The LEC 2019 Spring kicked off in the worst way possible for Fnatic as the Worlds 2018 runner-ups started with an 0-4 record. Even worse, majority of their losses came at the hands of teams that were previously considered to be a lower tier than them. All in all, Fnatic finished the first round robin with a paltry 3-6 record, ending the fifth week at eighth place and in very real danger of missing out on the post season.
To say that this was an unexpected turn of events for the organization would be putting things a bit too simply.
Since then, however, Fnatic have shown signs of life, and now, after a 4-0 winstreak, with some of their wins coming against some of the best teams of the LEC 2019 Spring, Fnatic have improved their record to a more respectable 7 wins and 7 losses.
How did that happen? Is it sustainable? We’ll try to answer those questions and more below.
How Fnatic Turned their LEC 2019 Spring Around
Drafting and Early Game Prowess
Drafting plays a huge role into how matches are won are lost— it is often the public’s go-to reason to point out to have decided entire games. This is not usually the case for Fnatic drafts. There are not many moments where Youngbuck has outdrafted the opponent stage coach. What, then, is the difference?
First, the team’s drafts have appeared to have clearer win conditions. During their streak of losses, Fnatic seemed to draft losing lanes with no means to get there. The hope appeared to be to simply outplay in the laning phase and then assert their scaling advantage later on in the game. As we know, however, this is not how things played out. Due to not being capable of having lane pressure, Fnatic lost too much gold during the earlier stages of the game, and foes were able to simply snowball.
In the second half of LEC 2019 Spring, Fnatic has been able to play lanes with pressure and have some picks that are rather capable of bridging towards the later stages of the game if they have a scaling champion. Their compositions are pretty much straightforward and are relatively easier to execute. This means that they have done the due preparation in terms of reading the current meta. This gives them greater chances of succeeding in their matches.
Clear Identity and Decisive Gameplay
I have already illustrated that their drafts are rather clearer, but here we talk about how exactly this translates to actual play.
When Fnatic drafts a winning side, they usually play towards that. The most common pattern is that Tim “Nemesis” Lipovsek is placed on a champion that can establish lane priority and will be capable of roaming. He is often found in a side lane whenever a fight would break out, sure to provide a numbers advantage for his team. This is why he has been placed on champions that can easily clear waves such as Zoe and Sylas. With Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen has been with Nemesis in most of the plays that the team will be making, and it is rather clear that his synergy with his solo laners has been improving by the week.
In the initial set of wins that Fnatic was able to secure, they solely played through the bottom lane. Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov’s play has made it easier for Fnatic to pour all of their resources into their ever-dependable AD carry, Martin “Rekkles” larsson. Later on, Fnatic showed the ability to play through other sides of the map. In their last game of Week 7 of LEC 2019 Spring, Bwipo secured advantages in the laning phase on their own, allowing the team to assert themselves across the Summoner’s Rift.
Fnatic’s identity is more than its drafting and summoner spell use, though. Fnatic’s identity lies more within their map rotations and ability to press leads; they take leads while simultaneously preventing their opponents from staging comebacks by taking their jungle camps. More importantly, they do this without dying as much.
Will Fnatic Make It To Playoffs?
Heading into Week 8 of the LEC 2019 Spring, Fnatic currently hold a 7-7 record. This ties them with Misfits Gaming, SK Gaming, and FC Schalke 04 Esports.
As per the schedule, Fnatic’s last few matches will be up against Misfits Gaming, Excel Esports, G2 Esports, and Splyce. Assuming that they break even, they’ll end up with a 9-9 record. That should be enough to secure them a playoff spot. Either way, for Fnatic to make that certain, they’ll have to win at least one more game. Ideally, however, they’ll want to win more and end the regular season of LEC 2019 Spring on a strong note.
This is especially true if they end up getting tied with SK Gaming, of which they have an 0-2 head-to-head record against. Not to mention, Fnatic will want to win their series against Misfits Gaming to have a chance of forcing a tiebreaker scenario in case they end up with similar records.
If, by some miracle, Fnatic wins all of their remaining matches, their postseason slot is all but guarantee. But, that’s a tall order. After all, they still have G2 Esports on their schedule.
For the first time in what seems like forever, Fnatic is in real danger of missing out on the playoffs.
Make no mistake, though, they are not a bad team. Their current record may show otherwise, but, if you pay attention to their games, they consistently perform well, especially against some of the top teams in the region. This gives them a lot of hope in the playoffs, where matches will be far longer and they’ll be able to use their experience to their advantage.
Ultimately, however, whether or not the Kings of Europe will rise up to the challenge of defending their throne remains to be seen.
What do you think of Fnatic’s chances of making it to the playoffs? Do you think they can make a late run? Or will they have no choice but to sit the playoffs of the LEC 2019 Spring out? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.