ANALYSIS: Is Fnatic Jesiz Redefining The Meta Or Simply A Master Of Cheese?
Support Jesse “Jesiz” Le was vilified for much of the EU LCS Spring Split on account of his underwhelming performances within a struggling Fnatic lineup. After relinquishing the constraints of coach Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård’s non-sensical draft phase strategies, Fnatic enjoyed a remarkable turn around to reach the playoffs. Unleashing a diverse range of off-meta picks onto unsuspecting opponents, Jesiz’s choice of champions have split public opinion.
After enforcing a change in coaching staff, Fnatic’s recovery was near instantaneous: beating Misfits after posing a serious threat to G2 eSports in their previous fixture. With a playoff spot secured, FNC would face rivals H2K-Gaming, a game in which many expected a whitewash given the two teams’ contrasting form over the regular season.
FNC provided the biggest upset of the quarter-final round, cleanly dispatching H2K with a 3-0 victory. The team’s fanbase and the wider League of Legends community were left rubbing their eyes in disbelief, as Fnatic unveiled an assortment of weird and wonderful picks. After stealing a game away from heavy favourites G2 eSports in the opening match of the semi-final series, the reigning champions proved too strong for Jesiz and the other members of the FNC roster.
Jesiz made headlines during the semi-final vs G2 eSports, unveiling Annie in the support role for the first time in the 2017 season. The champion’s selection took both fans and analysts alike by surprise, further establishing Jesiz’s reputation as an ‘off-meta deviant, after previously unleashing Fiddlesticks and Camille onto the rift as support picks. As Fnatic executed an unexpected roam to the top lane at level one, Jesiz’s Annie was quickly branded as “cheese” as the enthusiastic support flashed and stunned to secure first blood:
The fiery engages continued as Fnatic approached the mid-game; Jesiz executed an inch perfect Annie combo to initiate a violent team fight:
As the game developed however, Jesiz’s impact on the match began to falter. After a number of recent changes, Annie’s inability to neither peel for her AD Carry (in this instance, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s Twitch) nor one-shot the enemy squishy champions (due to a lack of significant ability power in the support build).
Once late game team fights arrived vs G2 eSports, Fnatic found themselves down a locket of the iron solari and redemption, two vital components in the current support meta. Despite changes to the champion’s auto attack range, Jesiz was able to transition successfully through the laning phase, thanks in part to a lane swap.
Success in lane is a feature of Jesiz’s play that has been aided by his knowledge of off-meta picks. During Fnatic’s penultimate set of games before the end of the regular split, G2 eSports focussed a number of bans on Fiddlesticks, a champion Jesiz had found success on in solo queue.
Faced with the prospect of G2 Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez’s Malzahar, Jesiz’s Fiddlesticks pick proved to be an effective counter-pick to the oppressive mage. With plenty of crowd control and the ability to interrupt dive attempts from the enemy team, Fiddlesticks worked well within Fnatic’s composition, yet a sub-optimal build failed to provide the area of effect damage so commonly associated with the champion.
Perhaps the most successful off-meta pick presented by the support is Camille. Featuring prominently during Fnatic’s victory over H2K-Gaming, Jesiz utilised the champion’s mobility to create a number of opportunities for his teammates, memorably predicting the movements of Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon to zone him from an important fight:
Whether Jesiz’s champion choices are innovative or simply unexpected ‘cheese strategies’ will continue to be a point of contention. Given the limited amount of time the revitalised FNC roster were granted to showcase their new style, it will require a full split under new management to determine whether Jesiz’s unique picks will become a successful ploy for Fnatic.