Week 1, Day 2
- Top: Cabochard
- Jungle: Shook
- Mid: Nukeduck
- Marksman: Hjarnan
- Support: KaSing
- Top: Gamsu
- Jungle: Spirit
- Mid: Febiven
- Marksman: Rekkles
- Support: NoxiaK
Ahh, new seasons. Always the time for knowing shit-all about the teams you’re analyzing. We really don’t know that much about either of these lineups and how they’ll do, Other than a couple of games from IEM, of course. On the whole, however, the individual player score of Vitality would probably be voted better. They have the star players from 3 different teams from the 2015 summer split.
I’m not going to call KaSing a carry. Though I have to admit that he will probably be one of the winning factors on Vitality for the foreseeable future. His hot and cold performances throughout 2015 ranged from epic FailFish to dank Kreygasms. The cool thing about this is though, that he has extremely consistent players to keep him honest, and that winning personality and top-tier communication are of the utmost importance. Cabochard impressed me significantly almost every game of Gambit’s I watched. If he wasn’t camped, he hard-carried the team. If he was camped, he did fine and helped his team in team-fights or was able to hold his own and not give up his lane. Nukeduck, upon joining Roccat in January of 2015, was fairly underwhelming. However, once he got going, he really got going. While it wasn’t a very flashy play, it displayed his understanding of target selection, positioning, ability usage, among other things.
The combination of these core players, along with a good enough jungler in Shook (who I’ve heard through the grape vine is actually playing much better than his days on Elements) and a class act marksman player in Hjarnan will do Vitality well.
Do you have a moment do discuss our Deilord and savior? This guy is a monster. He turned a barely workable situation into some of the most brilliant players Europe has ever seen. Febiven, supposedly at the end of his rope on H2K, was able to kill Faker in lane, make incredible comeback victories, and help carry Fnatic to an undefeated split, as I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about by now. Yell0wStar, who was supposedly washed up after a great run with the Fnatic of old (xPeke, Cyanide, etc.), continued to grow and improve on his already impressive performances. On top of these achievements (whether or not you give credit to Deilor or the individual players), Fnatic’s coaching staff was able to pick up the shattered pieces of ReignOver’s reputation from Korea, and put Steeelback into a position where he could keep up with the big boys.
While the only obstacles I see are NoxiaK (more on him later) and the Korean-English language barrier, Fnatic should be able to make a deep run in Spring playoffs, and be ready for a strong showing at Worlds once it rolls around.
Let’s get into it, shall we? Here’s a reference for pick order:
- Tahm Kench – Reasonable ban. A power pick in the top lane and support flex. KaSing has never played a professional game on the champion, and while neither has NoxiaK or Gamsu, they probably felt it a must-ban, specifically for the pick composition Vitality ended up with. Tahm would have ruined both the split-push from Fiora, as well as the catch potential from Morgana and Elise.
- Gangplank – Not much to say here, except for POWER PICK!
- Kindred – This is a weird ban. Fnatic themselves banned it the previous day on the blue side against Origen, which means they aren’t looking to first pick it. Spirit also never picked up Kindred in Cologne, meaning it’s unlikely he cares much for them (Kindred). The only justification I can find is the ultimate would do well against heavy emphasis on bursting people down through picks.
- Lulu – Another POWER PICK!
- Lissandra – Another slightly confusing one, as neither Febiven or Gamsu have played Lissandra professionally. Again, the only justification being that she’s good against burst, so get rid of her.
- Thresh – A classic, Fnatic were most likely trying to take away a majority of KaSing’s comfort and ability to make plays.
- Ryze – With pick compositions usually having a high early pressure jungler like Elise, Lee Sin, or Rek’Sai, Ryze makes a lot of sense as a high priority pick, as well as a good late-game insurance policy. Fairly standard for what they want to do.
- Lucian/Poppy – As NoxiaK stated the day before in his interview, he believes Poppy to be the strongest support right now, due to her strong laning, good teamfight zoning, and overall damage. Lucian also fits the lane bully style, and is a safer pick than MF against a Ryze (culling out-ranges, plus mobility).
