Everywhere you look in the Greek capital, there are signs of Athens’ rich history. However, the city witnessed a new era born as the LEC’s first Summer Split champion was crowned live in front of over 7,500 screaming fans.
It was a battle between Europe’s most decorated teams, G2 Esports and Fnatic. Both have already qualified for this year’s League of Legends World Championship, both have tasted success on the international stage but both still have something to prove. Last year’s Worlds finalists versus this year’s MSI champions: this series was purely about proving who is the best.
Last week’s dress rehearsal was a phenomenal five game series which ended with a G2 reverse sweep and the grand finale was no less dramatic. Here’s how it all went down.
G2 Esports: Kled, Gragas, LeBlanc, Lucian, Pyke (Bans: Aatrox, Twisted Fate, Rakan, Thresh, Shen)
Fnatic: Jax, Sylas, Akali, Xayah, Leona (Bans: Qiyana, Yasuo, Yuumi, Syndra, Ezreal)
It did not take long for the action to start, there were sevens kills in the first three minutes with an extended fight in the bot-lane and finished with multiple teleports with Fnatic taking First Blood and an extra kill.
There was more blood shed before 10 minutes; most impressive was a 1v1 between Martin “Wunder” Hansen and Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau which went down to the wire, but it was the Fnatic pro who came out on top, much to the delight of the majority of fans in the Nikos Galis Olympic Indoor Hall.
The Fnatic chants during the opening ceremony were deafening and the team appeared to ride that wave of adrenaline to secure a small early lead. That advantage was extended when Rasmus “Caps” Winther was caught out by his former teammates which allowed Fnatic to pick up the Baron buff without any trouble.
G2 had locked in Pyke first as the support was hotly contested between both teams, but it turned out Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov already had an answer with a surprise Leona pick and he was controlling the game. A flash away denied Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle’s reset and won Fnatic a big skirmish, before the Bulgarian returned from base just in time to save Martin “Rekkles” Larsson from Caps.
Rekkles picked up multiple kills while Fnatic stormed the base and destroyed G2’s Nexus as the roof of the arena almost came unhinged. Game one: Fnatic.
G2 Esports: Kled, Jarvan, Sylas, Kai’Sa, Thresh (Bans: Aatrox, Twisted Fate, Rakan, Jax, Gangplank)
Fnatic: Renekton, Gragas, Akali, Xayah, Morgana (Bans: Yuumi, Yasuo, Qiyana, Sejuani, Skarner)
With the crowd firmly behind Fnatic, it felt like G2 needed to put a quick stop to Fnatic’s momentum. The Spring champions decided top was the weakness they could target: Bwipo’s overaggressive Flash meant he could not escape Summer MVP Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski’s gank before Wunder then picked up yet another kill on his top-lane opponent just minutes later.
The arena is used to seeing slam dunks from the Panathinaikos Basketball team, but this time it was Jankos with the impressive alley oop as Caps’ Sylas managed to steal Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen’s Gragas ultimate to fling Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek into tower, setting up Jankos for the double kill en-route to his 1000th LEC kill.
However, the Polish jungler’s hard work was undone when all of his accumulated bounty gold was donated over to Rekkles’ fearsome Xayah, giving Fnatic a lifeline. It looked like Fnatic would come back into the game when fancy footwork kept Nemesis alive and baited Caps to his death. Yet, G2 miraculously managed to find an ace in the resulting 4v5 teamfight which eventually snowballed into their victory. Game two: G2.
G2 Esports: Kled, Sejuani, Sylas, Kai’Sa, Braum (Bans: Aatrox, Twisted Fate, Rakan, Xayah, Karma)
Fnatic: Jax, Gragas, Akali, Tristana, Shen (Bans: Qiyana, Yasuo, Yuumi, Skarner, Thresh)
After a very one-sided defeat in Game 2, Fnatic decided a level one invade was the answer they needed to bounce back. However, the attempted red steal ended in disaster as the buff went on to Luka “Perkz” Perković which then helped Jankos kill his jungle opponent Broxah for First Blood.
But Fnatic eventually fought back. On his signature Tristana pick, Rekkles masterfully jumped deep into G2’s arms before hopping away to safety. Caps did eventually hunt him down, but in that time the rest of Fnatic roamed down and turned the fight in their favour with Nemesis picking up an important kill for his Akali pick.
Fnatic began rolling once again as Nemesis and Broxah were stepping up. The latter was monstrous on Jax once again and proved to be a menace in a team fight around Drake, picking up a double kill while tanking most of G2’s damage to give his team a huge gold lead.
Fnatic had the lead but were struggling to finish the game. A pick on Perkz lead to them picking up Baron but G2 responded with a kill on Bwipo to shut down the splitpush. Bwipo and Nemesis then tried to fight, but G2 adapted brilliantly to make sure the team fight stayed even.
