The first Play-In team has made it through. After four days of competition, Fnatic locked its spot in the 2022 League of Legends World Championship Group Stage. The LEC team finished their Play-In Stage group in first place, directly qualifying them for the next phase of the tournament.

The Europeans had a limited amount of control over their direct qualification heading into Day 4 of the event. Suffering a surprise loss to LOUD on Day 3, Fnatic sat at a 3-1 score, which was well within range for other Group A teams to catch up. Against Beyond Gaming, a win would guarantee Fnatic at least a top two spot. A loss, on the other hand, would open them up to disastrous tiebreaker scenarios.

Thankfully for Fnatic fans, the team had heard the wake-up call. Mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Br├ízda popped off on one of his signature champions, Akali. Although Fnatic’s team play still left a lot to be desired at times, the team secured a 4-1 score. The dust hadn’t settled yet, however. If Evil Geniuses beat DetonatioN FocusMe, the North American team would also climb to a 4-1 score, and a tiebreaker game between them and Fnatic would take place for the first place in Group A. DetonatioN FocusMe spared Fnatic the extra effort. The Japanese squad trumped Evil Geniuses in a hectic game and granted Fnatic free passage to the Group Stage.

Cloud9, T1, and EDward Gaming are likely next for Fnatic

Fnatic has their work cut out for them in the Worlds 2022 Group Stage. In theory, there are two groups Fnatic can end up in: Group A and Group D. Group B and Group C are out of the equation because they already have an LEC team in them and Riot’s rules stipulate that Group Stage rules cannot host two teams of the same region. Group A features Cloud9, T1, and EDward Gaming. Group D has Gen.G, CTBC Flying Oyster, and 100 Thieves.

It’s likely that Fnatic will end up in Group A though. RNG have looked strong in the Play-In Stage as well and are in a good position to advance to the Group Stage too. Should they do so, they’ll automatically be placed in Group D because all other groups already contain an LPL team.

No matter what happens next, Fnatic will breathe a sigh of relief for qualifying for the Group Stage. Fnatic faced a lot of issues before the start of Worlds 2022. Bot laner Elias “Upset” Lipp and support Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov caught COVID-19 one week before the event started, meaning Fnatic had to field two emergency substitutions. Upset then recovered just in time to make it to Mexico City after all, although he had to play without any practice. The bot laner later revealed that the team had not been able to scrim at all during the Play-In Stage as a result of the tight schedule.

The Worlds 2022 Group Stage kicks off on Oct. 7. You can find the full schedule here.