Fnatic and Excel faced off in a close elimination series in the LEC playoffs, which was ultimately decided in a game 5. Despite starting off down 0-2 and facing match point, FNC were able to turn the series around with an incredible Nexus defence; let's break down how they did it.
State of the Game
At 43 minutes, everybody has completed their builds and FNC's 7k gold lead means very little. Both teams have a ton of late game power: FNC have Twitch, Yuumi and Sylas, while Excel have Sivir and Lulu. FNC were able to take to the top and bot inhibs earlier on, so have two pushing lanes.
Excel have some huge team-fighting tools in their arsenal with the Kennen and Sejuani ultimates, while Sivir outputs damage from the backline. Meanwhile, FNC have a ton of displacement tools with the Gragas and Poppy ults and is trying to catch Excel off-guard with Twitch's stealth.
The fight begins in a chaotic fashion:
- Nocturne (Nukeduck) pops his ult and dives onto the Poppy (Razork)
- Yuumi (Hylissang) roots Sejuani (Markoon) and Sivir (Patrik) with her ult
- Kennen (Finn) uses his ult to chip away at Sylas (Humanoid), who is able to escape and burst down the Lulu (Mikyx) to very low health
At this late stage of the game, Twitch and Sivir are the priority targets. With Sivir rooted and Twitch (Upset) in stealth, he finds an opportunity to pop his ult and start shredding through the Sivir. However, he is punished as Sejuani instantly throws her ult and stuns the Twitch:
With Cleanse down, no QSS and Yuumi too far away to use Mikael's Crucible, Twitch is blown up by the Sivir before the Sejuani stun expires. Gragas (Wunder), Sylas and Poppy try to respond by taking down the low health Sivir, but can only get her Guardian Angel. Sylas also dies while attempting to take down the Sivir.
Critical Macro Choices
Although Excel have managed to take down Twitch and Sylas, they have lost Sivir's Guardian Angel and have very low health bars on Lulu, Kennen and Sejuani. The fight also took place near their base, meaning it's tricky for them to push straight into FNC's base and take the Nexus.
Additionally, waves of super minions are crashing into their Nexus towers from the inhibitors FNC took down earlier:
This leaves Excel vulnerable to a backdoor, either from the minions, Gragas's teleport, or from Gragas and Yuumi moving toward the bot lane. Therefore, Nocturne and Kennen are forced to recall and clear the minion waves, leaving Excel with only 3 champions out on the map.
Instead of taking the Elder Drake that has just spawned, they choose to push down the mid lane to try and end the series with a 3-0 scoreline.
The Season-Saving Ultimate
As FNC had been unable to take the mid inhibitor, Excel have a minion wave which they can use to push and drastically weaken FNC's two nexus turrets. They push into the base and try to kill Poppy, but she is able to escape due to her innate mobility and the Cloud Soul.
Having cleared out the minion waves attacking his Nexus turrets, Nocturne rejoins the fight with his teleport. While Sivir is attacking the inhibitor, Gragas throws out his Q. Sivir uses her spell shield to try and restore some health, meaning it is on cooldown for at least 10 seconds.
This tiny play ultimately decided the entire series: while Excel are attacking the Nexus turrets, Gragas' ult comes back off cooldown which he uses to displace Sivir from the team. This phenomenal ult also knocks the Lulu away, meaning she is unable to shield the Sivir.
This ult allowed Poppy to loop around the Sivir and stun her against the turret, finishing her off and securing FNC the victory. Excel now lack the damage to finish off the turret, so are forced to retreat. FNC are able to catch up to the Nocturne and Lulu, blow them up, teleport onto the pushed in top wave, and win the game.
This was an incredibly close finish to an incredibly close game, and would prove to be the turning point in the series. FNC used this momentum to complete the reverse sweep, and win the series 3-2.
It's no surprise a player of Wunder's pedigree was able to find this critical ult to turn around the series, but it could have been a completely different story if Patrik didn't use his spell shield on the Gragas Q while attacking the inhibitor. Lulu's ultimate was also 1 second off CD when the Gragas ult was thrown, adding salt to the wound. The play could have been avoided entirely if Excel took the Elder instead of trying to end the game too.
Nevertheless, this was a fantastic Nexus defence by FNC which resulted in Excel's elimination from the LEC playoffs and the chance to play at Worlds. FNC will now face off against Misfits to determine the final team to represent the LEC at Worlds.