There are a few certainties in this world: death, taxes, and Fnatic vs. G2 Esports in LEC finals. After a somewhat lackluster performance by both League of Legends teams throughout the regular split, the 2020 Summer Split seemed as if it might finally be the season that felled the region’s giants.
With MAD Lions falling at the first hurdle, the responsibility of ending the LEC dynasty fell on the shoulders of Rogue. Despite a hard-fought five-game series in which Rogue nearly did the unthinkable in knocking out the LEC’s most successful international team, equilibrium was restored when G2 took the series and secured their finals berth.
When previous iterations of Fnatic and G2 have met in finals, results have invariably favored G2. Until their playoffs victory this split, Fnatic had not won a best-of-five series against G2 for over 800 days. Following the transfer of Caps, the LEC’s pride and arguably the best mid laner the region has ever produced, in 2018, Fnatic have choked when it mattered most. G2 looked as if they truly had the mental edge.
One 2020 playoffs best-of-five changed everything, however. Fnatic were able to secure a win, and in a cunning twist of fate it was Caps’ successor that clutched them the win in game five. Without their mental edge, the playing field is as even as it is ever going to be. All that matters is this moment—10 players, five games, and three wins separate a first-seed spot from just another LEC representative.
Never has the concept of a playoffs buff been more evident than for Fnatic. Their Summer Split was a strange combination of dominant games and painfully absent synergy, culminating in an undignified scrape into playoffs.
From the moment they qualified for playoffs, their performance has skyrocketed. Jungler Selfmade has been playing as though his life depends on it, with creative carry jungle picks that have defined the playoffs meta. Nemesis has stepped up alongside him, playing aggressive laners to enable early skirmishes, gaining lead after lead in every series they’ve played.
Fnatic’s only weakness is that they occasionally slip back into their regular season ways, showing moments of miscommunication, staggered back timings leaving bottom lane exposed to ganks, and over-aggressiveness by top laner Bwipo. To unlock this series, Fnatic will need to play as a unit, especially in a meta where the Dragon Soul is the key to the game. Strong lanes and a farming jungler are their secrets to success, and if G2 let Evelynn slip through the draft, believe that Fnatic will capitalize on it.
For possibly the first time since their current roster’s conception, G2 will come into this final at a disadvantage. Best-of-five fatigue is a real and serious problem, and after their all-out brawl with Rogue to make finals today, this team is going to need all the mental fortitude they can get.
Mental fortitude aside, G2 are looking as strong as ever. Despite a few blips in the regular season, their wins look as dominant as they did when they almost made the international grand slam in 2019. Caps has been putting up the performance of a lifetime back on his comfort role in the mid lane, and Jankos has defied the farming jungle meta with early-game picks like Sett and Lee Sin, finding success in supporting some of the best solo laners in the world.
G2’s game plan revolves around giving Caps the whole world to play with. His picks are the most crucial for their drafting phase; if Caps is given a champion he is comfortable on, he can put the entire game on his shoulders and run with it. With roaming engage champions for Mikyx to further get his mid laner ahead and a utility ADC for Perkz, this team is truly in their comfort zone.
In every previous iteration of this series, the prediction has been fairly easy to make. This time around, drafting is everything. Each team plays a wildly different style, and if G2 cannot execute on theirs, then Fnatic will take the victory. G2’s win condition is all about early victory, and if they can’t draft and play for the first 20 minutes of the game, then they will have to face the wrath of Fnatic’s scaling picks in jungle and mid.
The key champions in this series are LeBlanc, Evelynn, and Ashe. With LeBlanc and Evelynn as signature champions for each team and little crossover between the two, the drafting battle will come in securing the Ashe pick for either ADC. While Perkz has proved competent on Senna, Rekkles seems much more secure on the more traditional picks. Fnatic securing Ashe is crucial for their draft, but her priority in the current meta means they will have to fight for it.
If there is one thing that tomorrow’s series promises, it’s one hell of a show. Their previous best-of-five this season was one of the closest series the region has seen, and, hopefully for LEC fans, they can provide just as competitive a set of games. They may be fighting for different reasons—Fnatic to regain their dominance, G2 to continue theirs—but the EU pride on the line is the same regardless of which jersey the players are wearing.