Europe stepped off the stage of the World Championship.
Misfits and Fnatic from Europe presented a new and improved state of performance from the 2nd week of groups coming into the quarterfinals. Although each respective team lost to Korea’s SKT T1 and China’s RNG, Misfits and Fnatic astonished the fans with their performance. Misfits showed SKT what it means to be a team from EU, and Fnatic, coming into the quarterfinals quite dramatically, gave RNG a run for their money.
Frankly, a lot of people were not expecting much from the EU region this year. The general rating on the EU LCS was not that good to start with either. On top of this, the EU pro teams were having a hard time prior keeping their teams together due to financial reasons.
H2K sent a request letter to Riot Games, last year in September, to ask for a revision of policies regarding financial situations for the professional teams. H2K claimed that they were seeing a loss of 1 million Euros per year. In addition, there are growing concerns that Europe's LoL eSports, including H2K, Splyce, Misfits, and G2 eSports, have been trying out Exodus for the rest of Europe, and that European LoL eSports is on the decline.
Coming into worlds with an already troubled mindset, EU had to prove their region’s worth and potential. Notably during the quarterfinals, EU really pressed on the idea of the regional gaps getting smaller and smaller. They added their own adjustments into a meta many thought was already set in stone.
◈ Misfits, breaking the established framework of picks/bans.
The way Misfits approached the picks/bans in the quarterfinals against SKT T1 was brilliant to say the least. After realizing the sheer gap by losing 25 minutes into the first game, Misfits pulled out their well-planned strategy: Ignar’s Blitzcrank and Leona.
Blitzcrank and Leona are considered counters to Ardent Censer supports such as Janna and Lulu. Because most Ardent Censer wielders have a low health pool, they are weak against burst-oriented champions or hook champions. Add in a fast pushing champion like Tristana, and Misfits put together a perfect comp against the slow phase meta.
Misfits picked Blitzcrank in the 2nd game and decided to focus on the bot lane to quickly end the laning phase. Afterwards, Hans Sama and Ignar roamed around the map to burn summoner spells and gain a global gold lead. Knowing full well that they had a high chance to lose if it stalls to the late game, Misfits claims a 20 minute baron alongside crucial hooks on Corki and Jarvan. This early game decisiveness closed out the 2nd game in Misfits’ favor.
Misfits had the same concept in mind for the 3rd game as well. Substituting Leona for Blitzcrank, Misfits was yet again open to obtain the strong lane-pushing abilities of Tristana. SKT picked Vayne over Kog’maw this time. However, SKT’s ADC still needed a significant amount of time to scale. Misfits had no intention of letting SKT get the time they needed. Provoking fights near the baron pit at 20 minutes, Misfits’ Orianna performed an incredible shockwave to secure baron and the game. Leaving the overall score 2:1 in Misfits’ favor.
The second reason why Misfits’ picks/bans were so well-executed was because they never really gave up on the Ardent Censer. Although Ignar played Blitzcrank and Leona, who are not Ardent Censer wielders, Misfits put Karma mid in the 2nd game and Ivern with Ardent in the 3rd game. By distributing the Ardent Censer from the bot lane to mid/jungle, it gave way for Hans Sama’s Tristana to gain that extra power in the late game.
Although Misfits lost to SKT and got eliminated from Worlds, Misfits’ unique strategies almost defeated the 3 time world champions. After the match, Faker said in an interview that “After we lost the 3rd game, I realized there was a chance we might be eliminated from Worlds”.
Breaking the very meta that was built into Worlds with their unique picks/bans strategies, Misfits is going to be known as one of the best non-Korean teams to ever take SKT to a full set at Worlds.
◈ Fnatic, making the impossible possible.
The quarterfinal games between RNG and Fnatic were the most entertaining games EU could have shown the fans. Being famous for their aggressive and upfront drafts, RNG’s Galio and Jarvan were banned against them every game. The one game when they were not banned, RNG took a predominant lead. On top of this combo, RNG had a top tier Cho’gath in the top lane, Kog’maw for Uzi’s carry potential, and Morgana to wield the oh so OP Ardent Censer. If you had to estimate the outcome of the game by the draft alone, RNG was almost certain to win.
When the match reached mid game, RNG’s team comp started to kick in. Fnatic could not correctly answer against a fed Kog’maw. On top of all this, Kog’maw had Morgana’s E (Black Shield) which made him immune to CC effects. Uzi could easily auto attack under the protection of Galio and Morgana’s damage mitigations.
Fnatic realized they had to stall out the game further to have a chance at winning the game. Fnatic started to stall around the 23 minute mark. Wherever RNG’s Kog’maw would go, Fnatic would avoid. Fnatic aimed to catch and fight RNG where Kog’maw could not freely auto attack. They aimed to focus on Jarvan, who had a low max health due to his offensive items, and Cho + Galio.
Fnatic gained some breathing room from sOAZ. The reason sOAZ could provide some wiggle room for Fnatic was his match up in the top lane. Gnar can take advantage of the %hp damage against Cho’gath and also has the upper hand in split pushing.
You cannot judge a player, however, solely by their favored matchups. sOAZ kited and took down Cho’gath at the fight at their nexus towers. Afterwards, him and his team focused on the Kog’maw who had tower aggro. sOAZ reset with his team and started to put pressure on the side lanes by split pushing. This gave the initiative to Fnatic. Taking advantage of the opportunity sOAZ created, Fnatic was able to change the terms of engagement in their favor and win the impossible game.
EU’s journey in the quarterfinals has ended. If we were to look at the results, we would see that Fnatic in 2015 or H2K in 2016 made it to the semi finals. By sheer placement results, EU did not perform as well as before. However, if you considers the expectations for EU and how they have changed, EU should be congratulated for their success.
G2 eSports’ Zven and Mithy both cried after their elimination in the group stage. They both reached out to their fans through SNS saying that it was very sad to have had their last performances with their team end so quickly. It is not clear how many teams from EU are facing the same situation as G2 eSports. What is clear, however, is that the difficult situation they are facing is still ongoing and they have not found a satisfactory answer.
Every international competition seems to close the gap further with each game. The regional styles are growing more and more similar. EU’s unique style may stand out the most currently. I remember in 2011, the EU flipped over the meta set by NA and won. Now in 2017, Misfits and Fnatic still have the same traits passed down by their predecessors.
I only hope that EU’s unique trait evolves even further. To ensure the growth of EU, Riot should review the financial policies plaguing the EU LCS. Not necessarily just for the LoL eSports scene, but for Europe as a whole.
Sort comment by :