League of Legends
Coming off a miracle World’s run that took them all the way to Quarterfinals, a revitalized Fnatic turned their focus to once again securing the EU LCS championship. The manner in which they did so was perfectly expressed by Martin “Rekkles” Larsson in Sunday’s EU LCS Championship interview, “I think as soon as you get your team together, that’s when you can truly shine.”
Fnatic is a team with a long, successful legacy in both international League of Legends tournaments and at home in their domestic region. Holding almost half of the EU LCS’s championship titles, Fnatic’s winning history has given them international notoriety, and with notoriety comes expectations. Fnatic is expected to consistently perform well domestically and internationally. Despite routinely meeting these expectations, there was one thing that continually eluded Fnatic for 5 consecutive splits: a 6th EU LCS Championship.
Though the only change in their roster came with the addition of support player Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov, Fnatic struggled with team synergy for the first 3 weeks of the split. Plagued by a lack of team identity, Fnatic fell back onto their habitual late-game play style. Despite this fallback strategy’s success at the time, around halfway through the split, team director Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool noted that they realized, “we’re good like this, but we’re not going to win the split playing like this.” To ensure that they would win the split, Fnatic’s seven-man team of players, coach, and director worked tireless 10-12 hour days to create a system that relied on more than just comfort picks. Finding that sweet spot of perfect teamwork and champion synergy enabled Fnatic to end the regular season in first place, dropping only a single game during the entire second half of the split.
Unfortunately, the team hit a major bump on their road to victory when, just days before their semifinals appearance, Fnatic’s top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer announced that his hand had been injured. As his injury would require surgery, sOAZ stated that he would be subbed out for the rest of the split. Continued success without sOAZ was deemed all but impossible for Fnatic to achieve, yet they carried on without falter. Though many doubted their ability to perform with substitute top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, Fnatic were eager to prove they were still the powerhouse they were with sOAZ present. In his third ever professional game, Bwipo walked on stage as Fnatic’s starting top laner in their semifinals match against Vitality. To the surprise of many Bwipo showed none of his rookie status, was an integral part of Fnatic’s semifinals win, and continued to show his ability to successfully synergize within the team throughout their Finals match against G2 Esports.
Though only spanning a short 3 games, Fnatic’s finals appearance was exciting to watch. While Rekkles cemented his claim to the title of MVP with zero deaths throughout the series and nabbed a game two penta kill, it was Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s success against his rival Perkz that kept the excitement going. In keeping with his vow to “Smash him so hard that he’s going to think it's an international tournament,” Caps donned his country’s colors as his cape, entered his hometown arena, stared down his rival, and proceeded to help Fnatic systematically dismantle the reigning champions and take from them their crown.
Outside of becoming the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split Champions, Fnatic and its players earned themselves many accolades this split — Rekkles was crowned the Spring Split MVP (his second MVP title in a row), Caps, Rekkles, and Hylissang were elected to the All Pro Team, and Fnatic was selected as the EU LCS representative at MSI. With the return of Fnatic’s reign in the EU LCS firmly in place, the team will get to test the limits of their full potential in international waters this coming May at MSI.