MAD Lions and SK join G2 and KOI in the LEC Winter Playoff

MAD Lions and SK Gaming have fought their way to through the groups and advanced to the Winter Split Playoffs, while G2 earned their spot in their finals with a 3-1 win against KOI.

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Hans Sama was on fire in G2's win against KOI | © Riot Games

After the first week of groups saw G2 Esports and KOI fight their way through the groups to take the first two playoff spots, it was time for the remaining six teams to finish the job. With several of the early bouts being close, the LEC teams looked like they could serve a few more surprises in their fight for the remaining two top 4 spots. Meanwhile, Monday offered a rematch of the hyped 2022 summer finals. Would KOI repeat their triumph or would G2 have their revenge?

Day 1: Astralis’ Dream Continues

SK Gaming 2:0 Team Heretics

The day started with a clash between Team Heretics and SK Gaming. While the Heretics started well in both games, they soon showed weaknesses in the mid-game. SK Gaming were clearly the superior teamfighters in game 1 and ended the bout with a decisive clean ace. After the break, TH held the front longer but the end effect was the same - SK’s superior mid-game play carried the day and ensured a 2-0 win for the German squad.

Team BDS 1:2 Astralis

Team BDS had a strong start against Astralis, winning a clutch early skirmish and remaining ahead in the mid-game as they slowly pushed forward to take the first victory. Astralis tied them in the second game, however, working off a pressure lead and seizing the clutch Baron 30 minutes in in the face of what looked to be a wrong teleport from BDS’ mid laner Ilias "nuc" Bizriken to end the game. The third series saw the two teams fight from early on, and Astralis’ focus on the top lane paid dividends as they shut down the BDS top laner and snowballed the game to take the series. once again being the victorious underdog after their last week surge saw them eliminate Fnatic and Excel Esports.

Day 2: SK Gaming End Vitality's Hopes

Team Vitality 0:2 SK Gaming

In the first game of the day, SK Gaming seemed to be on the back foot from early on against Team Vitality. The favorites quickly grew their lead, but once again SK found their opportunities in the mid-game where they exploited several mistakes by Vitality and eventually took the game over, ending after an ace 39 minutes in. The second game, meanwhile, started with the German team getting a big early lead and pushing it forward. Even what seemed to be a good punish for Vitality backfired as they overchased and the game became completely one-sided, ending in a confident 2-0 for SK.

MAD Lions 2:0 Astralis

After their upset win on Saturday, Astralis had to then take on MAD Lions. While the first game was close for a long time, eventually the Lions were able to assert their control and despite a few close shaves with Finn "Finn" Wiestål’s Gangplank barrels, the Lions got the first blood in the series. They came off even stronger in the second one, and despite a few missteps as they got overly aggressive they remained in control to complete the 2-0

Day 3: G2 Esports Outsmart KOI

G2 Esports 3-1 KOI

The last series of the week was also our first Bo5 series from the playoff upper bracket, where G2 Esports and KOI clashed for a direct spot in the finals. Despite a strong start for the former Rogue in game 1, a big misplay in the bottom lane led to a series of outplays for G2 as they started dominating the teamfights to get the first win. The second game, meanwhile, was completely one-sided - G2 got a big lead in the early game and forced a punishing pace, getting a 7K gold lead just 13 minutes in and ending soon after the first Baron.

KOI weren’t done though, and when their opponents messed up an early dive in the third game showed just how dangerous they can be when given the chance. They won nearly all engagements, eventually ending with a Pentakill for Markos "Comp" Stamkopoulos’ Sivir. The series concluded in a bloody fourth game, where despite getting several early kills KOI could not keep up with G2’s carries and found themselves beaten time and again in the midlane. In the end, the summer finalists had their revenge and won the series 3-1 .

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The LEC winter split concludes this week, with the first game featuring MAD Lions taking on SK Gaming for a shot at Rogue and, from there, the finals. Don’t miss it!

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