Fnatic and Alternate are currently tied for second place in the European LCS Summer Split, both with a record of 13-10 and both neck in neck for a chance at the World Championship spot for the European region. They met on Summoner’s Rift last week in a rather interesting game, with two totally different approaches to the way they wanted to play the same team composition. Both teams were based around team fights, CC, and skirmishes. Fnatic, however, roamed the map as a unit and sacrificed CS for kills on Alternate. Alternate split pushed, farmed, and played safe in an attempt to get to late game. Ultimately, Fnatic ended up taking the game after a nearly flawless teamfight at the bottom inhibitor. How did that happen though?
Fnatic and Alternate were well versed against each other, but Fnatic technically has the edge. They’re 3-1 over Alternate over the course of the 4 games they’ve played this split, and they seem to have a very strong picks and bans phase. Fnatic’s first ban was a respect ban against Creaton and his Ezreal. Creaton had played two extremely strong games with Ezreal back to back and truly proved his skill with the champion, so Fnatic decided to skip on that headache and banned him. Following that, Alternate banned out xPeke’s Kassadin and Soaz’s Kennen. Both of these had been extremely effective in prior games for Fnatic, and it wasn’t worth letting either of those picks through. Fnatic decided the last two bans were going to be Vi and Vayne. The Vi ban was targeted at Araneae, who had a 67% win ratio on the champion when he jungled her. The Vayne pick surprised me. Banning out 1 ADC against a team is nothing out of the ordinary, as the enemy ADC usually has 1 AD carry who he is especially proficient at. Doublelift’s Vayne, Wildturtle’s Draven, Cop’s Miss Fortune, etc. Banning out two is something that’s a little bit more rare, and I think it spoke volumes about Fnatic’s respect for Creaton’s AD abilities. By banning out a second ADC, they lost the chance to ban out Thresh or Nunu, both of which were common grabs for Team Alternate. Alternate rounded out their bans by taking care of xPeke’s Twisted Fate. No backdoor this time!
Fnatic jumped into picks and bans with a very strategically smart first pick. Soaz first picked Elise, giving him the opportunity to counter Kerp’s Shen if he was first picked, and giving them a strong initiator for team fights. It also added a long range hard CC with Cocoon and gave the strong percentage based harass that they needed to counter or take out Kerp. Even with the Elise pick, Alternate still picked up Shen as a first pick for Kerp before grabbing Thresh for Jree. The Shen pick was a gutsy one, and Kerp really showed that he was comfortable on the champion during the game. However, he was significantly behind in CS during the early portion of the game during his 2v1, but he rapidly caught back up once he started split pushing. During Fnatic’s second pick phase, they grabbed Varus and Lissandra. Both of these picks came as no surprise, as xPeke is a fairly well known player on Lissandra and Puzsu regularly plays Varus to great effect. Following that, Team Alternate grabbed Nunu and Twitch, cementing in their strong team fighting ability with Nunu’s attack speed steroid and counter jungling capability, and Twitch’s ability to hypercarry. Alternate was going for the late game, but they never got there. For Fnatic’s third pick phase, they grabbed Leona and Lee Sin. This made Fnatic’s team fight potential an absolute nightmare. Leona’s Solar Flare, combined with Lissandra’s explosive engage capability and Elise’s tower diving capabilities, not to mention the two Zhonya’s they grabbed and the multitude of hard CC they both have, Fnatic was on the right path to an absolutely dominating team fight phase if they played correctly. Throwing in Varus on top was icing on the cake with Chain of Corruption throwing another layer of hard CC onto Alternate. Lee Sin rounds out their line up with strong engage and disruption. Alternate rounds out their line-up with ForellenLord on Ahri in the mid-lane.
What went wrong for Alternate?
Simply put, Fnatic roamed as a 5 man team the entire game and picked up kill and after kill, catching out Araneae whenever they got the chance, and often catching out Jree with him. This caught Team Alternate – a team known for their laning phase chaos – off guard, and it showed. Fnatic’s ability to engage and rapidly dispatch targets with laser-like precision was nothing short of entertaining as they roamed the entire map from about the 15 minute mark onwards. Meanwhile, Alternate went for the late game stability that CS offered, and that also showed. CS was surprisingly uneven, with Creaton having a 70 CS lead over Puzsu at one point. This CS advantage never showed in team fights, though, as Fnatic continued to mow through Team Alternate continuing into the mid game. At one point, Soaz picked up a triple on Elise with an attempted quadra kill (scumbag xPeke.) This drove Fnatic into the late game with a strong team fight presence, objective control, and a sizable gold advantage from a myriad of strong engages and dominate team fights. Fnatic ended the game with around 5 dragons and a baron. That’s a sizable gold lead in objectives alone, not to mention their 30-13 kill score. Fnatic was ahead.
How do you fix this?
Picks and bans. I think, simply put, Fnatic’s team composition was simply too strong for any team to deal with. Twitch took cleanse, but cleanse only works on one ability. Cocoon, Solar Flare, Chains of Corruption, Shield of Daybreak – there was simply too much hard CC to deal with. Combined with Lissandra’s ultimate, and her AoE snare, and her slows…well, you get the point. Fnatic was a team fighting monster, and they exploited their strengths to the greatest possible effect. Alternate, I believe, needs to manage their picks and bans phase a little bit better, but that’s problematic with a team like Fnatic. Fnatic has a champion pool that is 3 or 4 champions deep on each player, and that’s simply unbannable. Fnatic, this game, got a dream team. Better management of picks and bans can alleviate that, I think.
Fnatic played this game extremely well, with only a few minor hiccups. Alternate simply got outclassed by their own strategy, massive chaos in the early game. Fnatic did exactly that, roaming as a group of 5 and picking up kills on important members of Alternate’s line up, including their jungle. When it got to mid game, Fnatic was simply too far ahead with their early game objective gold and their effective roaming that they pretty much squashed Alternate. Alternate needs to be careful with how they manage picks and bans next time, or they need to be wary of their positioning during early game and team fights to make sure that they aren’t caught out of position. Alternate did not play bad by any stretch of the imagination – simply disorganized.
And for the rest of the the league
Week 8 of the EU LCS ended with quite a few upsets; Gambit BenQ lost all three of their games along with Meet Your Makers, while EG Raidcall and SK Gaming (both a part of last week’s bottom three teams) managed to swing an impressive 2-1. The once underdogs Lemondogs rocketed ahead of their peers in first place at 14-9, leaving a second place tie between Fnatic and Team Alternate.
Earlier this week, Gambit BenQ announced their new support player, Voidle, as their current substitute, Darker, stepped down. This sudden roster change for what seems to be the hardest position to fill for the squad (both current support player for Curse, Edward, and Darker attributing this difficulty to Genja’s strange playstyle) may explain the poor showing in their recent matches. With the most important week of the season approaching, here’s hoping Gambit BenQ can reform back to the dominant force they’ve been known to be.