Fnatic - Points to Prove
Fnatic have taken a lot of flak so far after their dealings in the off season. Losing 3 veterans and one of the best AD carries outside of Korea and China didn’t go down well with their fanbase and many are claiming this could be the end of Fnatic as not only a top tier team, but perhaps even as an LCS team.
Yellowstar held the line and rebuilt the lineup as best he could, bringing in former SK Prime AD Carry ‘Steelback’ to join him the bottom lane. ‘Febiven’ was recruited into the mid lane after being called a prodigy by just about everyone involved in the European scene. Rounding out the lineup were 2 fairly unknown Korean players, ‘reignover’ in the jungle and former Samsung substitute ‘Huni’ in the top lane.
Real questions are being asked of this Fnatic lineup, only 1 of which has any experience in the LCS. When you go from a team with 14 collective world championship appearances between them, to 4, all of which on Yellowstar, the pressure will be on to try and match their predecessors.
The rookies will be thrown into the deep end as they meet Elements, formerly Alliance in the very first game of the split. Rumours are circulating that Fnatic have been surprisingly dominant in scrims against the top teams of the region, with many highlighting top laner ‘Huni’ in particular. Success in scrims isn’t easy to replicate into success in the LCS, but at least there’s hope for Fnatic fans that this makeshift lineup isn’t as bad as they initially thought.
bonus - Febiven vs H2K and ‘We’re a strong independent LCS team who don’t need no Rekkles’
Game 1 sees Fnatic up against Elements, featuring their brand new shiny AD Carry, Rekkles. The wounds are surely still sore on the side of Fnatic and they’ll be hoping that Steelback and Yellowstar can show up especially big. Game 2 of the week also sees a player returning to his former club, this time Febiven of Fnatic will be facing off against H2K and his replacement, Ryu.
The 2 winners of the off-season face off - SK vs ROCCAT
The off-season is always a time of excitement for the hardcore fans. Your team might make a fantastic signing, but at the same time there’s a chance they could lose a star player. In Europe there were 2 teams that took the initiative and made what most believe to be the best changes of the off season, at least in Europe.
SK Gaming decided against re-signing both Jesiz and Candypanda, A decision that both pleased and angered fans. Most were very much for the removal of Jesiz, but couldn’t quite make up their minds about losing Candypanda. The uneasy feeling of removing Candypanda was discarded like a CLG top laner after an LCS split, after the announcement that Forg1ven would be the one replacing him. In the mid lane, SK decided to take a risk on one of their home grown talents, in former SK Prime mid laner, Watdefox (Now - Fox)
While SK secured a proven AD Carry and looked to the future in the mid lane, ROCCAT decided to go for tried and tested talent only. The removal of Celaver and Xaxus came as slight surprises as neither had been particularly underperforming, but it was clear that those 2 had to go in order for the team to reach the next level. Nukeduck filled the void left in mid lane after Overpow rotated upwards, while former Copenhagen Wolves AD Carry Woolite replaced Celaver.
Both teams are being considered contenders for the number 1 spot, and their 3rd/4th place finished last season mean they will be pit against eachother in their very first games of the split. Nukeduck is being hailed as the ‘SK killer’ after comments made on First Blood, but one would be a fool to disregard SK as a serious threat. How will Fox cope in his first LCS match against the veteran Nukeduck? Has Forg1ven maintained the level he was before? All these questions and more will be answered in the LCS studio tomorrow. For this match-up, I’m always excited to see Jankos and Svenskeren face off against eachother. Arguably the 2 best junglers in Europe clashing will always be a wonder to behold.
Bonus - Overpow’s first LCS test in the top lane is the best in Europe, Fredy.
Overpow made way for Nukeduck in the off-season by switching up to the top lane position. While in recent history European top laners have been lacking, this season the role looks to have gotten stronger. The best in Europe in the eyes of most will give Overpow a thorough examination in his first LCS appearance as a top laner.
Unicorns of Love - Was it a Fluke?
Unicorns of Love were recently ranked the 16th best team in the world by LoLEsports. While I think everyone with a brain realises this is an absurdly high rating, you can see why they were placed there. A strong victory over TSM at IEM San Jose lead to a lot of people expecting very big things from a very inexperienced lineup.
Taking a look at the lineup, you see a fairly good lineup, with most players being seen as mid LCS level at least. Vizicsacsi is an innovator and loves bringing out the best champion in the situation, regardless of ‘viability’, while maintaining his performances on the ‘meta’ champions. The same can be said for Kikis, who most recently pulled out Twisted Fate jungle against TSM, however you may also remember the jungle Fizz while playing for SK prime in the LCS promotion tournament.
In my opinion these benefits could also be where the problem lies. When given the time to prepare and plan these outlandish strategies, UOL are able to surprise their opponents, gather early leads and snowball the game. We have yet to see how this team will perform when they don’t have weeks to practice for their next game. UOL are still evidently strong enough to hold their own, however the fans expectations have exceeded this due to their performance at IEM, and their victory over the veterans of Millenium in the promotion tournament. Week one pits the Unicorns against Gambit and Elements, both very tough opponents.
Bonus - Could Powerofevil challenge the best mid laners in Europe?
At IEM San Jose it’s safe to say that Bjergsen got demolished by one of the most exciting additions to the EU LCS this year. While the hype has been building around the German player, it could be possible that, quite like the whole team, fans may be putting too much pressure on him. In week 1 we will see Powerofevil face off against a European Legend, Froggen. He already took down Bjergsen, could he do the same to another legendary Danish mid laner?
Image credits to ESL, LoLesports, and Fnatic
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