posted by Malystryx.GDS,
The climax to the MLG T.K.O. Europe happened earlier today. The team of the moment Empire took on Fnatic, who lost to the Russian team less than 24 hours before. The prize for first place was $14,000 and the two teams had performed equally well in Stage 1, 2 and 3. However, when the grand finals dawned, who rose to the challenge? Team Empire and Fnatic were the most consistent teams in the competition, both finishing in the top 2 in stage 1 and 2 of the MLG T.K.O. Europe, with ru Rox.Kis coming in a modest third place. The last time the two teams played was only yesterday in the HyperX D2L Western Challenge with Fnatic conceding to a 0-2 defeat, not the greatest of preparations for a grand final.

However, if one thing summed up the MLG T.K.O Europe finals it was this: there was no great gap between these two teams. Even though they both succeed from a different approach to how they draft and play. Fnatic triumph on concocting brilliant 5-man strategies, with each piece of the draft contributing to the end goal of a perfect 5-man killing machine. This was particularly clear in both of the opening games.

The first game was a walk in the park for Fnatic at times, simply because of the way their heroes worked together. H4nn1 was running wild with Ember Spirit thanks to rotations by Fnatic supports early game, with Team Empire unable to shut him down in later battles before he slashed out the damage. Couple that with a Trixi Batrider and Era Tiny lassoing and throwing to their heart's content and you have a recipe for Empire's downfall. When all the pieces come together it's just almost surreal how Fnatic can destroy teams. In game one Empire's Clinkz, which was picked as hopeful counter to Ember Spirit, was dragged onto the top of a cliff while carrying an Aegis. A ridiculous battle ensued that left you wondering whether this was really a grand final or just a lobby between mates after a hard day at work. Game one echoed the encounter Fnatic had with Alliance yesterday, if you give Fnatic a yard they'll drag you for a mile.

Resolut1on's Clinkz's public ridicule

By game two Team Empire had choices to make following Ember's success in the first game.
"I think Ember will be banned for the rest of this game series. Empire's idea was we know this hero is strong we'll give it away and try to outplay it but it didn't work," said commentator SyndereN on the joinDOTA commentary. "There was no way to clearly catch him out before he dished out the damage in the fight. There was no way to engage," added TobiWan.

True be told Ember Spirit was the second ban for Team Empire, with Io being their first choice given how good Fnatic are with Tiny and Wisp. Fnatic's line-up looked strange in the second game, with an offlane Windranger for Era and a duel lane Viper and Dazzle. With Fnatic picking Naga Siren first in the draft, Empire quickly countered with the burst damage of Morphling. After the game started it all went a bit pear-shaped, with Empire having a Sand King support mid with Morphling which Fnatic responded to by having a Dazzle to support their Naga.

Bottom lane on the dire side had n0tail in a role not even the commentators understood. He bought brown boots as a starting item on Earthshaker along with a set of observer and sentry wards which he shared out with his team-mates. He did not purchase any regen items and was content to just run around the ancients on his side of the river attracting creep aggro and warping the lane equilibrium.

Synderen had not been too keen on the Fnatic Windranger choice, rating her Shackleshot one of the most useless spells in the game. "Unless you shackle to someone this spell is just a TP-stopper, a 0.75 second TP stopper with no damage," said SyndereN. "Windranger offlane is a thing of the past, it doesn't really work anymore and she doesn't have a back-up plan if things don't work out."

Despite fielding the "outdated" offlane Windranger, Fnatic's laning stage still somehow worked out relatively well. Era's Windranger had a good time versus clockwerk, the mid lane was a stale mate - n0tail's early sentry actually helped to get the first kill for his team, and in the top lane Ancient Apparition and Invoker were getting enough farm. However, Empire's choice of Morphling slowly came into his own with an out of pocket Earthshaker unable to setup the fights, Fnatic were left with just Song of the Sirens, but not enough damage output compared to the Invoker, Morphling and Clockwerk, who would dominate most of the game with their burst damage and mobility. At 12 minutes in Empire were in the driving seat having won several skirmishes in a row, 2-1 hero trades slowly increasing their advantage.

Exquisite Cogs and Epicenter Combo by Empire

However, momentum, after a bright start, faded; a superior share of kills and gold seemed to offer no substantial reward for Team Empire. Fnatic's coordination was excellent when it came to the big team fights at that point, team fights Empire had fearlessly walked into 5 minutes before. What started off as a single pick off on a careless Morphling without a TP turned into a triple kill on Team Empire. Fnatic's 5-man and teamwork kept them in the game, with Team Empire looking less confident than they had at the end of the early game. With several failed initiations from Empire, the Russian team seemed more confident responding to Fnatic's engagement than start one themselves. They worked their way through the towers methodically with tier 2 mid followed by bottom tier 1 both falling. Team Empire's patience was rewarded with Morph split pushing power unmatched and his ability to kill off Fnatic's carry all too apparent, Fnatic were left to chase across the map hoping for a kill on Morphling. One such attempt at 23 minutes-in failed miserably despite all 5 players of Fnatic being present, with Silent dodging in and out of the tree line and escaping with a replicate. Team Empire then charged in to wipe out 4, a clear indication of just how far ahead Empire were. After admirable resistance from Fnatic, there came a point where they were simply beyond coming back, with Dazzle, WindRanger and an underfarmed Viper unable to compete with Empire. Empire took the second game but Fnatic went down fighting.

In game Fnatic won the draft on paper, picking up the Ember Spirit that did so well for them in the first game, as well as the Ancient Apparition. However, a poorly executed aggressive tri-lane of Mirana, Venomancer and Ancient Apparition lost them the early game. With the supports of Empire much stronger post-level 6, although, a good fight at Radiant ancients signaled the chance for the beginnings of a comeback 14 minutes in. At 16 minutes Fnatic pushed on mid tier 1 but AlwaysWannaFly nice spellsteal granted Team Empire Plague Wards which defended their T1 mid beautifully. Another spell steal two minutes later helped Rubick escape from a Fnatic smoke by stealing Sand King's burrow strike. A perfectly timed global silence won Empire the next fight, with a 3 for 1 trade going their way.

Fnatic's big break came at 42 minutes in, with their first major team battle victory, killing off four of Team Empire plus the Aegis. However, overconfidence got the better of them, and 3 buy backs by Team Empire allowed the Russian team to take 3 Fnatic lives and force them back. Fnatic were down but not out, and Era's Mirana started to have more of an impact with her Mjollnir Active once the team started to fight at Empire's tier 3 again at 46 minutes, shutting down two of Empire's support heroes. Era struck again with Moonlight Shadow to setup a 4-0 fight for Fnatic as well as two sets of Barracks. H4nni's Daedalus-equipped Ember Spirit sealed the deal just a few minutes later.

It was a credit to Fnatic they hadn't caved in earlier in the third game, showing the resilience they showcased in game two. The European side were battered and bruised for a good 30 minutes before finally making some headway in the last 5-10 minutes of the game.

The final game was far from as tightly contested as the last, with Team Empire's negligence of Fnatic's Alchemist blatantly their cause for defeat. For some reason they happily left H4nni's farm up. With Battle Fury, Assault Cuirass and Power Treads at 19 mins, followed by a solo Roshan at 20 minutes, a Heart of Tarrasque at 24 mins and a 700 gpm overall, this was more than just an oversight by Empire. Meanwhile Era's Tiny found a new friend in the form of n0tail's Lion, with Toss into Earth Spike proving extremely effective. By 30 minutes in Tiny and Alchemist, were disintegrating Empire's barracks and Empire's heroes were on the Alchemist's chopping block. A bizarre game for Team Empire but full credit goes to Fnatic.

Toss into Earth Spike and Hex worked wonders for Fnatic

The final match went to Fnatic and makes them the MLG T.K.O. Europe Champions. Although falling short in recent competitions like Starladder, WPC West and DreamLeague, Fnatic are finally back to winning ways.

Final Standings
1. eu Fnatic - $14,000
2. ru Team Empire - $8,500
3. ru Rox.Kis - $4,500