The LEC kicked off with a bang as its first match reignited one of Europe’s oldest rivalries, Fnatic vs SK Gaming. One team had competed in the World Championship final just a few months prior while the other was returning to the top level of League of Legends for the first time in over a three years.
The world superstars of Fnatic were the blatant favourites but in a shock turn of events, the rookies of SK dismantled the European champions during week one.
While it won’t have been either teams’ initial goal, the sixth and final Playoff spot is still up for grabs and this match could be a turning point for Fnatic or SK. To get ready for the crucial bout, here are the 9 biggest talking points heading into the match.
El Clasico with a twist
El Clasico is the nickname for the football matches between bitter rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, an anger-fueled rivalry which almost always decides the winner of the La Liga title.
SK vs Fnatic has been labelled as the esports equivalent, two of Europe’s biggest teams who were always fighting for the EU LCS trophy. However, this is a new era and the rivalry now has a completely different meaning.
Rather than playing for the LEC trophy, Fnatic and SK are fighting to save their season and claim the final spot in the Playoffs – it’s do or die time for both.
Will the reworked ADC items help Rekkles?
LEC week 5 will see the pros play on patch 9.3 which was headlined by huge changes to ADC items. Late-game, crit-based carries should be viable now which will be music to the ears of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
The bot-laner, who picked Jinx in his last game, has once again become the major carry for Fnatic following the departure of Rasmus “Caps” Winther and will be delighted to pull out his signature champions such as Sivir, Tristana and Xayah again.
Fnatic will take it slow
Following on from that, Fnatic will undoubtedly want to keep this game as slow as possible. Getting Rekkles into the late-game will be a top priority, allowing the team to rely on the team-fighting ability that made them so potent last year.
Fnatic were able to pick up their second win of the season with a big win against Excel last week by simply slowing the game down and avoiding any early skirmishes that Marc “Caedrel” Lamont tried to start. But if Fnatic cannot survive the early game, they will almost certainly crumble – just ask G2, who obliterated the Worlds finalists in the fastest game in European history last Saturday.
It will be paramount that Fnatic take control of the game from the start, but that’s easier said than done against a team like SK.
Sylas won’t be touched
The newest champion in League in Legends was finally enabled in pro play last week and fans were chomping at the bit to see what the world’s best player could do with the ability to steal any ultimate.
However, Sylas’ welcoming party in Europe didn’t go to plan as the champion was played three times in the LEC and lost each time. Fnatic and SK both opted to ban the champion at points last week and with the importance of this match, it’s unlikely that either will take a risk. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see Sylas’ full potential unchained.
Can Selfmade be the hero once more?
In Fnatic and SK’s opening clash, Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek was star-man as he found multiple ganks in the early game and nailed Rekkles with a Sejuani ult to net SK a monumental win.
The jungler has been a revelation in the LEC and leads SK with the team’s highest KDA (3.4) and kill participation (79.5 percent). SK will be keen to shutdown Fnatic early and Selfmade is just the man for the job.
Nemesis has a point to prove against his former teammates
It’s been a difficult season so far for Tim “Nemesis” Lipovsek who has so far been stuck on safer picks. The Slovenian will be desperate to prove himself this weekend as he takes on his former MAD Lions teammates Jorge “Werlyb” Casanovas, Jus “Crownshot” Marusic and Selfmade.
The mid-laner was one of the star players of the Spanish team and will be looking to remind his former colleagues why he was scouted by a team of Fnatic’s calibre in the first place.
Will Werlyb hold his own against Bwipo?
SK’s top laner Werlyb has also been struggling this season and will be determined to prove to himself and the rest of the league that he can compete at the top level.
The Spanish player took to Twitter last week to acknowledge that he was unhappy with his recent play and was disappointed in himself. Now, Werlyb has the perfect opportunity to to make amends with a big match-up against Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau – a battle he won last time thanks to a little help from Selfmade.
I feel like I'm disappointing people but specially I'm disappointing myself. No time for saying sorry, we NEED to win tomorrow.— Jorge 'Werlyb' (@werlyb_) February 8, 2019
Who will Broxah look to play around?
Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen was one of, if not Fnatic’s best performing player at the World Championships last year but the Dane has failed to have the same level of impact this Split.
He will be vital to Fnatic’s attempt of controlling the game but the major question will be which lane he decides to play around. Will he try to match Selfmade’s ganks in the top-lane or will he try to protect Rekkles?
In recent weeks, Broxah has shown early signs of synergy with Nemesis in the mid-lane and it was the jungler who vouched for the Slovenian to be Caps’ replacement. The pair have the potential to be a potent combo but we’ve yet to see Nemesis carry a game.
Hylissang vs Dreams
While all the attention will be on Rekkles and Crownshot, the bot-lane is always decided by the supports. Both Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov and Han "Dreams" Min-kook have the most deaths for their respective teams, valiantly sacrificing themselves for their carries.
Hylissang is at his best on aggressive, playmaking champions like Rakan and Pyke and will be looking to set up Rekkles as much as possible. Meanwhile, Dreams was the unsung hero for SK when these two teams last met, absorbing Fnatic’s engage in the teamfight which turned the tides. These are two players to keep your eyes on.