Blitz Esports caught up with Martin “Deficio” Lynge at the EU LCS finals, where we got to talk about Fnatic's big changes, EU vs NA toplane metas, and what EU looks like a split following its pre-season player losses.
Let's look back on losing four of the biggest names in Europe last split: Febiven, PowerOfEvil, Zven, and Mithy, who all went to NA. How has the region done without them? Mid seems to be as stacked as usual, but bot lane feels like no one can contest Rekkles.
Yeah, I think losing PowerOfEvil and Febiven didn't really hurt the region at all. They're both good mid laners, obviously Febiven has always been contending for top 3, but we always tend to find good replacements for mid laners in Europe. So we lost some brand value, but in terms of actual in-game, we didn't lose a lot.
I think Zven and mithy is forever going to be that irreplaceable duo. One thing is what they do in game, another thing is what they bring to a team, especially mithy obviously. People are always talking about him being the "playing coach" who can effectively make a team a great, best of five macro team. Now, that didn't happen in North America this time around, so he ended up not advancing, but in Europe, I think losing Zven and mithy did hurt our overall level and how much teams can grow to some extent, especially how much teams can then challenge Fnatic now. Because G2 used to be the ones who didn't rely on the individual talent, but relied on more strategy and being smart, whereas Fnatic now is a bit of a mix. They are playing pretty smart but also have just individually really, really good carries especially. I would love to have seen the old G2 versus this Fnatic and see how they would match up against each other.
So losing Zven and mithy just generally hurts — it kills a top team, and it's hard for another team to reach the level of the Zven and mithy G2, because they just add so much value to everything they do around the game itself, and Zven is such a good carry. As for the fact we didn't have anyone challenging the 2v2 duo lane, I never felt like Zven and mithy were the dominant laners in Europe. I think Rekkles and Jesiz in playoffs last year were more trying to win lane super hard. Hans Sama has been trying to do it a lot. So in terms of pure laning phase, I don't think too much changed in that regard. But in terms of actual shot calling and late game carry potential, Zven was the only one who could rival Rekkles.
We've seen that all split long. There's not a single AD carry who can do what Rekkles is doing, so I would love to still have this battle between Zven and Rekkles, the debate that would just never end of who is the best AD carry. Can Rekkles get MVP twice in a row if Zven is there? We will maybe never see that again. But I think losing those two guys did hurt overall.
Speaking of Fnatic, what are the big evolutions you've seen in Fnatic over the past year?
So first of all, the team feels older. Last year Broxah and Caps were rookies, especially Caps was a loose cannon. One game he was 10-0, the next game he was 0-10. It didn't seem like there was any plan involved in what he was doing. He just wanted to do some crazy stuff, and when you start facing world-class players, that rarely is successful — they can match whatever it is you're doing mechanically, and then they just become the smarter team and take you down eventually. That's often what happened for Fnatic in some of the big, big games, also against G2; they couldn't handle it, if you look back at the spring split last year.
So I think that is one thing, all the rookies getting a little bit older. YoungBuck obviously joining, they've praised it a lot as being the most important thing for them, because he brought in two things from what I can gather from conversation with the players: structure in terms of what you're doing in game, and also how you practice whatever it is you want to do.
I think a lot of what YoungBuck brings is he's asking, when we have a 1-3-1 comp, what is it we need to do? What are the steps we need to follow? And then they all agree on the steps. Then he can enforce that every single time, and this kind of crazy animal style that they had last year then disappears, because you follow these steps each time and you become a smarter team.
He also brought in apparently the ability to untilt players who, last year, when you talked to them, mentioned how losing one game meant that the team just gave up. It was like, "We don't know what to do anymore!" Rekkles on the EUphoria podcast was very vocal about this when they lost the first game to Misfits in the summer semi-final. Instead of thinking, "We can still beat them," it just crashed. YoungBuck kind of prevents that, which of course is big.
