For Fnatic, the original Kings of Europe, it’s a return to prominence. They haven’t seen the Finals since Summer 2015 when they had a dragged out battle with Origen. For G2, it’s business as usual for the current rulers. Since joining the LCS in the Spring of 2016, G2 have impressively won every Split. Surprisingly, despite being two of the league’s powerhouse teams, this Finals event will be the first time the two teams face off in a Finals setting.
It Won’t be the First Time They’ve Clashed in the Postseason
If one is to believe history, this isn’t looking good for Fnatic. The two teams have faced off twice in the Playoffs before. The first time was in the Semifinals of Spring 2016. This was the Fnatic roster that sported Johan "Klaj" Olsson, Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon and Noh "Gamsu" Yeong-jin in place of the former lineup of Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim, Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin and Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon.
Though Fnatic were able to run through Team Vitality, they were handedly defeated by the new kids on the block. G2’s roster of Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek, Kim "Trick" Gang-yun, Luka "Perkz" Perković, Kim "Emperor" Jin-hyun and Glenn "Hybrid" Doornenbal proved to be too much for Fnatic, as G2 took the series 3 to 1. G2 would move on to defeat Origen and claim their first LCS victory, while Fnatic would take down H2K in a tight series to finish third.
Fnatic's Rekkles during the Spring Split 2018
When the two teams faced off again in the Semifinals of Spring 2017, both teams were sporting new lineups. Long-time top laner Paul "sOAZ" Boyer replaced Gamsu on Fnatic after parting ways with Origen, and mid laner-turned-coach-turned-support Jesse "Jesiz" Le was to be paired with Martin "Rekkles" Larsson in the bot lane. Fnatic rounded out their team with two rookies: the aptly nicknamed “Baby Faker” Rasmus "Caps" Winther in the mid lane, and Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen in the jungle. G2 picked up a pair of former Origen members of their own, slotting Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen and Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez into their bot lane. In the top lane, Kikis was out and Ki "Expect" Dae-han was in.
Despite a lot of the hype surrounding the arrival of Caps, Fnatic had a rocky Spring Split while G2’s new lineup made them a force to be reckoned with. And while Fnatic were able to make easy work of H2K in the Quarterfinals, G2 had a similarly easy time against versus Fnatic.
New Rosters, Clean Slate
But history doesn’t mean much in League of Legends, as teams frequently change rosters and meta changes can shift the balance in a team’s favor. As far as this Split is concerned, Fnatic seem to have G2’s number. Caps is still a force in the mid lane, but hasn’t been as much of the hard carry as he was last season. Broxah has come into his own this Split as a workhorse for his team.
I think my storyline is: Can I stop Wunder from carrying G2? I know my carries can win their match-up, especially Rekkles and Hylissang. But can I keep Wunder from impacting those match-ups?
The bottom lane of Rekkles and Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov is where most of the power of the Fnatic lineup resides. sOAZ has continued his role of being the backbone of the Fnatic roster, never letting his opposing laner get too far ahead of him and showing up in team fights when it counts; however, versus G2, it won’t be sOAZ in the top lane.
Due to a hand injury sOAZ has had to step down and, in his place, Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau has become the top laner for Fnatic in the Spring Playoffs. Versus Team Vitality, Bwipo showed his ability to play carry on top lane champions like Gangplank and Gnar as well as late game tank Sion. And while Vitality were able to exploit him in Game 3, Bwipo was able to keep his cool and carry in Game 4. Heading into the Finals, Bwipo sees his role versus G2 as somewhat of an enforcer.
hey guys, it's a really unfortunate circumstance but i won't be playing any of the games during playoffs due to a hand issue. i will still travel to copenhagen with the team to help them as much as possible and hopefully lift the trophy with them ! pic.twitter.com/E9zwYQEzPq— Paul Boyer (@sOAZIZGOOD) March 28, 2018
“I think my four man core—Broxah, Caps, Rekkles, Hylissang—are the strongest in the league right now,” said Bwipo. “Probably the strongest EU has seen with the previous G2 line up being a close second. My job is to make sure Wunder doesn't impact that core."
Where top lane may be a question mark for Fnatic, G2’s Martin "Wunder" Hansen is the primary carry for his team. If you ask Wunder, he’s always been a carry from the top lane—even during his time on Splyce.
“On Splyce, we had kind of a one-dimensional playstyle where we kind of had to get me ahead at some points to win. I would play a lot of these 1v1 split push champs to get us ahead,” Wunder explained. “Now that I’m on G2, it stands out more.”
G2 Esports during the Spring Split 2018
While Fnatic made a small tweak to its roster, G2 has made changes across their entire lineup with Perkz being the only player remaining. Wunder may have taken over as the primary carry for G2, but Perkz is still no slouch in the mid lane. This may be because of his new jungler, Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski, who has been ever-present on the map with an impressive kill participation of 81%.
Admittedly, if there is a weak point on G2, it’s in the bot lane as Petter "Hjarnan" Freyschuss and Kim "Wadid" Bae-in have not been able to fill the void left behind by Zven and Mithy. While they’ve held their own versus other bot lanes, it’s been a team effort to get the duo ahead in most games.
Who Takes the Crown?
When G2 and Fnatic face off on Sunday, the matchup in the top lane will be where to watch. Throughout the Split, G2 has relied on Wunder’s dominating performance to spill over into the bottom lane in order to create a lead. If Bwipo can stop that, then Fnatic’s game plan of playing through Rekkles and Hylissang should translate into a win for Fnatic.
When asked about one another, the two top laners had some parting words.
I think he has a pretty small champ pool and I think he is very one-dimensional in the way he plays. Of course, I’m going to smash him so hard that he'll wish he had the broken arm instead of sOAZ.
He's right in one thing, I'm one-dimensional in the sense I'll make sure he'll have no impact in every single game we play each other. I can see why he thinks he has to smash me considering the difference in skill on the bottom half of the map.