In the semifinals European LCS Champions Fnatic played against Chinese Qualifier Winners Royal Club in a best of 5 series. Throughout the matchup, Royal Club was able to again notable advantages particularly in champion select and the early game. Royal Club banned out Fnatic’s signature teleport champions and forced them into uncomfortable picks. Although Fnatic managed to take a game off of Royal, it was clear as day to see just how dominating the Chinese team looked in this series.
The Drafting Phase
Fnatic banned Zed since he’s just an overwhelmingly powerful on the world stage at the moment. So far in the World Championships, Zed has a 100% pick/ban rate in over 60 games. Vayne and Annie were targeted bans against Royal Club’s duo lane, Uzi and Tabe. Royal is known for their “raise the puppy” strategy which is basically CLG’s “protect the Doublelift” 2.0.
Uzi is considered to be the best ADC in china and some say he is second coming of WeiXiao. Due to his incredible mechanics Uzi is known as one of the best Vayne players in China. Complementing Royal Club’s playstyle, Uzi favors to exclusively play hypercarries like Vayne and Twitch in majority of their games which typically result in effective results.
Tabe is the only player in the world that will consistently pick Annie if she is left open. Annie is highly valued by Tabe for her 625 auto attack range for harass and her AoE stun from nearly 900 units away with a Flash Tibbers. Annie also provides Royal Club with a super aggressive level 1 due to her ability to AoE stun. While running 21/9 masteries, AD runes, and Ignite, Tabe is an extremely scary little girl on Annie.
Royal Club’s Bans
Royal Club consistently banned out Lissandra, Kassadin, and Shen throughout their series against Fnatic. Fnatic was the only team on the world stage that still preferred running double teleport compositions with both solo laners to create plays in the laning phase and split push in the later game. As star player of Fnatic, xPeke he often ends up carrying the team when he gets going. To make sure this didn’t happen, Royal repeatedly spent 2 out of their 3 bans against xPeke.
xPeke has been frequently playing Lissandra throughout the last weeks of EU LCS and in the World Championships using Teleport to great effect. Lissandra has wave clear, an escape, and the capability of locking an enemy down which makes it a perfect fit for xPeke. Lissandra has the necessary tools to reach Royal Club’s “puppy” and also initiate perfect team fights for Fnatic.
Kassadin with Teleport is a trademark of Fnatic and xPeke. No one will ever forget the incredible play and backdoor victory xPeke made on Teleport Kassadin at IEM Katowice against SK Gaming. During the games against Cloud9 xPeke was even confident enough to first pick Kassadin and dismantled them in both games. Like Lissandra, Kassadin has the ability to assassinate Uzi in blink of an eye and while still managing to escape immediately before being bursted down.
Shen was banned out 3 out of 4 games but due to the fact that Cyanide had great success on Aatrox throughout the series, their last ban shifted to Aatrox in the last match. Instead of banning Shen in the last game Royal first picked him instead. Due to his ability to create incredible map pressure as soon as he hits 6, Shen fits in very well Fnatic’s unpredictable teleport compositions.
Fnatic had a double teleport composition planned for this series but Royal Club was able completely shut it down during champion select. Royal brilliantly banned out the champions that Fnatic exclusively run Teleport on and took Shen away from them, preventing Fnatic from having any kind of global pressure. Without the worry of engagements suddenly turning against them, Royal Club was able to play more aggressive in lanes and allow Lucky to gank more confidently.
Notable Fnatic Picks
After having Lissandra and Kassadin banned away from him, xPeke fell back to his Fizz. In the first game, Wh1tezZ was able to dismantle Xpeke’s Fizz so hard in lane that it forced out an Orianna ban later in the series just so xPeke could pick Fizz again.
sOAZ was able to do a remarkable job on Zac staying even with GodLike for most of the series. He was the only player on Fnatic that was able to stay even in CS throughout the games. With Zac, sOaz was able be the tanky front line for his team and land crucial CC to set up favorable teams fights.
Yellowstar repeatedly picked Leona throughout the series paired up with either Varus or Corki. He showed great mechanics on Leona by consistently landing crucial Solar Flares and setting up favorable team fights for the team.
