When I think of Fnatic, I don't think of YellOwStaR and his gang of rookies. I think of double teleport. I think of 1-3-1 splits. I think of Twisted Fate and Kassadin. I think of the way Origen played today.
The Fnatic of 2013 and the Fnatic of today have one thing in common; they excel on side wave pressure. I've hammered it in relentlessly, but because Origen's players have thrived off split-pushing and side pressure in the past, they should be able to hit Fnatic where they live.
They did. But then they dropped it at the finish line.
At this point, quite a few teams have had control of a game against Fnatic, but repeated mistakes and poor team fighting against Fnatic's scaling compositions have cost them. Fnatic's proven they can exploit an opposing team's mistakes, but in at least their past three wins, their enemies have had to make them over and over.
Giants caught in the 1-3-1, H2K caught in than invade, and Origen tripping in a tower dive at the finish line — all losing in 5v5s thereafter.
Regardless of how it happened, Europe played perhaps its most interesting game of League of Legends this split, and it's important to highlight both how Origen got ahold of the game and how they lost it.
In banning out Fnatic's early pressure junglers, namely Rek'Sai and Olaf, Origen dictated the kind of pace Fnatic would want to take. Lately, Fnatic have gone for scaling team fight compositions as insurance, and they were quick to snatch up the Kalista.
I've already explained that, given Fnatic's Baron fixation, Kalista is a worrisome champion to give up for Origen, but they gambled that they could avoid the bait on the bottom side of the map that would release control of Baron pit. Fnatic answered with bans targeted to Mithy and took out xPeke's Varus to try to keep mid lane wave control off the table.
In building their composition around Kalista, Fnatic opted to give Origen greater wave control in the form Ryze, and better early game map control with Gragas. Origen drifted away from a common strategy they've executed in the past to all-in behind Niels, putting him on the Corki to counter lane, and looking to put more power into solo lane split-pushing.
Global picks compensate for some of Fnatic's tendency to push out top or bottom and prep for dragon or Baron. Fnatic have a sixth sense of who to send where and when on the map that seems to be difficult for other teams to keep up with without a little extra help. Origen had the option of sending xPeke instead of their powerful Ryze to answer Huni's push and still have two players join a fight for an objective at short notice.
I don't think focusing Huni is always optimal since his largest impact on the team comes from pushing out the correct lane, but in so doing, Origen gained control of top side so they could get the second dragon easily. Despite a few early misplays in bottom and top lane, xPeke shored up some deficits with smart ultimates to snag picks.
From there, Origen snowballed. xPeke split push for Origen, just like the Fnatic of old, and either Niels or sOAZ were left to stall out Fnatic's larger pushes. Fnatic and Origen stayed even until a 23 minute dragon fight. Fnatic burned all their ultimates in an early altercation, but still committed for dragon. The mid game strength of Fnatic's pick composition allowed Amazing and xPeke to zero in on both of Fnatic's carries at the start of the fight.
Origen immediately transitioned for Baron — and all their waves were pushing against Fnatic.
Strangling out the jungle to snag vision, Origen pushed on. The main problem with this line of thinking was staying grouped against Fnatic's scaling composition. With vision in place, they could have split pressure more optimally and avoided the mid lane group and temptation to over-commit on the inhibitor.
By staying too long after taking the inhibitor turret as a full team, Origen opted into a 5v5 with Reignover's Locket of the Iron Solari completed against their mostly magic-oriented team. Reignover landed his Absolute Zero on multiple members. Huni's oft-purchased Homeguard allowed him to help with slows and zone control as soon as he spawned, and the fight became a full 5v5 seemingly before Origen had anticipated he would reach the team.
Origen could have returned to a split from there, but almost as if tilted, they continued to opt into 5v5s around neutral objectives like dragon. The area of effect damage from Viktor and Kalista in the late game decimated Origen, and Fnatic caught up and closed out with very minimal stress.
By playing the early-to-mid game well, this was Origen's game to lose, and that's exactly what they did. xPeke and sOAZ started out by playing to their roots, but succumbed to the 5v5s the current Fnatic desired.
Maybe every team will make these mistakes against Fnatic. Perhaps that's their advantage. With Week 7 down and both H2K and Origen ticked off Fnatic's checklist twice, it seems likely we won't have a better idea until Playoffs.
I can't be the only person excited to see these two teams play a best-of-five.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.