Greetings, my name is SkySailing and I am an avid League of Legends player and watcher. This series of articles will deal with the recently drawn and soon to be played quarterfinal matchups in the World Championship. I will address each matchup individually, highlight some important points, and address what each team needs to do to win.
Quarter Final Three Fnatic (FNC) v Edward Gaming (EDG)
In our third quarterfinal matchup of the week we have the first seed of group B against the second seed of group C. This is my featured quarterfinal as I think it has the most star power in the game and some of the most compelling storylines. Both teams are looking for redemption after a rough group stage and a trip to semifinals would too much to erase the respective sufferings of last year’s worlds.
Fnatic showed some early jitters as they dropped two games to North America’s Cloud 9 and the Taiwanese club AHQ. Rallying around incredible map rotations they righted the ship and went undefeated to take the top spot in week two. Fnatic showed some weakness in the pick and ban phase especially in the game against Cloud 9 with Deilor putting Huni on Yasuo, an thoroughly disastrous choice against the penta-achieving Darius of Balls. Fnatic has deep champion pools across all positions with every member but Rekkles playing at least four different champions through the group stage. Big questions will be centered on Reignover against Clearlove and how level headed Huni can remain in such a huge series.
EDG drew the weakest group with the hardest opponent. Two games against SKT led to two losses as the Chinese squad looked completely outmatched for much of both games. It is very hard to gauge how good EDG are from the group stages as they played H2K and the 0-6 Bangkok Titans. Drawing from LPL regular season and play offs it is very easy to see the individual skill level at every position. EDG definelty fixed its biggest hole by inserting Koro1 back into the starting lineup in place of AmazingJ, who was outclassed by SKT’s Marin in back to back games. While EDG does not need top lane to carry they do need one who can read the map exceedingly well to keep pace in the lane swap cs scramble. EDG will need vintage Koro to show up in the series to free Clearlove to roam around with impunity. As with Fnatic the champion pool of EDG is impressively deep and shouldn’t have to fight with Fnatic in pick/ban to get a good composition.
- Huni v Koro1
This will be the a crucial point for both teams in the early game. Both teams will look to protect their ADCs in a lane swap and whichever top laner can scrape together a cs/gold advantage will tip the balance in their teams favor during the first teamfight/skirmish. If a standard lane can be achieved expect both teams to send junglers and roaming mids to attempt to establish an early advantage on both men.
In both the games Fnatic won and lost Huni showed his trademark aggression. On his Riven against Invictus Gaming it netted him a quadra kill and a huge power and pushing spike. This advantage gave Fnatic a lead in map pressure and made Huni a mobile infuriating threat to IG. Then on the flip side you have the Yasuo in the first game loss to Cloud 9 and the Ekko dives into the jungle of AHQ in the important group securing win. In both of these instances we saw Huni often go far too deep in a teamfight or unwarded position. While they managed to win the Ekko showing it was far from a comfortable end as Febiven’s late game heroics sealed the win by picking of AN’s Jinx. Huni cannot commit this deep on his typically fragile carries. Even on Gnar or Hecarim an early dive without the proper tank items will lead to EDG closing ranks and turning an advantage. Fnatic relies heavily on Huni being a consistent damage dealer for them (24 percent damage share) and an inability to do this effectively will lead to a loss. Huni does not play a peeling role from the top lane as we have seen players like Steak and Ziv do. You will always see an aggressive Gnar ultimate or Darius flash apprehend. The matchup with Koro will be a challenge for Huni as the former has immense experience avoiding tower dives and is comfortable enabling Pawn or Deft to make plays.
It is very hard to tell you what to expect from Koro. Recently re-added to the starting lineup the coaching staff must have faith in his ability to play the current meta better than AmazingJ. There is no question that EDG was outclassed by Marin in knowledge of power counterpicks in Renkton v Darius but also in terms of playing the laneswap. AmazingJ is down 12 cs at 10 minutes and saw Marin built cs leads of 60 plus in their matchups. Koro was able to duel Marin to a standstill in the matchups at MSI. Koro, unlike Huni, is not expected to contribute a huge amount of damage instead being asked to tank up and defend Deft/Pawn in fights. This may change with new Koro in the new meta but I do not expect the fundamental playstyle to change. Koro has an excellent understanding of how to avoid dying in a tower dive and this will be fundamental to preventing a Reignover snowball on the map.
Advantage – Koro1
Even with the questions surrounding his return I expect Koro to be better than Huni throughout the series. I doubt it will be enough to provide wins by itself but in a game of inches Koro will grab every one. As said before Huni has a tendency to make aggressive plays while Koro picks his moments precisely. I predict that you will see at least of instance of a Fnatic tower dive turned into and EDG advantage due to Koro’s mechanics. Both top laners make great map plays with teleport and I think Koro being dedicated to peel for the carries will succeed against the hard dive of Huni’s top lane carries.