So I think there's being one year older, and the addition of YoungBuck that has been huge. Obviously Hylissang versus Jesiz, you can argue for some upgrade here but a downgrade elsewhere. Hylissang luckily fits the team very well at the moment, and he's no longer making as many of those super aggressive plays where he gets caught out. He's actually looking really good, which has been a very positive thing for his career and the way he's growing as well. Everything just seems to click. And then you also have the two best carries, I guess, if you combine the power of Rekkles and Caps. I don't think any team in Europe can do anything against that duo, specifically.
Yeah, and Rekkles got MVP today.
And Caps could have gotten it as well. He was insane. Winning his lane 1v1, roaming around like a crazy man, never getting caught out anymore. You're seeing this player, last year he would have died ten times because he overextended. Now, he times it correctly with how he's using Ryze ults to escape. He has just improved a lot, and getting in a system with a structure and more focus on playing the game correctly has helped a player who was already mechanically very gifted. He didn't need more on that side, he just needed people to teach him about the game and how to play as a team, and he's learned that.
Speaking a little on metas specifically, in NA, Gangplank is banned in every match, but in EU, he seems to slip through the draft once in a while. The top lane meta seems pretty different between the regions, so what do you think is behind this clash of styles?
Well I think GP first of all is extremely difficult to execute properly. There's a very high chance you look really mediocre on it.
One of the things about GP that obviously changed over time was his build. I remember when he was originally reworked and we had Huni vs sOAZ battling for GP, it was rush a lot of early crit damage, and on like 2 items already with an Inifinity Edge, you could actually destroy an AD carry with a good barrel combo, and it was a lot easier to do. That has obviously kind of changed now, people like Trinity Force and their Sterak's, and it's a lot less focused on the big explosive crit until you get full late game, and more focus on him just being a stronger 1v1 champion in a lot of ways, and being a little bit more beefy.
So I always feel like it's way harder to carry a team fight as GP now than it was in the past, unless you are full items. And I think with most European top laners, they just almost gave up trying to perfect Gangplank, and said, "You know what, it's actually better for the team if we play Sion and Cho'Gath and Ornn." There's some Gnar, there's some Camille, there's enough champions for them to play instead of trying to perfect this one champion.
I also don't feel like EU teams generally utilize his ulti almost ever. It used to be so good for if you want to play hard around bottom side, you have the ult from GP coming in. But when I see him being played, mainly by G2, they're actually going to his lane instead and trying to play around the GP in the early game. So I don't feel like anyone fully utilizes the champion. I think naturally in scrims he's probably not been that successful, so teams have stepped away from him and said, "We can practice all the things that are much easier to execute, way easier to play," and then Gangplank just kind of disappeared, because we have seen so many Gangplank games where he farms for 30 minutes. You feel like, "Ok, now surely he's ready." He walks into the first fight, puts up a barrel, the enemy AD carry hits the barrel once, GP ends up shooting one Parrrley in the face of someone, and then the fight is over and you're like, "You didn't really do anything. You did really nothing."
So I've not often seen the huge carry game, and if we had seen more of those, more people would have picked it up and said, "Ok, we have to play this champion." But I just think it's much harder, also with the build, to actually carry team fights. Unless you're really good, and apparently NA top laners must be really good at Gangplank, all of them. I know there's a bunch of them obviously who are very skilled at playing Gangplank, and when they play it, all top laners are forced to do it as well. We see this with Tristana in Europe, which is the champion that no other region of the major ones seems to value this high. But because Rekkles is so good at playing it, all the AD carries are like, "I also need to play Tristana, because he's doing it. I could do it too." But it makes sense that that kind of shapes the meta. It doesn't mean Tristana is overpowered or should be played every game. It's just an example of one player in a region dominating on it, and it kind of snowballs into some other teams.
It's different from watching pick/ban in NA, where blue side first picks Caitlyn. Here you see a first pick Tristana, and you don't see a Caitlyn response. You see—
Which we should.
—We should. But we see trying to match scaling with Jinx, or even Varus.
This is very different. We had the Caitlyn first picks before this weekend, but then this weekend the teams were looking for other things. Obviously Caitlyn was banned against Minitroupax, and then this here— like Rekkles and Hjarnan are not big Caitlyn players, so it wasn't part of the finals meta, and we got the Jinx instead, or the Sivir, which was actually a much more important pick, which we don't see in a lot of other games.
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