LoL Worlds Play-In preview: Fnatic leads the pack

Martin "Rekkles" Larsson and Fnatic need to advance through the Play-In stage of the World Championships in order to qualify for the group stage. Provided by Riot Games

Fnatic is also another team perfectly happy with its group draw for the League of Legends World Championship Play-In stage. Even more than Cloud9 in Group B, Fnatic is nearly guaranteed to exit this group in first place, barring some sort of team aneurysm.

But this isn't to say that Fnatic is without weaknesses.

Group C

  • Fnatic

  • Young Generation

  • Kaos Latin Gamers

The team's over-reliance on side lanes to draw pressure was its undoing earlier this year. Fnatic has shored up some of these weaknesses, but still hasn't been able to consistently create pressure mid, sometimes resulting in an odd cave-in effect on the map. This will likely be exploited later on in the World Championship, but not by the two teams in Fnatic's Play-In group: Vietnam's Young Generation and Latin America South's Kaos Latin Gamers.

Both Young Generation and Kaos Latin Gamers lack the macro knowledge to go toe-to-toe with Fnatic and, in the case of KLG more than YG, lack a competitive solo queue ladder to hone their individual skills.

That being said, the other team that's sure to be content with this group is KLG. Rated poorly due to the aforementioned lack of depth in Latin America South, KLG has been given a rare chance to surprise. Like many minor region teams headed into the Play-In Stage, KLG dominated the regular season and were automatically seeded into the finals where they defeated this year's Latin America South's Mid-Season Invitational representative, Isurus Gaming. If KLG can improve its understanding of objective trading, or even simple mid-game transitions and objective rotations, it could beat Young Generation in a Best of 1.

Like most minor regions, Vietnam, along with the entirety of the Garena Pro League, is very top-heavy. This is in spite of having some strong individual talent coming out of the region. Although the Gigabyte Marines stole international hearts at MSI, they're also the best that Vietnam has to offer by a significant margin. It's difficult to point to the Rift Rivals tournament and say it means much, but the fact that the Marines dragged the rest of the GPL kicking and screaming into the finals with their reverse sweep over every OPL team does speak a bit to the GPL's overall strength, despite the fact that YG were not a part of that tournament. In the more recent GPL Summer -- which was dominated by Vietnamese teams YG and Marines along with Thailand's Ascension -- YG lost to Ascension at first in a sloppy 2-3 series, then qualified for Worlds after another messy 3-2 Best of 5 in the losers bracket of the tournament. Neither team seemed to understand how to create or play around pressure, and both seemed content to bash their heads against each other until one team emerged victorious. That team was YG. Presumably, YG's games against KLG will look similar.

Neither YG nor KLG look to be strong enough to defeat Fnatic, even in a Best of 1, or a first seed coming out of any of the other play-in groups. The second seed out of this group will come down to which of these teams emerges victorious over the other. After Fnatic, this group is a toss-up. It could easily come down to how well a particular team is playing that day, or a specific cheese strategy designed to make the most of the Best of 1 format.

1. Fnatic
2. Young Generation
3. Kaos Latin Gamers