- Reignover v Clearlove
Another matchup that will be heavily influenced by the return of Koro. Both will be forced to double jungle with their top lane brethren and the plays made around this pathing will be huge for the series. Both junglers share the known powerpicks with the exception of Elise for Clearlove not yet being shown on the world stage. Both will be comfortable on an array of champions and both have great statistics from the group stage with Reignover being almost 320 gold up over his opponent at 10 minutes and Clearlove having an insane kill participation rate. This matchup will revolve as much around early, successful ganks as it will deep wards into the opposing man’s jungle.
Reignover is the main reason Fnatic has a first blood success rate of 100 percent thus far. Even in Fnatic losses the Korean import has been able to effectively get gold leads onto Huni, Febiven or Rekkles. Of particular note is the 8/3/8 dismantling of Cloud 9 on Elise, at one point being 6 and 0. Even in the losses Reignover does his job well, never coming off as an inherent weakness in the post-game analysis. I do not expect to see the Olaf coming out into this series for him as Fnatic will try to get him Elise or deny Rek’Sai or Gragas from Clearlove. Reignover provides important warding power for Fnatic, usually getting a sighstone completed early and getting those wards into high value areas. No matter the champion you will see him searching for the first blood and looking to track Clearlove and make rotations based of that knowledge. I believe this knowledge will be essential to Fnatic looking to make the classic early baron call to break open EDG.
Clearlove will benefit from the return of Koro as it will open the map immensely. Assuming Koro can handle the top lane Clearlove can stop shadowing the top side as much and look to create pressure all over the map. In his games against non SKT opponents Clearlove is 12/3/ 30. Against Bengi and a world class lineup he goes 0/6/8 and looked completely ineffective. Bengi showed a clear dominance and Reignover will not make his job any easier. It will be important for EDG to either deny or pick the Elise from Reignover. At the very least Clearlove must punish Fnatic with aggression on Rek’Sai or Gragas. As previously mentioned Reignover is a more prolific at warding than Clearlove but this can be easilt negated by getting to Huni in the top lane. In playing H2K Clearlove consistently dominated Loulex and through good jungle camp warding was able to neutralize him. This must repeat if EDG wants to break the FNC first blood streak.
Advantage – Reignover
In big games Clearlove was rendered invisible by a superior opponent. Facing three similar bigtime games Reignover took over the early game with great lane dives and aggressive deep wards. FNC may also look to pick at Clearloves champion pool as he has only shown success on Gragas and Rek’Sai, both champions Fnatic would be fine with getting Reignover on. This could clearly be turned on its head by some throwback Clearlove play but as it stands now Reignover stands poised to send him home early. The onus is on EDG to track him in the jungle and make sure he doesn’t team up with Yellowstar to secure buffs away from Pawn and rotate for easy dragons.
Febiven v Pawn
A titanic matchup in the midlane as heroics by Febiven on Leblanc were just enough to get Fnatic the first seed. Against him is last year’s world champion Pawn. Both midlaners had to play tough opponents in the group with Pawn playing Faker and Ryu with Febiven facing Incarnation, Westdoor and Rookie. This should be the closest matchup of this quarterfinal and seeing as it is the only lane with no lane swap possibilities should hold some great counter picks for both sides. I expect both teams to save their counter pick for the midlane unless committing to a defined wave clear comp. Both have shown great flexibility and depth thus far with all type of laners from assassins to the control mages. The statistics in this are skewed as Pawn had to play in two beat downs against SKT.
Febiven played excellently in the group stage performing on each champion he selected. The highlight being his ability to fight through all of AHQ to burst down AN’s Jinx and let Fnatic push to win. Even in the losses Febiven went 11/4/15 on Orianna, having great impact until the bitter end. Utilizing Febiven will be key to a FNC win as he has the confidence to win any matchups including those you shouldn’t normally win. As he had commented earlier after the defeat AHQ, picking Leblanc into Zed isn’t something he should have won but had confidence against the player not the matchup. Keeping this confidence and the 8.6 KDA going into Pawn will be important.
Pawn was unable to affect much change in his games against SKT. I think this was a clear flaw in the pick ban of EDG and putting Pawn on Ekko and Twisted Fate was a high risk high reward gamble they were unable to cash in on. Being put behind on those champions doomed Pawn to fighting the long retreat and his Twisted Fate ultimates countered immediately by a double teleport comp. I do not believe EDG will let this happen a third time and will look to get Pawn on a champion he can impact the game at every level on, such as the Kassadin or Yasuo teased in groups. Pawn needs to force the issue in the game against FNC, forcing the pace in the midlane and forcing Reignover to deal with him. If he is corralled as he was in the SKT game EDG will lose extremely quickly as Pawn unable to make plays is an EDG unable to make plays.
Advantage – Push
This will be a great series to watch between these two players as I expect the two teams to alternate between assassins and control mages. This meaning that both players will have the opportunity to go for huge lane advantages or go to snowball another lane. This lane may well determine the fate of the warding game around the buffs as well as the first several dragons. If either can get the upper hand both teams will be quick to seize an immediate advantage. I do not think either player has a noticeable advantage over the other. Febiven may have better group statistics but sans SKT Pawn may very well have the same stat line. This matchup may be played out in team fights. I think this lane will dramatically evolve over five games with both players trading lane pressure, champions and team fighting jobs. From solo kills, to huge wombo combos, to protecting the ADC you will see both of these guys do everything. Truly a Swiss army knife race.
