In first battle between former teammates, Fnatic comes out on top
When Fnatic replaced departing solo lane legends Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer with a no name Korean and a League Championship Series (LCS) rookie, no-one expected them to be better than xPeke’s new endeavor. But today the 2015 version of Fnatic showed they surpassed their predecessors, besting Origen in the most anticipated match of the LCS season so far.
Fnatic remains undefeated with a 7-0 record. They secured their grip at the top of the LCS standings by beating Origen in a convincing game that dropped the xPeke-led team to 5-2 on the season.
The battle was highly anticipated thanks to the reunion of former teammates: The first head-to-head battle between xPeke and sOAZ and their old Fnatic mates, Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
The match itself certainly lived up to expectations, with action from the very first minute as Origen jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider found the Fnatic team waiting in a bush at level one. Then, at the six-minute mark, the two teams engaged in a drawn out five-on-five battle in the Baron river, with Fnatic taking a four-to-two kill advantage thanks to Rekkles’s impeccable cleanup on Kalista.
At the 12-minute mark, Origen looked to get back in the game with a Dragon steal by Stückenschneider and two team fight kills. But the scrappy Fnatic squad pulled it back with great play from Seo “Huni” Seung-hoon on Ekko, Rekkles’ Kalista, and a clutch Monsoon by YellOwStaR’s Janna.
At 24 minutes, a pick by Huni on a hapless Jesper “Niels” Svenningsen opened the door for a Fnatic Baron plus Dragon, giving them the lead they needed to close out the game by patiently securing objective after objective.
When the dust settled, Rekkles featured a whopping 8/0/9 KDA on Kalista, in part thanks to YellOwStaR’s great 0/0/16 game on Janna. While Huni only posted a 5/3/4 KDA on Ekko, his ability to zone out Origen’s potential to engage with Hecarim, Sivir, and Annie, as well as his burst potential in fights, likely made him the most impactful player in the match.
“Of course I was nervous,” Huni said after the match. “I have to win for them!”
He was referring, of course, to his bottom lane, facing off against their former long-time teammates. But this new version of Fnatic showed they’re a step above, thanks to the contributions up and down the lineup. Rekkles and YellOwStaR outplayed their counterparts. Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten scored a big farm lead over xPeke. And Huni himself was a whiz around the map, two steps ahead of the man who used to be Europe’s biggest top lane playmaker, sOAZ.
That brings Fnatic’s record to 7-0 on the season, leading to questions on whether they could put together a perfect split. When asked why the team is so good, Huni laughed.
“Because we have Huni,” he said. “I was joking! Because we have good plan, good diversity, good draft. Every teammate, each other... We’re really friendly. Something like bromance! I think it’s really good for team.”
The Fnatic bottom lane took to the analyst desk after the match, and YellOwStaR credited the team's preparation for their victory.
“We had to prepare a lot because we knew it was a hype match,” he said. “A lot of people were waiting for it. I’m glad we spent a lot of preparation. It paid off.”
Right now, Fnatic looks like they’re two steps ahead of every other team in Europe. Their solo laners, Huni and Febiven, are outplaying their lane foes in every game. The Rekkles and YellOwStaR bottom lane does the same. Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin may not have had his best game against Origen today, but he continues to be one of the most important junglers in Europe.
Their superb early game, thanks to their amazing mechanics and chemistry in fights, is backed by an outstanding mid game and late game, with Fnatic now showing a better understanding of how to win with their team compositions in all phases of a match. They look better prepared than their foes—their coaching staff, led by Luis “Deilor” Sevilla, is a clear boon to the team.
Putting together a perfect LCS season seems like a pipe dream. Even Fnatic has struggled at times this season, as in their match against SK Gaming in week one. But they pulled through in the end. That’s the hallmark of a great team, something SK Telecom T1 managed to do multiple times at the Midseason Invitational last month—pulling out a victory when you don’t have that early lead, when you fall behind due to some wily play.
Fnatic didn’t need to do that against Origen, but they have at times this season. And their dominance against Origen, at team that’s been dominating the rest of the LCS, makes that perfect season dream seem surprisingly realistic.
Screengrab via lolesports/YouTube