Before the World Championships commenced, group B seemed like a very predictable group. With China looking like at least the second strongest region and Fnatic showing good performances at MSI and in the Summer Split, most of the arguments among analysts was if Invictus Gaming or Fnatic would come out first in group B. As it stands, lowest seeding Cloud 9 remains undefeated while Ahq, Fnatic and iG all stand at 1-2 with 3 games to play for each team.
The Ahq vs Fnatic match is an interesting match that shows the beginning of a downward trend for Fnatic but also shows a great deal of information about the current state of the game.
Fnatic’s Pick/Ban Strategy is off
The one thing that we can conclude from the first week of groups is that teams haven’t been able to fully grasp 5.18 – Fnatic included. Fnatic ban two strong power picks in Mordekaiser and Gangplank, leaving them only one specific target ban, which turns out to be Rek’sai. Fnatic failed to scout that against Ahq, Fizz is constantly banned against Westdoor – or decided it wasn’t an issue. His style is very one dimensional, where he roams on assassins gaining kills across the map while losing in cs in lane. Fizz is good pick for team as it provides easy access to the back line and enough mobility to escape. His other main picks – Diana and Ahri have significant flaws in their teamfighting and would have been easier to control than his Fizz. It’s possible that Febiven and Fnatic were baiting out the Fizz pick, preparing Orianna as a counterpick to get the midlane tower pressure – which is what happened.
Fnatic is one of the very few teams that have prioritised Sivir as an early pick. Sivir hasn’t shown much success since nerfs in patches 5.15 and 5.11 but it’s decent in a blind pick situation due to her strong wave control in the laning phase. But the trend has shown the AD carry meta has moved towards late game or sieging hypercarries such as Jinx and Tristana with Mordekaiser being perma-banned. Utility picks such as Kalista and Ashe are used more as situational picks but Sivir ranks 2nd to lowest in ADC winrates at 33.3%. This is due to her low range as she allows Juggernauts to get within range.
Like many other teams, Fnatic prioritise Darius and pick him first round. This allows Ziv to counterpick with Gnar. I believe the Darius pick is good in this situation due to Ahq’s play style as Darius is strong against teams that run towards him. Fnatic could have waited for Ahq to show their top pick, which probably would have been Moakai, Darius or Gnar, then counterpicked with Gnar against Moakai and Darius, or Yasuo against Gnar. It could’ve been possible that Fnatic haven’t prepared a Gnar pick as Huni hasn’t played him since May 29th.
Huni – “Check Yourself Before You Riggity-Wreck Yourself”
Through very good reactional play by Fnatic and small mistakes from Ahq, Fnatic gain a 1.4k gold lead by 5 minutes. Huni knowing that Mountain is in the bush (with the trinket) and Ziv is close by, tries to duel Mountain and is dies for it. He then respawns, teleports and walks into Ahq jungle and starts a skirmish on his own (joined later by Reignover) against Ziv and Mountain again trading 2 kills for 1 in favour of Ahq with the support of an Tahm Kench ultimate.
This reduces Fnatic’s gold lead from 1.8k to 1k. Huni’s mistake costs Fnatic in the early game. This is also a consequence of the Darius pick as Huni and Fnatic may have felt Huni needed a lead against the Gnar. Huni’s role in this team is to be a tanky bruiser and deal damage to Ahq as they run towards him. His two deaths cost him a great deal of gold and experience. As you might find later, Huni’s deaths possibly cost Fnatic the game as his mistakes becomes the catalyst for Ziv’s impressive performance.
Comparing the top laners that have qualified for worlds, Huni ranks around the middle of the pack, which is entirely different that he is used to. Fnatic and Huni need to alter their playstyle so that there is less emphasis to get Huni ahead and also not pick champions in losing match ups. They showed a lack of respect especially against C9 with the Yasuo pick and got punished for it.
Ziv, the Tank-carry
Ziv showed his worth this game. He is praised by those who watch the LMS region and has added another dimension to Ahq’s play in comparison to last year by providing more ways for them to win. His strong showing was partly because Huni’s overconfidence and a winning match up. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that he was such a big threat to the entire Fnatic team. His lead meant that he got enough tank items to zone out members of Fnatic so that the rest of his team could clean up. He also made the game winning play with catching out Febiven, Fnatic’s biggest threat at that time.
In a World Championship full of strong top laners, Ziv has shown that he could at least hold his own. I would like to see how deep his champion pool goes as he has only played tanks so far. I believe that this Worlds is going to reward versatility more than carry potential in the top lane.
Fnatic show a lack of respect to lesser opponents
It seemed right from pick and bans that Fnatic went into this match (and against C9) thinking that they were going to win. As previously mentioned the composition they made was strong but it seemed as if they didn’t consider what Ahq were picking. They also played towards a playstyle which was comfortable for Ahq instead of outplaying them on a macro level. This as a result led to Ahq’s comeback, as after they lost one teamfight, Fnatic looked for more teamfights and because Ahq had the better late game composition, Ahq started to win the teamfights. This to me shows that they thought they could out teamfight them without a late game AD carry, which turns out to be difficult in this meta. The same lack of respect was shown to C9 by choosing to play Yasuo against Darius.