Rogue vs Fnatic
What an absolute barnburner to start off the day: Rogue vs. Fnatic is the Best of 5 we didn't even know we wanted. To be fair, no one expected Rogue to be such a strong, well-rounded contender coming into 2020, but there *were* signs of their potential. Granted, these signs were few and far between, but for a line-up stacked with youth, talent, and a metric ton of mechanical prowess, it was only a matter of time before they synergized and left a mark in the LEC landscape.
The first time we saw this potential was back during the Summer Split of 2019 when Rogue entered the playoffs as one of the most enigmatic and feared challengers in the region. Their momentum didn't last long, unfortunately, but it was well-deserved. A couple of key roster changes later, and they're more dangerous than ever. With a seasoned bottom lane duo with Worlds experience, it's no wonder that this incarnation of Rogue has been able to dominate throughout the year -- at least more often than not. They're far from perfect (more on that below), but what they perhaps lack in consistency they more than make up for in grit and determination. Watching them play has been absolutely mesmerizing and that's primarily because they do so many things right. They're not the most flexible team around, but they're truly dangerous across the board, with multiple avenues for success. Finn, Inspired, and Larssen are all playing out of their minds and are far better than you'd expect given their resumes and overall experience. They're maybe at times a bit too aggressive, but that's perfectly natural. Their instinct to dive right in and engage has served them quite nicely throughout 2020, even though it did come back to bite them from time to time. Hans Sama and Vander are the perfect counterweight to a more rookie-like top side of the map, and their consistency and ability to impact the map regardless if they're behind or ahead has been nothing short of spectacular. They're the more stable and subdued part of the team but that doesn't mean they're any less willing to engage and pull the proverbial trigger.
A big shoutout has to go to the Rogue coaching staff as well. This team often made egregious mistakes but they always went back to the drawing board, identified their biggest issues and actually rectified them in time. That might sound like a no-brainer, like something every coaching staff should be able to do, but that's far from the case. Most teams simply struggle and fail to grow for a bevy of reasons. Rogue have earned their spot at the top of the LEC, and such a thing didn't come easy. We're talking about the second strongest region in the world with a metric ton of talent, and yet this Rogue -- despite the odds -- managed to find a way to triumph even when everything was set against them.
They've already earned their ticket to the World Championship, so they won't play with a lot of pressure. Fnatic, on the other hand, have lots to prove, and they need to do it fast. The ones who still believe in the long-term potential of this five-man roster are few in number, and while Fnatic will always be Fnatic, they need to step up big time if they intend on actually challenging for the LEC throne once again.
The former "Kings of Europe" didn't look all that great throughout the year, especially not in the second half of the regular season. In fact, they've been quite mediocre, at best. Other than Rekkles and, perhaps, Selfmade, the boys in black and orange were abysmal on a weekly basis. Heck, even when they drafted comfort picks they still struggled to dominate and impose their own playstyle. This isn't something that's normal, especially not from a team as experienced and talented as Fnatic. Obviously, they're a momentum-based team and without any momentum to speak of, their confidence took quite a big hit. But that means very little when things go down to the wire.
Rogue is an insanely capable challenger. We've doubted them and we were proven wrong on many different occasions in the recent past. Fnatic are surely aware of this as well, and if they want to stand a chance of winning, they need to be on their best behavior going forward. Rogue isn't the kind of team that's quick to punish you as quickly as G2 Esports, but they're every bit as dangerous and resilient. Even more important, it seems as though their playstyle is a perfect match for the current meta. A bit of flexibility, a bit of teamfighting, and a well-rounded approach from start to finish. The fact that each member of the team is carrying his fair share of the weight is an even bigger problem that Fnatic will have to deal with. Fnatic might be more impressive if we factor in their history, their highs also might be higher, but 2020 has proven that they're unable to reach such an immense level of play all that often let alone sustain it across multiple games in a row. In other words, they're still insanely dangerous and capable, but they haven't been performing even remotely enough to stand a chance of leaving a mark.
Rogue are far from the most stacked or versatile of challengers, but they've found what works for them and have adapted beautifully in accordance to the current meta. They have a couple of strategies and they're playing them out to perfection. Fnatic, on the other hand, still don't have much synergy to speak of, and they've been making egregious mistakes left, right, and center, regardless of whom they were up against. Because of this, we're going to side the Rogue, although we do so somewhat reluctantly. Fnatic are always a beast once Best of 5s come around, but they didn't do enough throughout 2020 to deserve our trust. That aside, both teams have what it takes to get the win and will surely trade heavy blows from the moment they spawn on the Summoner's Rift.