In the build up to the Season 5 World Championship I have decided to take a look at one of Europe’s finest new talents and a key player for Fnatic, Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten.
From the ashes
The end of Season 4 was seemingly rough for Fnatic, they were drawn into last year’s “Group of Death” with OMG, Samsung Blue and LMQ, crashing out in the group stage. It became clear during the off-season that Martin “Rekkles” Larsson would be leaving to Elements, formerly Alliance, while Lauri “Cyanide” Happonen retired and both Paul “sOAZ” Boyer and Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez would be joining new challenger team Origen.
Duncan “Thoorin” Shields said in a video that Fnatic had obviously ‘lost the off-season’, as the team was left with just Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim and four LCS rookies, including Febiven himself. This team would go on to win their first split, nearly take down Korean powerhouse SK Telecom T1 at the Mid Season Invitational and become the first ever team to have a flawless regular LCS split in the summer.
Although expectations were not high for the team in their first split, there was a certain amount of hype around Febiven, who had qualified for the LCS on H2k by dismantling Giants Gaming midlaner Isaac “PePiiNeRO” Flores in the expansion tournament. Diepstraten left the team to the surprise of many within the scene, who believed H2k were a solid and exciting prospect, to join the unknown entity of Fnatic.
Making a splash
It was never going to be easy fill the shoes of Fnatic legend and current Origen midlaner xPeke, but Febiven seemed unphased by the expectations that were had for him.
Coming into the new season as the most hyped player on Fnatic was seemingly a curse for Febiven, in his LCS debut against the “superteam” of Elements he was targeted with all three bans towards his famed assassins Zed, Ahri and LeBlanc. Considering he was laning against Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, one of the all time great European midlaners, Febiven was remarkably unpeturbed. He locked in Xerath against Froggen’s Lulu and took over the game.
Fnatic’s first game in the LCS was a statement. Despite having his champion pool targeted by 4 bans, Febiven ended the game with an immaculate score of 10/1/12, announcing himself on the LCS stage in style. He continued to impress everyone, including his opponents, throughout the split. Diepstraten played 10 different champions during the split including playoffs and maintained a winning record on the majority of them, showing the diversity and raw talent that was expected by many analysts and some fans of the challenger series prodigy. Fabian had dominated other new LCS talents such as SK Gaming’s Hampus “Fox” Myhre throughout 2014 in the challenger series but this level of play against opponents like Froggen came as a surprise to even his biggest proponents.
This run of form would continue into the Mid-Season Invitational in Tallahassee, Florida where the rookie would look to face some of the best players in the World, after just one split of play.
MSI 2015 – Making his presence known
Heading into the first ever Mid-Season invitational Fnatic were heavy underdogs. They had been taken to 5 games by the Unicorns of Love in the EULCS Spring Split playoffs finals and had looked reasonably shaking against H2k before that. Facing teams such as Edward Gaming, Team Solo Mid, ahq eSports Club and SK Telecom T1 looked to be an impossible task, TSM coach Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub infamously said in a “TSM: Legends” video that he expected Fnatic to ‘crash and burn’.
In a way, entering MSI with little to no pressure on their backs was perfect for the youngsters in Fnatic. They could play to improve and enjoy their first time on an international stage. That was the view of most casters, analysts and even fans, but not the view of Fnatic, who would go on to impress and shock the majority of the viewer base in Tallahassee and watching streams around the world.
The team announced themselves on the international stage with a bang, destroying NALCS’ Team Solo Mid with a good performance (4/0/8) from Febiven on his favourite champion LeBlanc. They were less successful against both AHQ and EDG, losing in convincing fashion but weren’t quite done there, they dispatched the IWC team BJK and prepared to face Korean giants SKT in their last match of the day.
Having seen Fnatic lose so convincingly against both other Eastern teams at the tournament, many expected them to put up relatively little fight against SKT, they were wrong. Febiven locked in Cassiopeia against Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s Lulu, despite falling behind in CS early, Febiven showed the world his skill at teamfighting with some impressive flash Petrifying Gazes which nearly won the game for his team and finishing with a score of 8/3/8.
