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Febiven: “We like stronger lanes because we know we can win lanes, and we can take advantage of it.”

Febiven says H2K likes to play strong lanes.
Febiven says H2K likes strong lanes because it gives them an advantage later in the game. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

H2K Gaming has remained a top three team in the estimations of many throughout the course of the European League of Legends Championship Series summer split, but a reaffirmed commitment to pushing lanes post-Rift Rivals has made the team appear even more consistent. At the core, H2K’s strong mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten measures up to some of the best in the league. Following H2K’s Week 8 win against Splyce, Febiven spoke to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about the games, the meta, and his comfort with laning-focused mages.

Kelsey Moser: It was a little surprising to see Leblanc banned in both games this series. I wanted to ask you about that because I think when people hear tank meta, they don’t necessarily think Leblanc.

Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten: For us, we have this kind of approach as well where I think Leblanc is not good in a tank meta. Still, you have early game pressure, snowball potential. Against teams in EU, I feel like you can get a lead early. Against the — not the top teams — you can always get a lead early, I think, and try to get a kill on the enemy mid or at least get pressure so you can pressure other lanes.

But still, I don’t think it’s a reliable champion to use right now because you rely on snowballing too much, and you just get out-scaled too much, so I haven’t been practicing it. So for this week, we just decided to ban it because we haven’t played with it, and we haven’t played against it. And I think they actually feel the same way. They just have Leblanc bans coming randomly, and they’re like — you know, because previously they banned Leblanc twice against Misfits, too, so we thought maybe they want to play an early game comp with Leblanc. You know like Kha’Zix jungle, Lee Sin, and try to snowball.

KM: First game, your composition was kind of interesting. You went for more long range, not necessarily hard engage kind of comp. We didn’t really get to see it play out, so I was curious about the logic for the draft.

FD: We had already picked Gragas-Rumble, which means that we have a lot of AP. So the AD champions mid started to come up. I could have picked Zed. I could have picked Jayce. I could have picked Lucian. Also, I could have picked an AP champ, but I think that they didn’t have that hard of an engage. The laning phase is fine against Orianna. I can just even farm, especially against Sencux because I don’t get punished that much by him, so I just even farmed it.

I got a bit behind, but I played over-aggressive because we were snowballing, so I took more risks, and I got a bit fucked up by it. But it didn’t really matter because we got bot tower really fast into top lane tower into mid, so I think it’s — like Jayce-Rumble is always good, you know, you have insane team fighting, you can poke before. Jayce E-Q is like half HP. You need to play really well around dodging the E-Q and, I think it’s kind of a surprise as well because I don’t think a lot of people play Jayce (not before, at least, a lot of people started to play it again.

I just like Jayce because of Lethality as well. Like my E-Q does like half HP when I have two items. It’s just really strong, I think.

KM: After they lost bottom, they went mid instead of trying to swap top against the Rumble. Do you have thoughts on why they made this decision?

FD: Maybe they thought they cannot defend top anyway because we have pressure on the whole map. A lot of champions could dive them and snowball the lead. So maybe they felt safer mid or that they couldn’t pass further than mid lane, you know, because obviously mid lane is the closest to The Nexus. So maybe they were scared.

KM: In the second game, there was a bit of a strange fight before you guys started winning the fights well in the terrain by mid and blue buff. I was wondering what do you think went wrong in that fight?

FD: We had 1K gold lead, but I think their champions at that point were stronger because they have Maokai with Spectre’s Cowl, Galio with Spectre’s Cowl. Meanwhile, I didn’t have any magic pen items. I had boots, and I didn’t even have a Haunting Guise, I think. I had only Morello and Sorc Shoes, and we just got out team-fighted by Galio unless I hit a five man ult, which is like really unlikely.

I think that was probably not a good fight to take unless we played it good with the Rumble ult in the choke, and we kited back, but I think we went for the back line instead of kiting backwards and trying to defend me and Caitlyn. So it was a bit of a split fight, but it wasn’t terrible. I got three assists, so I got pretty ahead out of that.

