Coming into the 2020 League of Legends World Championship off the back of a crushing loss to G2 in the LEC Summer Split Finals, many fans were worried about the level of international performance the squad would produce. The inconsistency issues that plagued them throughout the regular split looked as though they had mostly been solved in the LEC playoffs, but many pundits were hesitant to put their faith in this iteration of Fnatic.
Judging by their Worlds performance so far, however, it appears as though these doubts were mostly unfounded. Fnatic have cemented themselves in an early-game, skirmish-heavy playstyle and tore up the Rift in the group stage, dropping two games and making it into the knockout stage as Group C’s second seed.
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Fnatic’s wins have looked extremely dominant. “It didn’t work out, and it looked pretty bad, but ultimately it definitely gave us the perspective we needed on what defeat actually feels like,” Bwipo said, highlighting a key issue that often affects teams who show such dominance in the group stage.
If a team isn’t forced to “taste a loss” early on in lower-stakes games, complacency with drafts and in-game decision making can quickly develop. In a best-of-five series, “comfort can get removed from you” as the enemy team learns your drafting tendencies, according to Bwipo. And without the experience of a loss from the group stage, this can massively affect a team’s mental fortitude.
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They’ve been the only team to find success on the Evelynn pick, so much so that it’s now almost permanently banned against them. The prevalence of Evelynn as a solely European jungle pick highlights an interesting discussion of meta, namely that each region comes into the tournament with their own variances in how they think the game should be played, developed from a split of domestic play.
This regional variance is most prevalent in counters to universally strong champions, particularly in the top lane, explains Bwipo, citing Camille as a champion with the most varied “answers.” The question of meta, however, can’t be limited to a purely regional divide. The most fascinating aspect of international events is the micro-metas that are developed within each group, such as the characterization of Group C by Volibear, Renekton, and Ornn picks in the top lane.
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Although their Malphite pick against Gen.G may not have been the most successful so far at the tournament, Fnatic made it out of the group stage relatively unscathed. However, that was not enough to help advance through the knockout stage with TOP Esports taking down the European behemoth.