We’re at the halfway point of the 2015 League of Legends World Championship knockout stage.
Today begins the best of 5 (BO5) knockout stage series between Fnatic and Edward Gaming. Let’s take a look at the two teams facing off against each other.
Road to Worlds
Fnatic is a tremendous team that had one of their best seasons in the past three years. They drew one of the toughest groups in the group stage round, especially when a fighting Cloud9 team came out swinging in week one.
Just like ahq, who also advanced out of this group as the second seed, Fnatic had a strong showing at this year’s inaugural Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). They proceeded to go undefeated through the Summer Split with an 18-0 record (Origen did take them to 5 games in the Summer Playoff Finals, but they were still victorious).
Being undefeated does have its disadvantages (Fnatic found that out in week 1 of group stage), as a winning complexion can cause a team to become complacent.
Strengths and weaknesses
There is no apparent weak link on this team when you look at them individually, and Fnatic is able to translate their individual talent into superb team fighting mid-to-late game. If Fnatic has one weakness that can be exploited, it’s their weak early game (something their opponent can take advantage of).
If Fnatic can sustain in the early game without giving up too big of a lead, they’ll have a great shot of advancing. They’ll also need to show they can adjust to what surely will be a few twists and turns from their opponent.
On a team that has strong players across the board, YellOwStaR is the key to Fnatic’s early game.
He has to have proper vision and try and make plays when available. He has been huge for Fnatic all year, and has been the constant on a team that was rebuilt in the offseason. He is the team’s leader as well.
He will need to be at his best against the great synergy of Clearlove and meiko.
Road to Worlds
A constant feature in the Chinese LPL, Edward Gaming (EDG) once again achieved first place in the regular season but fell short in the Playoffs. Their team went through a rework over the offseason, benefitting from the dispersion of Samsung Blue and Samsung White (Deft and PawN were recruited from those two teams, respectively).
Their season started out strong, and they ended up winning this year’s MSI, but they’ve had an up and down season altogether. While it’s unclear if EDG has taken a step back from last year (where they won every single Chinese tournament) or if the competition has just increased, they’ll need to be at their best in this series.
Strengths and weaknesses
EDG will look to gain an advantage early and transition that lead in the mid-to-late game team fighting. EDG’s ability to create mismatches in their lane swaps will be a key aspect of this series to watch.
This strategy allows for Clearlove (jungler) and meiko (support) to work together in the early game. EDG was knocked out in the quarterfinals last year by Star Horn Royal Club (last year’s runner up) in a heartbreaking 2-3 series. They also stumbled near the end of the year after looking so dominant in the Spring Split and winning at MSI.
This team is loaded with talent and the easy choice would be mid laner, PawN.
However, in a series where the the mid laners can essentially neutralize each other (edge to PawN), their ADC, Deft, will be the key to EDG. Historically, when EDG falls behind, it’s Deft that pulls the team back up. Look for Deft to single-handedly win a game in this series.
This is one of the closest matchups in the first round of the knockout stage (and one that has more of a semifinal feel to it). Fnatic comes in as the number one seed when it comes to betting on eSports and a slight underdog in this matchup with current odds of 2.260, compared to Edward Gaming’s 1.675 odds.
It’s tough to say how good EDG is. They easily dispatched the number 3 and 4 seeds in their group stage, but had two very one-sided losses against SKT.
Fnatic started out 1-2 after week 1 of group stage. They responded to the critics and came out strong in week 2 of the group stage however, going 3-0 to advance with the one seed. Fnatic is the top Western team (Origen is making a strong case, though) and will definitely be the crowd favorite, but this will be a tough matchup for them.
I favor EDG and still think they’re the number two team in this tournament, despite the two losses to SKT (the odds on favorite to win this year’s Worlds).
Edward Gaming 3-1