In the semifinals, Cyanide showed the world just how menacing his Aatrox could be. By grabbing 2-3 kills in laning phase during picked games, Cyanide was the backbone of Fnatic during this series. Due to his efforts, Royal Club eventually had to ban it against him in the 4th game.
Notable Royal Club Picks
GodLike is known as the most terrifying space crocodile in the Chinese region. In the first game of the series Fnatic even banned out Renekton because GodLike’s extensive history on him. On Renekton, GodLike is possibly one of the best 1v2 laners in this tournament, typically grabbing kills in those lanes while outfarming his rival top laner.
Lucky was able to pick Elise every single game throughout the series. It fit Lucky’s profile since he is known for playing hyper aggressive early game champions and focusing only on ganking for the laners. Elise had brought him favorable results in the games thus far, so why fix what isn’t (terribly) broken?
Wh1tezZ showed incredible skill on Orianna by completely shutting down xPeke on both Ahri and Fizz in the laning phase. He first picked Orianna knowing that Fizz was left open and baited xPeke into picking it. Whi1tezZ exclusively played Fizz throughout the entire China Regionals and he showed that he knows exactly how to play that matchup against xPeke.
Lulu has really fallen out of favor and it was really surprising to see Tabe pick her when Sona was open (perhaps Tabe has a thing for small girls considering his love for Annie as well?). Lulu does fit well in Royal Club’s play style due to the fact that he can protect the “puppy” via Wild Growth.
The Laning Phase
Royal Club was able to get more favorable lanes than Fnatic in the series. During the first game Fnatic had Corki/Leona which is a lane that is looking for kills and excels in a 2v2 match up. However, Royal had the polar opposite; they picked Vayne/Lulu and instead of letting Fnatic have the advantageous matchup, Royal lane swapped and took down early tower. At that point Vayne would have enough levels and items to survive the Corki lane. In each game of the series, Uzi was able to consistently get 50-100 CS ahead in the early game against Puszu which is an astonishing lead in any level of play. To be able to set your opponent back that far repeatedly shows how Royal Club’s duo lane was able to outclass Fnatic’s. In game 1 while in the a 1v2 situation, Royal opted for Jax to tag along the jungle for a full clear so both the GodLike and Lucky was able to get experience. GodLike was able to get back to the 1v2 lane before the creepwave hit his tower to still get the experience in lane. Meanwhile sOAZ stayed in the 1v2 lane giving GodLike a massive early lead.Game 2 CS: Uzi vs puszu
The whole series was not kind to xPeke, as the star player from Fnatic was shut down game after game. Like puzsu, he was getting destroyed in the terms of CS against Wh1tez in few of the games. In the first game Wh1tezZ’s Orianna was able to double Xpeke’s Fizz in CS at 10 minutes (95 to 47). Even on Ahri, Xpeke was unable to beat or stay even in CS against Wh1tezZ’s Orianna.
Game 1 CS: xPeke vs Wh1t3zZ
While in the top lane, sOAZ was able to keep up with GodLike for the most part and keeping up CS throughout the games. While sOAZ was the only member of Fnatic that did not get behind against Royal, the carries on Fnatic were not able to output enough damage. Cyanide was always able to pick up early kills on Lee Sin and Aatrox while going full tank along with sOAZ on Zac. Due to the fact that puzsu and xPeke was so behind in gold from the laning phase, they couldn’t output the necessary damage to win team fights.
Royal Club was able to give themselves a huge advantage due to their calculated choices in the drafting phase against Fnatic and by also heavily winning in CS in nearly every lane. Although Fnatic is a team that knows how to get back in a game when they are behind with their mid lane picks they weren’t not able to catch up due to how far behind they were in the laning phase. The whole series felt like Fnatic kept digging a hole for themselves in the early game while failing to climb out of it during the mid to late game. However, the hole was dug too deep and eventually they fell to their death costing them a spot in the grand finals.
Big thanks to Spencer Smith for the CS comparison graphs. Please be sure to follow him on twitter at @3leven!