As we enter the penultimate week of the EU LCS, all eyes are on the battle for the top 3 positions. Despite looking vulnerable, spring champions G2 Esports currently occupy the top spot. Neither Fnatic or Splyce were able loosen G2’s grip on that first seed. G2 currently leads Fnatic by three points (a single 2-0 series win) and Splyce by four points (a win and a draw), a truly precarious margin. Both teams could usurp the league champions, which makes their head-to-head battle all the more enticing. Can Fnatic pip G2 to the post before the final week, or will Splyce stake their claim to a top-2 finish? It’s Fnatic vs Splyce, our EU LCS Match of the Week!
The solo lanes are the obvious premier matchups in this top-of-the-table clash; the growth of Wunder and Sencux since the spring split is phenomenal. Once a team on the brink of relegation, Splyce now contends for a Worlds spot, and this developing Danish duo deserve that spot based on this split’s performance. After they qualified for the EU LCS as Team Dignitas EU, both showed potential but struggled to adapt to the pro scene in the 2016 spring split, but those struggles are now a distant memory.
The depth of Sencux’s champion pool gives him an edge against Fnatic. Sencux has played 13 champions so far this split, the most of any mid-laner in the league, and showed a high level of proficiency on all of them. He’s also one of the only players to consistently draw a Taliyah ban, and for good reason. In his only game on the champion he racked up 10 kills and scored a quadra kill, offering viewers a masterclass in stomping with the stoneweaver, an increasingly contested pick-up. Changes to Taliyah in patch 6.14, effective through weeks eight and nine, will see her become even more of a priority. Mastering a champion that’s destined to be a pick-or-ban makes it too potent a pocket pick to pass up.
Fnatic once again faces a period of change and integration. The organisation hasn’t settled on a predictable roster since Rekkles’ return in summer 2015. That roster, which included current Immortals players Huni and Reignover, recorded the only perfect regular season in the history of the LCS. It also managed to reach the 2015 World Championships semi-finals in Europe, before unexpectedly choking in their showdown with Korea’s ROX Tigers. The additions of Spirit, Gamsu and Noxiak failed to net consistently positive results, and since their introduction in the spring split Fnatic benched Noxiak, Klaj and now Gamsu with the addition of Kikis.
One player has remained constant since joining the team in early 2015 from H2K: Febiven. Fnatic’s Dutch dynamo continues to shine, even as his team struggles for consistency. He’s put up some world-class performances this split, particularly on Azir and Vladimir. f Febiven currently boasts an 80% win ratio on The Crimson Reaper, a bloody good showing. His average DPM of 881 on Azir is the highest of any mid-laner on that champion in the league, highlighting his mastery of the Emperor of Shurima. Azir will continue to be a hotly contested pick, considering Sencux’s 100% win rate on it over five games. Other sought-after champions include Zilean, which Febiven played last week, Cassiopeia, an incredibly strong meta pick, and potentially even Kassadin on which Sencux has achieved considerable success in recent weeks.
Sencux’s top-lane counterpart Wunder is perhaps the most improved player this split. In spring he had one of the lowest KDAs of top-laners (1.61) and the third-fewest kills of any top-laner (35). In the summer split he’s almost doubled his KDA (3.03) and has the most kills of any top laner in the league (85). Wunder is one of Splyce’s standout performers this split, and like Sencux he’s just 17 years old. If he can keep up that rate of growth there’s no limit to his potential.
Though Kikis lost his undefeated streak last week in Fnatic’s draw with Schalke 04, he showed what a great pickup he could prove to be for Fnatic. Despite his seven months on the Fnatic roster, Gamsu wasn’t proving a fit for the team. Though he showed flashes of brilliance at times, his performances were never consistently good enough to justify a spot on a team aiming to be the best in Europe. While mechanically Kikis doesn’t represent a large upgrade, Fnatic stands to benefit from the improvement he’ll bring to team communication.
Crucially for Fnatic, Kikis showed last week he’s not just an Irelia one-trick. His performance on Gnar in Fnatic’s second win against H2K last Thursday impressed us, racking up 10 kills as he dominated a beleaguered H2K. He’s still undefeated on that Irelia pick he likes so much, and Splyce will need to put careful consideration into their drafts against Fnatic to ensure Kikis doesn’t simply take over games. Even then, we’re talking about the player who ran Twisted Fate jungle at IEM San Jose 2015 against TSM and won with it. Even if you ban his two best champions you could be opening yourself up to a world of cheese.
SNAKES IN A LANE
The outcome of this matchup won’t be decided off the backs of solo laners alone. We’d be remiss to ignore the proficiency of either team’s bot-laners, especially considering Fnatic’s duo is one of the most prolific in EU LCS history. Splyce’s addition of Mikyx to the support role in favour of Nisbeth is one of the best roster moves made in the EU LCS, his partnership with a much-improved Kobbe carried Splyce to many victories already this split.
Splyce has shed their reputation as the annoying pest nipping at the heels of Europe’s top-2, having become a very real contender. If Fnatic don’t perform to their absolute best they could risk being overtaken and lose their automatic bye for the playoffs. All eyes, especially G2’s, promise to be on Thursday’s showdown.