Although their nexus fell following an incredible pentakill from SKT’s Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, Fnatic had shown everyone their talent and secured themselves a rematch against SKT the following day.
MSI 2015 – Proving Gods can bleed
Despite their impressive performance the day before, many expected Fnatic to fall 3-0 in their Best of 5 series against Season 3 World Champions SK Telecom T1.
In the first game of the series Febiven locked in his opponent’s iconic champion, LeBlanc, and was a non-factor throughout the game. It seemed as if the nerves had got to the rookie and that the series would be a comfortable sweep for the greatest player of all time, Faker.
Game two, however, proved to be very different. Febiven once again picked LeBlanc, this time in a skill matchup against Faker’s Ahri and was far more successful. He didn’t concede the lane but instead stood up to the test of laning against the best player in the world, trading ignites in mid while fights broke out around the map. Febiven proceeded to out-roam and out-teamfight his counterpart for the duration of the game finishing an impressive 10/0/5.
Although Fnatic lost the third game, it was here that Febiven proved himself as one of the biggest upcoming prospects in the West. Picking one of his most comfortable champions, Zed, against Faker’s Azir he had an easy lane matchup but what he did in this lane isn’t something anyone would have expected. Febiven solo-killed God, twice.
Faker wasn’t phased by being dominated so convincingly in lane and showed his extreme teamfight prowess to lead his team to their second victory of the series, but Febiven had gained his respect despite finishing just 3/3/3 after such a promising start.
Game four was a very different story for Febiven, he picked a scaling champion in Cassiopeia and played flawlessly, Fnatic ran over SKT for the second time to take the series to a deciding game. Febiven finished 6/1/8 on a pick he had never played in his entire career before that weekend and continued to make a statement on the international stage.
Although SKT showed their class in comfortably closing out the series, Febiven had showed his talent at the very first opportunity he was given. Faker was interviewed after losing the finals to Edward Gaming and said Diepstraten was ‘a player of great potential’, high praise from the undisputed greatest League of Legends player of all time.
The Perfect Split
Heading into the Summer Split Fnatic had made a change to their roster, the departure of underperforming Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi had made way for the return of superstar AD Carry Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and would propel Fnatic to make history.
Febiven had to adjust to playing in a three threat team along with Spring’s “Rookie of the Split”, top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and their newest addition of Rekkles, he did this with ease.
In Fnatic’s 18-0 run Diepstraten played 7 different champions with an overall KDA of 6.36, he averaged the 2nd lowest gold share of all midlaners at just 24.4% but still managed to be extremely effective, hard carrying games on Jayce, Viktor and Azir in particular. As the season went on mid lane became a less impactful role with most champions used for wave clear and late game damage but Febiven was a constant and reliable carry for his team. In the playoffs he branched out to even more supportive champions such as Orianna and Lulu, he boasted an unbeaten record on both champions with respective KDAs of 14 (in just 1 game) and 44 (over 3 games).
In the buildup to Worlds, which starts with Fnatic facing Invictus Gaming on October 1st, Diepstraten travelled with his team to a bootcamp in Korea where he has reached 700LP+ on the SoloQ ladder when he isn’t scrimming against teams from the LCK, LPL, LMS and more.
Fabian is heading into Worlds as the strongest western mid and he will need to show it. Fnatic drew a group containing iG’s Song “RoOK1E” Eui-jin, Cloud 9’s Nicolaj “Incarnati0n” Jensen and ahq eSports Club’s Liu “Westdoor” Shu-Wei, this will be a good test for the youngster as he hopes to be the first Westerner to win Worlds with Korean and Chinese teams in attendance. Not only will he want to progress as far as possible in the tournament but he will want to build a reputation that isn’t just ‘The Boy who solo killed Faker’.
Thank you to oracleselixir.com and lol.esportspedia.com for the stats used in this article.