Fanatics never give up
In the group stage’s first place tiebreaker, Royal Never Give Up dealt with Flash Wolves in very convincing style, gaining the right to choose opponents in the process. The Chinese team lost three points in the group stage: against the now-eliminated Team Liquid, the Wolves, and Kingzone DragonX. In the games against Fnatic, Uzi led his team to victory twice.
So it was no surprise that RNG chose to face the European team in the semifinals. For Fnatic, it will be a chance for revenge for their best-of-5 defeat at last year’s World Championships, when they lost 1-3. Since then, the Chinese team has played in the same lineup, gaining a lot of joint experience and synergy. Will the change of sOAZ and Jesiz for Bwipo and Hylissang help the European crew?
The European champions’ form during the MSI has sparked a lot of emotions in their fans, to say the least. Was it really worth taking everyone to the brink of a nervous breakdown by losing their game on Monday and then following it with two losses on Tuesday? The fourth-place tiebreaker against their American rivals has at least given fans a ray of hope that Fnatic, and especially Rekkles, can get their act together. Last year, the Old World was represented by G2, which managed to get to the finals and clash with Faker’s SKT. They lost 1-3.
Wolves vs. dragons
Faker isn’t at the MSI this year. Instead, South Korea is represented by Kingzone DragonX, a squad who came in 5th-8th at the World Championship under the banner of Longzhu Gaming. They will face Flash Wolves. For the Taiwanese team, which includes Maple and SwordArt, this is their third consecutive appearance at the MSI. They managed to qualify for the semifinals in previous years as well, but they were knocked out of the competition by CLG (2016) and SKT (2017).
After the Wolves’ brilliant start to the tournament, some of the other teams found a way to deal with them, resulting in four losses: one against Fnatic, one against Team Liquid, and two against Royal Never Give Up. But Flash Wolves did manage to beat Kingzone DragonX twice. The Koreans will surely take this opportunity to strike back seriously, especially because the best-of-3 format opens up the possibility of different tactics.
Except for those two points against the Wolves, so far in the tournament Kingzone only lost to Fnatic and RNG, so if they win the semifinals they’ll have the chance to prove it was all just a temporary setback.
You can watch the semifinals on the following dates:
Royal Never Give Up vs. Fnatic – Friday May 18th, 12:00 CEST
Flash Wolves vs. Kingzone DragonX – Saturday May 19th, 12:00 CEST
Day five summary: Transatlantic thriller
As the calm and cool Flash Wolves knew they were heading into the semifinals, Western fans were still being fired up by the rivalry between Fnatic and Team Liquid. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a fight for the lead, but for the fourth place that was crucial to progress to the playoffs.
After Monday’s defeat, Fnatic couldn’t count on their opponents’ good will. After losing both games and seeing Team Liquid’s form, the odds of them getting place in the playoffs didn’t’ look good. They needed to win at least one game.
The match against Kingzone started with the questionable choice of Sejuani as a Jhin support. Thanks to the knockup from the Arctic Assault, there was an opportunity to link up with Caps’ Yasuo, but we didn’t get the chance to see it. After a quite even start and some sacrificial plays from the Danish midlaner, it seemed like Kingzone was only hanging on thanks to the gold generated by Gangplank, but the Korean team gathered its deadly squad together and started to hunt for isolated Fnatic members. The first ambush in the mid lane resulted in a Flash burned by Rekkles and the death of Bwipo, who tried to save his marksman. The second one sent the Swedish player back to the fountain, allowing KZ to take the Baron and eventually dominate the game.
The Europeans’ next opponent was the Vietnamese EVOS, who despite being in last place decided to fight to the end and not make Fnatic’s lives any easier – and they certainly succeeded. Caps did everything he could to win the mid lane, but Warzone, who played Cassiopeia, kept hanging on by a thread and effectively fought back with the help of his jungler. Fnatic had already lost their initiative in the 10th minute, leaving their opponents to methodically and mercilessly end the game. Fnatic lost both games of the day and was at risk of not even having a chance to face Team Liquid in a tiebreaker.
That was especially the case because the Americans put on a real thriller in their match against Flash Wolves. Slightly behind in gold for nearly half an hour, they didn’t give up and found a breach in the Taiwanese defenses. They bided their time and then struck, gaining the Baron and quickly ending the game. That meant Team Liquid at least had the chance for a tiebreaker with Fnatic.
But they had a chance to skip it entirely – they “only” needed to win their second game against RNG. This time the “horses” couldn’t make a comeback like in their previous game – Uzi and his team were systematic and didn’t make many mistakes.
That left the tiebreaker between Team Liquid and Fnatic for fourth place. Both teams had very varied form during the tournament. Would Caps play a champion supporting Rekkles, or would he get a free hand to lead? Would Doublelift turn his superpower mode on and carry his colleagues to victory?
The stakes were high. Not only a place in the semifinals, but also points in the eternal struggle between Europe and North America. This time Fnatic decided to bet on damage. Caps got Taliya, Bwipo got Gangplank, and they didn’t skip Xayah and Rakan like before.
In the end it wasn’t the most beautiful game, but it sure was an entertaining one. The kills, especially in the top lane, kept on coming, and Bwipo, despite ending the match with six deaths, did everything he could to outsmart his opponents.
The results of Tuesday’s matches:
- Fnatic vs Kingzone DragonX
- EVOS vs Royal Never Give Up
- Flash Wolves vs Team Liquid
- Fnatic vs EVOS
- Flash Wolves vs Kingzone DragonX
- Team Liquid vs Royal Never Give Up
- Flash Wolves vs Royal Never Give Up
- Fnatic vs Team Liquid