This week, the LEC returns for the Summer Split with most teams hoping to take advantage of a fresh start but nobody will be more desperate for change than Fnatic and Misfits. Both teams failed to live up to expectations in Spring, meaning both will be hungry to pick up a big win and find some early form on their LEC return.
Both Fnatic and Misfits came into the LEC era carrying monumental expectations on their shoulders. Misfits were instantly hit with the “super-team” moniker following the signing of world class players such as Paul “sOAZ” Boyer and Kang “Gorilla” Beom-hyun. The roster was expected to challenge for the title but didn’t even make Playoffs. Meanwhile, Fnatic had a much better season with a third-place finish, but by the org’s own high standards, that wasn’t enough. Considering four of the team’s five players had competed in the final of last year’s World Championships, anything but the title was a failure.
Considering Worlds returns to Europe this year, this Summer Split will mean even more than usual to the LEC teams. Not qualifying for the tournament would be considered a failure for either team so getting off to a good start will be crucial.
It’s a jungle out there
The jungler has long been considered one of the most important roles in League of Legends which is precisely why both Misfits and Fnatic have reinforced their options in that role.
Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian came under a lot of criticism last Split, posting the worst gold difference at 10 minutes (-162) record of all LEC junglers during the regular season. The Englishman looked devoid of confidence at times as he made uncharacteristic mistakes which filtered down into the entire team who regularly make bad calls at baron.
The hard part of creating a super-team is getting all of these big-name players onto the same page and a lot of that responsibility in-game falls onto the jungler – putting Maxlore in a difficult situation, and under a lot of pressure.
With the recent signing of Thomas “Kurei” Yuen for Misfits’ academy team, Maxlore will know he’ll need to turn things around if he wants any hope of holding onto his starting place.
Meanwhile at Fnatic, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen faces a similarly tough situation. While rumours of a fight between himself and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson appear to be false, there does seem to have been some unrest inside the team.
Multiple members of Fnatic’s roster have openly admitted that the players were too focused on themselves individually in Spring with a lack of teamwork leading to the team’s slow start.
Like Maxlore, Broxah will also have to fight for his place this Summer as Fnatic have promoted Fnatic Rising’s Dan “Dan” Hockley to the starting line-up to share the jungle role. It’s a decision that has frustrated Broxah, but he will have no choice but to use that as fuel for the fire. While he didn’t have a bad Split, if Broxah can return to the heights he showed at Worlds 2018 then Fnatic can become a truly fearsome team once again.
Misfits must prove they belong
It’s difficult to figure out where Misfits will fit in this Summer. After such a poor showing in Spring it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team miss out on the Playoffs once again but you also can never count out this team considering the roster’s sheer individual skill.
We saw a tiny glimpse of what this team is capable of in the first week of Spring as Misfits rapidly tore through their opposition. Steven “Hans Sama” Liv was the main driving force behind these games, crushing his opposition as Draven and Lucian.
Teams quickly caught on to this and did their best to shut down the ADC from carrying games. Despite that, the Frenchman still maintained some of the best laning stats in his position in Europe with the best experience difference at 10 minutes (154) and second-best gold difference at 10 minutes (175).
We’ve seen what an impact ADCs can have through Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup at Splyce, and Hans Sama will be equally important for Misfits. However, he can’t do it alone.
Both times Fnatic and Misfits faced off last Split, the game was decided in the top-lane. Paul “sOAZ” Boyer will once again face his former protégé Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau with revenge in mind once more.
Though this is a story of redemption for not just sOAZ but the entire team. Misfits didn’t come close to meeting expectations in Spring, but a lot can change over the off-season break. If Misfits can become more decisive and figure out their playstyle, the organisation could return to the Worlds stage.
Avoiding a false start
After a turbulent Spring, which included a tough start and a sad ending, Fnatic will be desperate to find some consistency this Summer. The disappointment of Rotterdam paired with the raw hunger of young players Dan and Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek should push this team into title contention once more.
Nemesis is an important player to keep an eye on as well, as he impressed during his first professional Split, and having now settled into the league, he’ll really be able to push on. Proving himself against a former Fnatic mid-laner in Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten will undoubtedly provide extra motivation, but knowing the Slovenian’s icy nature, it won’t even phase him.
There’s no doubt that Nemesis and the rest of Fnatic are talented individually though, but the players will have to work better as a team if they want any hope of breaking into the top two, let alone knocking G2 off the top.
Still, Fnatic can’t get ahead of themselves and will have to be prepared for a driven Misfits team who can at least match them on a mechanical level. Whoever wins this game will receive a massive confidence boost and a wave of momentum that could carry them through the rest of the season. This is undoubtedly the first step on the road of recovery.