Coming out of the regular season failing to achieve an unbeaten record, coupled with a disastrous performance in playoffs, it became clear that Fnatic had few answers for the return of the Tank Meta.
With Soaz, along with Jungler Broxah, stuck on the Top Laner’s most hated Tanks, and Mid Laner Caps, contiued to be a consistently inconstant force on Fnatic. It was obvious too all that for Fnatic to achieve anything at Worlds Rekkles must be moved away from support ADC’s and back to high damage Carrys.
Sole reliance on Rekkles is not a new strategy for Fnatic, the current European MVP has been put in the position many times, most recently when every Fnatic victory seemingly came from the pure dominance of his Kennen split push or supportive team fighting.
But now Rekkles is going to be relied upon to deal almost all of the damage in team fights, on the world stage, and on immobile damage carrys.
This has come at an opportune time for the old kinds of Europe. As the indispensable Ardent Censer rush continues to dominate the professional League of Legends scene, and every team globally now having to put priority on their ADC above all else, Fnatic know that with such a superstar ADC on their squad, they should theoretically have the upper hand over almost any opponent.
So the main question now for Fnatic becomes, can the rest of their squad stay solid enough to keep Rekkles both alive and relevant against the world’s elite?
The first test of their ability to do that came in this week’s Play-In’s.
— Martin Larsson (@RekklesLoL) September 19, 2017
So, how did they do?
On the whole Fnatic did well, but not great.
Their main weakness coming in their almost wanton disregard for their own objectives.
Too readily were the European giants willing to take negative Tower trades, or Tower for Tower and Epic Monster trades. At one point even sacrificing their own Inhibitor for only an opposition Inhibitor Tower.
It could only be postulated that in the face of the recurring loses over gains, Fnatic favored an instant gold injection on their carrys in the belief that at a certain level of items their team comp, along with their own personal team fighting ability, would give them the game winning advantage – no matter how far behind they were relative to their opponents.
To Fnatics credit results don’t lie. The European Legends managing to win six out of seven games in the Play-In stages.
Yet how will such a tactic play out against the elite teams of the world that can turn even the slightest of advantages into absolute victories?
Young Generation is destroying Fnatic
This is a worrying trend
— The Esports Writer (@FionnOnFire) September 26, 2017
Yes, gold on Rekkles is of the highest importance, but can Fnatic seriously expect to give away such advantages to teams of the ferocity of RNG and not lose far more than a single extra tower or dragon?
Do they expect to be allowed to leave Caps isolated in the Mid Lane without adequate protection from their Jungler, which has now become a well-known signature of Fnatic, without disastrous consequences?
Although a great player at times, the inconsistency of Caps will be his greatest downfall, especially if he were unfortunate enough to have to face top calibre Mid Lane opposition on one of his weaker days – and as much as Fnatic hope to have Rekkles Carry them to World Championship victory, that idea is simply a fantasy without a strong Mid Laner to back him up.
If left to be camped and fall further pray to opposition skill and teamwork, Caps will sadly offer nothing to the hopes of Fnatic victories at Worlds.
The greatest strength of Fnatic has always been their ability to win games against mid-tier opposition even when playing badly. This is what led them to such a large winning streak in the EU LCS, and that virtue has been shown to be alive and well within the Fnatic squad this past week.
However, what they will do against greater opposition when they are having a bad day, remains to be seen – though their game against Young Generation should serve as a stark warning.
Another huge positive for Fnatic to take from Play-In’s is the consistent and strong performances from Soaz. There is no other Top Laner in the world seemingly so emotional and so prone to tilt, and having to spend every game on his least preferred champions, it would have been quite easy for him too fall away as he has done so often in the past.
However, Soaz looked to be once again the second most reliable member of his squad, and, if he can keep his head, should be an asset heading into the main tournament.
Lots of pros that retired told me that they didnt know you can keep ur mechanics for so long but my role isnt about this it's about thinking
— Paul Boyer (@sOAZIZGOOD) September 29, 2017
Unfortunately Fnatic’s greatest take away from the Play-In’s is the reminder of their ability to steamroll weaker opposition when given a lead, a fact that will serve them little purpose going forward. As from now on, there are no weak teams.
How will they do in the Main tournament?
It is the Play-In defeat to Young Generation that should be of paramount concern to team Fnatic when looking to the future. As much as Fnatic are able to stall out from a poor early game and keep Rekkles relevant into the late game to eke out victories, when they were met with absolute aggression toward Rekkles and unstoppable forward momentum they did nothing but crumble.
Rekkles alone cannot carry Fnatic to Worlds victory. Not if he is individually targeted and kept down by far greater opposition than he has yet to face this season.
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) September 28, 2017
If Rekkles is left isolated to be bullied and harassed by opposing teams, never being allowed to be in a position to carry, he and Fnatic may be heading back home to Europe a lot sooner than they would like.