Given the long break between the end of the LCS and MSI, Fnatic will have several adjustments to make in order to continue their streak of success. Though all teams will be affected by these changes, Fnatic may feel it most of all in some of their key roles.
The first big change that Fnatic is likely to feel are the nerfs to Braum in Patch 8.8. While this may seem insignificant (Armor growth reduced by .5, and Stand Behind Me bonus resistance decreased by 7.5 at level 1 => 1.5 at level 5) every little bit counts for the pros. Braum was the most picked champion by Fnatic this past season, with Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov playing him in 11 of their 25 games. Additionally, an adjustment to Targon’s Brace (passive gold generation per 10 seconds reduced from 4 to 1) in Patch 8.7 has been a nerf to tanky supports overall.
If these changes are enough to keep Fnatic from picking Braum, it will not only affect their Bot Lane, but may force Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen or (likely) Paul “sOAZ” Boyer onto tanks when they would rather play a carry.
Luckily for Fnatic, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson may have received a huge buff in recent weeks. Although it is unlikely that any team will let Kai’sa through, it could be huge for Fnatic if they do. The powerful scaling mixed with the early play-making potential could be lethal in the hands of the EU LCS MVP. As this may be a must-ban for many teams, it could possibly create an opportunity for a champion like Tristana or Xayah to slip though.
Another possible bonus for the Bot Lane is the buff for Lucian that came through in Patch 8.6. While the champion has been out of the meta for quite some time now, it remains the most-played champion on stage for Rekkles. With damage increases on both Ardent Blaze and The Culling, the mobile marksman could be strong again. Multiple ADC bans could result in him pulling out this pocket pick.
Rasmus “Caps” Winther has a sizable champion pool, playing 13 different champions on stage so far in 2018. Even so, he is not immune to nerfs. Azir, Taliyah, Galio, Ryze and Swain all took big hits in the last two patches which could be trouble for the Mid Laner. Caps shines on play-making Mages. With so many from his champion pool being taken down a notch, he will be much easier to ban against.
Some of these nerfs may be small enough where Caps can play through them. Also, he could break out the recently reverted LeBlanc or the newly buffed Lissandra. However he decides to deal with so many changes, it will be something that the team as a whole will have to adjust their play style to.
There is one additional change that could benefit teams like Fnatic. In Patch 8.6, the Sweeping Lens trinket was removed completely from the game. It was instead replaced by its former upgrade, Oracle Alteration. While in general, Oracle Alteration is seen as a better version of the Sweeping Lens, there is one major drawback. The sweeping area is centered around the champion rather than a selected point. This lack of range makes it a much more dangerous item to scout brush with.
Against the team that created the phrase “Fnatic Death Brush” this can be a worrisome change. Fnatic has always been famous for predicting where the enemy team will be pathing, and sitting in an un-warded brush to ambush them for a quick kill. While teams can still scout from distance with a Farsight Orb or certain skillshots, removal of a safe way to scout brush that Fnatic may be hiding in is a buff to them, although and obscure one.
While many of the recent changes, both positive and negative, seem to focus on things that are pivotal to Fnatic, the truth is that all teams will need to make adjustments. At MSI, the best teams from each region will be facing off. Victory will likely come to those that adjust the best.
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Featured photo courtesy of Fnatic