Real Madrid vs Barcelona on the football field. Ali vs Frazier in the boxing ring. Federer vs Djokovic on the tennis court. G2 Esports vs Fnatic on Summoner’s Rift. There are some sporting rivalries so big that they’re destined for the history books. G2 and Fnatic are the most successful teams in European League of Legends, and their battle for supremacy continues this week as they clash in Week 3 of the 2020 LEC Spring Split.
The last time these two titans faced off was during the 2019 LEC Summer Finals in Athens. A fitting stage, and that match, like so many before it, went down to the wire, as G2 and Fnatic traded blows. Eventually, G2 came out as champions, and used that momentum to go on their monster run all the way to the 2019 Worlds Final. Will Saturday’s game be as close? Luka “Perkz” Perković certainly hopes not.
“I just want to smash them. I just want to smack them,” he says, snapping his fingers. The man who spent the last year scuffling with Martin “Rekkles” Larsson in the bot lane has now moved back to mid, so we’ll soon see how he deals with Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek. It’s a new challenge for sure, but it’s safe to assume the Croatian is pretty confident, as usual.
Needless to say, Fnatic have been a team in flux over the past couple of years. First, there was a period of indecision around their top laner. Was Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau the first choice, or was it Paul “sOAZ” Boyer? Then, Rasmus “Caps” Winther left the team for G2 ahead of the 2019 season. And just this off-season, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen made the move to North America to join Team Liquid.
“Whoever wins becomes the king of Europe, no matter what.”
Yet, through all the turmoil, they still made it to the 2018 Worlds Final, and came close to winning the 2019 LEC Summer Split. Some would say Origen have surpassed Fnatic in 2020 in terms of the strength of their lineup. They did beat Fnatic in Week 1, after all. But, if history teaches us anything, it’s to never count Fnatic out over the course of an entire Split.
The players all know what’s at stake. Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek might be a newcomer to the Fnatic roster, but he, like everyone else, has watched this rivalry grow over the years.
“Whoever wins becomes the king of Europe, no matter what,” he says. His veteran teammate Rekkles agrees, saying: “That’s everything to me. I really hope we can take them down."
Taking down G2 Esports is easier said than done, of course. No one has managed to do it yet, with MAD Lions, SK Gaming, Team Vitality, and Origen all falling short. However, the last couple of times G2 and Fnatic have crossed paths, it’s been Fnatic who have come racing out of the blocks quicker.
In the 2019 Summer Play-offs, they competed in two separate best-of-fives, both of which ended in a 3-2 win for G2. But Fnatic got the first win in both series, even going 2-0 up in the second round of playoffs, forcing G2 to pull off an amazing reverse sweep. G2 even had to come from behind in game three, and it was a Baron steal 32 minutes into the game which turned the tides in their favour – and set the tone for the rest of the year.
“Everyone has that belief that when you fall behind, you can still make it back,” says Caps. “People keep fighting until the very end. It’s only one play away from victory."
It’s a mantra both teams have benefited from over the years, and Fnatic can take heart knowing they are currently breathing down G2’s neck in the overall standings. The loss in their opening game against Origen was the only blip so far, and since then, they’ve gone on to beat Misfits, Schalke 04, and SK on their way to a 3-1 record. A win over G2 this weekend, and both teams will be on 4-1. Origen and Rogue will both be hoping for a slip up from last season’s champions as well.
The G2 vs Fnatic rivalry will no doubt go on for some time. Whoever wins on Saturday will get a leg up, but you wouldn’t bet against them meeting again in the playoffs, and perhaps even the final. One thing’s for sure: it’s going to be a great game.