LEC 2022 Spring Playoffs Overview: May the Best Team Win
The League of Legends European Championship is one of 4 major regions in the LoL Ecosystem. It is the other western league that is seen as being stronger than NA (historical precedence says yes). If people watch NA, they usually watch EU. The reverse is also true. After 9 weeks and 18 games per team, the field has narrowed down from 10 teams to 6 as playoffs are upon us. Who are the lucky teams? What should we expect from them? And who will walk away with the glory when the dust settles?
Let’s find out by looking at the teams and how they got there. We’ll start from the bottom of the seeding table and work our way up. Starting with…
#6 Team Vitality: The Not So Super Team
Roster: Alphari (Top), Selfmade (Jungle), Perkz (Mid), Carzzy (ADC), Labrov (Support)
Summary/Expectations: This team was projected at the beginning of the season to all but run the LEC.
The fact that they limped into the playoffs and only qualified on the final day is somehow both one of the biggest shocks of the season and the completely expected result.
Consistency has been Vitality’s mortal enemy all season long. You’ll watch them one week and the raw talent of the team will shine through. Alphari will dominate a lane, Selfmade will effectively carry through jungle, and Perkz will show up in the clutch on the way to an easy victory.
The game after that, Alphari will fail to do anything with his early lead, Carzzy and Labrov will fall flat, and Perkz will look like an entirely different player if you turned the nameplate off.
The team unquestionably has talent, big names, and star-power in spades, but the team often fails to play as an actual team. Very often Vitality looks like 5 individuals with no means of communication. This leads to an incredibly inconstant team with one of the highest ceilings and the lowest floor. When they win, they stomp. When they lose, they lose ugly.
Team Vitality have quite possibly the biggest number of critical eyes watching them this playoff season. Given the amount of hype, they make for an easy target to rip apart when things go wrong. Vitality will need to start winning and run the gauntlet to shut their haters up.
The super team has the talent to win it all, but they will need to work quickly to patch up the flaws that put them in the lower bracket to begin with.
#5 Excel Esports: The Unexpected Slayer of Memes
Roster: Finn (Top), Markoon (Jungle), Nukeduck (Mid), Patrik (ADC), Mikyx (Support)
Summary/Expectations: The jokes of Excel eternally being 7th and always finding a way to miss playoffs are finally dead. Good thing to because they were starting to wear out their welcome.
This year Excel finally got over the hump due to some solid play and a surprising mid-season pickup. While the way they did it leaves something to be desired, Mikyx is bringing the best out of XL. While their early games aren’t explosive, they aren’t completely inept in it like years past. When they get to the mid game, they aren’t floundering in decision making as much. And his lane partner Patrik is having yet another stellar season and has been the key part to Excel’s success. While his individual stats might not paint the full picture, in almost every single one of Excel’s wins, Patrik is one of if not the key contributor. It was enough to win him 3rd team All-Pro in an incredibly stacked position.
However, Excel’s greatest strength might also be their biggest weakness. This is a team that loves to win games through the bottom side of the map. The problem is that many of the top teams also like this strategy and have even more firepower in the position. And they have better weapons elsewhere. While the other 3 members are far from incompetent, it can’t be overstated how important Patrik and Mikyx are to this team. The other teams are aware of this and have the means to shut them down.
While Excel are far from a favorite and their match against Vitality is a toss-up, perhaps Excel can surprise us all with a deep run. They seem to be full of them lately.
#4 G2 Esports: Old and New Faces for the Empire
Roster: Broken Blade (Top), Jankos (Jungle), caPs (Mid), Flakked (ADC), Targamas (Support)
Summary/Expectations: Reports of G2’s death after last year’s playoff heartbreak were greatly exaggerated.
Thanks to the established faces of G2 stepping up to the plate after a ton of criticism in 2021, and the new faces gelling spectacularly, G2 are back in prime position to run through playoffs. With one the strongest top sides in Broken Blade and Jankos, G2 scrapped their way to an 11-7 record. In a league where so many teams play through bot and mid lane, and EU having a comparitvly weak top lane pool, Broken Blade is given an opportunity to shine. He eclipses all playoff top laners in Kill Participation at 61% and his damage share and damage per minute are some of the highest in his role. Jankos has been a great facilitator around the map, winning games almost by himself with smart pathing and good ganks. Both members won 2nd team All-Pro, and there is plenty of debate whether Broken Blade should’ve jumped Odoamne.
Despite such strengths, G2 are not perfect. They have two issues, one clear and one potential that could stop them from winning it all. The first Is that G2 is not exactly the cleanest team when it comes to closing out games. Them almost throwing an unlosable game to Misfits and actually throwing away a 13k gold lead in the rematch is something that is very hard to live down. The 2nd issue is the lack of experience for some members. While caPs and Jankos likely have enough experience to go around, this is going to be Flakked and Targamas’ first playoff appearance. While they have proven themselves as good players, you never know how pressure is going to affect young players.
But if they can shake off the nerves and clean up the mistakes, G2 might just as another LEC title to their crowded cabinet and take the first step towards rebuilding their dynasty.
#3 Misfits Gaming: Vetheo and Friends
Roster: Hirit (Top), Shlatan (Jungle), Vetheo (Mid), Neon (ADC), Mersa (Support
Summary/Expectations: There has been a lot of talk over the years about the increasing importance of teamwork in League of Legends and how one player just can’t solo carry a game like they used to.
Vincent "Vetheo" Berrié took this as a personal challenge.
There is no way around it, while some of the more vitriolic labels for Misfits are overblown, Misfits would be nowhere near this level without their super star mid laner. Vetheo has exploded onto the scene in his 2nd year and has been cracking skulls and taking names. He has been the focal point of the team and nowhere better is this shown when you look at his kill score. 98 kills almost set a mid lane record, and that is 21 more than the next closest and more than the 6th and 7th place mid laners combined.
