The LEC playoffs kicked off with a hard-won Rogue Victory over MAD Lions, G2 defeating Misfits (but not without suffering their first loss in the LEC playoffs in a long time) and a heartbreaking loss for Excel who nearly 3-0'd Fnatic before being reverse swept.
The LEC playoffs kicked off this week, bringing the best teams of the League of Legends European Championship in a direct confrontation for the four seeds the region has at Worlds. G2 Esports came into the first round as clear favorites to win the entire event after looking like a league apart from the other five teams. However, the two weeks’ rest has given everyone time to adjust and prepare for playing on the 12.15 patch. Will we see an upset or will the favorites coast on the victory?
The playoffs themselves will follow a best of five format with a modified double elimination format. The top four teams are seeded in the upper bracket with summer regular split first seed G2 Esports taking on fourth place Misfits Gaming, while the new big rivals Rogue and MAD Lions butting heads in the other series. The winners of these two series get a place in the upper bracket semifinal and guarantee themselves a spot at Worlds. The last two teams to make the cut, Excel Esports and Fnatic, face off directly in the lower bracket and the winner of this match will take on the lower seeded loser of the upper bracket on the way.
Day 1 - Rogue 3-2 MAD Lions
In the last several years, Rogue and MAD Lions have forged an impressive new rivalry and the latest installment did not disappoint. The two teams traded blows in a very back-and-forth series that showed MAD’s strong early game and Rogue’s tenacity. The Lions scored first blood with a long game where they got an early lead and used it to dominated the mid-game teamfights. The very next game, however, it was Rogue’s turn to show they can get lane advantages and build off them, ending in a Pentakill for Markos "Comp" Stamkopoulos’s Sivir in the enemy base.
Rogue’s attempt to play for the late game in the next game punished hard by the Lions, who absolutely demolished their bot lane and took over the map. A fight in the choke point near the dragon 28 minutes demonstrated how brutal Kalista can still be on the new patch and MAD cleaned house. They looked to be off to another good start in the fourth game, but an overreach 14 minutes in made it all fall apart. Rogue got the lead and with some great long-distance engages picked MAD apart to bring us to game 5. In it, a poorly executed top dive for the Lions led to a series of great wins for Rogue and despite some great moves by Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer, Rogue secured the clutch win.
Day 2 - G2 Esports 3-1 Misfits Gaming
G2 Esports opened the series against Misfits Gaming in a very commanding fashion, getting an early lead in the opening game with great mid-jungle coordination. While it took some 30 minutes to end the game, the outcome was never in doubt. Misfits hit back in the second game, however, getting big leads in the side lanes and an amazing teamfight near the Baron 20 minutes in to get both the objective and four extra kills in what soon turned into a rout as they equalized the series.
After two very one-sided games, the third one was a banger. Misfits had a good start with multiple kills getting to Matúš "Neon" Jakubčík’s Sivir, but a fight after taking the Baron 24 minutes in went bad for them as Rasmus "caPs" Winther’s Azir came up clutch. The G2 carries were absolutely monstrous in the mid-game, and while Misfits scored a rare victory around the Baron G2 to hit back in the next fight to get to matchpoint. Now at match point, the spring champions went for an early game composition and while it was a risky choice, a bad Misfits dive in the bot lane gave them the lead and they never looked back. A fight near the Baron 25 minutes in sealed the deal and soon, G2 secured the win.
Day 3 - Fnatic 3-2 Excel Esports
Fnatic had a strong start in the opening game against Excel Esports, but an overcommit for a tower dive let the UK team get a breather. That was just what they needed - despite being behind in gold for much of the mid-game, Patrik "Patrik" Jírů's Nilah was a powerhouse and Excel drew first blood in the series.The next game saw Excel take the lead after a successful botlane tower dive. Fnatic kept the gold from snowballing, but did not control the dragons and eventually, XL took the Infernal soul. With it and a Baron buff they were soon off to match point.
Now two games down, Fnatic looked in deep trouble after they lost several early engages, but they managed to slow down the game. It was a back and forth battle with amazing plays on both teams, but in the end a desperate defense by Fnatic saw them seize the win from what looked like a certain loss.
Fnatic was the team that opted for early power in game four and it all started well until a great fight for Excel 15 minutes in. The mid-game was quite close with both mid laners doing their best, but a Baron steal by Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz and a big teamfight 31 minutes put Fnatic in the lead again.Six minutes later, his team killed both enemy carries and pushed in to tie the game. In the decider match, their early game was once more better and two clutch fights near the Baron gave them the lead they needed to close out the game and complete the reverse sweep. It was a heartbreaking moment for Excel, who nearly swept the series, but Fnatic's fortitude carried the day.
The LEC playoffs continue next week. In the meantime, make sure to follow our coverage for more LoL news and analysis!