MSI Day 1 – Fnatic vs Royal Never Give Up
“My goal is top two, otherwise I will be disappointed.” Martin “Rekkles” Larsson had high expectations ahead of the 2018 Mid Season Invitational. These feelings are understandable coming from the EU Spring Split, as he is surrounded by a team that dominated both the regular season and the playoffs. However, as they faced RNG in the first game of MSI Day 1, Fnatic needed to be ready. In RNG they were up against tougher competition than they faced all year. Most notably, the RNG roster boasts Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao who has been ranked by most (including Rekkles himself) as the best AD Carry in the world.
As the teams took their spots on the stage, they showed their strategy in the Pick & Ban stage. Fnatic attempted to limit the impact of Uzi, not by banning his champions, but instead banning Supports and Mid Laners like Karma, Morgana, and Lulu that would make him unstoppable. RNG decided to focus their bans on rookie Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau by taking out Sion, Swain, and Gangplank. Bwipo only recently took the starting spot in Fnatic’s Top Lane due to an injured Paul “sOAZ” Boyer.
RNG started the game by attempting to punish the rookie once again, and Liu “Mlxg” Shi-Yu (Olaf) Ganked top early. Though Mlxg took him down to very low health, Bwipo (Vladamir) managed to escape without using Flash. In response, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen (Trundle) Ganked the Mid Lane shortly after, and managed to force the Flash from Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao (Ryze).
RNG began to assert their dominance early, taking the farm lead in every lane as Fnatic played safe. This patience paid off at 12 minutes when Broxah and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov (Braum) joined Rasmus “Caps” Winther (Yasuo) in the Mid Lane, giving Broxah First Blood on the Flash-less Xaiohu. Then, just seven minutes later, Caps and Xaioho faced off in the Bottom Lane. Caps flashed under the tower to get the solo kill. Xaioho returned immediately to the bottom lane, and was caught again. After a Pillar from Broxah and Last Breath from Caps, Broxah walked away with another kill and Xaiohu found himself at 0/3/0.
RNG Finally shut down Caps as they caught him near the Baron Pit, but he was able to force out Ultimates from both Mlxg and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming (Tahm Kench). He led them both on a chase that would allow Fnatic to take the Mid Lane turret. Both teams continued through the Mid Game very cautiously, prioritizing vision and Baron pressure without either looking to engage the other.
At 31 minutes, Caps once again forced a fight, and killed the enemy Jungler behind the Baron Pit. With this advantage, Fnatic looked to take the Baron, but were foiled as Caps attempted to prevent RNG from stealing it, and was deleted by Uzi. The Baron Buff went to RNG, and with it, Fnatic’s Bot Lane Inhibitor.
Shortly after, RNG set up a “Death Brush” on the top side of the Mid Lane, but Fnatic was able to turn this ambush against them. A Pillar of Ice from Broxah allowed them to single out and kill Mlxg. Continuing to engage, they followed up with a kill on Yan “Letme” Jun-Ze (Cho’Gath). Fnatic pushed the 5-3 advantage down the Mid Lane to take the enemy Inhibitor. Rather than recalling after this, they decided to make a Death Brush of their own in the RNG Jungle, which proved to be their downfall.
Though RNG had no wards in the area, Uzi was suspicious, and used Living Artillery blindly. Aiming wisely, he managed to hit the tightly grouped Fnatic team. In the resulting fight, Fnatic looked to focus the enemy AD Carry. As Uzi was saved by Ming’s Devour, Fnatic was unable to adjust, and ended up losing four members. RNG easily walked down the Mid Lane and ended the game.
Though Fnatic looked to be a match for RNG throughout much of the game, they could not win out in the end. In truth, the LPL team was able to keep a gold lead and played to their Win Condition more successfully. Through smart Macro play and playing around Uzi, RNG came away with the first victory of the MSI 2018 Group Stage.
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