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  • Edward Brady

LEC finals weekend wraps up: All hail the old kings.

- By Edward Brady

The final week of the LEC Spring Split has wrapped up and the most successful organization in the history of the EU League of Legends is back. God help everyone else. What was expected to be a weekend of spectacle where any of the 3 remaining teams could claim the crown in front of the first European live crowd in 4 splits turned into a victory lap for the black and white brigade.

For the final time this split, let’s see how it all went down...

Series 1: #4 G2 3-0 Fnatic #2

TLDR: G2 flatten a mentally broken Fnatic to keep up the streak.

Summary: As a quick disclaimer, for the sake of not being redundant, this is going to be more about Fnatic’s collapse than G2’s great play. While they certainly had plenty of that, I will go into detail about their run in the G2/RGE series so I’m not repeating myself.

That being said, if you ever wanted a demonstration of the power of momentum, how much a healthy team environment helps, and how important good coaches and supporting staff are, I would direct you to this series.

Fnatic came into the day a shell of their former selves. It showed in their play, drafting, and general mental fortitude. Game 1 for some inexplicable reason saw Fnatic run back the amazing blue side Twisted Fate strategy that worked so well for them last week. At least this time he wasn’t the main reason Fnatic lost (although caPs’ Ahri had his number). Razork wasn’t allowed to make plays early with the Diana pick, Wunder lost horribly in the Jayce/Ornn matchup despite how the matchup should go on paper, and the Hylissang coinflip was still a trick coin… for G2.

Oddly enough Fnatic were the ones to ban the TF in game 2. It didn’t help much. caPs was still allowed to crack skulls and take souls on Ahri, Jankos got the J4 again for early game ganking, and Broken Blade still managed to be a carry-on Ornn of all champs. Both games still had Flakked enabling God mode and just refusing to die while Targamas enabled the team through a solid support game. It was lights out for Fnatic from minute one.

Game 3 finally saw Fnatic put up some semblance of a fight. With a usable draft, forcing G2 off the champs they were dominating on, and playing to their own strengths, Fnatic was able to match G2 blow for blow. They even had plenty of scaling in their favor with Wunder’s Gangplank barrels blowing up key members, Humanoid’s Viktor being a massive source of late-game magic damage, and Upset’s Aphelios being the definition of a late-game carry. Slightly ahead in gold and coming off a baron power play, Fnatic was about to deny G2 infernal soul and take a step towards avoiding the sweep.

And then Jankos put the dagger in Fnatic’s heart.

The game didn’t immediately end after the steal, but morale wise, it might as well have. G2 fed off the crowd’s energy and surged forth to take the baron and push Fnatic into a corner. The final play of the game really summed up the mood surrounding Fnatic’s last 6 games. With their backs against the wall, the almost MVP (lost by single-digit votes to Vetheo) flashed in on Nautilus to hook in a key member to save the day!

…he missed by a mile and landed right in front of 4 G2 members, dying immediately and forcing Fnatic to commit to an uneven fight. Game, set, match G2.

With everything that happened in the regular season and with just how much of the field either never stood a chance in the first place (AST,SK,BDS), were developing but not quite there (MSF, XL, G2 on paper), completely failed to live up to expectations (MAD, VIT), this split was quite possibly Fnatic’s best shot at a title yet. On paper there was maybe 1 good team that could hang with them and even then, they were choking on their own feet for the first two games.

And yet only 2 weeks and 6 matches later, it has all gone up in flames.

Despite being one of the oldest and most tenured organizations in the LEC, this makes it almost 4 years since Fnatic last lifted a LoL domestic trophy! And even worse, it was to their biggest rival in a series that wasn’t even close. All that promise is only for a reverse sweep and a total collapse. Their stars played well below their established floor and were mediocre at best, their coaching staff showed a complete inability to adapt and prepare on short notice, and in the new roster’s first real test together of how they deal with adversity they crashed and burned.

It’s not all doom and gloom as Fnatic would have to actively try not to get a Worlds spot this summer, but there are some big questions if Fnatic will ever get back to the top.

