Thursday, January 21, 2016

League of Legends: 2016 EU LCS, FNC v. OG (Week 1, Day 1)

For the Spring 2016 LCS season, I’m going focus on the NA LCS scene. But LoL is a global game and I couldn’t resist watching and writing about the openers in EU and Korea as well. I loved the way Fnatic played in the 2015 Worlds and think they can have a good season in 2016 despite losing Huni, Reignover, and YellOwStaR. This first game against Origen was much hyped and was the first game of the season in EU, making it the perfect pick for me to write about.

I also wanted to compare playstyles across NA, EU, and Korea to see what things are changing in the meta. And although it's early, I think the winner of this match was able to press one of those changes to victory. If you haven't seen it already, I encourage you to - it was a great game.

The opening/intro to the video was fantastic. I mean fntastic.

To my eyes, the key to this match was Fnatic's superior laning composition and how important laning is to this meta. Sure, the first big game in NA featured a CLG squad that beat TSM on every neutral objective, but I think that so far, wave management and taking towers have taken over as more important. It seems like the Dragon has been really de-emphasized with the increased pace of play in the early- and mid-games, and 5th Dragon just isn't a realistic win condition anymore. 

The other meta-based thing that I've noticed is that it's become really important to hit mid-game power spikes. I've seen a few games now where early kills don't really lead anywhere unless the winning team can take a turret. Just ganking a lane doesn't seem to set back that lane as much as it used to as long as they can get back quickly and start CS'ing. On the other hand, a comp that snowballs too late misses out on midgame turrets, finding themselves warded and unable to get the right engage. That happened a little bit to Origen in this game - by the time they got big, Fnatic had basically sealed the deal.

A few other thoughts, focusing on laning:
  • All things considered, I felt Zven and Mithy did okay staying safe in lane given the bad lane matchup of Ezreal into Lucian. They gave up a 2 for 1 at 36:25 largely b/c Zven had already been poked down hard and forced to back once. It was a nice play to at least get first blood on Rekkles. Vision is tough in this patch, but you need it to stay safe against a bully. And Lucian and his combination of poke/waveclear is looking like a huge power pick in this meta.
  • On Fnatic’s side, Noxiak did well to keep the fight going long enough for Gamsu to teleport in and Spirit to slingshot in on Jax. Fnatic did a good job setting up the ganks via global lane pressure.
  • Amazing’s Lee Sin was absent for the first 10 minutes. They got another kill on Rekkles but it required both Jungle and Top Lane TP. Then at 46:35 he tries to get a revenge kill on Gamsu and fails. Massively. He was at full health and Gamsu less than a quarter (though he was 2 levels down).
  • Origen’s lack of lane presence from Lissandra and Ezreal snowballed into a problem. Fnatic was able to drop 3 towers not only by setting the waves, but prepping for ganks. It helps that they got kills while their team comp were on power spikes; Origen had nice ganks of their own, but could only take an early dragon. 
  • Speaking of comps, Fnatic did a good job managing the flex picks to get what they wanted – they first picked Poppy and only revealed her as a support when they picked Olaf last. That lane pressure ultimately led to a 1-3-1 split push that took over midgame.
  • I liked how Origen stayed aggressive in the late game despite a huge tower deficit, a 7k gold lead for Fnatic, and an inferior teamfighting comp. They understood that they needed to try to catch/flank Fnatic and the Baron call (replay at 58:50) though failed, did give them a respite. Amazing was the guy getting blown up again and again, but everyone was just way too squishy compared to Fnatic’s frontline of Olaf/Jax and they didn’t have time for item stacks.

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