Breakdown: The duel for Europe's throne
Posted 2013-03-25 Mac
Exactly three weeks after their last clash Gambit Gaming waited on the Blue side for Fnatic to come and try to defeat them and top the current LCS table. Since LCS was expected to be a Top Four and Lower Four two-class society, Gambit and Fnatic showed, that they are currently playing in another league, compared to the others, since both stopped struggling against teams from the lower half of the table.
Both teams had a clear plan, showing off during the Picks and Bans. Whereas Gambit intended to get Genja rather than Kog Maw and therefore banned nRated's Leona and Nunu. Fnatic focused on banning out Darien, who played superior during the last weeks in LCS and IEM, by not giving him two of his comfortable champs: Shen and Renekton. Gambit also banned Elise, so sOAZ won't be able to just jump and burst down Kog, who has no escape and therefore brings Cleanse and Ghost with him. The last ban from Fnatic wasn't really surprising, since the „Thresh Prince of Bel-Air“, Edward himself, waited on the Blue side to land some awesome hooks.
Gambit decided to make a more or less safe Firstpick, by giving Kayle to AlexIch for the midlane, followed by two pretty comfortable picks for Fnatic: Varus was picked for YellOwStaR and Cyanide was happy about being able to take his dog for a walk. Gambit seemed satisfied with the picks and bans so far, as they probably expected Fnatic to pick Varus, that's why they directly answered by locking in Lulu and Kog for their botlane – there are not many combinations, who this botlane would struggle with, especially by Thresh, Nunu and Leona being banned out. With the plan that Darien will be the main target to shut down, Fnatic gave their third and fourth pick to nRated (Blitzcrank) and xPeke (Twisted Fade) – so sOAZ is able to wait for Darian's pick and the team can decide to swap lanes or let sOAZ counter Darian and fight to him one versus one. Joe Miller already promised the audience some awesome grabs by nRated's Blitzcrank, and he wasn't proven wrong later in the game. Gambit had to think well about their last two picks, since they knew sOAZ has the last call in this Champion selection. Diamandprox decided to get Volibear for him and wanted to created some fast runs towards Fnatic's carrys by that. Darien ended up with Kha'Zix, which he feels comfortable with and already carried games with quiet heavily. Fnatic answered the Kha'Zix pick by giving sOAZ a champ he already surprised with at the Season 2 EU Regionals at gamescom last year: Jayce. With Jayce being able to poke, change from ranged to not ranged, sOAZ had the possibility of creating plays.
Fnatic decided to invade Gambit's blue buff, but the Russian lineup expected that and waited safely at their Wraiths camp. Since there was no action, sOAZ decided to port back to base, while nRated pulled the blue buff over to give it to Nasus. Meanwhile sOAZ wanted to check fnatic's blue and directly walked into Gambit, which picked him up easily and gave Kog Maw the first kill of the game and Jayce some early trouble in the 1v2 lane.
At the four minute mark, Varus and Blitz went for the top tower and were to safe, that Volibear would not come. Suddenly Diamondprox popped his ghost still being behind his own top tower and went in to flip the escaping nRated into Gambit's tower, where Kha'Zix finished him off and gave himself an excellent position going into this 1v2 lane. With the first champion-grab of the game, nRated and YellOwStaR nearly finished off Darien on toplane, but didn't quiet make it. It was xPeke's first time to shine just then, because he leveled up to level 6 and used his ulti (Destiny) to port into Gambit's jungle to finish off Darien. Diamondprox directly reacted to that and started to take down the Dragon, which fnatic recognized and therefore exchanged some global gold, by taking down the top tower.
After 10:40 minutes, Fnatic decided to not swap lanes, but send nRated and YellOwStaR top to contest Gambit's blue buff, once again. After nRated having grabbed the buff over to the River, Gambit appeared for a teamfight. At this time of the game every game counts and Diamond made a huge mistake by not directly engaging the fight – even though his Ghost was still down – but making one step back and then trying to move in, which was already too late, because YellOwStaR directly reacted and saw a free Alex Ich standing there waiting for the Chain of Corruption to land on him. Edwards fast reaction helped Kayle to stay a live at this point, since he casted his Wild Growth on Alex Ich, but he wasn't even able to cast Intervention on himself for maybe surviving a few more seconds. Since this fight happened on a very small piece of the map and xPeke wasn't there in time with his TF, he used Destiny to port right next to Gambit and focus down Darien, which ended up in both killing each other, but since sOAZ was right in the middle of the fight to deal a lot of damage, Fnatic managed to take down Volibear as well, which makes it a 3 for 2 exchange in Fnatic´s favor, since nRated died to Edward.