- Miss Fortune/Morgana – This pick phase has me the most confued. If you’re going to pick Elise anyway, pick it here instead of Miss Fortune. If Vitality had the plan of waiting and only completing their pick comp in the last rotation, pick Elise here, since Fnatic have Poppy (their support) already. I can only assume that both Cabochard and Shook really wanted to have counter-picks in their respective roles. Regardless, Miss Fortune is good against Poppy (no dashes, good laning), and Morgana can negate Poppy’s ultimate.
- Zac/Olaf – Having a strong, tanky front line and hard engage is exactly what you want against Miss Fortune and Ryze. Someone needs to tank Ryze’s damage in the mid game, and getting on top of MF is crucial. Zac is excellent at getting on top of consistent damage dealers and just healing up all they have to throw at him. Olaf, on the other hand, can chase down MF and not get held back by Morgana R or Q. Zac gives dive threat early, and Olaf can back him up. Poppy is also good at diving, allowing that threat to be there in both side lanes.
- Fiora/Elise – Vitality’s team composition finally comes to fruition. The late-game Ryze is now not so much a split-pusher or team-fighting beast, but a mere pawn to let Queen Fiora take down inhibitors (which *SPOILERS* totally happens).Elise, as a comfort of Shooks, fits very well into the core of a 4-1 with her siege and zone potential.
- LeBlanc – Fight fire with fire. If they wanna pick you off and split-push, I have no better ideas than to let Febiven go crazy on LeBlanc, roaming the map and picking people off, while maintaining pressure. The cool thing is he’s proven he can do this already last year.
Sometimes, it pays to run the same composition twice. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Against intelligent players like
- Cabochard – Fiora
- Shook – Elise
- Nukeduck – Ryze
- Hjarnan – Miss Fortune
- KaSing – Morgana
- Gamsu – Olaf
- Spirit – Zac
- Febiven – LeBlanc
- Rekkles – Lucian
- NoxiaK – Poppy
One thing I wanted to point out before getting into the game; Fnatic ran the exact same composition the day before against Origen to great success. This indicates they
The Early Game (GT ~0:30)
Fnatic fan out along the river, ready to adapt to the level 1 strategy of Vitality. Once they see all five members heading towards their Blue, Zac, Olaf, and LeBlanc head towards Vitality’s Blue in response. As the casters point out, mirroring/trading information. The only difference is that Lucian is able to get into lane without being spotted by Miss Fortune’s Ozone ward (a warding placement developed by MVP Ozone to combat CJ Blaze’s lane-swapping dependency). Unfortunately for Fnatic, this doesn’t mean much. LeBlanc had placed her ward deep in mid lane, restricting the invasion trio to two wards. One was used as an Ozone ward, the other as a jungle start scouting ward just off the mid lane. This creates a situation where either Vitality’s duo lane or Fiora can get into the top lane unnoticed.
Also, critically, Ryze and Fiora do not use their wards at level 1, giving them a bit more safety in lane. Note that Stealth Wards are not purchasable on this patch. This means an overall enormous vision advantage to Vitality.
Here’s a poorly edited map of wards that were placed:
Now I’ve given this topic its own section, because I believe it to be a critical part of most professional play, and impacts the game more than most analysts give it credit for. This game in particular is this the case. I will go into depth on why later on.
There’s a very crucial movement that happens when the bottom waves meet for the first time (game time ~1:43). Krepo points out that Cabochard heads towards bottom lane because he expects Fnatic’s duo lane to be top. I understand why he says this, but I have a different theory that isn’t too far off.
Vitality had vision of Poppy as she passed the inner turret towards bottom lane. This means they expected one of three situations:
- Poppy went past the ward to play a mind-game with Vitality, simply backing when she got past the inner turret
- Lucian was already in the bottom lane, and Poppy was joining him
- Olaf was in the bottom lane, and Fnatic were going to duo Olaf and Poppy in bottom lane (likely planned to be against Fiora anticipating a lane-swap, or potentially against Vitality’s duo lane to get Lucian ahead
Any of these were very possible. I believe Vitality was well equipped to deal with any of them. If Olaf alone was bottom, Fiora would have headed into lane as anticipated. Given either other situation, Fiora would duo jungle and their duo lane would continue to push and accelerate the game, as ended up being the case.
