Europe's Powerhouse vs. IEM Singapore Champions

Day one of Intel Extreme Masters Katowice starts with an unprecedented matchup: Invictus Gaming against Fnatic. Both teams seem to be struggling in their respective regions at the moment. Invictus Gaming has only won three out of ten in the current LPL spring season so far, but Fnatic seems to be recovering from their losing streak, having gone 2-2 since their win against Gambit in week 7.

Both teams have also had recent successes. Invictus Gaming won the first season of Tencent's Demacia Cup over World Elite in January and secured a spot at Katowice by handily winning the Singapore qualifier over the likes of CJ Entus Frost and AZUBU Taipei Assassins. They also clinched a second place in Shanghai, outplacing OMG and Royal Club Huang Zu. Fnatic doesn't boast recent tournament wins - their last Intel Extreme Masters win dates from 2011. However, no one should forget their LCS dominance throughout 2013 and the beginning of the current split.

Interestingly, both teams had their run at the Season 3 world title thwarted by Royal Club. Invictus Gaming took a 1-2 loss in the mainland China regional qualifiers and consequently placed third, not making it to the world stage in the first place. Fnatic, meanwhile, took a 1-3 loss in the World Championship semifinals.

Invictus Gaming's top laner and team captain Liu "PDD'' Mou

Invictus Gaming's roster has been comparatively stable since Kid joined in June 2012. The lineup sports names that ring bells even for those who don't actively follow the Chinese scene. In the course of time, PDD's Rumble and Kid's Ezreal have become fan favorites. In January, long-time team member Sun ''XiaoXiao'' Yalong announced his retirement from professional League of Legends. The organization appears to have taken measures in advance, however, as the last offline tournaments already saw replacement Liu ''Kitties'' Hongjun filling the role of support. It appears safe to assume that the lineup has had ample time to adjust to the roster change.

Fnatic's roster has been less characterized by stability over the course of its existence. No less than twelve players have been part of Fnatic's main lineup since its inception in March 2011. Upon closer inspection, eight of these players happened to occupy the bottom lane. With the addition of YellOwStaR at the start of 2013 and long-awaited prodigy Rekkles finally completing the roster in November, it appears that Fnatic has finally got the stable bottom lane they have been longing for since their return from Korea in May 2012. With season 4, their skirmish-heavy season 3 playstyle hasn't yet proven itself to be as successful as it once was for the last couple of months, with assassins having fallen out of favor. They've been trying to make a creative switch towards a playstyle that better suits the current meta but have yet to find success. Will they find the right approach in time for Katowice?

  Invictus Gaming Fnatic
Top Liu "PDD'' Mou  Paul "sOAZ" Boyer 
Jungle Chen "illuSioN" Xinlin  Lauri "Cyanide" Happonen 
Mid Liu "Zz1tai" Zhihao  Enrique Cedeño "xPeke" Martinez
ADC Ge ''Kid'' Yan  Martin "Rekkles" Larsson 
Support Liu "Kitties'' Hongjun  Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim 

It's been a while since we saw a Chinese-European matchup, The question is: whose playstyle is going to decide the pace of the game? We have seen Fnatic's adaptability to foreign metagames in the course of time, but what if it's Invictus that has to do the adapting? The LPL has yet to play on 4.x patches and China hasn't had as much time to adapt to season 4 as the other regions. Surely Invictus Gaming won't go in unprepared, but there is no denying that Fnatic will have the home field advantage on this one. It's certainly going to be interesting to see the Chinese's take on the 4.3 patch.

Tune in and watch the kickoff next Friday at 13:00 CET on!


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