WHAT’S OLD IS NEW
Fnatic impressed in week 1 of the summer split. They finished with a 1-1-0 (wins - draws - losses) record, having dominated Giants and shared the spoils with Vitality. The big story for Fnatic this split is the return of support player Yellowstar: after he played the spring split in North America with Team SoloMid, the legendary captain that lead the organisation to two World Championship semifinals (2013 & 2015) has returned to the team where he saw so much success. He continued his streak of reaching every LCS final (six in EU with Fnatic, one in NA with TSM) proving himself to be one of the greatest League of Legends players to grace the professional scene.
Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten showcased incredible Azir mechanics in his two games on the champion (1 win - 1 loss), hitting a formidable 27 KDA ratio and a league-high DPM of 959. The standout performances, however, came from Fnatic’s long-time AD carry Martin “Rekkles” Larsson. Usually a more passive player, Rekkles played Kalista three times during week 1, winning all three games in an aggressive fashion and looking like a changed player. In fact, his 636 DPM was second only to Roccat’s Steeelback and Rekkles contributed 27% of his team’s damage across all four games.
However Rekkles’ contribution to the team wasn’t limited purely to damage. In fact his most important contribution was how he unlocked YellOwStaR. YellOwStaR’s time on TSM was fraught with individual mistakes and a lack of synergy with star AD carry Doublelift. YellOwStaR was often far too eager, engaging on his own without backup and dying before his team could reach the fight. We saw some of that during game 1 versus Vitality (which Fnatic went on to lose). However in Fnatic’s other 3 games, crucially when Rekkles was playing Kalista, he and Rekkles displayed a synergy that just wasn’t present with Doublelift. Kalista’s Fate’s Call was used to brilliant effect, allowing Yellowstar to recklessly engage and Rekkles to rescue him. They complemented each other so well, you wouldn’t know they’d been apart for an entire split.
Overall Fnatic looked far more assured compared to their performances in the spring split. Jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yun and top laner Yeong-jin “Gamsu” Noh finally appear to be clicking with the team, and the return of YellOwStaR could bring new momentum to Fnatic’s charge towards Worlds 2016. Fnatic’s individual talent is among the strongest in the league, but they’ll need to be more patient to beat the likes of G2.
Meanwhile, H2K’s week 1 performances have put them in the running for the hypothetical “Most European Team” award for most ties, along with Splyce, Roccat and Vitality. H2K were one of the better teams in the Spring Split, finishing second in the regular season and many put them as favourites to take the spring-split title. However, they vastly underperformed losing in five games to both Origen and Fnatic, and ultimately placing fourth.
H2K dumped its AD carry FORG1VEN in the offseason, bringing in former Copenhagen Wolves and Renegades AD carry Freeze. Freeze was often seen as the bright spot on a poor team in Renegades, at least until the North American organisation brought in mid- and top-lane replacements. Freeze moved back to Europe to join H2K with the organisation picking him up for his aggressive play style to fit the current teamfight-focused meta. However, as we saw in week 1, that bet has yet to pay off..
H2K’s priority on Caitlyn earned them just one win in the three games it was picked by Freeze, with their other win coming on his solitary Lucian pick. For Freeze, the stats aren’t encouraging: he had the lowest damage share of all AD carries in the league (17.5%), the lowest DPM of AD carries (353) and the lowest damage-per-gold-spent of all AD carries (0.928), despite having the second-highest gold distribution on his team (23.1%). This means that not only was his effect on H2K’s games minimal, but H2K’s gold distribution was inefficient considering how much they funnelled into Freeze.
It’s not all bad news for H2K however; jungler Jankos is still one of the absolute best in Europe. Jankos had the second-highest DPM (360), damage share (18.2%) and gold share (19.84%) of all junglers in the league. Indeed, in his performances on Lee Sin in game 2 versus Roccat and Kindred in game 1 against Schalke 04 he carried H2K to victory, though his games on Nidalee and Rek’Sai left much to be desired.
If H2K are to translate their potential into series wins rather than draws, they need to find the secret to unlocking Freeze. His focus on Caitlyn in all situations simply isn’t working, and they’ll need to find a way to work in different picks in week 2. His signature aggressive style was missing in week 1, but if he can bring that back (and combine it with Jankos’ similar playstyle) the team can easily bounce back and put themselves into contention for the playoffs.
THE PRODIGAL SONS FACE OFF
While week 1 saw the clash of the spring split finalists, week 2’s match is is just as intriguing. Their performances last week couldn’t have been more different, but with both teams integrating some of EU’s returned prodigal sons, the story could be vastly different this week. Will YellOwStaR lead his team to victory, or will Freeze unlock his full potential to put a downer on YellOwStaR’s homecoming? Tune in and find out!