Gromp. This confuses me slightly. The only reasoning I can come up with is stylistic maximization of advantages. Olaf will be inherently denied by the lane-swap and they have an innate advantage in lane versus Fnatic’s duo lane due to match-ups. Thus, giving Vitality the luxury of taking Gromp before heading into top lane. While this may or may not be the most optimal way to accelerate your advantages, it is definitely up for debate.
Motives. Vitality wanted to swap lanes most likely to accelerate the game. They have a very strong pushing duo lane with Miss Fortune and Morgana, the likes of which Lucian and Poppy come up short against in the first couple of levels. Fnatic realize this, and shove out as fast as they can to head into the top lane. This sets Olaf behind in experience, while Fiora gets double jungle experience. This is fine for Elise, as Elise’s level 3 power-spike is significantly stronger than Zac’s.
Conclusively, Vitality played the lane-swap very well, whether or not they meant to. The level 1 warding scheme was superior for Vitality, and they made good moves with the advantages gained from it.
Items. Fiora goes for Dorans Blade for lane dominance against Olaf in a winning match-up. If she isn’t, she can double jungle just fine with a Doran’s, and buy extra health potions for a lane versus Lucian and Poppy. Olaf begins with a Corrupting Potion curiously, indicating he is preparing for a potential lane-swap. Zac and Elise’s item choices are fairly standard, and slightly stylistic. Ryze and LeBlanc both start Doran’s Ring for lane sustain and trading power. Morgana gets Spellthief’s Edge since Tormented Soil can easily trigger Tribute. Poppy looks for early tankiness with Relic Shield.
Since the Marksman and Mage Creep Scores stay fairly static, I will focus on top and jungle. They’re far more interesting anyway.
As I stated earlier, Olaf is set behind quickly. This will later be amplified by Vitality’s double jungle opening, giving Elise a superior clear time to Zac’s. With constant ward pressure and presence around the bot lane (Fiora vs. Olaf match-up), Elise is able to help Fiora maintain a large farm advantage, plus keep Zac from impacting the lane at all. Please take a look at the (again, poorly edited) picture below. Elise has made a fiscal emphasis on vision denial, while Zac has upgraded his starting jungle item into a Tracker’s Knife, both charges of which he has consumed.
At around game time 6:25, after Elise forces Zac away from bottom lane, LeBlanc and The Secret Weapon decide to invade Vitality’s jungle. Elise and Fiora, with only one Vision Ward in river, decide Fiora’s farm advantage is strong enough to put pressure on the turret. This is reinforced by Zac’s weak early levels, and Elise’s strong skirmishing and diving presence before level 6. This is a terrible spot for Olaf to be in. Without Zac there to back him up, there is a very low chance of him surviving a dive from Elise before he gets his Ultimate.
It is not until Elise and Fiora notice LeBlanc back in the mid lane that they decide to dive Olaf. They know that with their forward positioning, they can easily skirmish Zac as well, if he shows up. Even if the kill isn’t secured, they will push off their enemies, allowing tower damage at the very least. This aggressive play allows Fiora to end up with First Blood, and open up an extremely threatening split-push threat for the mid and late game.
While this is all happening, we can notice a sizable farm advantage building up in the top lane by Miss Fortune. This is due to the range advantage and strong push they were able to achieve multiple times. At a couple of distinct occasions, good skill shots from Morgana were able to push Lucian out of lane. This denied many waves. At this point, Lucian has used both of his summoner spells, while Vitality’s duo lane has only spent Morgana’s Ignite, which is almost back up anyway. The turret ends up going down at about game time 9:39, which is exactly the time that Elise decides to dive Olaf again.
