The European League of Legends Championship Series returns this week with an exciting opening match between SK Gaming and Fnatic. A rematch from the Spring playoffs, the game features two teams that entered the season with the highest expectations.

So far, SK has met that expectation, currently sitting in second place with a 6-2 record.

But the big story here is Fnatic, who are just 4-4 despite being the incumbent regional champions. This is one of their weakest openings in history, comparable only to their performance in the summer of 2013. At the time, they benched support player Christoph "nRated" Seitz for sub Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim.

Seitz was subsequently picked up by SK Gaming, and has proven he belongs to play in the big leagues. A quick look at their matchup comparison shows that Seitz has an 8 assist lead over Kim, meaning that Seitz is more than playing up to pro standards.

In these teams’ first matchup in week one, SK took the game handily. Now, they again appear to have the upper hand. They have a better KDA average and higher gold income as well, and their objective control is more consistent across the board.

However, there is one big asterisk that could blow this match wide open. The marksman matchup is a lot closer than it appears. SK Gaming’s Adrian "Candy Panda" Wübbelmann has fairly similar stats when matched with Fnatic’s young marksman star, Martin "Rekkles" Larsson, but it’s clear that as the game goes long, he tends to fall behind. Larsson, on the other hand, only gets stronger, and if this trend continues into tomorrow’s match, Fnatic may very well pull out an upset victory.

With the way Fnatic has been playing lately, they’ve shown an improvement since a mediocre week one. Now faced with dropping yet another game to SK, they should have no problem stepping up and smashing those plans to pieces. This game is going to go long, and with Larsson on board, we're pegging Fnatic to take this match in convincing fashion.

Infographics by LoLStats

Photo via SK Gaming/Facebook