FNC vs G2 - The Kassadin switcheroo
Kassadin has been a regular visitor of competetive League of Legends and has had major impact at times due to his high mobility and burst potentional (and difficulty to balance him). But what is the correct way to play before you make flashy backdoors to win the game (or not, in Fnatic's case)?
I think Fnatic showed a smart way to play him and to get him through the early stages of a game, a point where the pick usually struggles due to his need for several items and the speed at which Rod of Ages stacks, an item which is essential to him. I will get to that in a minute. First off lets learn something about the pick itself in order to then see how Fnatic made use of his strengths and played around the weaknesses.
Anyone aware of Kassadin's kit and its strengths and weaknesses is free to skip the next part.
A look into the Void Walker
First off we should take a look at his kit:
Starting off: His passive, named Void Stone, not only lets Kassadin avoid unit collision but also reduces magic damage by 15%, which helps him against the mages he is often laning against.
Together with his Q Null Sphere and its magic shield this provides a great asset when facing off against the likes of Lissandra. In addition Null Sphere is also a usefull last hitting tool in lane and one of Kassadins damage spells.
Kassadin's W Nether Blade has a passive and an active component. The passive increases the damage of his basic attacks by a base amount and a portion of his ability power. The active not only increases this damage even more for his next basic attack but also refunds mana, resets his basic attack timer and increases the attacks range. This ability may seem insignificant due to its small AP scaling and base damages, but keep in mind: This ability empowers every basic attack. It can be compared to the passive of the item Nashor's Tooth and provides Kassadin with certain power even when his abilities are on cooldown.
Casting spells while near Kassadin provides him with stacks for his E ability Force Pulse. This ability can only be used upon hitting six stacks and consumes all of them (it caps at six stacks and the stacks have no other purpose). Upon cast this ability deals damage in a cone and slows anyone hit. This ability is actually very straight forward despite the stacking mechanic and further boosts Kassadin's chase potential with his Ultimate due to its spammability.
Onto the ability that we all (don't) love about Kassadin: His Ultimate ability Riftwalk is a short cooldown and short range blink that deals damage depending on Kassadin's AP and Mana. Both damage and mana cost double when this ability is cast subsequently within 15 seconds up to four times.
A standard end game build looks something like this:
More often than not Kassadin's will start with Corrupting Potion for additional sustain in lane, which is highly recommended since Kassadin has very little ability to fight back early so Doran's Ring would not provide him with many usefull stats.
The order of the latter items can vary and this is not the only possible build as I will show in a second. The only thing that will be the same in almost any proper Kassadin game will be Rod of Ages as the first item choice. Kassadin is one of the few champions with Mana scalings on his abilities (W Mana refund and R damage) and his ultimate cost increases heavily when used alot. Therefore Rod of Ages is a mus have on Kassadin and it cannot be delayed in build order since it has to start stacking early to reach ten stacks as soon as possible. When completely stacked it provides 500 Health, 800 Mana and 120 Ability Power. The gold value of these stacks is about 5000 gold from an item with a cost of 3000 gold making it an extremely gold efficient item once stacked after ten minutes.
With additional items under his belt Kassadin can become a very real assassin and split pushing threat and Fnatic knew this when going for the Kassadin last pick.
Febiven's Kassadin build at the end of Fnatic's game against G2 differed quite a bit from what I have shown you in the previous part. Now the reasoning behind this is actually very simple when looking at the way Fnatic played their game plan around everyone's favorite Void Walker.
Now after we get a rough understanding of the champion that is Kassadin, aswell as his early game weaknesses and his scaling power we can start taking a look at the game itself. To give a short overview on the way the two teams drafted:
G2 opened with a Zed ban against Febiven, since he is conisdered a very strong mid lane pick on patch 6.6. Fnatic follows with a Nidalee ban which also is a very frequent ban due to her power as a carry jungler. Now G2's response is actually a very smart one: Seeing that Nidalee is banned and only Graves and Kindred are left open from the highest tier of jungle picks they ban Kindred and then first pick Graves for Trick.
The third ban by G2 is Braum while Fnatic ban Bard and Poppy. Braum is a general power pick among the strong meele tank supports and Poppy and Bard are mostly target bans at Kikis and Hybrid.
After the Graves first pick is where the interesting part begins: Fnatic pick Alistar and Sivir in their first rotation, which are very high up in their respective role tiers. G2 follows with two flex picks in Lissandra and Trundle, though Lissandra can safely be assumed to go mid since tank top laners are very much favored at the time. Wanting the mid lane counter pick for Febiven Fnatic proceeds to pick Lee Sin for Spirit, which has been one of his strongest picks when not on one of the top tier junglers, and Ekko for Gamsu. Now tank Ekko is considered very powerful on patch 6.6 but G2 did not go into the draft without an idea what to respond with: Toplane Trundle. Toplane Trundle does very well into tanks like Ekko and this will play a very crucial role in Fnatic's defeat. But more on that later. In order to get the top lane Trundle G2 still needs to pick their bot lane and do so with Kalista and Thresh which is a very strong lane and can more than hold its own against Alistar and Sivir.
This is where the Void Walker comes in: Knowing the entire G2 team Fnatic knows Lissandra has to be mid and also that she is very likely going to run teleport, so Fnatic decide to pick Kassadin, also running teleport. Thanks to his Passive and Q he is very well able to survive the lane against Lissandra and also, thanks to Febiven's itemization with Abyssal Scepter + Mercury Treads into Void Staff to counter Lissandras own Abyssal Scepter, he can split push very well against her and keep the pressure on the side lanes. Unfortunately for them Fnatic were not the only ones knowing that.
