April 7, 2021, 2:27 PM

How Schalke swept Fnatic in the LEC Playoffs

How Schalke swept Fnatic in the LEC Playoffs
Schalke 04 versus Fnatic during the 2021 LEC playoffs. Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games
By Jorge Pedraz
Sometimes League of Legends looks more like a turn-based strategy game than a MOBA. Every time a team recalls, they propose a play somewhere on the map that usually gets contested by the opposite team on the other side of the map.
Teams trade for objectives, gold, vision, and tempo on the map.
We all know Fnatic is an aggressive team and they always go for plays, but the balance between what you can win or lose when going for a play is something that should definitely be taken into account.
We will analyze Fnatic’s decision-making in last Friday’s LEC Playoff series where they got swept by Schalke 04.
This is the first time Fnatic has been out of the semifinals since the 2016 Summer Split.
The tragedy in six acts:

First Act: Poor decision-making

In Game 1, Fnatic was, as usual, playing around the bot lane. After a gank on the bot lane, Selfmade and Nisqy decide to go for a play on the mid lane even though they had the information that Udyr just finished the Rift Herald. Limit gets mid before Hyilissang, and Abbedagge on Sylas cancels Twisted Fate’s gold card by stealing and using Olaf’s Ragnarok:
The gold difference was slightly in favor of Fnatic (+600) before the play. After the play, they were losing by 1800 gold.
Fnatic was looking for a potential win of 1 kill (300 gold), 1 assist (150 gold), and maybe a shared turret plate (160 gold). So, a total of 610 gold.
Instead, Schalke 04 got two kills (600 gold), two assists (300 gold), the first tower with all 5 plates (1450 gold) and denied half a minion wave to Fnatic pushing it under the tier 2 Tower. That’s a total of 2413 gold.
This play is a clear example of a call that shouldn’t have been made since they had much more to lose than what they could get from the play with the information that they had.

Second Act: The Fight for Vision

Fnatic basically split the map on the first game. They wanted to focus on the bot lane as Upset on Xayah was the only carry of his team. Fnatic controlled the bot side granting them the first three drakes and having vision control of the enemy’s bot jungle.
On the other side, Schalke 04 did the same on the top side, having complete control of the top side of the map.
At minute 25, this paid its toll.
Schalke was clearing the vision on Fnatic’s topside jungle and they didn’t see any Fnatic players around. They knew Lulu was on the bot lane clearing waves with TP available, Twisted Fate was on the top side and decided to recall, and Olaf couldn’t be near as they had full vision control around the Baron pit.
The Baron Nashor goes down before any Fnatic member can contest it, and Twisted Fate uses his ultimate after the recall to farm the top lane. Schalke 04 immediately recognized that and went for the play. Nisqy was late for the fight as Schalke took a 3x0 and broke open the base taking a tier 3 mid, mid inhibitor, and a Nexus tower.
The combination of lack of vision, bad times of recalling, and miscommunication made Fnatic lose almost 3500 gold only in this play and put an end to map 1.

Third Act: The Draft

Fnatic did not have the most brilliant drafts in this series. The Lee Sin pick in Game 2 was one good example.
Game 2, minute 9, a flashless Bwipo on Cho’Gath forces BrokenBlade on Gangplank to use the flash and the recall using the Feast (R).
Both teams face each other on the top side of the river. It’s a 2v2 between supports and junglers on the top side in the fight for the herald.
Gilius and Limit want to go for the play. They head top to kill a no-mana, no-flash, no-ultimate Bwipo, using both ultimates and Gilius’ flash. Still, the strength of Volibear and Gragas over Lee Sin and Rell buys them enough time to wait for Viktor and Gangplank to arrive.
What could Fnatic get here if it went well? Maximum 3 kills on their side losing Bwipo (900 gold), a minion wave lost on mid as Nisqy moved top with the wave under his turret, and the herald (100 gold) that we will consider that it would give the standard 2 plates with a charge (320 gold).
What could they get if they had retreated? Gillius R and flash, Limit R for Bwipo’s kill and the chance to contest the herald.
What was the outcome? A 4x2 for Schalke (900 gold), the mid wave lost (105 gold + experience), and the Herald (100 gold) that we will consider the standard 2 plates now although we will break down the summon of the Herald in the very next act.
It might look like an unfortunate/bad execution play for Fnatic as they could have gotten a similar amount of gold than the one they lost. It could be well explained by the draft (Lee Sin is not exactly the strongest pick currently) but the decision making takes a major role as both teams recall and prepare for the next play that we will break down right next:

Fourth Act: Investing too much for nothing

Right after Schalke 04 slayed the Herald, Fnatic decided to go for a play on bot, again. Twisted Fate uses his Destiny and they get the kill into a no-flash, no-heal, no-ultimate Xayah. That translates into the bot tier 1 tower for Fnatic and the second drake secured.
But at what cost?
As Fnatic rotates bot, Schalke uses the Herald mid getting four plates and the first tower, the valuable mid tier 1. They also send Xayah to the top lane getting 2 more plates and the top tier 1.
Let’s translate this play into gold:
It could look like a minor difference but there are some aspects to highlight: Fnatic is the one initiating the play that will cost them gold and the mid tower that gives Schalke the whole control of the river for future drakes and Barons. In fact, from this moment, Schalke will not lose one single objective, securing 2 Drakes, 1 more Herald, and the Baron Nashor.**

Fifth act: Desperation

Fnatic was behind, and one way to come back was via shutdowns. BrokenBlade on Gangplank had one, worth 750 gold (kill + bounty + assist) and Fnatic was ready to take it in a play that would also mean top tier 1 tower. BrokenBlade knew what was coming and still, he looked confident and almost got the double kill.
They get the shutdown but it’s a 2 for 1 for Schalke.
A few seconds later, Abbedagge was almost caught in the side lane in a play that would have meant a shutdown of 700 gold (kill + bounty + assist) and bot tier 2 tower (550 gold).
Abbedagge flashes to safety.
What did Fnatic lose meanwhile?
The CS difference between ADCs: Upset was 18 minions ahead of Neon before the play but Neon gets all the farm from the mid lane cutting the difference to 6 CS and the tier 2 tower.
At this point, the gold difference reached 3000. Schalke won all team fights and got all the objectives to secure game 2.

Sixth act: Disaster

Not much more to add here, just watch this tragic 3-man dive on the bot side in a play that would instantly end Fnatic’s chances of getting a single map in this series:
It’s always good and fun to have teams as aggressive as Fnatic, but a balance between what the team can win or lose in certain plays is necessary. We’ve reviewed some examples where even if the execution was great, Fnatic would still lose more on the map than what they could win.
Fnatic will need to adjust their playstyle ahead of the Summer Split, where we expect to see them in a good shape to compete for the title.

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