Fnatic, TSM Once Again Turn Into Much Better League of Legends Teams For The Playoffs

Illustration for article titled Fnatic, TSM Once Again Turn Into Much Better iLeague of Legends/i Teams For The Playoffs

The weakest Fnatic and Team Solomid League of Legends teams in years just knocked their opponents out of the spring playoffs and advanced to the European and North American semifinals, respectively.

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Given the history of the EU LCS, maybe that outcome was inevitable. Fnatic have competed in every European LCS final for three straight years, basically since the LCS was established. Fnatic have always been a team whose best performances come at the biggest tournaments, with playoff results that sometimes belies uneven regular-season results.

That didn’t seem likely to happen with this Fnatic team, however. Their .500 record in the spring seemed like a pretty accurate measure of a team with serious weaknesses in top and jungle following the departure of Huni and Reignover, and a lack of flexibility compared to rising teams like G2, H2K, and their opponent today, Vitality. Moreover, Fnatic had performed terribly head-to-head against Vitality during the regular season.

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Nevertheless, Fnatic beat Vitality in classic fashion: crushing them in team fights and keeping them off-balance as Fnatic applied steady objective pressure. More star performances from midlaner Febiven helped put Fnatic over the top and back into a familiar position: contention for the EU LCS spring championship.

Team SoloMid’s win over Cloud9 was not quite as shocking, because Cloud9 have not looked as consistently superior to TSM this season. Still, after enduring a pretty humiliating defeat in Game 1, Team SoloMid finally seemed to turn into a team that is at least equal to the sum of its parts.

Still, it’s striking just how often this pattern repeats in pro League of Legends. TSM and Fnatic have been wearing targets on their back for years. Every season seems to promise the end of their time at the top, the start of their slide into overdue mediocrity. This year, with both teams stuck with 9-9 records for the spring season, it seemed like the entropy had finally caught up with them and they were at last perfectly average teams.

Whether it’s because both teams are used to playoff pressure, or because the best-of-five playoff format played to their strengths as players and organizations, today marked yet another triumph of the two region-defining powerhouses. Whatever changes in League of Legends, TSM and Fnatic always seem to be among the very best when it’s time for the playoffs.

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Top photo: TSM celebrate after their victory, by Riot Games. Source

Rob Zacny is a freelance writer and esports journalist. You can reach him at rob.zacny@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

Joyomar856
ForTheViolence

I expected this to happen, TSM has been in every single N/A finals since it’s inception in season 1, it’s a storied franchise with a long legacy of excellence in their own region. I was never a fan of TSM until this season. When the team I followed the most “Gravity” from season 5 disbanded, I was left without a team. Naturally as a top lane main I followed Gravity’s ex top laner “Hauntzer” and became a TSM fan. Well not really a fan of the organization, but a fan of it’s current line up. Yellow Star is probably the 2nd most storied player in league of legends history behind Faker. Being the only season 1 veteran still playing competitively, and also rebuilding Fanatic several times and leading them to an undefeated split last year. The Burger King has been the best Mid Laner in N/A since he was acquired from the “Copenhagen Wolves.” A former LCS team that failed to make it back into the LCS from challenger this year. Double Lift is probably the most consistent and well known ADC in N/A history and just came off the best year in his career in season 5. Svenskeren was considered one of the best junglers in EU mechanically speaking and is legendary for his aggression, a stark contrast from TSM’s previous junglers who all had farm heavy play styles. There was a lot of hype around this line up, and in typical TSM fashion they delivered in the play offs.