LEC Round 1 playoffs wrap-up: The full spectrum
- By Edward Brady
The first round of the LEC playoffs has wrapped up we got the full playoff experience. We had one team completely dominate the other, a relatively close but not quite even series, and one that went the distance. I will be breaking down the results of each series in-depth and giving a quick headline of how it went.
Let’s get started...
Series 1: #1 Rogue 3 - 1 #3 Misfits
TLDR: Misfits pick a bad time to have an off day as Rogue takes care of business.
Summary: What happens when a team lives and dies by one player, their opponents (who are far more well-rounded) shut him down, and only one member picks up the slack? You get this series.
Rogue fired on all cylinders for 75% of the series as a combination of underperformance from the stars and glaring holes they’ve had all season condemn Misfits to the lower bracket. The only position that was consistently good was the bot lane. Neon not only pulled not only kept up with comp (who was no slouch himself) he was the x-factor that kept Misfits in the series for far longer than they should have been. Game 1 established three things that would define the series and seal Rogue’s victory.
1: Malrang could run circles around Shlatan.
2: HiRit was nowhere near Odoamne’s level.
And 3: Rogue had plenty of ways to keep Vetheo quiet.
Even with Neon demonstrating how ridiculous Zeri can be, Rogue outclassed the rest of Misfits on too many levels. Odoamne stomped the top lane with and without jungle intervention, Malrang was everywhere he needed to be to get his team ahead while Shlatan was passable at best (with a few standout blunders) and Larssen could go even with and even surpass Vetheo while Comp and Trymbi did their jobs.
Although game 1 would be a bit exciting as Misfits worked their traditional dark magic to mount a comeback, Rogue slammed the door shut. In game 2 Misfits wouldn’t even get that. Complete domination from start to finish. The top lane in particular was the most egregious mismatch. The KDAs actually tell the story here. Odoamne: 10/2/7. HiRit: 0/7/3.
Game 3 was a dominant win for Misfits thanks to a 2v2 top side going wrong for Rogue and Vetheo snowballing it from there. With new life breathed into Misfits, Rogue’s storied history under pressure and Vetheo getting his almost signature champion Akali, this would be the first test of Rogue’s mental.
As you can guess from the scoreline, they passed with flying colors. Game 4 saw Misfits lay a total egg. The usual suspects were there with Mersa dying without accomplishing much, Shlatan getting kicked in the teeth early, HiRit not carrying the game, but this time there would be no bailout. Neon was kept quiet on the final game and thanks to some stellar play from Larssen and key ganks from Malrang, that Akali for Vetheo was put in the dirt and never recovered.
Rogue moves on with momentum but this was a series they were expected to win. While this is a good sign, their true test will be their next match. Misfits completely dropped the ball and showed they have plenty of glaring holes. The roster is very young, so it isn’t truly terrible, but their chances at the spring title are looking grim.
Series 2: #2 Fnatic 3 - 1 #4 G2
TLDR: G2 keep it competitive, but Fnatic are just better.
Summary: Europe’s biggest rivalry certainly lived up to the excitement, but Fnatic was the better team and G2 shot themselves in the foot too many times.
Fnatic lived up to all the hype and expectations given their roster and regular season run by winning out in the clutch moments across an intense series. G2 to their credit didn’t roll over and die, they came to play. But when it mattered most, the stars of Fnatic shone brighter.
Game 1 saw Wunder neutralize Broken Blade’s Yone enough so he couldn’t carry the game. Humanoid’s Leblanc ran wild and unchecked despite G2 getting a counter pick in the Lissandra. However, the true difference came in the support/jungle duo. Not only were Hylissang and Razork at the top of their games, but their combo of champions (Renata/Viego) was also one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen this year in LoL. Targamas while serviceable couldn’t keep up, and Jankos looked extremely outmatched on the Lee Sin.
However in Game 2, G2 would change the strategy and dominate the game. Getting Broken Blade a champ with more agency early (Gnar) worked wonders as he completely took over the game alongside the heals of caPs’ Karma and shields of Targamas’ Braum. Those defensive options also gave Flakked’s Aphelios plenty of room to work, and Jankos’ Hecarim ripped through the backline before Fnatic could take a good fight.
While G2 would continue to keep their opponents on their toes, Fnatic simply won more of the crucial fights in game 3. There was some criticism for sticking Jankos back on the Lee Sin (it worked about as well as last time) and letting Humanoid get Leblanc again, Fnatic was the better team. Upset and Hylissang continued to put on a show while Flakked couldn’t keep up. Razork’s Volibear was impactful in early games and team fights.
Game 4 was an absolute slugfest. Neither team wanted to give an inch knowing the other could take a mile. Even as the game dragged onto the later stages, Fnatic would have the dragon advantage while the gold and kills were dead even. Both teams clearly left it all on the stage. But Fnatic just had more to give. In the final fight around mountain soul, Razork won the smite fight, Upset and Hylissang kited away from the forced aggression of G2, Wunder landed the critical boomerang onto caPs to slow him for a kill, and the rest of Fnatic cleaned up the fight, the game, and the series.
I believe both teams can walk away from this series with at least a bit of satisfaction. If your Fnatic, you just put your biggest rival in the lower bracket, everyone is playing well, and you have a clear path to the finals assuming you keep it up. If you are G2, you gave e a team expected to run through the league with no competition a close fight with a relatively new roster.
Series 1: #6 Vitality 3 - 2 #5 Excel
TLDR: Vitality pulls through and survives a close call. Heartbreak for Excel.
Summary: To round out the weekend, the preseason kings cut down the Cinderella story in a series that went the distance. While Vitality was as inconsistent as ever, their raw talent, clutch factor, and a genuine increase in their level of teamwork were enough to see them through.
Games 1 and 2 were mirror images of each other. Complete stomps in opposite directions. Markoon got his lanes ahead early while Patrik played the easiest game of cleanup of his life in game 1 while Selfmade tore up the jungle while everyone else ripped apart Excel in game 2. Once again, a battle of consistency vs talent.
Game 3 was the first and only even game of the series. Vitality got early leads through the dragons and their big carries in Alphari, Perkz, and Carzzy, but Excel was never truly out of reach. Every time Vitality threw a punch to break open the game, Excel would counter. Nukeduck put on a clinic with Corki. The carries of Vitality couldn’t even be in the same zip code as him without losing half their health from a rocket for their troubles. In the end, the game of inches had somewhat of an anticlimactic ending for Vitality as a clutch pillar from Markoon led to them taking a bad fight in the mid lane before the dragon came up. Vitality was caught off guard, Excel wiped them off the map, and they stormed into the base to put the series at match point. Excel was one game away from doing what would have been considered an impossibility when the roster was forced announced. Knock Vitality out in round 1.
Unfortunately for Excel, the Perkz 1-2 comfort zone is a very real thing.
Games 4 and 5 were almost complete domination by Vitality from start to finish. Excel was punished for their hubris in game 4 (picking Kai ‘Sa mid, a champ only 1 person has been able to make work at match point?) and were simply outclassed in game 5. The Vitality roster finally clicked in all positions. Perkz and Alphari had some of their best games all year when it mattered most. Selfmade continued his jungle dominance from game 1. Even the bot lane, one which has received much criticism for being silent and not living up to the hype did fine work as Patrik and Mikyx were neutralized.
For Vitality, they survived and might just be peaking at the right time. For Excel, there is only pain. A series that was theirs to win against an opponent the world would have loved them for beating slipped away through their fingers. Despite finally getting over the hurdle, Excel came up short in the final moments yet again. While they will likely be back here given the talent and Mikyx only coming on partway through the season, this loss will be a painful one to sit on as they wait for summer
This week’s matchups (all times CST)
Friday 11 A.M: #6 Team Vitality vs #4 G2 Esports.
Prediction: G2 3-2 Vitality G2 faced a vastly superior opponent and showed good things. Vitality can keep it close and even win, but their issues with consistency may be their downfall.
Saturday 10 A.M: #1 Rogue vs #2 Fnatic
Prediction: Fnatic 3-2 Rogue Incredibly hard matchup to call but I believe Fnatic’s winning position (bot) wins harder than Rogue’s (top/jungle). This matchup is honestly a complete toss-up if both teams show up.
Sunday 10 A.M: G2/Vitality vs #3 Misfits Gaming
Prediction: G2/Vitality 3-0 Misfits Whichever team comes out of Friday’s match is more well-rounded than Misfits. Misfits have talent but glaring flaws will be exploited in best-of-5s.
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.