Fnatic and Millenium squared off in a battle for French supremacy on Day 2, Week 2 of the European Summer LCS. Both teams were no doubt hungry for redemption, as they lost on the first day of the week.
Fnatic were upset by Gambit’s new roster despite having advantage of several turrets, but ultimately their rotations gave away too many Dragons. Gambit managed to survive, outscale, and take advantage at the Baron Nashor.
Millenium was not favored to win their game against Alliance, and the way the game played out affirmed public opinion. Alliance out-rotated Millenium in the early and mid-game to a sizable gold lead. Millenium attempted to get back into the game with picks, but Alliance’s gold lead and sieging potential with Nidalee was insurmountable.
Both teams sit in the middle of the pack. This is an improvement for Millenium, who faced relegations last split, and a disappointment for Fnatic, the winners of last split despite a mid season hiccup.
We see Fnatic invite Millenium to pick Lee Sin by banning both Evelynn and Kha’Zix. If we think about the current quad of “meta” jungle champions, Lee Sin is the strongest early game champion but the least reliable team fighter. The next two rotations have neutral, but strong, picks with both ADCs going early. Fnatic then shows their hand with Nunu and Trundle, which are champions specializing in disengage and control of the enemy team’s tanks.
The crucial mistake was likely the Karthus pick. Lee Sin, Shyvana, and Karthus are all individually strong champions, but none of them bring reliable crowd control. Millenium’s team composition is devoid of lockdown outside of the Morgana support, which can’t be a team fight engager unless ahead enough to buy Zhonya’s Hourglass. Both Trundle and Nunu bring large-area slows that can really make it difficult for Karthus to position.
Karthus is also individually countered by Nidalee, which is a champion that is popular in the current meta-game. Karthus doesn’t directly lose the lane, but instead fails to punish Nidalee appropriately during lane phase. Karthus can shove the wave, but LCS-caliber mid players can use Nidalee’s attack speed buff and other spells to CS under turret well enough in the early game. In team fights, Karthus will move straight forward while trying to connect with his spells, and thus becomes a very easy target for spears. If Karthus dies before getting in the middle of the enemy team, then his damage drops dramatically. Nidalee can also save people from Karthus’ ultimate with her heal.
Sivir isn’t as powerful of a marksman as Lucian or Twitch, but if Millenium knew before the game that they wanted to run both Shyvana and Karthus, then planning for a Sivir pick could have helped shore up this engage weakness. Sivir doesn’t bring lockdown, but the movement speed buff from her ultimate makes it much easier for diving champions like Karthus to get into position. Nunu’s ultimate is still a bit of a hurdle, but if Sivir can cover the engage then Lee could have used his ultimate to interrupt Nunu.
To my eyes, Millenium has a history of picking team-fighting compositions without the crowd control to fully utilize them, and this game is no exception. In the spring split, they would often get early leads, but their 5v5-oriented play style would get them into trouble, as they would find themselves unable to force advantages. The meta-game of the spring season was unfriendly to them as well. Ziggs and pre-rework Gragas dominated the mid lane and both those champions excel at turtling.
Fnatic on the other hand tends to gravitate towards either pick or poke compositions that avoid straight-up brawls. Their historical weakness has been lacking an avenue to come back if they fail to secure an early lead or vision control. Fnatic’s jungler Cyanide in particular seems to suffer in those games, as he is a selfless player and prioritizes ganking over farming. If his early game doesn’t go well, he often doesn’t have the gold or experience to survive team fights. The Nunu pick in this game very much fits Cyanide’s “support jungle” play style.
Both teams ward their red jungle then their opponent’s. Fnatic sees all 5 people on the invasion, so they know that any ward on Millenium’s red buff is likely to have been placed at 0:30 (expires 1:30). Thus, Fnatic does a delayed invasion of Millenium’s red buff and plays to one of Nunu’s strengths, objective control.
Millenium is inherently suspicious of an invasion because of said objective control, so we see Kevin and Kottenx waiting just outside of the jungle. Millenium’s duo lane is on the bottom side of the map, which dissuades Fnatic from haggling for the red buff once they are found.
Fnatic’s retreat tells Jree that they will be starting their blue buff shortly and he invades. Jree gets some damage down and gold from his support item, but the real victory is that he forced Cyanide to share the buff experience. Normally, the top laner backs off while the jungler finishes the buffs to ensure that the jungler gets level 3 “on time” to have early presence.