As fans call for the heads of players, coaches, supporting staff, and upper management alike, this is unfortunately just another normal day in the reality of post-2018 Fnatic. And I have no idea how they finally get over the hump.

Series 2: #4 G2 3-0 Rogue #1

TLDR: The old narratives and playoff traditions strike Rogue at the worst possible time as G2 cruises to their 9th title.

Summary: This had the potential to be one of the most hype finals in Europe from a gameplay and narrative perspective.

The regular season kings finally solved their issues with their playoff choking versus their old boogeyman and the lower bracket overlords. One organization looking to finally break into the LEC’s truly elite while the other practically has its name written on the throne. Eight out of ten players had never won a title, All-Stars vs All-Stars, the cream of the crop of the EU Masters scene, a true toss-up that could go 5 games either way.

Instead, we got the most one-sided beating since… well the last 3 G2 playoff series.

There’s no way around it, G2 continued to evolve throughout the playoffs, and everyone fired on all cylinders while Rogue didn’t even show up. This series was truly a tale of two teams. G2 won the day through genius drafting, good fundamentals, cool heads, and clutch plays from the stars.

Rogue did precisely the opposite as few of their big names even remotely resembled their regular-season selves, the drafting was full of wasted opportunities and poor choices, and their mental fortitude and clutch factor regressed to the Rogue of old. It wasn’t just one person; it was almost everyone!

Larssen was given a high priority Lucian pick he has been amazing throughout his career in game 1 but needed to get ahead early. He gave up first blood to Jankos. His Azir in game 2 was a signature pick and potentially capable of carrying late. He built a banshee’s veil against Corki/Xayah and got off 1 auto-attack in the crucial late-game river fight and nothing else. He had everything he needed to carry on the Twiseted Fate in game 3. As you will see in more detail later, he failed spectacularly.

Comp despite being the 2nd pro-ADC and being thought of as one of the better bot lanes in the EU (beating the “best” last week was not even close to being the carry Rogue needed. He was almost invisible especially compared to his opponents.

Trymbi found new life this split after an inconsistent rookie year as one of the few supports willing and able to play enchanters, was an x-factor on the Rakan last week, has become one of the team’s key voices and a fan favorite. He played quite possibly the worst series of his young career as he completely failed to make an impact in any of the games.

Malrang tried his best but his laners practically griefed him and he barely even got to play the game.

Odoamne was the lone bright spot in the first two games as his team collapsed around him. He got the message that Rogue wanted to go home early and completely dropped the ball in game 3. He lost terribly in the 1v1 side lane early, middle, and late game in the Ornn/Jayce matchup… as the Jayce.

Their drafting was abysmal. If you are a viewer and you think it is a bad idea to pick a comp with very little room for error against the most clutch team in Europe and unnecessarily put yourselves on a clock, then congratulations, you have more common sense than the Rogue coaching staff.

If you think drafting three AP champs topside with only 1 AD threat, one of those AP champs being Gwen, a champ that has had her kneecaps broken while passing up on the Gangplank that would’ve solved the AD issue and made it hard for G2’s carries to play their game is a bad idea, congratulations, you have better critical thinking skills than the Rogue coaching staff.

If Ornn was a massive boon for G2 in the Fnatic series, it worked wonders against you in game 2, and in the season-defining game 3, and you’d either pick it or ban it, then congratulations, you are better at adaptation than the Rogue coaching staff.

And when it comes to the mental game, Rogue collapsed in every way. They played incredibly scared out of the gate, never really matched G2 in tempo, looked mentally destroyed in games 2 and 3, and even brought back their old choking habits to end the split in game 3. When your opposing ADC is level 1 at 5 minutes, you have a massive gold lead early with champs like Twisted Fate for roaming and Jinx for late game damage, and you STILL can’t win and end up chucking the gold lead off a three-story building, it’s clear that Rogue has some SERIOUS issues that go far deeper than a simple player change or meta shift.

