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Fnatic punches ticket to EU LCS finals

Members of Fnatic huddle up before their matchup against Misfits in the European League Championship Series semifinals. Provided by Riot Games

Fnatic earned its spot in yet another final on Saturday as it took down Misfits 3-1 in the European League Championship Series Summer Split semifinals.

The first two games of the series were characterized by proactive play from Fnatic and reactionary play from Misfits. In Game 1, Fnatic's draft facilitated its early playmaking, picking Skarner for jungler Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen into a surprise Ivern from Misfits' Nubar "Maxlore" Sarafian. After winning the first leg, Fnatic shifted its draft toward late-game scaling, putting Broxah on Gragas and star mid laner Rasmus "Caps" Winther on Corki. Fnatic's early aggression persisted, but the team composition didn't support it, and Misfits was more than happy to fight early with its dual marksmen in Kindred and Kalista. Misfits turned Fnatic's aggression into a 6-1 kill lead at just six minutes and quickly tied up the series.

As the matchup reached its halfway point, all eyes turned to Caps. In Game 3, Fnatic's mid laner played the first-ever mid lane Vayne in the history of the EU LCS, using it as a direct counter to Galio from Misfits mid laner Chres "Sencux" Laursen. Things looked doubtful at first, with Caps throwing away an early farm lead by giving over first blood. It was Misfits who took the initiative this time around, with Maxlore's Olaf applying pressure across the map and Fnatic's scaling composition powerless to stop him. Everything changed when Caps hit his late-game potential and took the game by force. With a pixel-perfect Condemn, Caps stunned and eliminated the enemy AD carry after being taken down to a sliver of health himself, allowing Fnatic to easily clean up a desperate teamfight in its base. Afterwards, a free Baron made it all too easy for Fnatic to put Misfits at match point.

Having backed Misfits into a corner, Caps kept on rolling. His LeBlanc in Game 4 carried the game for Fnatic, finding kill after kill after kill throughout the early and mid game. He maintained perfect kill participation and ended with nearly two-thirds of his team's total kills, even after AD carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson had a chance to catch up in the late game. Fittingly, it was Caps making a daring pick onto Sencux's Lulu that gave Fnatic the final opening needed to take the series.

Europe's finals this year will be a battle of old vs. new, as its most historic team has now secured a spot to play Schalke 04, a newcomer, in the finals. The battle for the region's first seed at Worlds 2018 takes place at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday.

--Brendan Hickey