Fnatic continue their improbable run and punch their ticket to finals weekend in Malmö.
This year, Fnatic won yet another best-of-five in the lower bracket, dominating MAD Lions in the 2022 LEC Summer Playoffs despite almost missing the playoffs for the first time in the organization’s history.
Fnatic’s League of Legends roster came into the match on a six-game winning streak after reverse sweeping Excel to kick off their run from the bottom of the lower bracket and then dispatch Misfits 3-0.
Game one saw Nisqy adopt his usual facilitator mantle, but on a very unusual pick in Nocturne. But it was jungler Razork on Trundle who, like the rest of the Fnatic roster, are rounding into peak playoff form. Despite MAD Lions top laner Armut getting a Kennen counterpick in the draft, Razork chain-ganked his lane and helped Wunder’s Renekton go 4/0/1 and participate in five of Fnatic’s six kills by the 14-minute mark. The duo passed the baton to Humanoid on Viktor for the late-game carry responsibility. However, the late game never arrived as Fnatic smothered MAD in a win that took just over 19:30. It was the fastest game of the entire split.
Not deterred by the record-setting shellacking they took in game one, MAD Lions bounced back in the next bout. First Team All-Pro jungler Elyoya took a page out of his counterpart’s book and bullied Wunder’s Gwen to feed Armut’s own early game bruiser in Aatrox.
In game three, which was Fnatic support Hylissang’s 500th in the LEC, he started the game with an extremely aggressive level one play on Braum to secure first blood for his AD Carry Upset’s Kalista. A relatively slower early game saw MAD Lions and Fnatic take the game’s first two towers, respectively. Another flashy bottom lane play from Fnatic’s duo to pick off AD carry UNF0RGIVEN under his own tower. Any advantage that Fnatic created via kills, MAD by Herald plays. The gold stayed more or less level until the 30-minute mark when a stolen Renata Glasc ultimate from Humanoid’s Sylas kicked off a fight around Baron that fed three kills to Upset on top of a five-for-one ace and a 2-1 series lead for Fnatic.
Nisqy again busted out an off-meta pick in Twisted Fate in game four, a champion that only he and Excel’s Nukeduck had played all split. caPs had also lost to Misfits on the champion in the first round of the playoffs. Four kills in four minutes saw the game get off to a blistering start and give Upset’s Lucian two kills and an assist before the first Dragon had even spawned on the back of another game-defining performance by Razork on Trundle. Fnatic were methodically marching towards a victory to the point where Objective Bounties had kicked in for the side of MAD Lions. After a sloppy extended fight gave them a window to breathe, MAD rushed down Baron and came out on top in the ensuing skirmish to pull the gold deficit to 2,000 gold. However, Fnatic won a devastating fight around Dragon a few minutes later as they closed out the game and the series.
In MAD Lions’ first split in the LEC in 2020 Spring, Fnatic rudely welcomed them to the playoffs with a sweep. Last summer in the 2021 playoffs, Fnatic had made a similar lower bracket run to this year’s, winning four best-of-fives before losing to MAD Lions 3-1 in the finals. The two teams underwent significant changes since then, highlighted by a swap of their current mid laners, with Summer MVP Nisqy only joining MAD after spending Spring Split not on a roster.
Summer’s second seed MAD Lions are not only not going to Malmö, but will have to go through the World Championship’s Play-In Stage in Mexico City before a potential trip to the main event. They will begin their Worlds journey there on Thursday, Sept. 29, while Fnatic has a bout with Rogue in the lower bracket finals on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 10am for a spot in the Worlds Group Stage and the LEC grand finals.