It almost seemed inevitable. One team is the best ever in European League of Legends history, the only champion in three seasons of League Championship Series play. The other is the team made to beat them, a “super” team formed around the best player in the world outside of Korea.
Alliance, led by superstar mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, put together a 21-7 regular season record, winning three of four games against every team in the league, including Fnatic.
Fnatic were their usual inconsistent selves during the season, starting with a 7-0 record before seemingly turning on the engines in that patently Fnatic way and finishing with a 12-2 run, bolstered by MVP play from marksman Martin “Rekkles” Larsson.
It’s the most anticipated match of the season. The two best teams in Europe meet in a game that will answer the question: Who are the kings of Europe?
Unsurprisingly, Alliance enters the series with a small statistical advantage, as indicated by the two extra wins they earned during the season. They have a better KDA, 5.32 against 4.73, as well as a slightly higher GPM mark, 1711 over 1695. But while Alliance is focused on scoring early kills, as shown by their 66.67 percent first blood rate, Fnatic is more aggressive taking early objectives.
The defending champions took first tower in 68.75 percent of their games, compared to less than half the time for Alliance.
One oddity is first dragons: the teams are basically even at securing them around 50 percent of the time, but both teams managed to win 93.75 percent of the games they took them. Those early dragons may become pivotal in deciding the outcome of the game.
The key lane matchups are each of the team’s star players. In the mid lane, Alliance captain Hansen will battle Fnatic captain Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez, a legend in his own right. But this season Hansen has clearly outperformed the Fnatic man, posting a 6.94 KDA and 80 percent kill participation against a 4.74 KDA and 68.45 percent participation for Martinez. The matchup itself isn’t likely to be an explosive one in-game. While Hansen prefers to battle playmaking champions like Xerath and Twisted Fate, Martinez often chooses safe farming laners like Ziggs and Orianna.
The real battle may be in the bottom lane. Larsson put together arguably the best season ever for an AD carry player, but Erik “TabzZ” van Helvert was right on his heels. The real difference may come from their supports. While Patrick "Nyph" Funke put together a very solid season for a support, Fnatic’s Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim was simply superb. Kim put up a whopping 37 kills, nearly three times Funke’s number, while tallying a better KDA, showing Kim’s aggressive play may be the key to winning the lane.
Overall, the stats paint the picture of a close-fought series. Neither team has a big advantage in any one aspect of the game, which means we should be in store for a great series. The team that wins will likely be the one that comes to the match better prepared, with a better strategy for neutralizing their opponent. Still, you have to call Alliance a slight favorite, based off their results over the course of the season.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube