LEC Week 3 Day 2 Recap: An Old Rivalry Is Renewed as the Standings Get Tighter
Updated: Feb 8
The final day of week 3 of the European League of Legends Championship has wrapped up and it was quite an exciting day. Some teams corrected their course, others continued their freefall, and a classic rivalry had a surprising result. I will be breaking down the results of each game in-depth and giving a quick headline of how it went.
Let’s get started...
Game 1 BDS (3-4) > SK Gaming (1-6)
TLDR: Team BDS continues to evolve, SK remains stagnant and confusing.
Summary: This game really was the story of two teams. Both had slow starts to the season. Both had low expectations, but the two are starting to take very different paths. Team BDS is establishing an identity. The BDS top side has become the focal point of the team and Cinkrof has been running rampant over the rift. His Xin Zhao and NUCLEARINT’s Ryze were a deadly combo that got first blood and teleport advantage early and never looked back. This was yet another clean game from BDS, and their first 2-0 week ever. It was a much-needed morale boost to beat up on the weaker teams, but I like how the young squad has really cleaned up their fundamentals. They went back to the basics, established a game plan, and executed it almost flawlessly.
As for SK Gaming, it is looking like another lost split. The team does have an upside, their team fighting power that they showcased in their only win and even some losses. But their terrible early game and counterproductive drafts will make sure they will never get to show that. SK Gaming drafted a composition with almost zero hard crowd control. It can work, but it has a very hard time kicking off fights and struggles mightily to come back when put behind early.
Bold strategy to draft a composition that relies on a good early game for one of the worst early game teams in the league.
It didn’t work out for them. Gillius’s Olaf got invaded early and never did anything, Sertuss’s Viktor was completely outmatched by NUCLEARINT, and Treatz and Jezu lacked agency on the Lulu/Jinx. The game was a complete stomp and SK doesn’t look much better than they did at the beginning. This was a team that had some very big questions to answer but also some reason for excitement. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in what I’m seeing. They just keep shooting themselves in the foot and refuse to play to their strengths.
Game 2 Excel (3-4) > Astralis (0-7)
TLDR: Excel almost plays a complete game. Astralis continue to struggle.
Summary: That felt like we almost ran the full gauntlet of storylines between these two teams. To start it, an early game disaster happened for Astralis as Excel made a proactive play on the topside while the bot lane dive from the Lucian/Nami backfired horrendously. Despite some good ganks from Zanzarah’s Xin Zhao, Excel still jumped out to a sizable gold lead. It seemed like nothing Astralis was doing was working. The Lucian/Nami didn’t get the push in lane early, Dajor’s Vex really wasn’t doing much, and WhiteKnight’s Gwen was the only real point of power.
Then the next narrative came into play. Excel not being able to finish off an opponent and having the Baron stolen from them. Markoon smited early and couldn’t get Zanzarah out of the pit in time. All of a sudden, a lifeline was given to Astralis.
That lifeline was quickly cut by Patrik’s massively ahead Jinx and Nukeduck’s Viegar. Astralis traded an ocean drake for 2 inhibitors, the flanking play by WhiteKnight backfired, and Excel secured a much-needed victory. Excel played 90% of a great game, and unlike previous games, the blunder wasn’t fatal. With this victory, Excel has stopped themselves from falling too far behind in the playoff race. As for Astralis, the first victory of 2022 continues to evade them. But they will get possibly their best shot at it next week against SK. That game is a must-win for both teams if they want to have any hope for Spring.
Game 3 Misfits (4-3) > Mad Lions (4-3)
TLDR: A surprisingly dominant game from Misfits to even up the standings
Summary: That was a pretty clean game from Misfits and a fairly significant upset! It might have helped that Armut and the MAD bot lane had an off game, but Misfits showed plenty of proactivity and looked good in every position. HiRit finally got a chance to carry like he did so many times last summer, and his Gwen outperformed Armut’s Renekton at every turn. Shlatan was where he needed to be at all points on Lee Sin and was responsible for a lot of big plays. Vetheo went deathless on Akali and ran over Reeker. And the bot lane completely stomped the late game.
There were very few actual team fights, but plenty of skirmishes and picks. This fit Misfits’ team comp like a glove, and they were on the winning end of most of them. This was the first truly poor game from the rookies of MAD. I’m surprised it took this long, but regardless it is no reason to hit the panic button. The better team won today. This does make the middle of the pack that much more exciting with 6 teams being at 3 or 4 wins. Only Rogue and Fnatic have truly pulled away from the pack in the standings. While Team Vitality is well on their way to joining them after putting week 1 behind them, it could end up being a dogfight for the last 3 playoff spots.
Game 4 Rogue (7-0) > Vitality (3-4)
TLDR: The battle of the top of the table narrowly goes Rogue’s way. A potential finals preview?
Summary: So, who saw this coming at the beginning of the season?
Another battle between the top of the table (VIT’s record doesn’t do them justice) went in Rogue’s favor, but it was far closer than the Fnatic game. Both teams had clear game plans. Rogue wanted to play through bot lane and win big team fights with a dominant Caitlyn/Lux lane for Comp and Trymbi, a scaling mage for Larssen, a weakside tank for Odoamne, and engage for Malrang. Vitality meanwhile wanted to win through the dominance of their solo laners and a strong topside. A Graves for Alphari, a Xin Zhao for Selfmade, and Perkz’s signature Leblanc will do that.
Both teams stuck to this game plan, and neither pulled ahead of the other for the longest time. An early almost solo kill by Comp that Malrang cleaned up, and a good binding into a flash from Larssen’s Viktor got them a small early lead. Abusing that lack of flash and catching out Trymbi on a rotation would even it back up. The game continued down this path. Rogue would secure both Rift Heralds and money for Comp. Vitality would get 2 dragons, Alphari very far ahead and Perkz would pick up kills.
It was on a knife's edge for the longest time. But Vitality couldn’t quite translate their solo lane success into a victory. Rogue’s scaling and team fighting were too much in the end. Odoamne’s Ornn offered far more to the critical fights despite being behind in items and experience to Alphari. Malrang got his bot lane ahead early, made picks in the mid-game, and was a great frontliner. Larssen scaled and dealt massive damage. Comp was all but untouchable and the primary carry (7/0/3 and 6k gold ahead of Carzzy) and Trymbi’s rotations and bindings were crucial in securing map pressure and picks.
Rogue is now on the longest winning streak in franchise history and stands alone at the top of the table. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop, (regular season RGE and playoff RGE were practically 2 different teams) but this team is looking like they haven’t lost a step since 2021. If anything, they almost look better and play more like a team. It is a different style of success, (RGE enabled Inspired to carry, Malrang enables his team to carry) but it is working wonders.
As for Vitality, that week 1 really continues to bite them. What should have been a close loss to a top team that simply hinders their chances at getting first, knocks them back into the middle of the standings. While they should break away from it, and there was no shame in losing today, that loss hurt a lot more than it should’ve if they want to secure a top playoff spot. They’ll bounce back though.
Game 5 G2 (5-2) > Fnatic (5-2)
TLDR: G2 add another chapter to EU’s greatest rivalry by pulling off the upset.
Summary: G2 capped off the 3rd week of LEC play by securing a tie for 2nd by taking out their biggest rival. In the matchup that has defined the European League of Legends since 2016, G2 came in as underdogs for the first time in years. Despite this, they overcome the odds to lay the smackdown on Fnatic. Fnatic actually had some large advantages in the early planning phase. Wunder’s Gragas was neutralizing Broken Blade’s Aatrox, Upset and Hyli got the push with the Aphelios/Rakan bot lane, and Humanoid’s Azir were up almost 30 cs and 1k gold over caPs’ Viktor. But a great teleport from Broken Blade and a clutch ultimate from Targamas’s Zilean helped caPs pick up a double kill off a Fnatic overextension. From there, the game was back and forth. G2 held a big advantage in the kill score, but Fnatic’s excellent farming meant it was only a 1k gold lead for G2. But then Broken Blade took all of Fnatic’s engage and didn’t die, and Flakked’s Jinx and Jankos’s Xin Zhao ran over the fight. This led to an easy baron for G2. Despite this, Fnatic fought back admirably, they weathered the Baron power play without even letting G2 crack the base. At 36 minutes, the gold lead was only 4k for G2 and Fnatic was at Cloud Soul point.
Then Fnatic decided to try and sneak a Baron. They did secure the buff, but G2 made them pay dearly for it. Thanks to Jankos and Broken Blade front lining spectacularly, Targamas providing excellent utility, and Flakked and caPs providing massive amounts of damage, G2 won the Baron fight 5 for 1 and marched into the Fnatic base unopposed to end the game. Fnatic may have had their moments, but G2 did a great job of neutralizing Humanoid’s lane advantage and enabling key members to carry. At 5-2, this G2 “rebuild” has progressed faster than many have predicted. As for Fnatic, they would surely like to forget this week. A chance to pull away from the field instead resulted in an 0-2 week that puts them 2 games out of 1st place and gives the head-to-head to their bitter rival. Not the greatest week in the organization’s history.
That wraps up week 3, and the general layout of the LEC is starting to clear up. While Rogue stands alone undefeated at first place, the rest of the top of the table is looking for the next chance to break away from the pack. Excel, BDS, and Vitality (who are still handicapped by their awful start) are all deadlocked at the playoff cutoff. And SK and Astralis bring up the rear of the pack, their seasons already in peril. The first round robin wraps up next week. And with key matches like Humanoid vs his old team, SK vs Astralis, Grabbz vs his former team, and Rogue vs their old daemons, it is sure to be a good one. The LEC will resume Friday at 11 am CST with Team Vitality vs Misfits Gaming.