“It was the final we’ve always wanted as European fans; both teams with the players in top form, at the same time,” says Trevor “Quickshot” Henry. And what a final it was.
Fnatic and G2 have both been around European League of Legends for a long time. They’re both incredibly successful. They both attract the top talent. They both have a lot of fans. In the LEC Summer Finals, these two squads thrilled the audience in Athens and those watching online from around the world with a five game series full of action and twists. Unsurprisingly, Fnatic and G2 have an intense rivalry going, but it wasn’t always that way.
“The G2 Fnatic rivalry has never actually been a fair rivalry,” says Quickshot. “It has been a G2 dominance or a Fnatic dominance. It’s taken four or five years of these teams competing for it to finally happen with both hitting peak performance.”
It’s not just the on-stage performances which have sparked the rivalry between these two teams. Rasmus “Caps” Winther making the move over from Fnatic to G2 last year was a huge talking point, and yet another storyline to follow throughout the season. It was almost written in the stars that he would face off against his old team on Europe’s biggest stage – and what a showdown it was.
“Going up against Fnatic was a special feeling because I was up against former team-mates,” says Caps, following the LEC Summer Final. “We played against them in the regular season, but it wasn’t until today I realised what it really means because of the weight that’s put on this match.
“I wanted to win, but I also feel bad about Fnatic losing. It’s not something I’m super happy with because I was very good friends with everyone. The rivalry feels weird, I don’t have any bad feelings towards any of them. It’s more of a friendly rivalry. It makes it awkward when it’s such an important game.”
Caps moving to G2 was a contentious swap, but it’s turned out to be a successful one – and he’s also brought a number of fans with him.
“It’s made G2 a likable team,” Quickshot says. “G2 is the antihero, the villains who came in and beat up Fnatic and took their throne. But now with the way the team is playing, the role swap from Luka “Perkz” Perkovic, the camaraderie of the players. They’re one of the most loved teams. That’s not something you would’ve expected when you learned about the role swap.
“In terms of the rivalry, when you see how Caps tweeted before Fnatic vs Schalke that he wanted to see Schalke get revenge on Fnatic, it just drives more eyes. If you’re a fan of individual players, and they’re lovable like Caps or Marcin “Jankos”Jankowski, that bleeds over into the team.”
Fnatic have been the most popular team in European League of Legends for a long time now. In the crowd for every match, you’ll see the most Fnatic merchandise, and you’ll hear their fans the loudest. Yet in Athens at the Summer Final, G2 fans fought to make their voices heard too.
“The atmosphere was really good,” says Caps. “It’s the first time I’ve heard a crowd that cheers for both teams. It’s the first time the two teams have been so close in a series like that. Walking on stage and hearing the cheers from the crowd really motivated me.
“I’m just really happy that everyone cheered for both us and Fnatic. Even when we were losing they wanted us to come back. I think everyone wanted to see a five game series, apart from probably us and Fnatic. But the fans were happy.”
Not only is the Fnatic vs G2 rivalry good for the fans who want to see exciting matches, it’s good for the region as a whole. These two teams are clearly on another level right now, and their calibre of play is dragging everyone else up with them. G2 are the Mid-Season Invitational champions, and you could see either, or perhaps both of these teams making a deep run at this year’s World Championship as well. According to Quickshot, the other regions should be scared.
“I’ve watched the LCK finals, the LPL finals, the LCS finals, the gauntlets. I’m not afraid of other teams,” he says. “Both Fnatic and G2 have the individual player skill, as well as the understanding of their team and the meta at the moment, to both make deep runs at Worlds. I think the likelihood they will meet there is extremely high. I’ve got a lot of confidence in these two teams on the international stage.”
“I definitely think the rivalry is making the region stronger,” says Caps. “For a lot of years we’ve had only one strong team, but to have a challenge against Fnatic makes me really excited for Worlds.
“Last time we had a close Summer Final was 2015. That year, we got two teams in the semifinal at Worlds, which was really crazy back then. I can’t imagine what we can get this year.”
Worlds 2015 was held in Europe, of course – much like Worlds 2019 will be. Caps can’t imagine what will happen, but European fans can dream, and we’re closing in on the international event of the year.