Fnatic came within one game of taking down the LPL first seed and Worlds favorites, Top Esports, in a clean 3-0 sweep but they were unable to close out the series, getting reverse swept for the first time ever in Worlds history. At the end of the day, they were eliminated, but not before putting up a great fight and reminding fans everywhere that FNC is a team you can never count out. not when they're 7-9 in the LEC Summer Split on the verge of missing playoffs, and not when they're in the Worlds quarterfinals against Worlds favorites and the LPL first seed.
In their first two games, they absolutely obliterated the TES bot lane, with Martin "Rekkles" Larsson and Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov taking full priority, even setting their own record of sorts, with TES support, Liang "yuyanjia" Jia-Yuan, dying the most times of any player in Worlds history by 15 minutes with five deaths. But in the following three, they were unable to take the same advantage. After the series, they spoke with the press around the globe to talk about the series and their future.
Watch the press conference here or read the transcript below:
(To Bwipo) In Game 1, you played Singed, which was the champion's first appearance at Worlds 2020. Can we know the reason for that choice?
Bwipo: I think we just think Singed is an unexplored champion. He's quite good against mobile champions thanks to the grounding effect on his Mega Adhesive. This is in combination with the fact that he applies a lot of pressure on Ornn in the laning phase and makes it difficult for Ornn to leave his lane. This makes Singed a very good match for my playstyle, and in general, a very strong champion. I think the main reason Singed does not see play is that he is not explored enough.
(To Mithy) In Game 3 you drafted Vel'koz and Kha'Zix as the mid/jungle combination. Was this a prepared strategy?
Mithy: We played against Vel'koz in a scrim against DRX, and after trying it out once ourselves, we realized it's actually quite good. For the jungle pick, we were absorbing a lot of bans and Selfmade has been famously known for his Kha'Zix, and he felt really confident about it. We took that, but we were also a bit out of options in the jungle. In those circumstances, I think it was a good pick.
(To Hylissang) You're really good at champions like Sett and Rakan who can engage, and you're also able to have a good laning phase on these picks as well. Do you have any special tips
Hylissang: Yes: Don't Flash backward, just Flash forward.
(To Rekkles) Today you and Hylissang had a very good performance in the bot lane. This is your first time facing Yu "JackeyLove" Wen-Bo in almost two years. Did you feel any difference in the matchup compared to last time?
Rekkles: I think we did better this time than we did in the finals of Worlds 2018, but I think we also played well against him on Invictus Gaming in the group stage at Worlds 2018. I feel like our bot lane always does well against everyone in the world, so it wasn't much of a surprise to me that we performed well today, but I still feel like we could have done more.
I feel like we didn't push our advantages enough, and that's a shame because I feel like bot was one of Top Esports' weaknesses today. I'm not sure if it usually is; our prep was not anything towards TES' bot lane being the worst part of the team. We actually thought every part of their team was good, so that was a bit of a surprise to me. It's a shame that we didn't push our advantages more in the 2v2, but as you said, we performed pretty well today, so I'm happy about that part.
(To Mithy) Did you expect this series to go all five games today based on your preparation?
Mithy: Yeah, I did not expect it to go to five games *laughs* not this way, at least. I think it was a good series — we had prep for the first three games, but for game 4 we had kind of banked on TES not playing Sett. It felt like a really good Sett angle for them, so we took it ourselves and that was a little bit scuffed. If they had last picked Vayne or something it could have been hard-punished. In game 5, I think we winged it a little bit too much, but it was still okay.
Bwipo, you guys decided to ban out Sion in game 5. What was the trickiest part about dealing with Sion in game 4?
Bwipo: My support told me in champion select, "Please, Bwipo. Ban Sion for me." So I said, "Okay." I didn't mind playing against him — the lane pressure was quite strong; 369 plays the champion very well, but ultimately, I didn't mind because I was comfortably scaling on my Ornn. However, when my teammate asks me nicely and says 'please,' I will help him.
(To Hylissang) You were really performing and popping off today, but also have received criticism this season for getting caught out and dying. How did you think your performance was today?
