The day has come. North America and Europe have been at the mountain looking up for far too long. We would both taste the flavor of disappointment one too many times. However, that is no longer the case. The kings have fallen, and the new guard has risen. Europe and North America, long-standing rivals, would stand together for the first time at Worlds. We were brothers-in-arms, aiming for the top of the mountain, the crown we’ve always thought was out of reach. Of course, there is only space for one team on the throne, and so brothers-in-arms would become rivals on the Rift once again.
As the top European seed, Fnatic would come into Worlds with plenty of expectations on their shoulders. Boasting a talented lineup with some of the best in the region, many put this team in the conversation to challenge the throne. However, with their performances through the group stage, they are now looking like one of the favorites. They have two players with three Player of the Games honors and would dominate their group to reach the Playoffs. They would then take down EDward Gaming in four games, a masterful display of macro play and objective control. As a result, the pressure to bring Europe to the Finals is greater than ever.
On the other side of the Rift, the perpetual underdogs would claw their way to North America’s first semifinals berth. Everyone would doubt Cloud9 from day one, due to their slow start in the Play-ins. Playing with a handful of rookies might be too much for the team to handle, some said. For a moment, it was looking like their fears were coming true. However, Cloud9 would surprise the world, take wins from every team in the supposed Group of Death, and advance to the Playoffs. They would then sweep Korea’s last hope in Afreeca Freecs, and now, here we are.
The grudge match to end all grudge matches. EU vs. NA. Who will move on to the grandest stage of them all? Let’s find out.
Licorice’s improvement as a player throughout this year is nothing short of amazing. This past summer would see him become one of the best top laners in North America, even making him an MVP candidate for his efforts. At Worlds, he would continue performing very well over the group stage. He is third in kills amongst top laners in the Worlds Main Stage and has been a huge factor for Cloud9’s success. Additionally, Licorice has shown a pretty deep champion pool, having brought out champs like Hecarim and Singed alongside the other meta picks. His flexibility as a player would provide Cloud9 the edge in multiple matchups, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought out another surprise again.
However, Bwipo has been equally as good as Licorice on multiple occasions for Fnatic. Right now, he is leading all top laners at Worlds in gold difference at ten minutes, as well as average experience difference at ten minutes. Bwipo is a very aggressive top laner, and so playing against a fast-paced team like Cloud9 should be an interesting matchup. The only factor Cloud9 needs to consider, if Licorice does get the upper hand against Bwipo, is Fnatic’s ability to sub in sOAZ. Having a veteran presence that can bring about a calm, collected mindset could be very important. Practically playing against two players could be a challenge for the North American top laner, and could be enough to turn the tides.
Edge: Fnatic – Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau/Paul “sOAZ” Boyer
Another very close matchup, this time in the jungle for these two teams. Svenskeren has seen a resurgence after his time with TSM. Although he wouldn’t play much during the regular season for Cloud9, his outstanding play has been an X-factor this Worlds. Similarly, Broxah’s jungle play has become a huge part of Fnatic’s success both in the regular season and at Worlds. They are both very aggressive junglers, which has helped Fnatic and Cloud9 keep their opponents off-balance throughout the tournament.
Broxah boasts the most kills and highest KDA amongst the junglers at Worlds, with the second most assists at 70. Svenskeren has the highest average gold difference at ten minutes of all the junglers. Additionally, he has the second highest percentage of damage to champions per minute amongst Worlds junglers. Svenskeren also has 18% of the damage share amongst his team, compared to Broxah’s 14.9%. Stats-wise and performance-wise, Broxah and Svenskeren are very alike.
However, even though they are both aggressive players, their game focus is different. Svenskeren’s aggressive style of play comes down to instigating ganks and counter-jungling, whereas Broxah’s strength lies in his ability to countergank. Lee Sin will be a contested pick for these junglers, as they have both shown proficiency on the champion. Again, a close matchup, but this time I’ll be giving the very slight edge to Broxah.
Edge: Fnatic – Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen
Jensen has been a rock in the mid lane for Cloud9 throughout the tournament. The North American mid laner has been able to win almost every matchup he’s faced, right from the laning phase. His ability to starve out his opposing mid laner with expert wave manipulation will be a big problem for Caps, who has had problems in lane this tournament. However, Caps has made up for his poor laning with some incredible teamfighting in the late game. He is still one of the best mid laners in the world, but as a veteran, Jensen will exploit every weakness he sees.
Stats-wise, Jensen is better in KDA, GD10, CSD10, DPM, and DMG%. In fact, Jensen is the top three for all of those categories for Worlds midlaners. Granted, Caps has gone up against some of the best mid laners in the world in Rookie and Scout, but Jensen has been a great mid laner himself.
If Jensen dominates the early game, I have no doubt he will win this mid lane matchup. Yes, Caps has been exceptional for Fnatic in the later stages of their games, but Cloud9 has shown a great proficiency for closing games out fairly well. It will be hard for Caps to catch up when Cloud9 is constantly forcing fights and objectives. However, Caps at his peak is way better than any of the performances he has shown at Worlds. If he can reach back and return to form, he will be the lynchpin that sends Europe to the Finals. However, Jensen will take the vote, for now.
Edge: Cloud9 – Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen
The meme, “Sneaky in Lane”, has now transformed from an insult to a compliment as Worlds has gone on. The veteran North American ADC has been very consistent for Cloud9 throughout the tournament. He has shown great strides in the laning phase, even when getting camped like in their Afreeca Freecs series. Zeyzal has also shown improvement throughout the tournament, with some great performances on Alistar, Braum, and Thresh.
Of course, Fnatic’s bottom lane has also been performing very well. Rekkles has had standout matches against EDG with Sivir, while Hylissang has had multiple great games on Braum and Rakan. Both teams’ ADC’s are quite passive in playstyle, while their supports are anything but. The tipping point for this matchup is who has the hot hand. Hylissang is a veteran, and so he brings experience, but Zeyzal has been playing much better than him recently. Since this matchup will be very close, I’ll give recency bias to Cloud9’s bottom lane, even though it could honestly go either way.
Edge: Cloud9 – Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi/Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam
All in all, this matchup will be closer than ever, with both teams playing a similar style of League. There will be fireworks in each role, but I do think that because the teams are so closely matched, it will come down to a knife’s edge. Cloud9 has found plenty of success with some non-meta picks, while Fnatic has not been able to innovate successfully. However, Fnatic has shown some impressive macro skills as a team through groups and the quarterfinals. Both teams love to fight, so expect an exciting series from start to finish!
Do you agree with our head-to-head matchup of the Worlds semifinals between Fnatic and Cloud9? Let us know what you think in the comments below! If you want more Worlds content, check us out here!
Born and raised in Toronto. Sometimes a writer. Sometimes a creative director. Sometimes bored. Catch me with hundreds of unplayed games in my Steam library.