GUANGZHOU, China -- Fnatic's League of Legends World Championship run began with an 0-3 Week 1 in groups. Despite the rough start, the European squad managed to place in the top eight of the tournament and collide with Chinese second seed Royal Never Give Up in the quarterfinal. After RNG defeated Fnatic 3-1, veteran top laner Paul "sOAZ" Boyer spoke with ESPN about the run at Worlds and his expectations for next year.
Right before the series, Fnatic had an amazing comeback where you came back from 0-3 in the first week to sweep through the first week. How much did you expect this kind of turn around?
sOAZ: I think it was pretty hard for us because, obviously, we didn't expect for it to be like that. The morale for each of us and the team was really low. After that, we had a talk, and that's pretty much why we started playing a bit better -- not better, but just how we would normally play.
I think everyone was a bit too stressed the first week. It just had a negative effect or impact on the team overall. We could just pick up ourselves after.
I've heard this kind of line where a team will say there are really bad results or something unexpected happens, and then there is "the talk." How do you come to the point where you need to get everyone to sit down and agree to work it out?
sOAZ: Obviously, when this happened -- that we are behind -- we are 0-3, so obviously, we need a lot of luck to beat like Longzhu and everyone else. In terms of talk, we just -- everyone was thinking we are pretty much out, we just didn't want to like leave 0-6, pretty much. We tried to prep for every single team, even Longzhu. We had a better game than the first one against Longzhu, but then we made one mistake and just ended the game pretty fast. I think, against the other teams, it was actually a lot easier.
I'm not sure for what reason, but we were just playing better -- even though, in the last game against [GIGABYTE Marines], our draft was not that great overall, but it is due to different factors -- lane swap, we are just scared of lane swap, so we had to ban certain champions.
You said that you were a little afraid of lane swaps. This type of lane swap is actually something that Fnatic practiced earlier this year for the Spring Split playoffs. What were some aspects that were just difficult to deal with?
sOAZ: The first game, when we faced them, it was like -- I think they had Lulu with Kassadin and then Nocturne. They super leash with Nocturne. Nocturne was just really far up, and we had this idea of, OK, we are going to be five-man bot, and we are going to make the dive happen. It just didn't happen like this. Nocturne was three levels up. He was Level 6 when our bot lane was Level 3. Karma is not very good against Nocturne, so we just -- he gets three more kills, and he is just taking over the game.
The jungle was just really strong, and I'm sure they probably play a lot around jungle, and he calls for a lot. As for us, it's more of the opposite. It's more [jungler Mads] "Broxah" [Brock-Pedersen] asking for information, and laners sort of leading him in what we should play for.
It seemed like one of the biggest adaptations over the course of the tournament was your team playing more toward your side of the map and giving you stronger lane matchups. How did this transition come about?
sOAZ: We didn't really talk about it today. On top lane, even though I practice a bit of Jayce in solo queue, or whatever, we just play the meta stuff sort of -- plus Gnar, that is not being played by many teams. But Gnar is just a niche, sort of. I just picked it because we were 0-2 against the enemy team, and I just wanted to do something more that I felt I couldn't do with Cho'Gath or Trundle or whatever. We are just not that good as a team, so from each position, sometimes we just need the X factor, sort of.
For example, the first game that we had against [RNG], we made something happen bot. We had Taliyah, Trundle, Gragas and then -- I'm sure if I would just call to play for bot and eventually play for myself, I'm sure the game would have been completely different. We have Taliyah against Cho, we can get a gank Level 3 or something to blow his flash, the best case, kill him. And we have Taliyah. So at Level 6, we will either get dive or lose turret. Instead, we play for bot. We got a kill or Soraka, but eventually, if Soraka doesn't die, then they can play for top, get a lot of pressure from it and get Cho'Gath through the game.
They had a stronger matchup bot, so I think it was just wrong for us first game to play for bot. We should probably play for top. And eventually the game would go completely different if I had more pressure myself. And then there was the Vayne that was already really strong in the game, but we were too slow, and we don't want to siege. There are just some different things every game. We are just not quite on point today in terms of we are going all-in for what people were saying, but I felt we are not thinking too much about the whole picture. There was a lack of decisiveness and just thinking that we should snowball this game faster.
I think we are just much better at trying to play fast. Today, we just tried to play slow. We are not like a G2 that we just play a slow, steady game. We just made one big mistake every time and lost two games because of it.
What's the thing you feel you're the most proud of this year for your team for Fnatic?
sOAZ: I think I'm most proud of the rookies because it's pretty hard for rookies to come up. Caps never played competitively before -- I mean, he played in Turkey, but I suppose it's something different to play in LCS and then play in Paris in front of huge crowd and play at Worlds. So it's a lot of pressure. Same for Broxah. He had like no experience except playing for the Fnatic Academy team. I'm not sure if he had even LAN experience before. They handled it pretty well. I didn't play with rookies for a while before actually playing with Rekkles back with Fnatic three years ago.
I think I learned a lot about what should be done in the future. If for next Worlds or whatever what we should do next year compared to what we did this year. I think there's a lot of things that we did wrong in terms of preparation for the bootcamp that we had in Korea or in China. There's so many different things depending on team or coaching staff or organization. I think I will have -- eventually, next year, if we qualify to Worlds, I will have more of my own opinion rather than just doing what people do. I know more about rookies and what should be done for us next year if we keep the same team, obviously.
I think this the first post-Worlds interview in a while where you seem to be saying you're definitely going to play next year, so do you feel pretty good overall about this year?
sOAZ: Well, obviously, I'm still signed for one more year with Fnatic. For me, before I signed, I already knew that I would play for two years. I think, I guess it depends, after each Worlds. I don't think I'm too disappointed this year, so it's easy to be optimistic about the future. I'm sure Rekkles is a bit more disappointed, but I think it was something small that was lacking. I would probably be a lot more frustrated and sad if we got stomped, but I felt like we were playing good, but there was just something lacking.