Fnatic have done it. After an uncharacteristically shaky Summer Split, the team came together when it all mattered against first seed Rogue in the first round of the LEC Summer Split Playoffs. With a direct ticket to the World Championship on the line for Fnatic, they swept their opponents from Summoner’s Rift in a 3-0 fashion. While the team has ensured their Worlds spot, the Playoffs are far from over yet. Next weekend, Fnatic plays against arch nemesis G2 to determine who will directly advance to the Summer Split finals.
After the convincing victory against Rogue, we spoke to Fnatic jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek. He told us how his team managed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps for the Playoffs, activating the mythical ‘Fnatic Playoffs buff’. He also talked about the importance of playing on a new patch, and how he’ll hope to get the better of G2 next time he meets them.
Hotspawn: Welcome Selfmade, and congratulations on the victory!
Selfmade: Thank you.
Hotspawn: Before we talk about the match, I want to dial it back a bit. During the Summer Split regular season, it seemed like Fnatic wasn’t in sync at all. Now, against Rogue, you were a true team. What changed?
Selfmade: To be completely honest with you, I think the issue we had during the whole Split was basically that we were clueless when it came to drafts. Every game we lost was because of drafts, I think. Of course we had games, for example when we played against Misfits, where we had a draft we were happy with, but then we played badly in the game. But I don’t know… I think our drafts were for sure the biggest issue in the regular Split. It also felt like every player had a different approach to the game. For example, one guy would want to play for the early game, and another guy wanted to play for the late game. We were mixing everything and it was not working well.
Then we were going to the Playoffs, and if I’m really honest we were very lucky to make it. Now that I think back about it… let’s say we would have lost those games against Misfits. It would be a disaster. We most likely wouldn’t have made it to the Playoffs. But since we made it, we started from zero and figured out what we wanted to play. Not what others play, or what we should play because some team is playing it in the LCK or whatever. There was a new patch, and people had their own opinions about it. We decided to work with the feedback our players gave. As you could see in this series, for example, we had the Lucian/Evelynn combo, right? We practiced that a lot, and we knew that it would work.
In the match against Rogue, we also got good matchups in the bot lane which was something that didn’t happen a lot in the regular Split. Then we ended up with something like Sivir in drafts. Like, what was that, you know? I think what we turned around is that we figured out what we wanted to play, and we moved on.
We just weren’t on the same page.
Hotspawn: Sure, the drafts may have played a big part, but it seemed like you weren’t in line on a team level. You guys weren’t in sync, with sometimes half of the team going for a fight while other team members were doing something else. Often, there were no follow-ups to plays. Why was it different in the Playoffs?
Selfmade: Honestly, I don’t know. *laughs* I remember many of those plays you’re talking about. In the game we played against Schalke 04, for example, we dove the enemy bot lane and killed their AD carry. And then… well it was mostly Hylissang who decided he wanted to kill the enemy support too, but others didn’t want to. He went in, the others backed out, and then he just died. Things like this happened almost every game during the whole Split. We just weren’t on the same page.
And how did we fix that? Well, I think it just came with time. We just played and we got to trust each other again, I would say. But I don’t even think it was about trust. Because, as I said, one guy would think that something would be a good play, but the other guy thought it wouldn’t be a good play. I don’t even think it was about trust. I think it’s… well it’s hard to name it ‘game knowledge’, but you know what I mean.
[The team atmosphere] is much better than it was before.
Hotspawn: Was it maybe that, because you had figured out the patch and meta for yourselves, those other aspects of playing together as a team came more natural to you guys?
Selfmade: Yeah, but those plays that we were talking about, that was just straight up inting. *laughs* We can’t even say that it was because of the meta. We all know that Hylissang was well-memed for his Nautilus, right? But it’s still meta, you can’t say it’s a champion difference.
Hotspawn: Let’s figure out what this ‘Fnatic Playoffs buff’ is. When I spoke to Bwipo at the end of the regular Split, he mentioned that Fnatic wasn’t really a ‘team’ during the Summer Split, with some tension in the group. Did you manage to put those differences aside and say: “Ok, now it matters, let’s be a team.”?
Selfmade: I don’t want to talk about the team atmosphere, but I can easily say that it is much better than it was before. It’s always like this, right? When you are losing, the team atmosphere just gets much worse. You’re losing games. It’s not even about, I don’t know, that some guy is going crazy and trying to point fingers at everybody else. It’s human nature. If you’re losing, it’s hard to keep your head up and stay positive. I feel like that’s something we’re really bad at. We were losing to bad teams. If you’re in a team like Fnatic, where you hear the name and you know what it is supposed to stand for, and then you lose to bottom-tier teams, it just makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s common for players of our caliber, in such a big organization, to have egos. There’s nothing to hide; everybody in the top teams has their ego.
I think people had a hard time accepting that there are actually good players coming into the league. For example, you can see that in MAD Lions. Most of them are rookies, but you can’t say that Fnatic would beat them ten out of ten times because they have better individual players. It’s not about this anymore. It’s not about being super good individually. It’s actually about team play. Each year, the level of individual skill keeps getting more even. Then it just comes down to the way you play as a team.