Unfortunately, this time isn’t as fruitful as the first. Zac is in prime position to counter-gank, despite Elise’s read that he would be top-side, in response to his duo lane’s turret being taken. This results in two things happening. The first being that Elise is punished for her over-extension and dies to Zac. The other, which is not as obvious, is Olaf being denied even more farm. While chasing Elise up the lane to secure the kill (missing both of his axes), the kill ends up going to Zac, and he loses more minions to his turret.
At this point, Fiora is at nearly double Olaf’s Creep Score, and has a Black Cleaver against Olaf’s Chain Vest and Giant’s Belt. Black Cleaver pretty much negates the Chain Vest, and Fiora’s passive doesn’t give a damn about how much HP Olaf has.
Mid Game (GT ~10:35)
Capitalization on Advantages
Immediately after Elise gets killed, Vitality make a decision to prepare vision around Dragon. Every member backs besides Ryze, who is farming to secure a solid late-game form. Previously, Fnatic had vision control around the bottom river. The way Vitality combat this is they use Fiora and Miss Fortunes respective farm advantages to group and take the bottom turret, while Elise and Morgana (Elise now with Tracker’s Knife) ward the enemy jungle around Dragon. Remember, Elise and Morgana have mid-game power spikes, and both have long duration single-target crowd control, that if used in succession, would be very deadly. These two pressure points secure Vitality’s positioning around Dragon, and they take it with ease. This results in both a turret and first Dragon for Vitality.
There is one other possibility worth mentioning. The bottom turret could have been the ultimate goal down there, with the Dragon just being a secondary pickup. Either way, solid play by Vitality.
Given Fiora’s substantial lead, Fnatic attempt to collapse on her in the top lane. This fails, as Fiora is very strong, mobile, and if that wasn’t enough, Ryze uses Summoner Teleport onto the top outer turret. Elise and Ryze swap map positions, and Ryze goes back to mid lane to farm safely. This allows Elise to get another dive under the top inner turret, continuing Fiora’s snowball.
As Elise and Fiora are top-side, Fnatic bring Zac down to pressure the bottom outer turret. This forces Miss Fortune and Morgana back, but allows Elise and Fiora to continue pushing top to secure their second turret in the lane.
Baited heavily by LeBlanc’s all-in in the mid lane, Ryze is rooted by LeBlanc’s Ethereal Chains, and finished off by Poppy, who makes a great roam from bottom lane after finishing off the turret. This is potentially dangerous for Ryze, but with his power scaling and Morgana’s Black Shield, he should feel fairly secure. So long, of course, as it doesn’t happen again.
Fnatic, being behind at this point by 2,500 gold, are licking their wounds. They send LeBlanc into top lane, and have Olaf meet Fiora in the bottom lane.
Ryze is now strong enough to duel LeBlanc in a longer lane, giving them two split-push threats. The rest of their composition is an incredibly strong sieging trio in Elise, Morgana, and Miss Fortune. Very high zoning capabilities, good disengage, and all three are ranged. They set up their lanes in this way, rewarding them with Fnatic’s mid outer turret. Seeing Elise low on health, Zac decides to engage. This is very foolish. Poppy is recalling, and Ryze is able to meet LeBlanc there with better positioning. Vitality pick off the over-extended Zac who doesn’t have flash, and Fiora is even able to dive Olaf in the bottom lane. This prompts a fluid rotation by Vitality to the bottom lane, to secure bottom inner turret as well.
At this point, both Ryze and Fiora have hit power-spikes (both level 11, and both with an item and a half), leaving Fnatic’s carries scared for their lives. Lucian gets caught out in the mid lane losing his flash and almost his life, and LeBlanc simply hasn’t been able to deal any meaningful damage.
Late Game (GT ~20:00)
While twenty minutes hardly seems like late-game, with newly accelerated game times, Baron being available, and Vitality having a 5,300 gold lead at this time, this is the closest thing to “late game” we will get to in this game.
