Two teams. One trophy. At the end of the split and in front of the UKLC’s first live audience, which titan can claim glory?
Eight weeks of competition are behind us, but every step of the way, there have been two teams destined to go the distance. Fnatic Rising and Excel UK have traded the tower between them all season, but now, only one of them can lift the UKLC trophy.
Though these two behemoths have set the example for the rest of the UKLC all split, getting here was never guaranteed. Fnatic only unlocked their Finals berth during the final tower of the split, while Excel had to put a stop to Phelan’s incredible Gauntlet run to earn their own spot.
Just by getting here, both teams have ensured qualification to the EU Masters Play-In Stage, at minimum. Now, just one best-of-5 separates both sides from UKLC glory, and with it, entry into the Group Stage.
Who can take it all?
It really wouldn’t feel quite right having our 2019 Summer Split Final without these two teams. Every week, barring one (when MnM Gaming famously upset the applecart) both teams have met in our tower final. The overall record lies 4-3 in favour of Fnatic.
Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of their head-to-head:
Despite Fnatic taking more wins in matches between the two, the gold graph lies overwhelmingly in favour of Excel.
The team from Twickenham have become renowned for their incredibly aggressive early game, where they build from the tremendous strength of their laners to make smart rotations and punish their opponents’ weak sides of the map. They are helped in this regard by Timkiro’s drafting ability, which brilliantly utilises his players’ adaptability to not only flex champions, but roles, making them an impossible team to counterpick.
That all-guns-blazing strategy is more than enough to see them steamroll most of the lesser teams in the UKLC. But against Fnatic, things start to fall apart after the 20-minute mark. Their mid-to-late game shotcalling has been suspect, often seeing them having difficulty playing around Baron and cracking into their opponents’ base. That’s led to a lot of leads slipping.
For Excel to win, they either need to stomp the early game so hard it’s impossible to lose, or they need to prove that they’ve adequately cleaned up their late-game macro. If they are able to lift the trophy on their team’s own home ground, it would prove that they are not just here to provide Fnatic with competition. They’re here to beat them, and rule the UKLC.
Excel’s early game strategy has worked in 3 out of 7 games against Fnatic this split. But there’s one new(ish) issue with that tactic: Ronaldooo.
Fnatic’s autofill extraordinaire seems to have finally found his home as the team’s starting support. And, from the laning phase, he has been terrifying. His Rakan has been relentless, and he relies on his mechanics to maximise his all-in potential, serving up xMatty kills on a platter. With him in the bot lane, Fnatic has looked like a different team, and it’s not one that looks ready to fall apart early on.
But Fnatic’s current line-up, with Bando replacing Shikari in the top lane, has only had two weeks to gel. If they’re going to become a Championship-winning side once again, they will need to show that they’ve built up enough synergy to execute on their game plan. Should they manage that, they’ll have won 3 out of 3 UKLC trophies in our inaugural year, setting the standard for seasons to come.
Remember, the UKLC Grand Final starts on Sunday, the 1st of September, at 15:00 BST. There’s three ways to watch it: doors open to our live event at Twickenham Stadium at 13:00 BST; if you’re in London, but haven’t managed to secure a ticket, there will be a viewing party at Wanyoo’s local esports studio; and of course, there’s always our stream.