Rift Rivals was a wake up call for the European region, particularly for the EU LCS’ three tournament participants. Fnatic vowed to return to domestic play with a fresh approach and set their stall out early against Team Vitality.
Fnatic’s captain and AD carry, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, came under fire for his performances at the international event, seemingly limited to his notorious Kennen and Tristana pockets picks and unable to adapt to the new competitive patch.
Rekkles was unable to recreate the level of impact he had shown throughout the first half of the EU LCS Summer Split, forcing Fnatic to return to the drawing board as North America’s Team SoloMid cruised to victory.
The holes in Rekkles split push style were too easily exploited at Rift Rivals. Fnatic failed to secure a single lead at the 20 minute mark in the entire tournament, presumably in the hope that Rekkles’ late game carries would come online later in the game.
To their credit, Fnatic accepted the flaws in their one-dimensional approach. Speaking immediately after the event, both jungler Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and top laner Paul “sOAZ” Boyer appreciate that their play style had been too easy to read and counter.
As Fnatic prepared to face a rallying Team Vitality, all eyes were on the team’s draft stage. True to their word, FNC did not sink back into the comfort of their proven style, opting instead for more standardised approach, including Varus and Sivir picks for Rekkles.
At ease conducting his first interview of the 2017 Summer Split, Rekkles proudly vouched for Fnatic’s new choice of strategy:
“Kennen got nerfed in 7.13, and Rift Rivals was the first official games we had on [that patch], so I was maybe stuck in the old patch.
“We had really good scrim results, so I just thought: ‘maybe it’s still fine, maybe it didn’t affect it too much’, but at Rift Rivals you could clearly see that it wasn’t working out.
“In the past week, we’ve just been trying to – not necessarily change everything up – but try a lot of new stuff so we’re more versatile in the future when these kind of tournaments come around.
“If we play so many games back-to-back, and we’re not able to adapt, we’re definitely going to get punished.”
Martin “Rekkles” Larsson
Contrary to popular belief, Rekkles seemed at ease on the meta pick of Varus. Though Sivir cannot be described as meta, the champion fit Fnatic’s drafted composition perfectly.
Fnatic swept the series against Vitality comfortably, Rekkles notably opting to group with his teammates frequently, rather than pursue the split push style that was so frequently exploited at Rift Rivals.
— lolesports (@lolesports) July 15, 2017
Addressing the issues with Fnatic’s early game and co-ordinating an immediate response was another feature of the team’s gameplay Rekkles wished to highlight:
NA’s early game was so much better than anything we had seen before, in EU at least there is nothing that comes close to it.
Especially with the style we were playing, we just had a really tough time dealing with this type of early game: we fall too far behind and I never really get going on my split push. That’s why we made some of the changes going into this week.
So if someone were to pull out this early game again and I don’t get going, now we have more of a versatile playstyle, so we’re able to fall back on sOAZ or Caps and I also have better scaling on something like Varus and Sivir.
We learned a lot from Rift Rivals, but it sucked that it happened in such a fashion. We’ll keep working the way we did before and try to win Europe.
Though Rekkles’ words would suggest that Fnatic are on the right track towards atoning for their Rift Rivals failure, they will need to wait for the World Championship to truly earn their vindication.