The European League Championship Series has a funny way of pulling you back in every time you’re finally ready to write it off. We’d finally gotten back to the traditional storyline that has defined the region since its origin: “Everybody beats everybody, and then Fnatic wins.” Fnatic making its way to the top of the standings last week wasn’t just the culmination of a talented team finally making efficient use of jungler Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon’s ability to make plays across the map. It was meant to be the equivalent of Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack,” a self-anointing of power and authority that would force everyone to take notice.
Then last week happened. Fnatic’s 0-4 week was not only unprecedented for them; it’s only the fifth time a team has posted an 0-4 record so far this split (Giants Gaming and Origin each did it once, while Unicorns of Love have had two such weeks). The games had every worrying trend you could imagine. Top laner Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin looked like a mess, and G2 and Giants took advantage of it by attacking mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten repeatedly until he was too far down to assist his team in key team fights. It’s a common strategy against mid-centric teams, and it was certainly a strategy with which Fnatic is all too familiar. Usually, it adjusts, bringing Spirit to Febiven’s defense to prevent any snowballing. Last week, Fnatic just looked lost, to the extent that social media (and this week’s gambling lines) have been panicking trying to make sense of it all.
I’m not too concerned yet. An 0-4 week is clearly bad, but we still have to remember that Fnatic was 12-4 heading into the week. Recency bias can cloud judgment here, but I trust the 16-game sample size over one week that included a series against the reigning champions. There’s also the inevitable question if we’re going to expect a Fnatic fall: who in Europe will rise above them? H2K appears to be the obvious choice, but ADC Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek’s wrist injury has significantly impacted his laning phase; with the team unable to rely on him to carry, it’s struggled to find consistent options elsewhere. Splyce and Schalke have each had flashes of brilliance this split, but they’ve also had consistency issues — their head-to-head matchup this week will be highly indicative of what we can expect moving forward. There is no clear threat to Fnatic’s current hold on second place, which buys the team plenty of time to figure things out.
Still, one man’s overreaction is another man’s smart money bet. Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk and I are determined to finally discover some value in this topsy-turny best-of-two world, and we’ve got a new theory that can put us back on the rise in no time. That said, in light of recent gambling scandals in Counter-Strike, remember to be smart out there. And if you ever find yourself struggling to keep the fun of gambling in check, don’t be afraid to reach out and get help. We’re here for fun on this podcast, and we’re dedicated to making sure it stays that way for you lovely listeners. Enjoy the episode, and come back tomorrow when we break down North America.
On today’s episode of the Guess the Lines podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar tries to comfort Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk after his Night Rider tweets fell on deaf ears before heading into this week’s games. Together, they discuss if Shook has moved the needle for Team Vitality, whether Freeze’s injury is too much for H2K to overcome, and if it’s finally time to jump aboard the NiGHT hype train. They close by giving out their best bets of the week.
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