Kevin and Kottenx did double golems early in an attempt to more efficiently farm the jungle. However, this was seen by Fnatic. Yellowstar started with a green (three minute) ward and placed it at wraiths earlier. To a casual fan it might seem unrealistic, but when Yellowstar first appeared on the map Millenium could have checked his items and seen that he only had 2 potions. They then could have deduced that there is a green ward in their jungle, and therefore their “full clear” would be telegraphed. Anyway, as we saw just moments ago, having the support to back you up in the jungle automatically decides which team is backing off, so Kottenx only secures one buff.
xPeke demonstrates why he took the summoner spell Cleanse shortly after. Millenium’s only source of pick and catch is Morgana’s bind; with good positioning Peke probably won’t have a need for Heal or Barrier. Peke ends up blowing Flash because of Jree’s Exhaust, but later in the game he’s unlikely to be within that range.
The next significant moment of the game is Kerp getting ganked in mid. The thing to notice here is Fnatic choosing to walk around and gank from the side of their red jungle. This is based on the fact that Fnatic just saw Millenium invade their jungle on the blue side; ergo, if Millenium just placed any wards, they probably used them on that side. Kerp actually still has his ward, and perhaps could have avoided death regardless of vision, but the point is to see Fnatic’s decision making.
Fnatic sees Creaton finish off the bottom turret and finally recall for the first time in the game. This signals that they can keep moving around the map to Dragon, which they take with their numbers advantage. They then take note of Millenium’s blue timer from earlier; Rekkles and Peke shove mid then proceed to invade. Creaton returned bot to farm around this time. He had earlier reset the wave by denying minions on the turret before finishing it and recalling. This meta-game is all about minion denial, but at 12 minutes (when he recalled) it’s probably the time to start thinking about map pressure. Creaton could have easily set up bot to instead slow-push at the time so that he could pressure mid or respond to Fnatic’s rotations.
I say pressure mid because if we think about this point in the mid-game, Nidalee only has an Athene’s Unholy Grail. Outside of those spears, which aren’t very strong yet, Fnatic doesn’t have much to offer if Millenium starts sieging. Nunu and Trundle in particular have no wave clear at all. Later in the game, it won’t matter, because Nidalee spears will do a lot more, but in this small mid-game window Millenium could be giving Fnatic trouble near turrets.
With his Teleport up and no Dragon on the map, sOAZ sets up a freeze top, and gets several waves of uninterrupted farm near his top turret. Kevin gets a wave himself, but ultimately sOAZ closes the gold deficit from all his map movement early game. Again, had Millenium been pushing mid, then perhaps they would deny sOAZ his chance to catch up.
Fnatic prepares for Dragon well – they see Kottenx recall, deny vision, and xPeke starts throwing spears from the fog. However, they don’t respect Millenium’s positioning. xPeke zoned several members of Millenium, but then found himself cut off from the fight. Cyanide also takes a lot of free damage while posturing to intercept a steal attempt from Kottenx’s Lee Sin. Millenium played the situation well, but the harsh truth is that their three kills were born of unforced errors by Fnatic.
Millenium gets a little carried away on a dive in mid and Creaton gets caught on the retreat. The decision to push mid was probably the correct one, just executed wrong, but in the process there was almost certainly time for someone on Millenium to stick a ward on the left side of the river. It’s understandable that there were no wards there prior, since the primary objective was the Dragon a minute ago, but Creaton’s death opened up Baron for Fnatic. Warding at that moment was Millenium’s one chance to get a cleaner fight around Baron.
As it is, Fnatic uses Baron to take two bottom turrets. Kottenx manages to get Millenium a winning team fight with a well-executed Lee Sin “Insec” initiation onto Rekkles. However, such plays are hard to reproduce, and in the next two team fights we see Fnatic play their composition correctly. Kerp and Kevin do respectable damage but they ultimately can’t connect for long enough to win the fights. Fnatic later closes out the game after the second of those fights secures them the Baron, repeating their earlier siege with a side dish of Trundle split-push to discourage 5v5.
I consider this game mostly won in champion select. Millenium did a rather admirable job of staying even in the game and capitalizing on some poor positioning by Fnatic; this got them several kills near Dragon and their bottom inhibitor.
Fnatic managed some small advantages with their rotations but the gold stayed relatively close. The story of this game was Millenium playing a composition that needed team fights, but couldn’t consistently get them. That’s not to say that they couldn’t have won if they played better, but they did themselves no favors in champion select.