The 2019 League of Legends esports season was highlighted by the rise of G2 Esports as an elite, world-class force on the international stage. The team dominated the domestic competition throughout the LEC Spring Split, but as the season wore on, Fnatic emerged as a true challenger to G2's reign.
While G2 ultimately remained atop the LEC, several exciting matches with Fnatic throughout the summer soldified the duo as the premiere rivalry in LoL esports. Before the 2020 LEC season begins on Friday, January 24, let's take a look at the five most exciting matches between G2 and Fnatic that took place in the 2019 LEC season.
5: Summer Playoffs - Finals, Game 5
G2 Esports and Fnatic qualified for the 2019 World Championship by reaching the 2019 LEC Summer Finals; the winner attending as the 1st seed and the loser qualifying via circuit points as the 2nd seed. Fnatic held an edge in the series 2-1 before G2 reversed momentum in a convincing game 4 victory. Silver Scrapes echoed throughout Athens as both teams took the stage for a final time.
By this point in the season, Luka "Perkz" Perković had established himself as a world-class AD Carry, but with everything on the table, Perkz locked in Syndra in the final draft phase of the series. Perkz trusted in the comfort of his mage-centric career as a mid laner and flying in the face of convention as G2 had done so many times throughout the season.
As had become par for the course in G2 and Fnatic games, the early game was explosive, featuring kills from both sides all over the map, oftentimes due to multiple skirmishes happening across the rift simultaneously. G2 began to pull away throughout the mid-game behind Perkz' impressive bot lane Syndra, but Fnatic executed a miracle teamfight at 20 minutes to stay in the game.
This was the 10th game in less than a week that the teams had played against each other, and the level of play was indicative. G2 and Fnatic threw punches at each other like two exhausted boxers in the 12th round, and each time G2 started to gain forward momentum, Fnatic would orchestrate an incredible teamfight to keep the gold lead close enough to remain competitive.
Fnatic would take the opportunity to start Baron Nashor after one of these teamfights, but with a slight gold advantage even after the teamfight loss, G2 was able to pry Fnatic off Baron with only three members alive, which swung the game in G2's favor and led to a securing of the Baron buff for G2 after wiping Fnatic off the map.
Fnatic continued to play valiantly from behind, and up until the very last push, and turned a lot of base defense into would-be pick opportunities of stray G2 members, but Support Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle's incredible Dark Passage usage saw many a Thresh lantern stuff those potential openings. G2 would continue to march forward and hold on to win its fourth straight European League of Legends chamionship, and subsequently qualified for Worlds 2019 as the #1 LEC representative.
4: Summer Split - Week 3, Day 1
The first matchup between G2 Esports and Fnatic in the 2019 LEC Summer Split was set to take place on Day 1 of Week 3, and the anticipation surrounding the European LoL community was palpable. Not only had G2 recently returned from winning the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational for the first time in European history, but both G2 and Fnatic entered their first bout of summer as the only two undefeated teams in the LEC.
The game was explosive right from the draft phase, in which Fnatic unveiled its answer to the new flavor of the meta, Yuumi, which had been prioritize early by G2: Karma and Pyke as a bot lane duo. AD Carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson played the Karma in the carry position, prioritzing utility to set up Support Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov's Pyke.
The point of focus ended up being on the top side of the map in-game, starting with Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau's solo kill of Rasmus "Caps" Winther, who had lane swapped with G2 top laner Martin "Wunder" Hansen, to secure First Blood for Fnatic. The Top Lane fights ended up going back and forth, but Bwipo's coordination with Jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen was too much for Caps to withstand.
This was the first game where it seemed G2 and Fnatic's matches had gone the way of gladiator matches, with players from each team issuing challenge after challenge in the form of individual dives, counter-coordination plays, and a willingness to fully commit to any potential fight. The game was far from perfect — at one point, Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski dove Bwipo's Renekton in the top lane on Olaf, only to miss the axe throw of his Undertow to die under tower in hilarious fashion.
When all was said and done, both Bwipo and Broxah's Gragas ended the game with nine kills a piece. Because of G2's international dominance at MSI, Fnatic's triumph, even in a best-of-one format, showed that it deserved respect as a legitimate contender for G2's domestic throne.
3: Summer Playoffs - Round 2, Game 2
The LEC wasn't just a cosmetic rebrand for the EU LCS; it also introduced a different format for the Playoffs. G2 Esports entered the 2019 LEC Summer Playoffs as the 1st seed from the Summer Split, and Fnatic entered as the 2nd. Due to the structure of the LEC Playoff bracket, G2 and Fnatic faced off against one another in Round 2.
Fnatic entered game 2 up 1-0 after a dominant game 1, and put the team's collective faith in Hylissang by first picking Rakan. The action began in the top lane once again, with Bwipo's Renekton solo-killing Wunder's Shen for First Blood. The game was very skirmish-heavy, but as whole in terms of macro play and overall objective focus, was signficantly cleaner than the first game of the series.
As time dragged on, the game state began to destabilize, and within the chaos, Jankos' Sejuani gained an upper hand in the cat-and-mouse pathing game with Broxah's Gragas. Jankos' Sejuani performance, especially in a Jungle meta focused on carry champions, was a clinical example of why he won the 2019 LEC Summer Split MVP, but it wasn't enough to stop Fnatic from capitalizing on G2's individual mistakes in the late-game.
Fnatic stormed back from a gold deficit behind Rekkles' Ezreal, capitalizing on G2's mistakes and punishing them to the fullest extent. Fnatic was able to wrestle control of the late game after yet another back and forth brawl against G2 Esports, and went up 2-0 in the series.
2: Summer Playoffs - Round 2, Game 3
Fnatic entered game 3 of Round 2 of the LEC Summer Playoffs on match point, and G2's back was against the wall down 0-2. Fnatic, confident in shutting the door in game 3, first picked Akali for mid laner Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek.
Bwipo had recently gotten the better of the early game matchup in the Top Lane for Fnatic, so G2 responded in kind by focusing him with repeated dives to keep him as behind in gold as possible. The game continued at the standared G2 vs. Fnatic pace, but all hell broke loose at 11 minutes. Despite it being his first pick on the champion all summer long, Nemesis piloted Akali impressively and individually held the lion's share of Fnatic's gold advantage in game 3.
G2 continued to punish Bwipo time and time again, but every time he went down in the top lane, Fnatic managed to secure an objective somewhere else on the map. Fnatic stacked dragon buffs throughout the mid game as the frequency in skirmishing began to dwindle as the late game loomed in the near distance.
At 21 minutes, Fnatic took a pronounced lead by securing Baron Nashor at 21 minutes. With the baron's buff and three dragon buffs, Fnatic had no issue breaking G2's base and taking an inhibitor before the 23 minute mark. Fnatic was 5k up, and in the history of the franchise, had never lost after going up 2-0 in a best-of-five series. G2 Esports, on the other hand, had never won a series in the organization's history if it had started out by losing the first two games.
All things pointed towards a surprising Fnatic 3-0 in Round 2, but G2 Esports creative playstyle and unparalleled synergy gave them the ability to play as if the gold is even, despite them being down 4-5k for several minutes after Fnatic secured the Baron. Jankos had an incredible game on Gragas, highlighted by a 32-and-a-half minute Baron steal that led to G2 slaughtering Fnatic and breaking the base in the form of a shattered Mid Lane inhibitor.
The gold differential leveled out, and the teams were less than 1,000 gold apart even as the game passed the 40-minute mark. However, G2 refused to finish the job after hanging on for as long as they had, and won a bizarre 3v3 against Fnatic at the Baron pit to win the game. G2 Esports won game 3 by the skin of its teeth, but that was all it needed momentum-wise to reverse sweep Fnatic 3-2 and move onto the LEC Summer Finals undefeated.
1: Spring Split - Week 9, Day 1
The rivalry between Fnatic and G2 Esports heated up in the 2019 LEC Summer Split, and peaked in the following Summer Playoffs, but the first instance of madness was near the end of the 2019 LEC spring split. Mikyx was allowing his wrists to heal before the Spring Playoffs, so substitute Support Hampus Mikael "promisq" Abrahamsson got the start against Fnatic on Day 1 of Week 9.
At this point, Perkz only had a few months of bot lane play under his belt, and his traditional marksmen skills were lacking and his pool shallow. Perkz always has his mages though, and locked in Cassiopeia to go along with promisq's Alistar.
The game began with with G2 getting utterly stomped by Fnatic outside of Wunder's individual resiliency on Ryze. Fnatic was up 8-1 in kills before the 20 minute mark, and with a couple thousand gold lead extending more and more thousands as the late game went on, Fnatic looked poised to win the final meeting of the spring split between the two squads. After securing both the bot lane and Mid Lane inhibitors in G2's base after securing Baron Nashor, the game looked just about over.
G2 Esports was known for its creative drafts and quick early game stomps of lesser teams, but for the first time, it was about to show the mark of a true world class team: playing from behind. Down 8k gold at 25 minutes, G2 fought to survive for 20 minutes, continuing to contest major objective despite its deficit behind Wunder's Ryze. Caps Zed pick had not worked out as G2 had hoped, but he was able to get a suprising amount of mileage from behind in terms of threat.
G2 was eventually able to equalize the gold, and the state of the game continued to remain taut as the 45 minute mark was crested. Just before 48 minutes, Fnatic started Baron Nashor yet again, which prompted G2 Esports to feign a contest only to try and have a few members back door the tattered base of Fnatic. However, Fnatic was wise to the plan, and responded by doing the same, and with G2's Nexus bare of protective turrets, Fnatic finally put G2 in the ground.
The spring split showdown between G2 Esports and Fnatic was nothing short of a rollercoaster, but it also showed that G2 could still play the game at the top level when the early game didn't work out in its favor, and in this case, despite missing one of the starters from its roster. Fnatic also proved itself as a true competitor of G2 Esports, and both domestically and internationally, a second LEC team worth being excited about.
A New Chapter
On Friday, January 24, the 2020 LEC spring split begins, but G2 Esports and Fnatic will not play eachother until week 3. On Saturday, February 8, G2 and Fnatic will face off against each other in the final LEC game of the weekend.