KM: Their comp that game was a little curious. We’ve seen people do this sort of comp before where they all-in on tanks and then just a Kog’Maw or hyper carry like this. It seems H2K don’t really like these kinds of comps so far. What do you think of this kind of setup?

FD: I think it’s pretty good with Kled to go in, but I don’t think Kog’Maw really fits that comp because they will all go in, right? So they use Kled ult, Galio ult, and then Maokai goes in. Kog’Maw is free-hitting, but I think you can pick a champ that has more AoE because you are basically untouched, and with Kog’Maw, you don’t want to run into people. You want people to run into you.

Also, we just kite them. They don’t have anything else, like we have longer range. I think those comps are good mid-early game because the Galio has perma push over me. And if they have engage champs on bot or top, which they have (they have Kled), so they could Galio ult top, Kled ult, and then maybe get a tower or snowball. But once you get into 30 minutes plus, when you have Galio against triple carry or double carry, I think you get out-DPS’d. Or you just get kited if you don’t get your engage off. So I think Gallio only works with hard engage champs, you know or maybe a Sivir or something.

KM: We’ve seen H2K make a somewhat interesting evolution where previously you guys were focusing a lot on pushing lanes, and then you were looking a lot at these late game team fight comps. I think you are more back to pushing lanes and things like that now. Could you talk about where you are right now with this or if you’ve changed your philosophy at all since Rift Rivals?

FD: I think before Rift Rivals, we tried to play the way that was being played by NA. Kind of G2 style. Not having all losing lanes, but always trying to get a winning lane in the draft. Not necessarily, but like, a champion that doesn’t lose lane that hard or just goes even or can get ahead and has good scaling. At least for my lanes. I think it’s just the best. I mean, we can play a lot of stuff. I think we have really big champion pools, and we can play losing lanes, we can play winning lanes. It just depends against what team we are playing, so we adapt, you know? Against some things, you need stronger lanes because you will just get punished if you don’t. And then you lose the tower, and you lose the game.

We like stronger lanes because we know we can win lanes, and we can take advantage of it. If you play at the highest level of the game — let’s say if we go to worlds — or playoffs, you know? People will play strong lanes with a lot of engage because it’s just the way to go now, I think.

KM: Throughout this season, H2K have had a lot of mid-jungle priority in terms of getting strong mid and jungle matchups. Is this something that has been conscious in how you set up your comps, or does it just kind of happen?

FD: Usually, my picks kind of fit in every comp. The main picks right now in the meta are like Cassio, Orianna, Syndra. I feel like those champs are the best in team fight and have the best laning phase. I still prefer those champions over, for example, Taliyah, because I feel like this champion has really good early game and potential, but it’s like the laning phase after laning phase gets weaker, and you are immobile, you can get ganked really easily by the junglers right now. You mostly have to take Cleanse or you just get CC’d and die. The team fighting of Taliyah is really specific because you can start the fight off with your ult, and then zone them off, but mostly you want to kite unless you are like a hard-diving comp, but usually I think Taliyah just gets out-scaled a lot.

It’s like a champion that relies a lot on your team. I think personally I’m more like a self-centered player, you know, like I always try to get ahead in my lane even though, for example, today I picked Jayce. It’s not the best pick into Orianna. I could have picked a stronger lane, but I just tried to pick for the comp, and not always, for example, pick Syndra, like I did before. The Syndra is a really good blind pick, but if the enemy builds a good comp with Orianna or a good comp with Cassio, they actually out-damage you, and you have the window to snowball. Against good teams, I don’t think you will get a huge lead.

I’m just trying to play the best way possible and think ahead. I think picks like Taliyah can work, and I can play it, you know — but I guess I’m not comfortable enough with those — or less comfortable, like for example, I prefer to play Orianna/Syndra over Galio/Taliyah because I know that I will have impact in the game. If things go wrong with Taliyah and Galio, I don’t have anything — I mean, I have my AD carry to fall back on or my top laner, you know, or my jungler, it’s just that I feel more in control when I have those stronger picks. I prefer to play those, and I think it’s very strong as well.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games