Fnatic have made League of Legends World Championship history by becoming the first team to reach the playoffs after a win-less first week.
Fnatic is one of the most storied teams in League of Legends history. Among their list of achievements and historic moments can be found victory at the very first World Championship, five EU LCS titles, the legendary backdoor by Enrique ‘xPeke’ Cedeño, and a hoard of other accolades. At this year’s World Championship, however, Fnatic added to their immense legacy by qualifying for the playoffs in epic fashion.
As the third seed out of Europe coming into the event, Fnatic had already had to fight through the new play-in stage simply to reach the group stages. Their first week of the main event wasn’t kind to the team, however, losing all three of their matches, each in rather painful fashion – a unique strategy brought out by Gigabyte Marines, a single mistake in a long and grueling battle with Immortals, twenty-minute annihilation at the hands of the LCK Summer champions Longzhu.
Though mathematically possible, no team had ever before recovered from a 0-3 start to the groups. Unlike week one, during which teams played one match per day, week two would see each group allocated a particular day on which they would be concluded – a single day for Fnatic to pull off a miracle.
To make things even tougher, Fnatic’s first match of the day was against Longzhu – and another loss set them at 0-4. Victory for Gigabyte Marines against Immortals, however, allowed the slightest glimmer of hope, and from the edge of the abyss Fnatic began to crawl towards it.
Immortals almost ended them immediately. A mistake for AD Carry Cody Sun – returning the favor for the mistake by Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson that cost Fnatic the match between the pair in week one – gave Fnatic the opening they needed to close the game, but it was only a matter of milliseconds that prevented the North American side from defending their Nexus and likely stealing the game and the playoff spot.
After clinging on themselves, Fnatic needed Longzhu pulled off a come-back from a deficit of more than ten thousand gold to prevent the Marines from pushing Fnatic from contention. Then, Fnatic took their own revenge against the Marines, eventually forcing a three-way tie a 2-4. From there, the team had to face both Immortals and Gigabyte Marines once more, but again came out on top of both.
Ultimately, it was a marathon of five games in a single day for the Fnatic squad, balanced on a knife’s edge throughout, but four consecutive victories to finish the group stage saw them clinch a spot in the quarter-finals, living to fight another day. Watch the moment at which Fnatic completed their epic run below: