Originally posted on lolesports.com by Taylor "Riot RoboTayCo" Cocke and Leah "SpiNN" Jackson
Fnatic is defined by their adaptability. Most expected a period of weakness during the early days of the Spring Split after they removed four veterans for mostly rookie players. The only remaining member, Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim, had a lot to take on. But through smart changes in playstyle and rapid meta adaptations, they made their way to the EU LCS Spring Split Finals in dramatic fashion, finally bringing down the Unicorns of Love to take home the title.
Now, they're headed to Tallahassee to compete against the world's best teams at the Mid-Season Invitational. And with five players with huge champion pools, they're incredibly hard to nail down in Picks and Bans.
THE UNBREAKABLE YELLOWSTAR
The 2015 Spring Split season has proven that Fnatic's support YellOwStaR can turn just about any squad into EU champion material. Faced with the daunting task of leading a squad of four new members after the departure of stars like Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño and Martin "Rekkles" Larsson, he's more than lived up to the job.
What makes YellOwStar special is his adaptability. Now a seasoned veteran of the LCS, he's played under a huge variety of conditions with a huge variety of players. At any time, he can play engage champions, heavy peelers, and anything in between. Whatever his team composition calls, he can play it.
Moral of the story: YellOwStaR seems unshakeable. Fnatic's leader and shotcaller is incredibly difficult to throw off his game, so aiming any bans at him may be fruitless. He can always fall back to his beloved Leona, after all.
LOOK AT HIS HORSE
If there's one rule about playing against Fnatic, it's that you don't let top laner Seung-Hoon "Huni" Heo play Hecarim. In fact, teams respected the horse so heavily during the EU Playoffs, he only saw the opportunity to pick him once in nine games. The combination of his strong laning with the champion and the insane pressure that comes from Homeguard/Teleport ganks has allowed him to carry more than a few games on his own. And that showed during the regular season, in which he played two games on Hecarim, earning himself a 14.5 KDA before his Hecarim became a near-permanent ban.
But the Rookie of the EU LCS 2015 Spring Split isn't only effective when he's playing the Shadow of War. H2K feared him so much in their Semifinal series that they took aim at the top laner, banning Shyvana, Rumble, and Hecarim in all five games to try and hold him down. With three of his most dangerous champions taken away from him, he pulled out a wildly inconsistent Smite/Teleport Lee Sin, followed by a significantly more powerful Vladimir, proving that his champion pool is deep enough to withstand a number of target bans.
With Huni having such a massive effect on Champion Select, the question becomes how teams use what few non-Huni bans they have to greatest effect.
BEWARE THE ASSASSIN
The only player on Fnatic to draw anywhere near as many target bans as Huni is Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten -- and for good reason. His LeBlanc and Zed are frequent terrors, picking off unsuspecting squishy targets across the map and split pushing his way to a FNC victory.
Many teams have looked to take away his Zed in particular, as it provides the team a huge amount of map pressure and team fight presence. His assassins are incredibly impactful, so it's unsurprising they get so much attention during the bans phase.
The problem for his opponents is, much like YellOwStar, Febiven can potentially play just about anything. Sure, assassins are his bread and butter, but the regular season saw his Xerath finish with an absolutely ridiculous 44 KDA over three games, as well as solid performances on Lissandra and Ezreal.
The only question left is how he'll respond to the current tank meta. He dealt with it a bit during the EU LCS Playoffs, but Europe hasn't quite embraced the tank line like many of the other regions. His assassins certainly will be less of a worry for teams running multiple tanks in their comps, so it remains to be seen if he can adapt his play well enough to be as much of a force to be reckoned with in the current meta.
RESIDING OVER THE RIFT
If you don't give Huni Hecarim, you shouldn't let Yeu-Jin "Reignover" Kim anywhere near his Rek'Sai. With a 3-1 record and a 10.4 KDA during the playoffs, it's been the champion that has carried him into the Cinderhulk meta after a regular season full of tearing opponents up with Rengar. He loves aggressive ganking junglers in the early game, which fits perfectly with Fnatic's skirmishing style.
Reignover's strength is largely in finding advantageous fights for FNC to win and take early advantages. In the Playoffs, his use of Rek'Sai's Void Rush to find those brawls was near-perfect.
His mastery of the Void Burrower doesn't mean he's only got one trick up his sleeve, though. In the Playoffs, he showed off a very strong Gragas and a solid Nunu. He's found an affinity for winning team fights with huge AOE ults, and will likely continue to do so in Tallahassee. Teams definitely not only need to consider taking away his strongest champions, but make sure they know where Reignover is at all times.
We know what to expect from Pierre "Steeelback" Medjaldi. He's not the strongest laner in the world, but once he's got a couple items in his pack and team fights begin, you can expect him to show up. During the regular season, he was most impressive on mid game oriented burst AD carries, but lately he's been picking up a few more hypercarries to deal with the current meta, including Jinx.
Steeelback will rarely make the huge, flashy play, but you can expect him to position well and be a consistent damage source. As a result, aiming bans at him might be unnecessary, as he doesn't have as much of an impact on Fnatic's game as their other players. Much like many of his Fnatic brothers, he's got a deep champion pool. But unlike Huni, Febiven, or Reignover, it might not be worth testing those limits on him.
With the sheer number of champions that Fnatic has taken into LCS matches, it's looking increasingly tough to put Fnatic on their back foot during the Pick and Bans phase. Looks like teams will just have to beat them on the Rift.