After a shaky showing in the play-in group stage at the League of Legends World Championship, Fnatic silenced its doubters with a 3-0 sweep of Hong Kong Attitude and punched its ticket to the main event Thursday in Wuhan, China.
If there were any questions surrounding Fnatic, the European League of Legends Championship Series No. 3 seed, they were emphatically answered Thursday. Realistically, Fnatic didn't show anything new against Hong Kong Attitude; star AD carry and EU LCS Summer Split MVP Martin "Rekkles" Larsson got his comfort picks and wave-clearing, late game hyper carry champions like Xayah and Sivir. Mid laner Rasmus "Caps" Winther played phenomenally on teamfighting mages, pumping out massive area-of-effect damage while only occasionally feeding, and the rest of Fnatic played its part accordingly. Shaking off the ridicule of getting rocked at Rift Rivals, Fnatic made its mark as it secured a spot in the main group stage.
That's not to take anything away from Hong Kong Attitude, which managed to pick up early leads in Games 1 and 2 thanks to pre-10th minute kills by AD carry Wong "Unified" Chun Kit. Once HKA secured a lead, it looked confident rotating around the map to apply pressure, but that would never last long. In each game, Hong Kong Attitude hit a wall and was unable to get past Fnatic's superior vision control and rotational play. Reduced to watching Fnatic chip away at its gold lead, Hong Kong Attitude played right into Fnatic's hands as the EU squad used the threat of a Baron attempt to keep HKA locked in a perpetual dance around the Baron pit while Fnatic took advantage of HKA's poor side wave control.
Game 1 was heartbreaking for Hong Kong Attitude, as HKA threw an early gold lead after 20 minutes, and Game 2 was worse for HKA's emotional state as Fnatic steamrolled its way through HKA. Caps posted 3/0/5 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) for 100 percent kill participation at 18 minutes with Cassiopeia, and Fnatic built a 13,000-gold lead at 26 minutes after a 4,600-gold Baron power play.
Fnatic continued this momentum into Game 3, where Caps showed his talents on Taliyah and gave Fnatic three kills before four minutes had passed. Fnatic surged through the early game but stumbled as it tried to hard to repeatedly force fights onto a HKA's tanky Cho'Gath. But Caps would not be denied. By the end of the 35-minute series finale, he had a game-high 43,400 damage dealt to enemy champions while picking up a 12/2/8 KDA for 95 percent kill participation.
The best thing about this series for Fnatic fans was that Rekkles didn't have to put the team on his back. All of Fnatic played brilliantly against Hong Kong Attitude, which should give the EU side confidence heading into the next group stage, where it will join either Group A (EDward Gaming, SK Telecom T1 and ahq e-Sports Club) or Group B (Longzhu Gaming, Immortals and Gigabyte Marines) as it attempts to continue its Cinderella Story in China.
The play-in knockout round continues at 11 p.m. ET on Thursday when Turkish champions 1907 Fenerbahçe takes on Brazilian upstarts Team oNe.