Hotspawn: And as you said, the meta shift was an important factor for you guys heading into the Playoffs.
Selfmade: Now, I don’t think there is such a thing as a meta, you know? Ok, you have strong champions. But if you really want to, you can play anything. G2, for example, was playing LeBlanc. Nobody else plays it. But it works for them, so why not? They’re good at playing around it. You have teams like Origen or Rogue, and all they do is picking scaling champions, farm for the late game, and then win automatically. In the regular Split, every team is always bad at playing the early game and mid-game. Then it’s hard to punish that slower playstyle. For example, when we played against Rogue and I played Sett. I went 0/6, I remember that. We kind of had the same team composition, in the sense that we were also supposed to scale for the late-game. But they were simply better at this. They played that the whole Split. So that’s why we lost.
Today, we went into the series with the full preparation that I would play carry junglers, and that I would hopefully carry. We played the series with full confidence, and it happened. We didn’t even let them have time to scale. We just had the Fnatic Playoff buff I guess. *laughs*
Hotspawn: Did you have the Playoffs patch figured out quickly?
Selfmade: Well, they buffed Evelynn, they buffed Lucian. We looked at this patch, and Nemesis and I were both aware that those champions were broken. We don’t even have to try them, you know? You read the patch notes, and you know that these buffs are so damn huge that the champion has to be overpowered. On the first day of the scrims, we started to try them and you could see that we were right. These champions are so damn OP. We figured out our first combo to use in the Playoffs early on. There are many more things that we tried, but obviously I don’t want to talk about those right now and leak them. We could go the way that most of the teams are going, and pick Azir or Ornn and play the safe game. But why? If that was our identity, like it is for Rogue, then yeah let’s do it.
In scrims, people don’t care a lot if you lose
Ok, we didn’t even have any identity this whole Split. We were trying something else every week. There was the Graves/Soraka pick, then there was some Aphelios, then I was playing stuff like Sett… It’s not like that didn’t fit me, but we were trying new stuff all the time and we didn’t really know what we would play in the end. We were also changing a lot of stuff during the official games. People were just stressed in the drafts. In scrims, people don’t care a lot if you lose, and people just pick champions for the team. In official games, everybody was more selfish and wanted to look as good as possible individually. That’s why we had a lot of trouble with our draft. At the end of the regular Split, we had a lot of Pyke games, and some Jhin, which were fully comfort picks for Hylissang and Rekkles because they played them a lot historically. But those champions weren’t good now.
Hotspawn: You’ve played League of Legends for years now. When you see a buff coming out for Evelynn, a champion you’re well-known to love playing, do you still get excited? Or is it just another champion to you?
Selfmade: When I saw the buff, and I realized that the champion would be so damn OP, I was really happy. I was like: “Damn, I’m going to show the world something they haven’t seen yet.” And then, after they saw me play, everybody would pick it up. But then Evelynn was already picked in the LPL and the LCK! So I was no longer going to be the first one to pick Evelynn. I wanted to be the first one to show how strong Evelynn really is. She was strong before, for example when I played her in SK Gaming against Misfits, or when I played her against Vitality in the final week of this Spring Split. She was still strong, but it was really hard to build a team composition around her. You need a lot of AD damage in the solo lanes. That’s the key part to making this champion work. This patch she received a huge buff, Lucian got buffed, and I was happy to finally be able to pick Evelynn up.
Hotspawn: Lastly, I want to look ahead at the match against G2 you have to play next. Obviously a match that carries a lot of historical weight. In the Spring Split finals, G2 bested you. What do you think your chances are this time around?
Selfmade: I don’t know. It always feels different when you play against G2. I don’t know why. It feels like people are more stressed than they usually are. Even if we’re aware that our team composition will have to play the game in way X, we’ll still try to play the game according to way Z. For example, the last time we played them we had a pretty good scaling composition, but we were still looking for action all over the place in the early game. I don’t know where that comes from, honestly. I think we are just simply choking against them. I don’t know how else to say it. Hopefully, maybe this time it will change. But if I were a viewer and would have to make a bet based on this year, I would always bet on G2, right?
It was the same in the Spring Split. We were supposed to be the favorites in the finals. In the Playoffs, we had a much better team. G2 lost against MAD Lions, and they struggled a bit. But then we go to the finals and we had really shit drafts. We went into the first two games and we didn’t even follow the priorities we had all Split long. For example, we had a 100% win rate with Gragas. Then we go against G2, and we don’t even play him in the first two games. We got super stomped. The third game was the only game that was actually worth watching. Then we decided to actually go for the picks that we had played all year. Yes, we lost, but at least we played a game then.
Hotspawn: Is it something about G2 that makes you think “Oh, it’s G2, we have to do something super special in order to beat them” which makes you play differently?
Selfmade: I think so. But that isn’t true, you know? I think that’s definitely how we feel when we play against them, but it’s wrong. And that’s why we are losing.
Hotspawn: So for next weekend you’re going to stick to your priority picks and stay with the game plan.
Selfmade: Hopefully, you know? There’s a lot of choking going on in drafts, even today. *laughs* I hope we’ll play better.
Fnatic’s next match in the LEC Playoffs will be against G2 on Saturday, August 29th, at 5:00 p.m. CEST.