Fnatic gained the momentum necessary to qualify for the League of Legends World Championship thanks to a miraculous lower-bracket run, and that same energy has carried them to a strong play-ins run from the beginning.

In the most lopsided match of Worlds so far, the fourth LEC seed defeated Evil Geniuses, the third seed of the LCS. The destiny of Fnatic was once again in the hands of their ADC, Upset, who converted a sizable laning phase advantage into a snowball victory for the team, even in the absence of their star support.

From the beginning of the game forward, EG was hampered by an unusual amount of instability that prevented them from ever commencing the team fights that they had been recruited for. They start their run from behind, which is a position where they have found remarkable success this year, even if they haven’t yet been booted from Worlds.

Rhuckz leads the charge

Fortunately, the two have recently tested negative, allowing Upset to start in today’s match and Hyllisang to return tomorrow against DetonatioN FocusMe. Earlier this week, Fnatic announced that both players in their bot lane duo, Upset and Hyllisang, had tested positive for COVID. As a result, Riot granted the team an emergency sub in the form of Rhuckz, from Fnatic’s ERL team “Fnatic TQ.”

In the meantime, due to Danny’s mental condition, Evil Geniuses were also forced to deploy Academy ADC Kaori after Danny’s sabbatical. Kaori surprised players and fans alike with his ability to come in and step up so rapidly when playing for EG during their push towards the conclusion of the LCS Championship.

Rhuckz kept the opponents pinned down with a flurry of abilities from Leona while responding to the calls of seasoned ADC Upset. He was more than eager to dive beneath opposing turrets and into shadowed sections of the map, becoming a key component of Fnatic’s aggressive play throughout the whole game.

The connection that Inspired and Jojopyun have been praised for, one that was very helpful for the squad at this year’s MSI, was rarely on display throughout this game. Mismatched engagements led to several staggered fatalities for them both, which let Fnatic to attack.

Despite commanding the Caitlyn/Lux duo, Kaori was powerless to stop his lane opponent from racking up kills. Vulcan, a player who often thrives on engage supports, was also hindered from having an influence outside of the bot lane by the rapid deficit of this duo, leaving EG without a reliable method of initiation for crucial battles.

Although Kaori and Vulcan have demonstrated their ability to convert imposing lanes into sizable leads, their vulnerability to crowd control swiftly proved to be their downfall. As a result, drafting strategies are likely to evolve in the games to come.

A meta slowly becoming defined

The first professional League game since Patch 12.15 is Worlds. As of Patch 12.18, approximately 20 champions and items have undergone some kind of change, which has caused the meta to see significant changes for the first time.

In the last game between MAD Lions and Isurus, players Aatrox, Graves, Sylas, Miss Fortune, Leona, and Caitlyn were either selected or banned; they all made a comeback in this one. Both EG and Fnatic placed a lot of attention on their bot lanes, which would ultimately prove crucial to Fnatic’s overwhelming victory. This is consistent with where the meta left off a few patches ago.

Such a focus on bot lane picks devalued the significance of other lanes. In this patch, Wunder and Humanoid were able to demonstrate some of the potential of frontliners, but Rhuckz’s Leona’s engagement stopped any protracted battles that may have given other players a chance to shine.

As they continue their play-ins run, Fnatic is likely to make more selections like these because they seemed so at ease with their draft. But if there’s anything that gamers can learn from this experience for the future, it’s that fans’ concerns about Miss Fortune seizing total control of Worlds were legitimate.