But the breaking point was the following dance around Elder Dragon as Fnatic found an engage from the Fog of War to pick up a couple of kills, the Dragon and Baron to take one step closer to match point. G2 defended their base valiantly but could not save their Nexus. Game three: Fnatic.
Fnatic: Karma, Lee Sin, Akali, Tristana, Shen (Bans: Yasuo, Qiyana, Rakan, Kai’Sa, Kled)
G2 Esports: Irelia, Gragas, Sylas, Xayah, Thresh (Bans: Yuumi, Twisted Fate, Aatrox, Gangplank, Ezreal)
It was do or die time for G2, but they got off to an awful start. Broxah managed to sneak out of Jankos’ vision to set-up Bwipo for First Blood on Wunder, while Rekkles simultaneously found a kill onto Mikyx in the bot-lane.
All eyes were on Caps, who had not quite performed to his extremely high standards so far this series, but his teammates managed to set him up for success with a beautifully orchestrated dive on Bwipo in the top-lane.
The Danish midlaner appeared to be the missing link for the reigning MSI champions, as Caps was finally online. During a duel with Nemesis, Mikyx offered his lantern but there was no way the G2 superstar was backing out of the fight; he dived even deeper instead and secured the kill. There was immense pressure on G2’s shoulders but they showed no sign of crumbling.
Instead, it was Fnatic who fell apart as Rekkles made a rare mistake. The black and orange botlaner appeared to have caught out Wunder, but Rekkles miscalculated and jumped away assuming the toplaner would die to Ignite. The Swedish ADC shortly fell to the rest of G2 who then had advantage over Baron, which was just five seconds away from spawning.
G2 were setting the tempo for the game and were expertly finding kills around objectives, though Fnatic made them work extremely hard to earn Baron buff. Caps and Perkz were both sat on massive bounties as G2 decisively charged Fnatic’s base, and obliterated the Nexus as the crowd broke out into G2 chants for the first time. Just like the previous week, Silver Scrapes was queued up and this series was going to five games. Game four: G2.
G2 Esports: Akali, Olaf, Renekton, Syndra, Thresh (Bans: Aatrox, Twisted Fate, Rakan, Gangplank, Jax)
Fnatic: Ornn, Gragas, Sylas, Xayah, Shen (Bans: Qiyana, Yasuo, Yuumi, Kled, Ezreal)
This was the first time a European final had gone to five games since Fnatic vs Origen in Summer 2015 – a series that is largely considered by many as the greatest in European history.
The last time G2 were pushed this far in a best-of-five was at MSI against Korean powerhouses SK Telecom T1. Just like the fifth game in that series, Perkz once again went off-meta by returning to his mid-lane routes and locking in Syndra to the bot-lane.
And it paid off as the chained crowd control with Mikyx’s Thresh set-up Perkz for First Blood. It spelled disaster for Fnatic, as at the same time, Wunder picked up a solo-kill in the top-lane – and a smart gank by Jankos gave Caps a kill in the mid-lane too.
Every lane for G2 was winning and it looked like they would snowball the game out of control, but they were perhaps too confident and Fnatic fought back. Bwipo found an impressive solo-kill of his own in the top-lane and Rekkles managed to survive a 3v1 tower dive and kill Jankos. G2 still had a 1,000 gold lead, but once again Athens was being treated to yet another back and forth match.
When a double teleport from Fnatic resulted in three kills for G2, the scales seemed to be tipping in their favour. Yet, Fnatic held on and found a perfect teamfight in the top-lane and earned two kills just as Baron spawned. There was only Mikyx and Caps left to defend the purple monster, but they somehow pulled it off. Mikyx didn’t miss a hook as he chunked out Broxah and distracted three players, while Caps found a kill on Nemesis. The rest of G2 spawned in and cleaned up to secure Baron and a huge advantage – but with the nature of this series, you knew there would be more twists and turns.
It looked like Fnatic had found their perfect opportunity as Bwipo and Hylissang caught Jankos trying to solo Infernal Drake with little health. However, the black and orange team took too long waiting for Jankos to spawn from his Guardian Angel and that allowed G2 to collapse and find a huge fight which resulted in a lot of damage to Fnatic’s base.
The Syndra pick by Perkz was proving to be a crucial component of the entire game. He found multiple picks to secure Baron, to secure Fnatic’s base – and to secure G2 a monumental victory. Jankos fell to the ground in celebration while Rekkles could not hold back the tears. This outstanding final took everything out of all 10 players: it was a miracle that G2 had enough energy to lift the trophy. Game five, and Summer champion: G2 Esports.