the Vitality bot laner, and really, the entire team.

That’s spicy stuff, the type of action we can’t wait to see. Fnatic came back from the dead this split by solidifying their mid lane with jungle pressure and unleashing Rekkles as a carry with lots of early attention. Ironically, they’re probably a better early game team now than Vitality. SK Gaming, the other potential opponent Fnatic could have chosen, are unpredictable, and their neutral objective control is much better. But in a full five-vs-five against Vitality, Fnatic are betting that a fed Rekkles will carry every time.

Because of that, we’re expecting Vitality to head into Friday’s match with a massive chip on their shoulder. We want to see some attitude, some meanness from this feisty young French team that just got slighted by big brother Fnatic. Drama and excitement should ensue, and we can’t wait to see it happen.

Fnatic have thrown the gauntlet by choosing Vitality. When the series kicks off on Friday, March 28 at 12pm ET, we’ll finally see how Vitality can respond.