12 minutes and 50 seconds into the game, the Dragon spawned for the second time and both teams wanted to fight for it. nRated managed to Rocket Grab Fnatic's #1 target: Darien, but Alex Ich directly casted Intervention for him, which allowed Kha'Zix to just deal damage and not die for a few seconds. Because of that Nasus and TF got killed instantly, but by a great positioning of sOAZ, who was poking from the blue buff area, Alex Ich has fallen pretty quick and made it a 2 for one exchange for Gambit. At this time, Darien was on 4 kills and therefore decided to go full damage and bought a BF Sword – he could be sure about surviving for a long time in teamfights, because of the ultimates of Lulu and Kayle. After being reborn xPeke directly ported into Gambit's half of the map and finished off Edward because of a good ward placement.
Only four minutes later Gambit went botlane to chase nRated and xPeke, after they already caught YellOwStaR, who wasn't positioned perfectly at this time, but only took down xPeke, which allowed Cyanide and sOAZ to splitpush toplane and midlane and nearly take down two T2 turrets. At this point xPeke already finished his Lichbane and Sorcerer's Shoes, as well as an Needlessly Large Rod on top, whereas Darien didn't upgrade his BF Sword into a Bloodthurster, but went for the Homeguard upgrade on his Ionian Boots of Lucidity. To shortly break down the items at this point: As already mentioned Gambit wanted to get into the late game and get Genja fed, that's why he built an Infinity Edge as his first full damage item, but YellOwStaR went straight for his proven Blade of the Ruined King build on Varus.
Two fights in favor of Fnatic took place at totally different spots on the map. xPeke used Destiny to port into the botlane tower, where Genja was farming up his Kog Maw. With Varus joining the fight, Fnatic was able to take down Kog right in time before Volibear came in to turn the tables. Meanwhile on toplane sOAZ baited Darien into a 1v1 situation, having Nasus in the jungle waiting to put his Wither on Kha'Zix to take him down – which happened seconds later. Fnatic then had a 13:11 kill and 31 to 29k gold advantage around 20 minutes into the game. Because sOAZ was sure he would be in a good position in the next fights, he decided to get a Black Cleaver as his first item, since Cyanide will tank most of the incoming damage away and can stop Gambit going for him with his W.
At the 21 minute mark Edward pink warded the whole lower river, to make sure to have full vision of the Dragon area, where the Dragon would spawn only 14 seconds later. nRated was not able to answer to this, not having upgraded his Sight Stone yet and with no pinks in his inventory, which leads us to the deciding fight of the game.
Realizing it was a 5v4 situation Gambit decided to push midlane, whereas xPeke did what he likes: split-pushing. Gambit went down to stop him – except Darien who went back the middle lane. Being informed by his teammates, that Gambit left the mid lane, xPeke casted Destiny to get vision of Gambit roster on the map. Seeing that Darien is alone he ported right next to him to put down a combo of his Stun card plus the Wild cars following up to bring him below half health. Gambit being a bit slow at this point of the game moved mid lane after that, where fnatic did a smart move and went toplane to take down the T2 turret, since their lane was pushing hard. Only one autohit from falling the tower was still there and Fnatic had to run, since Gambit suddenly came through their upper jungle and wanted to fight at the blue buff spot. By YellOwStaR being positioned quiet badly, Diamond popped Ghost to get to him and flip him into the rest of his team, which would have won Gambit the fight. A well timed flash into his team, followed by the Chain of Corruption right into Diamond's face saved YellOwStarS life and turned the tablet in this fight. Diamond went pretty low and tried to escape, while Darien jumped into the full Fnatic lineup to get bursted down within a second. Realizing it could be a good fight for Fnatic, Cyanide directly popped Fury of the Sands on his Nasus and ran for Alex Ich, followed up bis his team. By perfect positioning Genja was able to nearly take down nRated and xPeke, but at least nRated was able to escape, while xPeke has fallen to Edward's Lulu again. What no one saw at this moment: By sOAZ incredibly good positioning, when he stood at the back of his team at the beginning of the fight, he took down Darien and then went casted his no-range mode jumping right into Gambit to deal damage, fnatic probably won that fight and was able to take the Dragon after everyone was alive again.
At this point of the game (25 minutes) fnatic still had all turrets on the map, whereas Gambit already lost four of them. After two minutes of nearly no action, YellOwStaR went crazy and decided to 1v1 Kha'Zix on the botlane, which nearly worked out perfect for him, since xPeke casted Destiny to join the fight, but Darien was able to escape by casting his evolved Leap followed up by a Flash. Since xPeke directly ported under Gambit's tower, Diamond saw a chance to engage on fnatic's carrys there coming out of the lower jungle, but nRated, who just stole the opponent's red buff with sOAZ, landed a Rocket Grab on him, which made his Ghost useless and forced Edward to ulti his teammate. Luckily for both teams no one died during these 20 seconds of fighting. Seeing Gambit is a bit too tanky because of two life saving ultimates, Fnatic realized there is no way to take them down only by outdamaging Gambit, so sOAZ and Cyanide based to get a Giants Belt on them.
Around 29 minutes into the game xPeke finished his third big item, a Zhonyas Hourglass and made clear he is now able to splitpush and 1v1 nearly everyone on the map. He directly went to the botlane, while his team was around the mid lane, waiting for Gambit. During Cyanide's ward clearing session in Gambit's jungle, Diamond decided to engage with Lulu's and Kayle's ultimate on him, but xPeke instantly joining the fight made him fall very fast and Gambit running without their strong ultimates up. Genjas enormous damage killed Cyanide within seconds, but since no one was able to protect him anymore – that's what fnatic thought. By popping his Ghost he managed to at least run to his own tower, which let his team pick up two more kills, until YellOwStaR chased him to the death after about 11 seconds. sOAZ, shining with great positioning again, and YellOwStaR as the only living on the map made sure that none of Fnatic´s tower will fall.
When everyone was alive again Gambit decided to finally go for Fnatic's mid turret, seeing they were only three there, since sOAZ picked up his red and xPeke went down bot to .. I don't even have to finish this sentence.
Darien used his Leap plus Void Spike combo to deal damage under the Fnatic turret, but a perfect Varus Chain of Corruption stunned him right under the turret and forced Kayle and Lulu to cast their ultimates on him. Gambit directly decided to run, whereas xPeke was already attacking their base tower. Seeing a base teleport would take too long Gambit had to run for xPeke, who finished off the inhibitor right at the time Gambit entered their base and escaped by a beautiful timed Destiny. By forcing Gambit to run botlane, the rest of Fnatic made the intelligent follow-up and went for the Baron Nashor, which was for sure uncontested at this moment. Right after having finished Baron Diamond popped Ghost and ran into the whole fnatic team, only surviging for two more seconds because of Kayle's ultimate. With a heavy Kog Maw in their back Gambit dealt a nice amount of damage, but wasn't able to take down enough people to turn the tables. Jayce and Varus standing at the back of their team doing work won that fight 4 for 2 in Fnatic's favor. While sOAZ chased Edward for finally making it 4 for 2, Alex Ich was already back in his base and wanted to stop YellOwStaR pushing their mid lane base turret – even he had his ultimate up Varus won the trade versus Kayle, where YellOwStaR probably thanked Riot for the latest changes on Blade of the Ruined King. By having two inhibitors down, fnatic could easliy go on toplane to push for the third one.
A final teamfight, where Darien again leaped into the fnatic team with two Ultimates on him started at 36 minutes, where Fnatic managed to take down Genja and therefore Gambit's only hope. Without a problem Fnatic pushed through to the Nexus and took down Gambit for the first time in the LCS so far.
Eventhough xPeke was crowned as MVP after that game, probably sOAZ positioning and nRated intelligent grabs where the main key factor for fnatic top the tables. Because Gambit had to go in with Volibear jungle, nRated wasn't force to grab somebody inside the fnatic team to burst him down, but he could wait for Gambit to engage and then pull the Rocket Grab to stop someone from engaging, which secured a kill nearly every time he did it.
"The game was close until Darien jumped into our mid.."
The both banned persons, Darien and nRated had huge impact on the game. nRated with some nice grabs and Darien with a nice early game, which brought him some kills, he couldn't make use of. Also the plan making Genja the most damage dealing source went perfectly fine, until Diamond and Darien ran and jumped into Fnatic.
What we know now: Those teams are for sure the best teams in Europe and respected all over the world. Like TSM's Dyrus mentioned: He can only be happy if his team is finally able to defeat a) Koreans or b) Gambit/Fnatic. Even though there is no bad team in the current LCS, Fnatic and Gambit are definitely in shape at the moment and take home win by win. This game was probably not the most exciting match of the weekend in Lille, but both teams showed, why they are the Top 2 of Europe and the good news is: The clash of the titans will return in only two weeks for their last match against each other for the first half of the LCS – probably the final fight for the throne of Europe.