On Saturday, one of the most anticipated matchups of the LEC post-season took place as Fnatic took on G2 Esports in an upper bracket clash to decide who would advance to the finals.
And yet, as these two titans of the EU scene battled, an individual war between two players was taking place in the top lane. G2’s Martin “Wunder” Nordahl Hansen and Fnatic’s Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau were undisputedly the crux of both team’s victories during the series. When either team’s top laners were prospering, the team (usually) won. And while jungle pressure played an important factor, it was the individual performance of each player that led to each lane’s success.
In games one and two, the victorious party was Fnatic’s Bwipo. In the first game, he bullied Wunder’s Gnar with his dominant Gangplank play. What’s more, his quick farming meant he was able to contribute globally with his ultimate, turning the tide of the game. In game two, G2 banned the Gangplank, which unlucky, forced Bwipo onto a Renekton pick he looked even more comfortable playing.
Bwipo’s Renekton did everything you’d want from the croc in game two. He bullied his lane, got early kills, and prevented his lane opponent from transitioning into the late-game. With lane priority established, he was able to rotate mid, into his opponent’s jungle, and control the top-side river.
And yet, in game three, Fnatic lost with the very same pick. In an incredible turn-around victory, G2 reversed the momentum of the game, and with it, the series. From there, it was all about Wunder. The same player who’d looked outmatched against his opponent was now the top carry on his team with Kled. Even in the next game, when an unusual draft forced him onto an Akali pick, Wunder was able to leverage the champion’s abilities to follow Bwipo each time he used his Shen ultimate or teleport:
Justifiably so, Wunder earned the player of the series award after completely removing the threat of Bwipo in the last two games. In a hugely impressive performance, Wunder had gone from kill-less games to recording a 10-3-6, 5-1-6 and 7-1-6 trio of scorelines. And similarly to Bwipo in game one, he’d done this without a tremendous amount of jungle pressure, instead relying on individual skill to win his lane.
G2 and Wunder now advance to the finals, having vanquished one of their fiercest foes in a thrilling series. Fnatic and Bwipo are headed back to the drawing board. Their laners have the potential to perform at the highest levels, and consistently. But faced with Wunder’s Kled and the eternally following Akali, the team couldn’t prevail.