Despite Vetheo’s practically having LEC MVP waiting for him on a silver platter, and the other members having their moments, there are a couple of reasons the #1 seed chose to play them instead of the lower ranked G2. As a team their early game can be atrocious. While the mental resilience needed to make comebacks from 5-digit gold deficits against top teams is admirable, the fact they are getting in the holes in the first place is alarming. Especially when you expect the other teams to clean up their act. And while the idea of “Vetheo and 4 wards” is overblown and just untrue, the fact of the matter is that the other 4 members are inconsistent at times and somewhat lacking when compared to the giants of the league. Mersa in particular has received a ton of flak for not really cutting it especially when MSF have a perfectly good support in Vander sitting in EU Masters who they willingly subbed out.
But if the rest of Misfits can step up their game and Vetheo continues his reign in the mid lane, the eternal surprise of the LEC might just pull another rabbit out of the hat.
#2 Fnatic: The True Super Team
Roster: Wunder (Top), Razork (Jungle), Humanoid (Mid), Upset (ADC), Hylissang (Support)
Summary/Expectations: Now here’s a super team that has lived up to the hype! Take notes Vitality…
Fnatic were the other team expected to be head and shoulders above the competition. While 2nd place might not look like that, Fnatic might just be the scariest team in the LEC. After a 2021 that saw him blamed for G2’s failure, Wunder is back in form and taking his vegnece on those who beat him down and wrote him off. Meanwhile in the other solo lane, Humanoid has been one of the best pickups of any LEC team this season. Given that Humanoid is looking fantastic, is a crucial part of Fnatic’s success, and that his former team the 2-time defending champion MAD Lions didn’t even make it to playoffs, it’s clear who was the brains and the hands behind the “new kings”.
But Fnatic’s true strength lies in the bot lane. There are plenty of words and phrases you can use to describe the duo of Upset and Hylissang.
“Skilled”. “Smart”. “Transcendent”. “Best bot lane in EU”. “Oh my god how has Hylissang landed every single Pyke hook by level 3”. “Why is Upset physically incapable of dying”.
Many words, all positive. Upset set the record for least deaths in a split at 11. ELEVEN. He played more games than he had deaths. It’s not like he was just playing safe either (one does not play safe when Hyli is your support). He had the 4th highest kills, a 16.5 KDA (next highest ADC was 6.7), and the highest gold and XP difference at 10 minutes.
With such impressive strengths and few true weaknesses, (Razork has been a bit underwhelming, and the aggression doesn’t have much of an off switch) Fnatic are looking like one of the most surefire picks to win it all. If the black and orange add an 8th trophy to their collection to match their rivals and claim their first LEC title since 2019, few will be surprised.
#1 Rogue: 4th Time’s the Charm?
Roster: Odoamne (Top), Malrang (Jungle), Larssen (Mid), Comp (ADC), Trymbi (Support)
Summary/Expectations: Rogue along with their opponents in Misfits have been one of the biggest shocks of the LEC. When news broke that they lost Hans Sama and Inspired to NA, I and many others all but considered them dead in the water.
How foolish of us to forget that Rogue does their best work when counted out.
Instead, Rogue put up yet another amazing regular season for the 4th split in a row with massive amounts of talent in every position. If anything, they almost look better than they did with their two stars of the past. While much of this can be attributed to them cutting back on the throws and the culture/atmosphere apparently being much better, the individual members are also stepping up.
Comp has developed spectacularly after receiving a 2nd lease on life after the Vitality debacle. The only reason this major success story hasn’t received more coverage is because he is in a league with Upset (still good enough to win 2nd team All-Pro convincingly). Trymbi has gone from skilled but inconsistent to a solid voice on the team and one of the best supports in the League. Odoamne and Larssen are stellar as usual. But perhaps the biggest standout has been Malrang.
Malrang is quite possibly the only man who can contest Vetheo for LEC MVP. While the move received heavy criticism when it was first announced, Malrang’s unique style of jungling has given new life for Rogue. People kept waiting for his hyper-aggressive, self-sacrificing jungle style to backfire or stop working. That never fully happened, and he continues to be one of the most exciting names in the league.
Despite all the positives, improvements, and solid reasons to believe Rogue could win it all, they are not without plenty of doubters for various reasons. It might not exactly be their fault, Rogue’s legacy of playoff failure despite hype is very hard to ignore and shake off. While “Rogue time” looks to be a thing of the past, I have been burned before in thinking Rogue have gotten over their issues and will believe it when I see it.
The 2nd more concrete reason goes back to one of their biggest stars in Malrang. That quip about the jungle style did occur, 4 times in fact. While Malrang might not be a solo carry, Rogue sometimes live and die by him. If he gets shut out and doesn’t get to play his game, the rest of Rogue suffers dearly.
Despite the minimal doubts, Rogue have quite possibly their best chance at the title yet. Given the talent both proven and developing, there is only one goal in mind, and only one thing that will shake their ever-present doubters off. Winning.
Rogue 3-1 Misfits Gaming (Vetheo can only do so much and Rogue complete outmatch MSF in multiple positons)
Fnatic 3-2 G2 Esports (BB and Jankos can keep it close, but Upset and Hyli are too much for almost anyone)
Excel Esports 2-3 Team Vitality (Battle between consistency and raw talent. VIT have too much playoff experience to completely crumble)
The Playoffs kick off the first round on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The best-of-5 series start at 12 PM, 11, and 10 AM respectively. You can watch the matches at https://www.twitch.tv/lec, the LEC YouTube channel, or https://lolesports.com/. The full schedule is also on the LoLesports website.