Rogue is the Washington Capitals of the League of Legends scene. And G2 are their Pittsburgh Penguins. For the sake of their fans, I only hope it won’t take them 4 decades to finally realize their potential.

With ALL this discussion about Rogue’s massive playoff failure, there is still another team and another story to talk about.

And boy, what a story it is.

12-0, complete stomps all around, clutch play from everyone, great work, and adaptation from the support staff, this run had it all. Everything from the dominance in their victories to the opponents they beat makes this one of the most memorable playoffs runs in G2 history, if not the LEC. And given how many titles G2 has won, that’s a lofty achievement. This championship run and dominant series mean so much for so many different people.

Broken Blade becomes the first player to win an LCS title, then go win a LEC title. Not only does he have this milestone, but he’s also one of the biggest reasons behind their success and is quickly becoming a potential franchise player.

For Jankos and caPs, this is a return to excellence. After 2021, there were doubters making some noise about how the core might not be able to cut it anymore after a quiet year. In these playoffs, the veterans of G2 not only forced them to eat their words but have given EU some hope for international events when faith in the region was at its lowest after the death of the dynasty.

For the rookies in Flakked and Targamas, they went from a potential weak link and mostly unproven, to the stars of the show for the lower bracket run. Flakked went from a relatively unassuming ADC (compared to the top ones anyway) with little hype surrounding him to putting up unbelievable numbers in the final 4 series. Over the past twelve game, Flakked posted a scoreline of 64/10/93! From a rookie with relatively low expectations no less! There are few words that can describe just how absurd that number is. Targamas made a name for himself with his variety of champions and his clutch plays in laning and team fights. And both became fan favorites for remaining quite humble despite the praises surrounding them.

The support staff is almost all new faces after the great purge of 2021. Given the adjustments they made after the Fnatic loss, and how the players never really tilted or lost focus, it’s safe to say G2 did a good job on the new hires. Special mention goes to coach Dylan Falco. His drafts not only outmatched Fredy122’s many times over, he showed some great individual picks.

In-game 2, Rogue showed Azir, Gwen, Jinx, Volibear, and Nautilus. Three of those champs rely heavily on auto-attacking (even their mage wants to auto!) and almost everyone wants to run at G2. What is his last pick as he G2 only had support left to pick? Renata! The ultimate ability was a breeze to hit considering RGE wanted to sprint at G2, and the members of RGE had so much damage but were so squishy that the members of Rogue would kill each other faster than G2 could. It was a complete genius and that one pick shut down almost everything Rogue wanted to do in that game.

Finally, this is yet another accolade for the living success story that is Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago. This was the first time since their inception as Gamers 2 that G2 has really had to “rebuild”. They were coming off their first season that could be called a total failure despite being the season they were supposed to win it all. After blowing up a roster filled with franchises' faces and some of the biggest names in Europe, G2 for the first time in history didn’t swing for the fences. They looked to the EU Masters scene, and even with those they didn’t go for the biggest names on principle.

While Targamas at least came from the wildly popular K Corp, Flakked came from a 5th-7th place Spanish League team and had no real accolades to his name. And Carlos picked him over people like Rekkles (FNC’s former franchise player and one of the best players EU produced), and Hans Sama (dragged RGE kicking and screaming to international wins, one of the best western ADCs in recent history). Despite the flak in the offseason from fans and haters alike for “not trying to win” and “just going for the budget option”, Carlos remained steadfast in his decision and promised success from the new faces.

Four months later, their foes lay broken around them, super teams collapsed, rivals slaughtered, new challengers kicked to the curb, and the general preseason consensus of the LEC’s hierarchy is in ruin. And G2 is the lone team standing atop the throne.

This is not a new feeling for Carlos, G2, or their fanbase, but given the amount of work and struggle they had to put in to get there, it might just be the sweetest one yet, and the start of a new dynasty. Much to the joy of their fans, and the despair of every other team. EU fans can only hope G2 will pull out another miracle at MSI this May.

This has been Edward Brady, reporting for NTTV.

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