LEC Round 2 playoffs wrap-up: Surprises all around.
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
(This article was originally written the week before the LEC finals.)
The second round of the LEC playoffs has wrapped up and we had surprises in every series. One team is surging, 3 of them collapsed, and it’s looking like the LEC is on a collision course for an exciting finals weekend. 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: #4 G2 3 - 0 Vitality #6
TLDR: G2 bounces back as the super-team utterly collapses.
Summary: This matchup had all the storyline potential to go down in history and I personally had it going to 5 games. It will indeed be remembered for a long time, but not for the reasons anyone expected.
G2 swept Team Vitality thanks to a combination of great individual play, team mental resilience, and Vitality’s own self-inflicted errors. Game 1 would be a perfect tone-setter. Despite acing G2 in the mid lane at 17 minutes and 3 of those kills going onto Carzzy’s Aphelios, Vitality couldn’t translate their early lead into a W. Clever use of vision and some overstepping from key members allowed G2 to claw their way back in the game. With no fights after the ace going their way, it was only a matter of time (sped up by a bad baron turn) before G2 finished the comeback to draw first blood.
Game 2 was the anomaly. This time, there wouldn’t be an early lead for Vitality to throw. Broken Blade did to Alphari what Alphari was expected to do to the LEC. Vitality blundered the draft again and allowed BB to pick Jax into Camille and it backfired horribly. Alphari was put behind massively while the Jax got online far sooner than anyone expected. While Vitality did their best to weather the storm and neutralize Broken Blade in the late game, Flakked’s Jinx picked up the slack, participating in 13/18 kills while not dying once.
Game 3 was almost a repeat of game 1. Realizing the mistake of the last game, Vitality put all their efforts early game into shutting down Broken Blade’s Irelia. This did work quite well as Vitality got out to a large gold lead and had fed members in Perkz, Alphari and Carzzy. Despite the gold being on such explosive champions like Jayce, Akali, and Aphelios, G2 somehow got back in the game thanks to great teamwork and Vitality’s own mistakes. There were overextensions, bad calls, mechanical misplays, and Vitality was all but trying to hand G2 the win. The entire season culminated in one final fight in the mid-lane. Perkz pulled away from the full squad to try and take an inhibitor while both nexus towers were up, Labrov’s Renata made an inexcusable overextension and died doing next to nothing, the fight was a rout, and G2 marched into the base to complete the sweep at 46 minutes. While massive props must be given to G2 (and they will in the next series) the true stars of the story are the losers of this game.
What more is there to be said about Vitality that hasn’t been said already? This was a team filled with all-star names that were created to cruise to championships. Instead, they didn’t even get anywhere near one. The “super team” is now the LEC’s biggest meme. They are now the walking punchline of the league. This is the biggest failure of all 5 players’ incredibly storied careers, and it isn’t even close.
This is the biggest black mark on Vitality’s LEC resume, which is impressive given they’ve spent the better part of 4 years in the basement. This time, they had real talent. They had real players. And all they got was a season filled with frustration that barely ended with a .500 record, a 5-game series against a team happy to be there, and a beatdown from a team in a “rebuilding” phase.
If they don’t win Summer convincingly and make a deep Worlds run, nobody involved with this project is living it down. And given Vitality’s tendency to hit the panic button I’m not even sure all 5 players will be on Vitality in Summer.
Series 2: #1 Rogue 3 - 2 Fnatic #2
TLDR: Rogue’s resilience wins the day as Fnatic’s sheer stubbornness costs them dearly.
Summary: This series was certainly a fun one to watch, but it also leaves me with as many questions (why did Fnatic do what they did? How much of Rogue’s comeback was them, and how much was on their opponent?) as I got answers (the Hylissang coinflip can still end up on tails. Rogue aren’t just going to roll over and die when things don’t go there way).
If you only watched the first 2 games, this series had all the makings of the classic Rogue playoffs choke job. What with an individual misplay that got more spotlight than it probably should’ve, early games falling apart, and the clutch moments just refusing to go Rogue’s way. Yet this time, Rogue showed incredible mental resilience to swarm back into the series and pull off a reverse sweep!
Though Fnatic might have given them a little help…
The first two games showcased why Fnatic is so highly regarded. Thanks to some great early aggression from Upset and the classic that is Hylissang’s Pyke and Thresh, the battle between the number 1 and 2 bot lanes quickly went the way of Fnatic. Razork got a champion that can be aggressive early and enable his lanes in the Volibear and used it with great effectiveness.
Humanoid busted out 2 of the mid-lane classics in Corki and Orianna and played a massive part in winning both games. His Corki poke alongside Upset and Wunder made it all but impossible for Rogue to take the straight-up fights they wanted to in game 1. In game 2, he landed the clutch shockwave onto Larssen and Comp that blew the game wide open and stopped Rogue’s attempts to fight back in the mid-game cold.
And Wunder got to throw the game back to 2019 with big carry performances on Jayce and Gangplank respectively. That GP game in particular was quite impressive as Rogue put in the effort to shut him down, but he was still capable of blowing up the key members of Rogue in clutch situations anyway. Perhaps he simply wanted to show Alphari it is possible to build damage on Gangplank.
Despite some good individual and team moments (Malrang’s flanks on Lee Sin and Rogue’s team fighting kept them in game 1 far longer than anyone expected, and they were a Jinx crit away from winning. Game 2 saw Rogue fight back from an early deficit and Malrang refuse to stop looking for opportunities to get his team back in the game) it was looking quite grim for the #1 seed. Game 3 would be the true test. Would Rogue rise to the challenge? Or crumble like they had so many times before? They decided to throw Fnatic a curveball by actively picking the red side and leaving Twisted Fate (an incredibly high priority champ that is almost permabanned) open for Fnatic to pick. They would respond by taking one of the strongest junglers on the patch in Hecarim while banning out Razork’s response in the Volibear while Larssen picked Sylas into the TF. Finally, they kept Comp on hyperscaling carries while putting Trymbi back on the Rakan he made a name for himself (his enchanter play was good, but you don’t beat Fnatic without punching them in the mouth).
And it worked wonders. Rogue won game 3 in the most dominant fashion the series had seen so far. There would be few moments Fnatic could fight back and unlike Rogue, they lost in an ugly fashion. Razork couldn’t get the same amount of pressure down as Malrang ran circles around him on the Hecarim. Larssen obliterated Humanoid in the mid lane. Trymbi found great engagement with key members to swing fights in their favor. While Rogue would almost pull off a classic Rogue throw with a fountain dive went wrong giving Upset’s Jinx resets, kills, and gold, Rogue simply hit Fnatic with their wallets to get their first playoff win against Fnatic in franchise history (0-8 before game 3).
Game 4 was where things got weird. Despite taking the most one-sided loss of the series and many of their key picks falling flat, Fnatic not only ran back the blue side, but they also ran back many of the same picks. The Twisted fate was first picked again and Razork went onto the Viego while they gave over 4/5 champions Rogue dominated game 3 with. It went even worse for Fnatic than game 3. Rogue wouldn’t give Fnatic a single lifeline as they executed them on the live broadcast. There is no overstating how much of a stomp game 4 was. The game only lasted 23 minutes while Fnatic only got 1 tower. The kill score was 26 to 2. Despite all expectations given the first 2 games (a fan vote on the LEC’s discord showed that only 18% gave Rogue a shot at the reverse sweep), this series was going to game 5. Thanks to Rogue’s resilience, and Fnatic’s lack of adaptability.
I don’t think we will ever truly know what was going through the heads of Fnatic in that game 5 draft. Blue Side Twisted Fate first pick was the hill they were prepared to die on and by God, did they die on it. While they at least showed some adaptivity by finally banning out the Hecarim, they still gave over the premier 3 champs in Sylas (to answer and stomp the TF) Aphelios (Comp’s gun management was spectacular and it’s the only ADC that can stand up to Jinx late game) and Rakan (giving Trymbi an X-factor he lacked on the Lulu).
While it was slightly more even than the other 2, Fnatic couldn’t get it done in game 5. Almost nobody on Fnatic could stand up to their Rogue counterparts. Despite no longer being on the murder pony, Malrang’s Trundle still did his job of winning skirmishes early and enabling his laners to carry. Odoamne had great ults on Gnar and won individual skirmishes and team fights thanks to his great play. Larssen continued to kill off the choker label by dumpstering his main rival in Humanoid once again. Meanwhile, the only reason Hylissang wasn’t getting as much flame/vitrol from fans for his play was because the TF took too much of the spotlight. And speaking of that TF, it worked wonders alright, for the enemy team. Humanoid went a combined 1/14/9 across the three games on Twisted Fate. All of this adds up to give the most surprising outcome possible of a Rogue reverse sweep of all things.
Series 1: #4 G2 3 - 0 Misfits Gaming #3
TLDR: G2 surge into finals weekend as Misfits are revealed to be pretenders.
Summary: I’m noticing a pattern here…
G2 completely slaughtered their inferior opponents across all positions while barely giving Misfits any lifelines to hang onto. The series wasn’t close by any conceivable margin from either an individual or teamplay perspective. The star of the show in Vetheo was once again knocked down and never got back up, HiRit was about as outmatched as he was in the Rogue series, and in general, G2 simply outclassed Misfits in every conceivable way.
Despite the complete dud of a playoff run, I can’t be too mad at Misfits. Sure, the games themselves were quite bad and it was clear that out of the 4 upper bracket teams, they were the odd ones out. But this roster is still quite inexperienced and has room to grow. Misfits were a relative unknown coming into the season thanks to moves in and out of their control and I think it’s safe to say they exceeded expectations. This was the first step on Misfits’ journey to getting over the hump. Summer will be the true test.
G2 3-1 Fnatic (G2’s momentum is unreal and I am unsure if Fnatic will mentally recover in time to face an opponent that has grown significantly)
G2 3-2 Rogue (This matchup is a complete toss-up if both teams play at their full potential. Narrowly giving the edge to G2 because almost nobody in the EU can outmatch caPs in form. And if either team is going to fail to show up, it’s RGE. I really think they’ve fixed their issues though! Should be a fun one.)