I’ll focus on Zac. A terrible mistake comes from over-extending to clear out a Vision Ward. A very foolish error that most likely comes down to either arrogance or poor communication. Morgana hits him with an easy Dark Binding, which is followed up by Elise and the rest of the team. Given the advantages Vitality already have, Fnatic are basically doomed at this point. The siege of Vitality is too much, and another pick onto Poppy secures them mid inner turret, and control of the entire map.
I’ll mention the LeBlanc pick onto Morgana, but it doesn’t end up being relevant. It’s just cool.
Trading Objectives Pt. 2
Vitality push into Fnatic’s jungle around Baron. Fnatic are very far behind against a composition that is very strong both around towers (siege) and around fog of war (pick). Knowing this, they engage on what looks like their best opportunity to fight. Vitality are standing on top of Fnatic’s wards, and Zac engages from a long range. However, Poppy makes a fatal mistake, and goes in before Zac lands his Elastic Slingshot. This enables Vitality to make a call to kill Baron. Intelligently, after sustaining heavy damage from Baron and not having a good team-fight opportunity, Vitality leave Baron alone.
Fnatic take down Vitality’s mid outer turret through some clever positioning and warding around Baron, clawing slightly back into the game.
Neglecting to clear a Vision Ward right next to Baron, Fnatic allow Vitality to quickly secure vision around the pit, and begin taking it. This is a high risk, high reward play, that could win them the game if played correctly. Morgana, with a fantastic Dark Binding, roots Zac in the critical seconds when he would be trying to steal the Baron. LeBlanc tries to steal it with her significant burst, but Fiora ends up picking it up. Fiora ending up with the kill credit and Elise having her Smite on cool-down implies that it very easily could have gone to LeBlanc, hence the high risk of the play.
Since at this point, Fnatic is over-extended against a team that’s 7,700 gold ahead, Poppy goes down, and they retreat into their base. Vitality secure mid inhibitor, recall, and take small objectives including Dragon and both team’s Blue Buffs. With the immense split-push power of Fiora and zoning potential of Elise/Morgana, Vitality split-push their way to three kills and a Nexus.
- Spirit attempting to match Elise’s pressure on the top laners
- Gamsu building two armor items (could have pressured Ryze more in the late game)
- Nukeduck over-extending in the mid lane, dying to NoxiaK
- Spirit clearing a pink ward with minimal vision of his own
- NoxiaK over-extending for pressure multiple times, getting himself either chunked out or killed
- Shook’s early pressure
- Fnatic’s comeback attempt around red buff, resulting in a tower and vision
- Cabochard’s insane 1v1 and split-push pressure, netting a solo kill and a solo inhibitor
- KaSing’s Q onto Zac, enabling a safer Baron call
Cabochard – If you read the article, check out how many times I say “Fiora’s fed.”
Shook – What a beast this game. He played off of Cabochard’s advantages incredibly well, and was able to follow up on KaSing’s plays every time.
KaSing – While I didn’t mention him much, he was the one to truly secure the Baron and get picks when it mattered (Spirit/NoxiaK come to mind).
Febiven – He wasn’t able to carry, but he tried. He had the highest KDA on his team (even though 1/1/1 isn’t exactly a star performance), and it seems like every time he was on the screen, he was doing something productive. Honorable mention to Nukeduck too, for keeping this guy back.
Many moves by Vitality were high-risk this game, including the early pressure on Olaf by Elise, and their duo lane’s constant pushing in the top lane. This only works if LeBlanc isn’t able to roam, or if all three lanes are vulnerable, leaving Zac with few options. It’s very possible that Spirit and Gamsu simply aren’t able to communicate very well with the rest of the team, leaving them on an island without Febiven to help them. Another possibility is that Ryze is a better match-up into LeBlanc than I had previously expected (also backed up by solid CS numbers by Nukeduck), or Nukeduck is just a damn machine. Regardless, Fnatic have to figure out a way of being more on the same page.
There was also simply a huge compositional advantage for Vitality, allowing them to win the game off of small advantages.
I would just like to say thank you very much for reading, and I hope you will continue to read my articles. I won’t keep making them if people don’t read them, so show interest if you enjoyed!