Longzhu Gaming and Fnatic have secured the first two spots in the playoffs of the League of Legends World Championships as Group B concludes.
The LCK Summer champions, it’s little surprise to see Longzhu take the first seed, finishing the group at a flawless 6-0. Fnatic’s road to the playoffs, however, was longer, tougher, and fraught with uncertainty.
Coming into the second week, Fnatic were already fighting from a distinct disadvantage. Having finished the first week at 0-3, they found themselves in a position from which no team had ever reached the playoffs before, with the prospect in all likelihood of relying on favorable results beyond their control if they were to have any hope of progressing.
It might have been over before it really began. The first two games saw Immortals face Gigabyte Marines, and Longzhu play Fnatic, and if Immortals and Longzhu had both won their games then they would both have secured their place in the playoffs. Immediately, however, the group became a lot more interesting, with the Marines taking down Immortals in the opening match.
Longzhu, of course, took down Fnatic, putting the European squad at 0-4, but that first result kept the slightest glimmer of hope alive. Even so, their tournament lives balanced on a knife’s edge, and at several moments everything might have been lost.
To start, Fnatic had to beat Immortals. Their first match in week one had been a back-and-forth thriller ultimately decided by a mistake by Fnatic AD Carry Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson. What goes around apparently comes around, however, because the second match between the two teams ended in the opposite manner, a misplay by Immortals AD Carry Cody Sun opening the door to a Fnatic victory. It was still an incredibly narrow victory, however, a margin of milliseconds making the difference when the last surviving Fnatic members ultimately destroyed the Immortals nexus.
Having finally put their first win on the board, any hope for Fnatic might have been crushed in the very next game. Gigabyte Marines were facing Longzhu, and the Vietnamese team pushed them harder than any other in the group. A lead of more than 10k gold had the Marines looking all but assured to book a place in the playoffs, but a massive turn-around for Longzhu into an eventual come-back victory once again kept the second playoff spot in play.
With a sudden opening in sight, Fnatic did exactly what they needed to, taking revenge over Gigabyte Marines to match them at a 2-4 record. A loss for Immortals against Longzhu in the last match of the original schedule set up the tie-breaker to decide who would move on, and which two teams would be eliminated.
With Fnatic having finally picked up momentum and Immortals on a three-game loss streak, the European team were able to power through their North American rivals, ending Immortals’ tournament on a 0-4 record in the second week. The final obstacle between Fnatic and a quarter-final spot was Gigabyte Marines once again, and in perhaps the most standard game the Marines played all tournament it was Fnatic who came out on top.
It was a marathon day for Fnatic, who by the end had played five best-of-one matches, but somehow, miraculously, the third-seed from Europe managed to set a new record at the World Championship, and qualify for the playoffs.
|| Longzhu Gaming
|| Gigabyte Marines