Hylissang: I need to actually watch the games because maybe my point of view is different, but I felt like I played games 1 and 2 well. Game 3 would have been pretty hard to win from the position we were in as a team, but if you look at how Rekkles and I played the lane, our opponents were getting outperformed on champions with a favorable matchup against us. I would say Rekkles and I played extremely well in Game 3.
Game 4 I was playing pretty well until I tried to force some plays without my teammates. I misplayed a bit, and it backfired a lot and the game went a different way. Later on, there was another hiccup that I made a call, there was a small disagreement, and then it backfired on us again. In Game 5, I think we played just fine.
(To Selfmade) You showcased a fantastic performance at your first Worlds and a lot of people were commenting that this meta fits you really well. What kind of experience was Worlds 2020 from your perspective?
Selfmade: Well, since it was my first Worlds event, I was just looking for a new experience and improving as a player. In regards to the current meta being comfortable for me, yes, carry junglers are my thing. I'm happy with how far I got. We were super close to getting to the semifinals, but Top Esports was simply better today.
(To Rekkles) You outperformed JackeyLove individually in the laning phase. Are you happy with your performance this series?
Rekkles: As I mentioned earlier, we were talking about how Hylissang and I were doing in the laning phase, and that I was happy about us doing well. It's true that I'm very happy we were able to show our strengths as a duo yet again on the international stage. I think it's something we've managed to do in previous years too, but it's always nice to see that we've still got it year after year.
Still, no one will really remember how we played today. I don't think the way we played makes it 'okay' to lose, so because of this, I feel that a loss is a loss and a win is a win. In a week or so from now, I'll be looking back at this series, but I think I will still feel very disappointed with what I managed to do today.
Hopefully, I get another chance to play against JackeyLove again sometime in the future. I wouldn't be surprised if he was to go the entire way this year and win his 2nd Worlds. We'll see, but hopefully I can play against him again in 2021. JackeyLove is a fun player to play against because he always pushes the game somewhere. He doesn't let the state of the game be, and I think that's exciting to play against.
(To Selfmade) Coming into Worlds 2020 the meta has been perceived to primarily featuring farming carry junglers, but some junglers have shown a supportive, early-game jungle style can also work. In your opinion, is the Worlds 2020 jungle meta more flexible than most people think?
Selfmade: In my eyes, the meta has three main champions: Nidalee, Graves, and Lilia. When those champions are out, you can play anything you want. In most cases, you're able to pick one of these three champions in every draft because they aren't often banned. If one of them is banned, you can simply take one of the other two. That's the reason it's been a farming meta in the jungle. Regarding supportive junglers I can't think of a single game where a team played a support-style jungler, so I'm not really sure.
(To Mithy) I noticed Fnatic seems more relaxed after this tough loss than previous painful losses. Is mental strength something you have been working on with the team as Head Coach?
Mithy: I wasn't really here for previous years, so I'm not sure how it was handled, but it's not the same to lose a quarterfinal and a final, that's for sure. Other than that, it's lost, right? It's done.
I think that overall we had a good year and we had a lot of struggle throughout the year so I think that in the way, the guys should be very proud of themselves. Some of the guys...*laughs* even myself all had times where we thought we weren't going to qualify for Worlds this summer. I'm super proud of them and I don't think they should feel ashamed at all.
(To Rekkles) With the strength of utility marksmen at Worlds 2020, did feel under the same level of pressure as you would on more carry-centric picks?
Rekkles: It's a different kind of pressure. I feel like when you are 'the guy' for your team, things are a lot easier, but there is pressure when it really matters in the clutch. However, in a utility meta like this, there are a lot of different kinds of pressure. You have to perform well during different stages of the game.
For example, I would say that early game is very important in the current meta. You have to play your laning phase really well and you have to be proactive which is unusual for an AD Carry, so I think there is a difference. Normally, it's thought that utility champions are easier to play than carries, but I think that regardless of what you're going to play, there is a lot of pressure to perform and bring your team what they need from you.
All images via: Riot Games
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