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Rift Recap: Everyone beats everyone, and Fnatic wins in the end

Hey everyone! Patch 8.2 hit the EU LCS this week, and brought us a few changes in how the teams are approaching the game. There’s still quite a bit of parity between most of the teams, and everyone has managed to to pick up at least one win by the end of week 3. Without further ado, let’s flip a page in our Spellbooks and Teleport into the reactions of the week!

1. Unicorns are learning to control the Chaos

Unicorns

UoL had a rough start to the Spring Split, but finally got on the board in Week 3. Up against a struggling H2K, the Pink Power Ponies displayed a calm, collected macro game that looked almost the opposite of their signature “Chaos Style” from years past. Playing to the side lanes and utilizing an engage-heavy composition led by Jungler Kold’s Jarvan IV, The Unicorns made it look easy to drag H2K across the map and dismantle their structures over the course of the game.

After securing their first win of the split, UOL would go on to face the red hot team Vitality, and for much of the game, they managed to keep things within reach. Once more, the Unicorns displayed a good sense of map control and used superior numbers to set up plays on side lanes and towers in the early game. This was a bit undermined, however, by a bizarre turn of events on their bot inhibitor tower while most of the team was contesting Baron. In the end, Vitality proved too strong for the fledgling squad, and UOL would end the week on a 1-1 record. However, the signs of macro play they displayed should be an encouraging sign to fans and analysts alike.


2. Nunu came (and went) on patch 8.2

Nunu

For those of you braving the harsh wilds of Solo Queue the past few weeks, patch 8.2 brought with it a terrifying burst of power to everyone’s favorite Yeti and Rider, Nunu. With bonus magic damage on his Consume ability, Nunu shot into the stratosphere of Jungle play, making most players’ blood boil, before being brought back down to earth with a hotfix. Yet the question still remained, would we see Nunu in competitive play?

On the first day of 8.2 play, several bans were preemptively directed at the Yeti Rider, indicating that teams surely considered him a threat. Then, thanks to Fnatic’s Broxah, Nunu made an appearance. In a 64 minute back-and-forth match that I dubbed a “Slobberknocker” on Twitter, Fnatic made use of the Nunu pick to help secure objective such as Baron, but were unable to close the game out in the end. Instead of bringing about a new Jungle Ice Age, the potential popularity of Nunu faded after Fnatic’s loss. In the following day, he would see a handful of bans and then be forgotten about entirely as Week 3 wrapped up. And all was well with the Jungle meta.


3. Teleports, Teleports everywhere!

Unsealed Spellbook

With the start of the new season, Runes Reforged brought some significant changes to player choice in League of Legends. Amongst all the options was a curious new Keystone, called Unsealed Spellbook. Significant Cooldown Reduction on Summoner spells, and the ability to swap them at any time promised some significant power, but was typically reserved to mid lane mages who primarily wanted to sharply reduce their Teleport cooldowns.

But lately, we’ve been seeing an interesting trend emerge on the EU LCS stage: 4-5 team members all running the Keystone, and using its early game versatility to gain global advantages over their opponents. Flip on just about any game from Week 3, fast-forward to about ten minutes in, and you’ll likely see bot lanes on both teams running double Teleport summoners. What’s followed is a fascinating and dizzying post-lane phase, where duo lanes are teleporting mid, or top, and even Junglers are often joining in the fun. While risky (ADCs in particular have to give up a Heal, Supports an Exhaust or Ignite), teams have been enjoying a faster mid game as a result. How long will this style of play keep up? Keep turning the pages of your Spellbook to find out.


4. Everybody beats everybody, and in the end…

FNCWIN

It’s an older meme, but it checks out. Since the return to best of one’s, nothing is more certain than the fact that just about every team can take games off of just about every other team. Don’t believe me?

Misfits beat Vitality. Splyce beat Misfits. Fnatic beat Splyce. H2K beat Fnatic. Everyone else beat H2K.

The list goes on.

With teams playing two games against different opponents each week, drafting and in-game adaptation becomes ever more important, and perceived parity between the league’s teams becomes closer. Does it mean that finding the “truly best, strongest team” in EU is harder? Of course it does. But that’s what the playoffs are for. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the EU LCS roller coaster. Will Fnatic win at the end of it? History says yes, but you never truly know.