SK Gaming Threading the Needle against Fnatic

The first week of the LEC was a success. Aside from a few hiccups, game delays, lag issues, and misclicks during champion select, the games themselves did not disappoint. The meta was sculptured in a way that teams thought about unique team comps. The first game in the LEC Spring Split did not disappoint. Even though most teams picked champions to flex into different roles, the first game featured champions in their standard roles.

Fnatic and SK Gaming faced to kick off the year. Their rivalry halted when SK Gaming was relegated back in 2016. When Fnatic and SK Gaming faced off, it was termed “El Clasico” — a term used when Ocelote (from SK Gaming) and Xpeke (from Fnatic) represented their respective teams, kicking off a rivalry between the two players. Their rivalry culminated in 2013 IEM Katowice when Xpeke made the famous backdoor play to defeat SK Gaming. Now with a new lineup, SK Gaming is ready to get back into form.

Near the end of the game, Fnatic pushed SK against the wall and was ready to push mid to win the game. SK had one last chance to defen. Will this play define Fnatic’s new dynasty without Caps? Or will SK Gaming fight back showing the rest of the LEC that they are a new team to be feared?

Let’s break it down.

Fnatic took an early lead in all lanes, resulting in bounties of relatively equal value across all Fnatic players. They had good engage with Sion, Pyke, and Lee Sin, burst damage with Akali, and a Lucian to clean it all up. They pushed SK in their inner-mid tower, granted they could have taken a risk, and captured Baron before doing so. However, SK Gaming had champion ultimates that are ready to use if Fnatic took the gamble on Baron. Pirean’s Lissandra ultimate was up, which has an area-of-effect (AOE) ultimate that would slow Fnatic inside the Baron pit and Dreams’ Braum ultimate that knocks up all enemies standing in its line-of-sight. Another option is Fnatic could utilize a 1-3-1 play, pushing the side lanes into the inhibitor turret, and putting more pressure against SK Gaming. Instead, we saw Fnatic putting pressure in the mid lane.

A key figure in SK Gaming’s comeback is Selfmade, a highly touted prospect going into the LEC Spring Split. Prior to this year, he played for Mad Lions E.C., along with fellow teammates Crownshot and Werlyb, and dominated the LVP SuperLiga Orange. Against Fnatic, Selfmade played with their heads throughout the game, even before this game. Prior to this game, Fnatic and SK Gaming played the official first game in the LEC, which had to be remade due to lag issues from Fnatic. Before the remake, Selfmade initiated ganks in the top and bot lanes with Xin Zhao. In this current meta, Xin Zhao with the Hail of Blades rune is a power pick among pro teams. Hail of Blades grants a 110% bonus attack speed upon attacking an enemy champion for your next 3 basic attacks, resulting in high burst damage. Selfmade abused this against Fnatic, resulting in 2 kills, 1 death, and 4 assists.

During champion select in the remade game, Fnatic banned Xin Zhao from Selfmade. This resulted in SK Gaming picking Sejuani, who has great initiation in team fights and crowd control (CC). Selfmade did not have identical impact with Sejuani as he did with Xin Zhao. Fnatic capitalized on this fact, producing positive KDA ratios across all lanes. However, Selfmade kept Fnatic in check, ganking top and bot, producing 2 kills, 1 death, and 3 assists going into the last moments of the game.

Pushing against the inner mid tower with Selfmade in their minds, Fnatic attempted one last push to win the game. One thing to note is that going into this push, none of Fnatic’s carries are equipped with a Quicksilver Sash (QSS) or Mercurial Scimitar, which grants an active ability to negate crowd control on themselves. However, Crownshot answered Fnatic’s push with an Ezreal W to Q, which burst Broxah to death. Selfmade closed in on Fnatic with Sejuani’s abilities to slow them down, and SK Gaming took down 2 of 5 Fnatic bounties, swinging the lead to SK Gaming’s favor.

After capturing Baron, SK Gaming pushed into Fnatic’s base. Selfmade possibly made the play of the Spring Split, strafing the Fnatic squad, unleashing Sejuani’s ultimate to Rekkles with a narrow window to spare, and SK Gaming got the big upset thus far in the year.