It’s been a year of ups and downs for Fnatic. In November, the UK organization saw their dream of another world championship crushed by Invictus Gaming. Then, during the following break, they lost star mid player Rasmus “Caps” Winther to rivals G2 Esports (as well as top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer to Misfits Gaming). From the outside, fans predicted a down year while the organization rebuilt in 2019.
Although it did take a while for Caps’ replacement Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek to find synergy with his team, it did not come to that. As Spring passed, the new line-up took third behind G2 and Origen. By summer, Fnatic had reestablished themselves as one of Europe’s top two teams.
G2, on the other hand, just couldn’t stop winning. Both the Spring Split and MSI went to them. Throughout summer, G2 stayed comfortably at the top of the board. Both teams took games off the other in their single encounters, but G2 still maintained an edge in extended series. The coach of the split, Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann, has led G2 to win every best-of-five in all of 2019.
Last weekend, it appeared they would relinquish that record at last. Fnatic took two games off them during the second round of the European Summer Playoffs. But it was the individual skill on G2’s squad saving them from a loss. Allowing G2 to reverse sweep the score to a 3-2 victory.
This placed team FC Schalke 04 on Fnatic’s path if G2 wanted another shot at the title of “Kings of Europe”. Determined not to make the same mistake from the week before, G2 were all business and rolled over Schalke on Saturday night. With this win, they secured a spot at 2019’s World Championship. As Fnatic and G2 met again in the Summer Final last night, neither this accomplishment nor the Summer championship was on their minds. Instead, it was a revenge match proving who played the best League of Legends. Spoiler: both teams are pretty good at it.
During game one of the epic series, an early skirmish in the bottom lane turned into chaos. The team fight burned several summoner spells, killed multiple players and never stopped. Both junglers continued to gravitate towards bot. But Fnatic’s superior objective control managed to convert two drakes and a Baron into a 23-14 win.
Intent on not having the same occur in the second game, G2 shifted attention to top lane and their opponent’s jungle. This relieved some bot lane pressure, allowing Martin “Wunder” Nordahl Hansen, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and Luka “Perkz” Perković to rake in kills. The latter two even found their thousandth competitive career kill this game, which was closed out by G2 with a dominant 21-4 scoreline.
Game three saw Fnatic apply “special tactics”, invading G2’s jungle at level one. Although this backfired with Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen giving up first blood, Fnatic somehow built a lead off it. G2 then stalled the game for forty minutes. It took Fnatic yet another Baron to push through the win.
Caps finally came online in game four. The skill of “Baby Faker” is undeniable, but his brand of over-aggression tends to cause team problems when it fails. On Sylas, it worked and made up for his earlier lapses in the series, carrying G2 to a 17-5 win.
Leaving game five as the all-deciding one, Perkz pulled out Syndra in bot lane. Yet another bloody back and forth, the match was decided around objectives. Two Barons and a lost team fight at Infernal Drake resulted in G2 taking another BO5, and the LEC Summer title, for themselves.
G2 struggled for the win but that’s cold comfort for the Fnatic squad. That team now has to play in the Regional Finals on September 15th to determine Europe’s No. 2 seed for Worlds, held later this year in France.
Perhaps there they will finally have their revenge. Third time’s the charm?
Credit to Xander Teunissen