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The EU Midseason Shuffle: Preparing for Playoffs

Europe has been going through a turbulent Split during the summer of 2016, and the standings so far are a major shocker. Pre-season, nobody following European League of Legends would have believed that Splyce would be a major contender, and Origen would be in serious danger of falling into the relegation tournament, while Giants Gaming had emerged into a respectable mid tier team.

Yet here we are, with the many teams approaching "do or die" moments and making desperate, last-minute roster changes to prepare. Swaps are no surprise at this stage, but this summer season's changes have been jaw-dropping.

It wasn’t so long ago that Fnatic were major contenders at Worlds, making it to the final four of the tournament. While they lost three major components of their team with Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon, Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin, and Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim leaving, they retained their mid lane and AD carries, Martin "Rekkles" Larsson and Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten. Their two replacements, Lee "Spirit" Da-yoon and Noh "Gamsu" Yeong-jin, raised some eyebrows. Now that their veteran leader YellOwStaR has returned, and the team is preparing for Worlds, Spirit has passed the test and will be remaining in the lineup while Gamsu will not. Instead, Fnatic has picked up former G2 top laner Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek.

This is not a glamorous choice, but it's likely the smart one. Kikis isn’t a household name, and he may lack Gamsu’s ability to suddenly go off with a miraculous play, but what he possessed in spades is consistency. Even though Kikis has experienced low points in his career (the Mid-Season Invitational at Shanghai) being an obvious and recent example, there’s often surrounding context and it’s rare that you can chalk something up to just Kikis. Kikis is a solid player who forms a foundation, and a strong foundation is all a team really needs when it already has Rekkles and Febiven dealing damage, and Yellowstar serving as the team’s captain.

As long as the rest of the roster can use Kiki’s stability to improve themselves and find their footing, Fnatic has a good chance at taking all of Europe this summer. The lesson that we can learn from this? Keeping your nose to the grindstone and showing up can be equally as important as making the big plays that stun the world - especially if your region is in flux. Although this may not always be the case, as proven by the other big European story that hit recently...

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