Fnatic had a dominant showing in the EU LCS 2018 Spring Split. After going 2-2 in the first two weeks, they found their footing and defeated every opponent, with one big exception – Misfits Gaming. The team that ended in seventh place was somehow the only team that Fnatic could not beat, and they picked up two of their eight wins over the eventual champions. Whatever Misfits did this season may not have worked against most teams in the EU LCS, but it was the perfect combination to take down Fnatic.
Blue Side: Fnatic
Bans: Caitlyn, Ryze, Kalista, Jayce, Camille
Paul “sOAZ” Boyer – Ornn
Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen – Nunu
Rasmus “Caps” Winther – Azir
Martin “Rekkles” Larsson – Xayah
Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov – Rakan
Red Side: Misfits Gaming
Bans: Tristana, Galio, Tahm Kench, Jarvan IV, Zac
Barney “Alphari” Morris – Gangplank
Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian – Sejuani
Chres “Sencux” Laursen – Zoe
Steven “Hans Sama” Liv – Kog’maw
Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle – Braum
At their first meeting of the split, the 3-1 Misfits were not yet the underdogs to the 2-2 Fnatic. In champion select, Fnatic chose to ban away carries such as Camille, Jayce and Ryze while picking a mid-game team fighting comp. Their opponents, in turn, tried to keep Rekkles from running away with the game. Not only did they ban Tristana, but also Tahm Kench and Galio – two champions that excel at keeping their carries alive.
An important win condition for Fnatic was to prevent Misfits from scaling into late game, where Gangplank, Kog’maw, and Zoe would all do excessive damage. They used their mid-game power spike to punish Misfits as much as possible. They developed a 4.4k Gold lead by 26:00 and broke the enemy base by 30:00 minutes. At this point, things started to swing back towards Misfits.
Knowing that they needed to close things out or risk losing their lead, Fnatic overextended multiple times, getting caught in bad positions. This led to Misfits getting kills, and as a result, objectives. Though they came close several times, Fnatic failed to end the game before Misfits reached their full potential, and ended up paying the price. At 37:00, Misfits took back the gold lead, and kept building it. When all was said and done, the game had gone on for over an hour. Misfits had taken 4 Barons, amassed a 13k Gold lead, and defeated Fnatic in their first meeting of the season.
Blue Side: Misfits Gaming
Bans: Tristana, Azir, Galio, Kassadin, Taliyah
Alphari – Shen
Maxlore – Jarvan IV
Sencux – Anivia
Hans Sama – Xayah
Mikyx – Rakan
Red Side: Fnatic
Bans: Camille, Ryze, Skarner, Zac, Trundle
sOAZ – Sion
Broxah – Sejuani
Caps – Corki
Rekkles – Sivir
Hylissang – Alistar
By their second game of the season, the situation for both teams had completely changed. Misfits had gone 2-5 since they last met, while Fnatic had won their last seven straight. The latter looked unstoppable, but the former had struggled, especially in the Jungle and Mid Lane. Fnatic once again banned carries like Camille and Ryze, but also took three Champions away from Maxlore. Misfits chose to focus on Caps, banning out four Mid Lane Champions along with Tristana.
Realizing that Rekkles was likely to be strong no matter what, they focused on shutting down the top side of the map, and it worked for them. Though Rekkles went 5/1/5, it was not enough to carry the rest of Fnatic to victory.
Like their game in Week 3, this was another long match, going to almost an hour. However, this time it was much more one-sided. Misfits earned a solid gold lead by the 16 minute mark and kept it for the remainder of the game, stretching it to over 6k by the time they destroyed the nexus. They doubled Fnatic’s kills, controlled the jungle and most of the objectives, and once again shut down the best team in Europe.
How did they do it?
Defeating Fnatic twice in the regular season is an impressive feat, and the middle-of-the-pack Misfits were the only ones to do it. While many factors contributed, there seem to be three that were vital, and consistent through both games.
Rekkles was undoubtedly one of the main factors of Fnatic’s success throughout the split. Misfits realized that this was not because of the champions he played, but rather how he performed as a player. Because of this, they avoided the trap of banning multiple ADC’s that many others fell into. While they made a good decision to take away his Tristana, they used the rest of their bans to focus on the rest of the team, where they were much more effective. Other teams wasted two, three, and once, even five bans on Marksmen, to little effect.
Another thing that Misfits did that few others were able to was shut down Broxah. The young Jungler had an impressive season, and while he was not one of the main carries, he was essential to many victories. By essentially keeping him out of the game (KDAs of 0/6/7, 0/5/8), Misfits eliminated one of the main factors that would enable Caps and Rekkles to run away with the game. Additionally, this helped Maxlore to control objectives and have two of his best games of the season.
Fnatic beat many of their opponents by controlling the tempo and flow of the game. Misfits took that away from them. By extending the games past the 40 minute mark, they allowed themselves time to catch up to Fnatic. Denying them this early victory evened the playing field, and got Misfits to a point where they could play to their strengths with a late game lead.
Misfits had an underwhelming split, but being the only team to remain undefeated against the EU LCS champions is something to be proud of.
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Featured photo courtesy of LoL Esports