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Written by Peter "ZDS" Tingson.
Longzhu Gaming were expected to finish groups unscathed given their impressive run in the 2018 LCK season. They managed to enter the knockout stage as the lone undefeated squad.
Read on as we tackle the potential threat to the SK Telecom T1 throne.
Longzhu Gaming rebranded from Incredible Miracle, and they were notable for fielding a ten-man roster that featured notable players After disappointing results during the 2016 season, Longzhu Gaming opted to overhaul their roster for the 2017 season.
The highlight of their overhaul though was the acquisition of Kim “PraY” Jong-in and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon, and former solo queue star, Kwak “Bdd” Bo-seong. Despite featuring an incredibly talented roster, the results were still disappointing as the team’s standing during the spring split barely improved over the previous year’s performance.
The Rise of Khan
Longzhu adjusted their roster leading up to the Summer Split. Kim “Khan” Dong-ha and Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan were added to the lineup. The team’s results drastically improved as they finished first in the LCK groups. This gave them a massive advantage in the playoff gauntlet by securing a finals spot. Longzhu Gaming put an end to SKT's run when they defeated the defending champs 3-1. Their victory assured their position as LCK’s number one seed heading into Worlds 2017.
I believe the most notable factor in LZ's meteoric rise to supremacy is their top laner, Khan. While the current meta usually demands an initiator or tank top laner, Khan makes a strong case that carry top laners are a viable choice. The split push pressure and numerous highlight plays from Khan helps his bid as the best top laner in the world.
Khan has the good fortune of playing alongside proven greats such as Pray and GorillA, as well as another rising star in Bdd who can match up to Faker. It is Khan however who I feel would be the game changer should Longzhu ever face SKT because the defending champions’ top laners have been shown to struggle performing at a high level.
Fnatic shocked the world when they made it to the playoff stage of the Worlds 2017 after 0-3 week 1 record at groups. This is the first time a team managed to escape groups after a winless 1st week. This is just another achievement for Fnatic, one of the oldest and most storied squads in the game.
From Humble Beginnings
FNC owes their start in the game back during season 1 where they managed to dominate the competition. Fnatic were crowned the very first world champions of League of Legends.
5 European LCS championships and innumerable roster changes saw Fnatic through 7 competitive years of mixed success. The team's current success is their first legitimate run at the Summoner's Cup since their impressive Semifinals finish in the 2015 season.
The Modern Fnatic
2017 saw the return of sOAZ as Fnatic’s top laner alongside Origen’s former jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stuckenschneider. Joining Rekkles in the bot lane was Jesse “Jesiz” Le and the roster was rounded up with Rasmus “Caps” Winther as the mid laner.
After initially struggling yet again, Amazing was replaced with Fnatic Academy’s jungler, Mads “Broxah" Brock-Pedersen. The team showed improved performances since then, managing to secure 3rd place in spring and EU's 3rd seed for Worlds 2017.
It’s been a tough road back to relevance for Fnatic, but they’ve managed to make history with their miracle 4-1 run in the second week of the Worlds 2017 group stage. The competition will only get tougher for them moving forward. Still, I am hoping to see Fnatic continue to defy the odds. Going further than the quarterfinals might be unlikely for them, but maybe they can amaze us all and make history again.
Longzhu Gaming face up against Samsung Galaxy while Fnatic take on Royal Never Give Up in the quarterfinals. Catch them fight for their lives when Worlds 2017 resumes on October 19, 2017!