As Fnatic went on stage to meet FunPlus Phoenix in the second quarterfinal match of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, they had something special in mind.
Fnatic has long been one of the leading innovators in western League of Legends, on par with fellow LEC crew G2 Esports. Their latest creation, the Garen/Yuumi bot lane, became one of the most unique duos in the current meta, turning a support champion into a de facto carry. And in the opening game against FPX, Fnatic wanted to add more to it.
Fnatic opened the draft in a very Fnatic-esque way: they grabbed Twisted Fate for Tim “Nemesis” Lipovsek when they saw it’s open, and proceeded with the aforementioned Garen/Yuumi combo for bot. Even the Elise pick in the second phase for Mads “Broxah” Pedersen was within line, even if he’s only played it once at Worlds so far. But then came the last pick and to the joy of the crowd, it was a Rengar.
Now, Rengar isn’t exactly a novelty pick for Fnatic. Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau played him in two games in the LEC Summer Split for a 1-1 record, beating Origen with it with the same Rengar-Elise-TF composition in the solo lanes. Still, it was a pick that FPX cannot have anticipated, especially given no LPL team has played him this year. As a result, Kim “GimGoon” Han-saem underestimated just how quickly can a level 2 Rengar can burst and gave away first blood very early in the game to give Fnatic the early edge.
From there on, however, the match went south. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson hasn’t exactly been outstanding on Garen this Worlds and in fact much of Fnatic’s resurgence in the second round robin is due to the Swede going back to traditional AD Carries such as Xayah (16/3/28 KDA on the champion across three games). Garen was a familiar pick for Fnatic and FPX knew just how to counter it: staying together at all times, the Chinese squad roamed as one and blasted the tanky champion on sight.
FPX continued to be the better teamfighting side and even Nemesis’ creative flanks could not catch the LPL champions off guard. The Phoenix racked kill after kill, comfortably marching towards a 1-0 lead in the series.