Royal Never Give Up from China have secured themselves a first place finish in the Group Stage of MSI over the long standing frontrunners Flash Wolves from Taiwan. As a result, they had the choice of which team to face in the semifinal knockout round between third place Kingzone DragonX of Korea or Fnatic of Europe. From their selections, both semifinal matchups were confirmed – RNG vs FNC on Friday morning and FW vs KZ on Saturday.
With the semifinals underway, there will be a change in venue from the LCS Studio in Berlin, Germany to the Zenith Paris Theatre in Paris, France. All matches played from now on will be a best of five series, with the standard rules for substitutions being applied where the decision to sub a player must be made quickly after one game ends.
The remainder of MSI will not be played on the current patch 8.10 but will remain on patch 8.8. This means that the drastic jungle changes on the current patch will not have any effect on MSI gameplay.
Fnatic vs Royal Never Give Up
3am PST / 6am EST / 12pm CEST
RNG and Fnatic have taken similar routes to solidify their top four finishes. Both teams struggled early in MSI, clearly knowing their most powerful win condition were their respective ADCS, Uzi and Rekkles. Additionally, both teams suffered a shaky record early in the tournament, with both teams going 3-3 after Day 3. RNG has found their rhythm by having Ming and Xiaohu step up to the plate, with Mlxg recovering from his erratic playstyle. Bwipo and Caps for Fnatic have dramatically increased their level of play over time, with rookie Bwipo able to hold the line in toplane and Caps creating opportunities for his team.
Royal Never Give Up
Strengths – RNG’s focal point is still undeniably Uzi, who holds first place for multiple ADC records at MSI so far including [email protected] (CS Differential), DPM (Damage per Minute), and DMG% (Team Damage %). Ming also has proven to be a great complement to the all powerful Chinese ADC, being able to utilize any kind of support pick. His variety in picks span Alistar, Tahm Kench, Morgana, and Karma to name a few, creating mayhem for any team trying to ban supports out during a very bottom lane centric meta. Xiaohu has also evolved from playing mainly supportive type mid laners to more high impact, roaming midlaners that no longer cede lane priority, allowing for more mapwide roams and playmaking.
Weaknesses – The largest question mark for RNG has to be Mlxg and whether or not he can hit his stride. Mlxg is known for high tempo, snowballing ganks that tilt the map heavily towards one side if he performs well. On the other hand, he is also known for having some of the most insignificant jungle pressure if he is tracked and neutralized. The other glaring weakness of RNG has already been exploited in the early stages of MSI. Teams that can utilize split pushing will actively try to avoid a head on teamfight, as the split pusher will essentially cause a 4v5 in favor of RNG should a teamfight occur. As a result, while RNG will try to push for a teamfight, they may lose many objectives away from their current position and if the enemy team can disengage successfully, Uzi will not be able to deliver any meaningful damage.
Substitute – RNG’s substitute is Karsa who has appeared only once during the Group Stages. During his 2018 MSI debut, he completely took over the game and handed the FW a very one sided loss. If Mlxg does not perform to his expectations, it is extremely likely Karsa will be subbed in. In fact, even if Mlxg does well, Karsa may still be subbed in after analyzing the enemy junglers’ tendencies. Karsa is no worse a jungler than Mlxg – he simply brings a different style of play to the table.
Strengths – The talk MSI would have to be Caps in the midlane, the player keeping Fnatic afloat earlier in the week and the first to implement the Yasuo pick at MSI. Caps has been fantastic at creating picks and opportunities for his team but is also prone to giving away such opportunities at crucial times. As MSI continued, Caps has seemed to be able to create those same positive plays while severely cutting down on the number of times he has been caught out or mispositioned. Rekkles still remains as a dormant ADC waiting for his time to shine. Despite his one game as Kai’sa where Rekkles essentially 1v5’ed the enemy team with help from his teammates, he has been underperforming from his former Spring Split state. The last unseen strength has to be Bwipo, who despite his professional career’s lifespan has been able to match world class top laners. As analyst Jatt pointed out, Bwipo has never been the scapegoat for blame and instead, does his job and does it well.
Weaknesses – As much as one would love to praise Fnatic’s successes, their losses have one thing in common – late game scaling compositions that never reaches late game. In a meta where Guinsoo Rageblade champions such as Kog’maw and Kai’sa are top tier, picking a Sivir or Tristana where three items are needed for a powerspike will not be feasible if Fnatic is put behind early on. If Broxah and Caps do not remedy this with some early to mid game powerful champions, scaling into the late game becomes problematic for Fnatic. Conversely, although Bwipo has been performing at a stellar level this entire tournament, it is to be expected for him to receive a lot more attention during this series. If RNG shuts down the player who is meant to be split pushing, this in turn forces Fnatic to group up instead, which is right up RNG’s alley.
Substitute – SoaZ is the substitute for Fnatic, who has been recovering from a wrist injury. A ironclad veteran of the competitive scene, he was only subbed in one time against EVOS Esports which ended up in a win for Fnatic, but considering Bwipo’s recent successes, it would not be surprising for SoaZ to see little playtime unless there is a certain counter that he can bring to the table.
Prediction – Royal Never Give Up
RNG has been on an uphill trend since Day 3 and has not dropped a game since. Finding their way, they still manage to pave a way for Uzi through more coordinated plays, higher tempo early game and the ability to force fights. The only way Fnatic can win is to control the jungle pressure early on and redirect the flow of the game, which has only been done in a handful of Fnatic games during MSI.
Betting prediction: Royal Never Give Up to win with -1.5 handicap, paying -248.14 at BetOnline.