After the historic quarter-finals where three of the top four in the group stage were eliminated, it is time to make way for the semifinals. Gwangju, South Korea, will hold the event to determine the names of the grand finalists. The duel that makes us most excited is undoubtedly the one that will pit Fnatic against Cloud9. EU against NA, the duel of dreams, will be the second to last series of the League of Legends World Championship 2018. No doubt the clash will be the talk of the weekend and social networking platforms will be filled with stormy discussions between fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
The last meetup of European and North American teams in the LoL World Championship semifinals was seven years ago! Indeed, it was during season 1 that we saw matches of Team aAa against Epik Games and Fnatic against TSM. It was also the last time an American team reached a semifinal at Worlds.
As the last remaining champion of the region, Fnatic is clearly a favorite in the title race, especially after defeating IG twice in the group stage.
But Cloud9 is not an easy opponent. The US team has achieved an extraordinary season to get here. Cloud9 was standing at ninth place in the NA LCS just a few months ago. Then their youngster came into the scene and they qualified for the World Cup by beating TSM in the Regional Qualifier. On the verge of being beaten by Gambit in Play-In, they were later placed in the death group alongside tournament favorites RNG and reigning world champions Gen G. Defying all odds, Cloud9 achieved the impossible and won all their games on the second day of the group stage. Propelling themselves in the quarterfinals, they crushed the AfreecaFreecs of Korean 3-0.
The common point between these two teams? A squad composed only of Western players (including 2 Danish on each side), mixing experience and youth. On the Fnatic side, we find veterans like Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov, accompanied by the young Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen, Rasmus “Caps” Winther, and Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau. For Cloud9, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam set the example for Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam, and Robert “Blaber” Huang.
Both teams have been very imaginative in their drafts since the beginning of the season. This style of play has brought them far into the competition as they faced teams with more predictable strategies. More than a fight between players, it is a strategic battle between the two forces. All of the games will probably be decided during the picks & bans phase. The key duel of this confrontation will be that of the coaches: Dylan “Dylan” Falco against Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu.
Svenskeren and Broxah have the pleasure to play aggressively and will pick early snowballing champions. On the side of the bot lane, Sneaky and Rekkles will be aiming to pick Sivir. They both love this champion and it fits perfectly with the style of play of these two teams.
Fnatic is undoubtedly the team that will most likely carry the series from different positions. They proved it during the quarters where Caps was not at his top level.
Will we see Jensen play Zilean, Licorice play Singed, Rekkles play Tristana, or Bwipo on Ornn? These champions and many more should make their appearance during the drafts, most probably in the bans. The stakes are high and Dylan and Reapered will have to put their players in a comfortable position to be able to do what they do best.
Little by little, we are getting to the end of this amazing 2018 edition of the World Championship. The remaining four teams seem to be in excellent shape, but we still have to make our prediction. Although Cloud9 can surprise any team, it seems difficult to make them the favorites of this confrontation.
Fnatic is more used to stretched Bo5s and seem better able to bypass the innovative strategies of the Americans. AfreecaFreecs did not have the level and played very predictably. The European champions impress us and seem capable of winning in many ways. This remains a tight duel and extremely tense battle.
Fnatic 3 – 1 Cloud 9
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