Of course, neither of the two teams now feature the Spanish mid laners who helped the rivalry bout adopt the name used for soccer’s Real Madrid and Barcelona clash. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t live up to the name.
Both teams entered the day with 9-3 records sitting atop the EU League Championship Series. SK Gaming was mired in a slump, losing three of their last four matches. Fnatic, meanwhile, was experimenting with less frenetic play styles than the insane aggression that saw them charge to the top of Europe.
But today, aggression reigned again as Fnatic went back to the team composition that put them on top: Rengar in the jungle and Rumble in the top lane. Fnatic got off to a roaring start with a cheeky level two strategy, diving Simon “Fredy122” Payne hard with four players after he teleported back into lane. SK Gaming predicted the move but responded too slowly, trading kills and giving Fnatic a bit of an early lead, with Seong “Huni” Hoon Heo and Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin showing their flare for winning messy fights.
But that was the only real advantage they’d have all game. Just as Fnatic scored those kills, SK Gaming scored the bottom tower. That essentially summed up the rest of the game.
From that point on, SK Gaming was squarely in control, putting on a dazzling display of objective control. They took every Dragon. They scored Baron at 23 minutes, a masterful call to score the objective in a small window where Fnatic couldn’t contest. They took towers across the map, scoring bigger advantages than the smattering of kills Fnatic picked up.
It was a brilliant performance by SK Gaming, but a troubling one by a Fnatic team that didn’t seem to know how to get back into the game without a snowballing lead.
In their first meeting, Fnatic’s constant kill pressure proved too much for SK Gaming to handle. But this time, SK Gaming was ready for it. They simply played their style again, but played it better, and won. It’s a good sign for SK Gaming heading into an international competition at the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice next week.
Especially from mid laner Hampus “Fox” Myhre, who finished the game with a 9/1/3 KDA on Leblanc. While fellow offseason pickup Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou, who put up a 0/0/7 line on Grave, receives all the hype, Myhre has quietly put together a season worthy of praise. This match against Fnatic may have been his best game yet. He scored a solo kill on his counterpart Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten and pulled off the play that won SK Gaming the match in a key team fight around dragon.
In the clip, Myhre lands a ridiculous Distortion on four of Fnatic, chunking the entire team to half health before catching the retreating Fnatic team and scoring two kills.
No one doubts the talent SK Gaming fields in the top lane, jungle, and bottom lane, but their mid lane is shaping up to not be the weakness some people thought it might at the start of the season. And that’s one big reason why the team is sitting at 10-3 atop the League Championship Series.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr