KOI and G2 Esports are the first two teams to guarantee themselves playoff spots after coming on top of their respective groups. The two powerhouses are set for a showdown in the upper bracket next week.
After a very fast "regular season" of three superweeks that saw big names like Fnatic and Excel Esports eliminated from contention, the LEC 2023 Winter Season had its first week of groups. Six best of three series showed us the two top teams that advance to the playoffs' winners bracket, but for everyone else, the battle for the other two spots in the top 4 just got harder. Here's what we saw.
Day 1: Team Heretics Draw Blood
Team Vitality 2:1 Team Heretics
After their top-tier performance in the groups we expected Team Vitality to steamroll through the often shaky Team Heretics and in the first game, that is just what they did after taking the early lead and snowballing the game. In the second game, however, the shoe was on the other foot as a confident Heretics showcased what its botlane can do and tied the series. It came to a bloody third game where TH at times had the lead, but Vitality snuck in a Baron and used it to take over the game.
SK Gaming 0:2 KOI
After SK Gaming surprised us by nearly sneaking in the top 2, we were wondering how well they could do in longer series. Against KOI, however, they were outmatched. The former Rogue roster took the first game with great play by mid laner Emil "Larssen" Larsson and jungler Kim "Malrang" Geun-seong. The second game was closer, but as the mid-game went on Rogue had the better teamfighting and even a stolen Baron was not enough to give SK a way back.
Day 2: Close Shaves for the Favorites
MAD Lions 2:1 Astralis
MAD Lions came as big favorites against Astralis, but they quickly found out that the underdogs had no intention of going down without a fight. While the first game went to the Lions due in part to their good scaling, in the second Astralis equalized with some great play from their mid and bot lane. The decider game was too close for comfort for a while, but MAD punished an early Baron for Astralis before their toplaner monstered through the key fight 28 minutes in.
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G2 Esports 2:1 Team BDS
BDS´ first experience with Bo3 series started quite poorly as G2 Esports came out swinging and by the tenth minute, Martin "Yike" Sundelin´s Lilia was already at 4-0. The underdogs fought back to prevent the snowball, but as the midgame went on the summer finalists´ poke proved decisive. The second game showed that BDS were here to fight, however, as they were the ones with the early lead and when G2 equalized, BDS managed to outplay them in the mid-game. The tiebreaker fight saw a bloody start but a big teamfight near the Herald 9 minutes in led to four early kills from G2 and they did not permit any surprises.
Day 3: Rogue and G2 Win Top Seeds
Team Vitality 0:2 KOI
The third day featured the winners´ games for both groups. KOI faced off against Team Vitality in the first series. While it was Vitality that drew first blood in the opening game, KOI quickly came back. Markos "Comp" Stamkopoulos´ Zeri quickly ramped up and took over the game, making the difference in several big teamfights. The former Rogue did not let up on the pressure in the second game, and after a very strong early game for Malrang it started looking like a stomp. Even a big comeback for Vitality 15 minutes in was not enough to even the scales and in the end, KOI ended the weekend undefeated.
MAD Lions 0:2 G2 Esports
The Lions looked to have a good start to their series against G2, but an early overreach was punished heavily and they soon lost control of the game. Sergen "BrokenBlade" Çelik´s Olaf proved to be an absolute menace in the mid-game, at one point even winning a 1v3 fight, and the rest of his team cleaner up. In the second game, despite an amazing early outplay by MAD´s Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer early on, it was once more G2 that would take over, this time after a stellar performance by Steven "Hans Sama" Liv on Draven. The G2 AD Carry proved he´s still the LEC´s premier Draven player and he guaranteed his team´s spot in the playoffs´ upper bracket where KOI was waiting.
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The LEC playoffs continue this weekend as the groups´ losers bracket will select the next 2 teams to join the playoffs. Then, on Monday G2 and KOI will play the first playoff game to decide who will go the finals and who would fight their way through the lower bracket. Don´t miss it!
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