Rekkles/Yellowstar v Deft/Meiko
These are two of the premier bot lanes in the world. Deft and Meiko performed impeccably during the group stage and managing to have Deft ahead an average 500 gold at 10 minutes. I am hoping for a game where we do not see a lane swap and see the 4 go head to head. Rekkles has played only two champions thus far and both are heavy in utility in Sivir and Kennen. EDG has definite faith in Deft as he is on carry champions every game. FNC is usually willing to give up Kalista in the draft to secure Elise or a power top laner. This may have to change as Deft is able to carry games easily on the champion and provide the unparalleled objective control from the ADC positon. A clash of the minds will be seen in the shot calling of Yellowstar and Meiko both attempting to control the game through impressive warding and needing to control the others vision.
Rekkles looked very upset after the win against AHQ to almost clinch the group. For very good reason as he was bullied out of lane by Albis’s Tahm Kench and missed many spellshields during laning phase. This worlds has been the story of Rekkles the utility ADC. The pocket pick Kennen providing good AOE stun for lane and teamfights and the On the Hunt of Sivir allowing for picks and great teamfighting repositions. Rekkles will need to step up his game for this quarterfinal as EDG puts a huge burden on Deft’s shoulders to carry teamfights and he does with almost 10 percent more of his teams damage share than Rekkles does (34.3 to 25.5). Rekkles is without a doubt world class but will need to tighten up against Deft. I do not think we will see the Kennen come out in the series as EDG will have had almost a week to effectively plan against it. The second half of this duo is, in my opinion, the strongest shotcaller at worlds. Yellowstar kept Fnatic focused and steady through every game, looking unflappable when pushed to the nexus by AHQ and put the boot to the throat in a crushing of Cloud 9. An impeccable Shen in the groups showed incredible map awareness and a mastery of the champion in the support role. Some analysts have criticized his mechanics as not quite on par with younger supports. I disagree as Yellowstar appears to be at the top of the pack. For Fnatic to win Yellowstar will need to remain constantly vigilant against Pawn and Clearlove’s attempts to snowball Deft. Yellowstar has shown great plays on all of the meta supports through the past year and I expect that dominance to continue in addition to his 1.5 wards per minutes to keep Fnatic in a comfortable bubble of constant vision around important objectives.
If EDG wins the series it will be Deft carrying with an impressive stat line. The former Samsung Blue is looking to make it to the semifinals and add to his trophy case. Most of his important statistics have been stated for him but getting him on Kalista or Jinx will be a must for EDG. But provide incredible zoning and objective power. Putting this power in Deft’s hands may very well negate the power of Yellowstar’s vision and shot calling. I think there is a decent chance we may see the Corki emerge for the first time as Deft has an incredible winrate and KDA on the champion. Whatever the champion may be look for Deft to farm to an item spike then look to take a turret or immediate dragon. Deft has yet to show any huge flaws at worlds and this is definitely hepped by Meiko playing CC heavy champions to hold teams in place for Deft to tee off. Keeping pace with Yellowstar in wards (1.42 wpm) Meiko will make sure EDG is informed of much of what FNC is looking to do. A very clean final game featuring Tahm Kench is an indicator of what we can see tomorrow. When EDG wins Meiko is able to keep the team safe with Annie stuns or great Thresh play. In the losses he seems useless as SKT went right past him. The shot calling will be challenged here and Meiko must perform better against high level intellectual opponents.
Advantage – Deft/Yellowstar
This is a split down the middle as Deft has proven to more reliable at laning and teamfighting than Rekkles’s utility based pool. Especially with some of the laning struggles Rekkles showed on Sivir if Deft can find his way into a 2 v 2 lane the odds look to be in Deft’s favor. The other reason Deft is favored is the priority EDG place on him as he often is the main source of late game zone and objective control. Getting Kalista will remain a priority as EDG may look to snowball dragons right away.
On the flip side FNC has a clear advantage in the support position. When Fnatic faced challenged in groups Yellowstar was still able to make calls that resulted in net gains or styming the opponent. When faced with an early deficit Meiko was systematically destroyed across the map by SKT. An inablility to create opportunities from behind defined the SKT games and cannot continue here. Yellowstar is the world’s best shotcaller and will have incredible map impact with superior wards often finding the enemy jungle and keeping the enemy midlaner locked into lane.
Overall Prediction FNC 3 EDG 2
This game will trade back and forth for all 5 games. In the end despite Koro being a boost for the EDG lineup I do not see large enough skill difference across the board to compensate for the fact that if EDG falls behind their potential to come back is much smaller than Fnatic’s. Even with Koro being able to handle Huni the impact from Yellowstar will be tremendous. You will see Elise contested heavily in the jungle. Kalista will be traded back and forth and the midlane will be a revolving door of picks.
All credit to Oracles Elixir for the great data.