The early stages
Before minion spawn Fnatic set up a classic defensive line across their jungle entrances but G2 force their way into Fnatic's red buff jungle and place deep wards in order to get standard lanes which would favor both top and bot lane. Now Fnatic read it nicely and manage to get their way into a classic laneswap. Fnatic get an early advantage since Spirit is able to start on his weak side after G2 does not figure out in time that they are in fact in a lane swap. Klaj manages to scare off Kikis and Trick leading to a three buff start for Spirit, even though it doesnt matter too much.
After the first turrets fall is when G2 tries to mix things up. At first their bot duo goes top but then decide to give the waves to Kikis instead and face Fnatic's duo in a 2v2. At the same time Klaj roams mid and chunks Perkz together with Febiven right after he teleported to lane, giving Febiven alot of free time until Perkz can make it back. Fnatic sends Spirit and their bot lane back top to take Rift Herald, which is then claimed by Rekkles and taken into the bot lane 2v2 for a pushing advantage.
Realising that staying bot against Herald minions is pointless they swap Emperor and Hybrid to mid lane after shoving as much as possible to put pressure onto Kassadin. While G2 was getting damage onto the mid turret Rekkles pushed bot lane all the way to turret causing Emperor and Hybrid to also move back down. Rekkles recalls and goes mid to wave clear against Lissandra. He is soon joined by Klaj and Hybrid. I am pretty sure Fnatic was hoping to get Emperor and Hybrid to move into mid lane and Perkz to move down against Febiven due to the two both having teleport and Febiven being able to deal with Perkz at this point but instead Febiven is left in a 1v1 against Emperor's Kalista, whom he cannot take on at this point. This results in Febiven losing CS and Rekkles on his Sivir actually building up a ~20 CS lead over Emperor. In the meantime G2 managed to take the first Dragon of the game since Fnatic had very little pressure with Febiven on the scaling Kassadin against Kalista and Rekkles stuck wave clearing mid.
This is the point where Emperor and Rekkles actually meet in the mid lane and Febiven gets the matchup against Perkz down bottom. To back up Febiven Klaj and Spirit place down wards inside of G2's red buff jungle but G2 responds by taking Rift Herald on the other side and giving it to Trick.
At around minute 16 Gamsu overextends while his team has very little pressure, gets caught out by a gank and gives first blood over to Kikis, who already had a decent pressure advantage over Gamsu as Trundle over Ekko.
This is when Fnatic go for a risky play: Instead of moving top to defend their turret they try to take G2's mid turret in exchange. This is then answered by Perkz by teleporting in and clearing the wave, all the while Febiven is splitting down bottom. Shortly after Perkz is caught out by Klaj, Spirit and Rekkles after overextending on the mid push forcing him to flash towards Hybrid and then take the lantern to safety. This is the point where Febiven takes down G2's bot turret.
Fnatic realise their teleport advantage with two over both teleports on G2 being down and set up a 1-3-1 with Rekkles clearing mid. Fnatic do not get the matchup they want since G2 send Kikis to split against Febiven, who cannot possibly pressure a Trundle at this point in the game. Additionally Perkz is send to splitpush against Gamsu. This is the point where the switcheroo begins: Both teams have definite setups in mind they want and try to get them over and over again. Following Febiven's swap up top against Perkz and Gamsu going bot G2 also switches around and once again tries to get Kikis up against Febiven.
After unsuccessfully trying to siege mid with Graves and Kalista against Rekkles G2 gives Fnatic an opportunity to put down vision around dragon. G2 try to jump on them using Perkz' teleport but Fnatic quickly abort with On the Hunt. Once again Fnatic has acquired a teleport advantage but this is where Fnatic makes the mistake: After Febiven takes down the second tier top turret and G2 take Fnatic's tier one mid they continue for the second tier mid turret with Spirit on their flank. Spirit attempts to kick Emperor from behind but a great QSS into Flash saves him before Spirit goes down. Gamsu and Febiven both teleported in behind G2 but only manage to take out Hybrid in trade for Gamsu.
Fnatic still try to pull off the 1-3-1 even without teleports but it basically is too late at that point: After a failed Baron attempt by G2 as five and Febiven and Gamsu swapping around three times and being followed by Kikis and Perkz respectively G2 finally finds a window with the pressure created by Kikis to take down Fnatic's second bot turret. This is where the game ending fight happens: G2 trying to catch Klaj in Fnatic's blue buff jungle with Perkz' teleport results in Febiven teleporting in for a 5v5 team fight. Fnatic proceed to lose the fight 4:2 and after a failed defense by Spirit and Klaj G2 manage to push for the win.
What to take away from the game?
I am convinced that Fnatic's plan coming into the game was very smart. The splitpush pressure that Kassadin has over Lissandra can be immense and a very viable win condition. Unfortunately for Fnatic (and their fans) G2 knew very well how to deal with the splitpush by constantly sending Kikis on Trundle to deal with Febiven to prevent him from getting any real split push going (except for the top tier two and bottom tier one he managed to get). If Fnatic had a winning top lane matchup that was able to put pressure on Kikis' Trundle this game might have gone very different. Fnatic's draft was not necessarily bad but Ekko ended up in a tough matchup against Trundle and Sivir only managed to wave clear mid without much pressure herself, which led to Febiven being the only one to be able to put out any real pressure and that just was not enough. And when Fnatic ended up taking team fights against G2's comp it was basically a death flag for the game.
Tl;dr: Fnatic's gameplan was really good and their execution, except when they took the team fights G2 wanted, was not horrible either but with just one lane being able to output pressure a 1-3-1 splitpush becomes even harder to execute than it already is. Off of a good performance by Febiven Fnatic almost managed to pull off a hard to execute comp but G2 was one step ahead of them, knowing exactly what their plan was.
I hope you enjoyed the read and if you have any suggestions or just want to discuss something League of Legends related hit me up on twitter @wowaulol
Im looking forward to it!