Defining victories leading up to the LEC Spring Playoffs

Photo by Michal Konkol for Riot Games

 

This weekend, the League of Legends European Championship will crown its first champion of the year. After nine weeks of competition—and an unplanned break in-between—these six teams have qualified for the Spring Playoffs taking place this weekend: G2, Fnatic, Origen, MAD Lions, Misfits, and Rogue. 

 

Each of these teams experienced a unique set of highs and lows over the last three months, all contributing to the storyline they’re shaping as the 2020 season progresses. With the teams each having played 18 matches, totaling 108 matches, those narratives may have become a little cluttered. That’s why we’ve narrowed the Spring Split down a bit. Here are the victories that defined each team in the regular season.

 

G2 recover against Fnatic — Week 7

 

 

Atop the standings sits G2, the undisputed kings of Europe. However, the black and ivory tower of G2 wobbled for a moment. After starting the season winning each of their first six matches their foundation cracked as they lost three of its four matches during week four and five of the LEC. Misfits, MAD Lions and even Schalke 04 took precious points away in the process. A wave of criticism followed, targeting G2’s supposed ‘arrogance’ and the bold roster swap the team made at the start of the Split, swapping the roles of Luka "PERKZ" Perković and Rasmus “Caps” Winther. The struggle wasn’t without consequence: it allowed competitors Fnatic and Origen to catch up in the standings.

 

However, the great aren’t defined by how they fall. They’re defined by how they get back up. As Jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski said in an interview with Inven Global, directly after the slum: “you have to go through criticism and find your way through life, because in the end if we win Playoffs, then no one will actually remember what happened in the middle of the Split.”

 

After a relatively ‘free’ sixth week against bottom teams SK Gaming and Vitality, G2 squared off against Fnatic. The match was a close affair throughout, but slowly started to lean towards Fnatic’s side more and more. When Fnatic started to fight Baron Nashor, and overlooked an unpopped blast cone, G2 smelled blood. They stole the Baron, swung the game back in their favor, and didn’t let go. Give G2 a finger, and they'll take your arm. With resilience and perseverance, G2 climbed back to the top spot, reasserting their dominance on the rest of Europe.

 

Fnatic sweep the floor with Rogue — Week 5

 

 

Fnatic’s start to the 2020 Spring Split was slower than expected. After four weeks of competition, the team was tied for fourth place with MAD Lions and Rogue. Above them, G2, Origen, and Misfits were fighting for first place. Despite two of their losses coming against teams at the top of the standings, it was hard to justify Fnatic as contenders as you need to beat the best to be the best. Through four weeks, they hadn’t done that. With the halfway point of the Split approaching, Fnatic needed a signature win under their belt and Rogue was right in their sights.

 

As if struck by the gods of League of Legends themselves, Fnatic decimated Rogue in the fifth week of the LEC. With Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau on a surprising Zac pick and Martin "Rekkles" Larsson on fire playing Ezreal, Fnatic put up a masterclass. The thirty-minute match concluded with a kill score of 21-5, peaking at the end with a pentakill for Rekkles. Fnatic got the engine running. That same weekend, as if taking down Rogue wasn’t enough, they defeated direct competitor Origen as well..

 

Afterwards, Fnatic would only lose twice more. Once to G2—the blast cone blunder was mentioned before. The second loss was against dead-last team Vitality, following an incredibly...creative draft from Fnatic’s side. For once it wasn’t G2 showcasing their flexibility, but Fnatic. The fact that they lost didn’t matter a whole lot. They had already secured their spot in the top brackets of the playoffs. Having a little fun on-stage is important too.

 

Origen prove themselves against MAD Lions — Week 4

 

 

Ahead of the 2020 Spring Split, Origen’s strength was somewhat of a mystery. After the team soared and finished second in the 2019 Spring Split, the subsequent Summer Split was a letdown when Origen finished eighth. Changes had to be made, and so they were. Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir came over from Worlds 2019 quarterfinalist Splyce as the team’s new Jungler, Elias "Upset" Lipp was brought back to the main stage, and Origen brought the first-ever Australian player on board with Support player Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw.

 

In Week 2 and Week 3 of the regular Split, Origen struggled against G2 and Misfits. When they met the bold rookies of MAD Lions, the veterans of Origen had to prove which team they were: the one worthy of competing with the best in the world or just another eighth-place finisher. The question was answered shortly after. A stellar performance of Xerxe on Karthus (8-0-4 in a 14-3 game) gave Origen the victory, and with that a much-needed boost. They rose to third place in the standings—a spot they never relinquished.

 

MAD Lions upset Fnatic — Week 4

 

 

It’s hard to pinpoint a single match that defined MAD Lions’ Spring Split. The squad put up a performance that has been nothing short of impressive given that it brought three rookies on board to kick off the season. Though MAD Lions only managed to get 1-1 weekend scores until Week 8, some of those victories gave a glimpse at the sheer potential the team has. In Week 5, for example, they beat G2. A shaky G2 that was having trouble finding its feet again, definitely. But when you’re aiming for the top, you cannot miss an opportunity like that.

 

Ultimately though, it’s MAD Lions’ victory over Fnatic that defined their Spring Split. The sheer dominance with which the Lions secured the victory was simply staggering. Every single member of the team was a well-oiled cog in the machine. They played confidently and aggressively, unfazed by the legacy of the team in front of them. Marek "Humanoid" Brázda and Zhiqiang "Shad0w" Zhao popped off, racking up 14 of the 24 total kills on MAD Lions’ side. The raw gem that is MAD Lions could not have shone brighter.

 

Misfits turn the tides against Origen — Week 3

 

 

Misfits had a lot to fix heading into the 2020 season: the team had underperformed greatly, finishing eighth and ninth in the Spring and Summer Splits of 2019. Furthermore, Misfits had been subject to a great deal of roster drama that would have qualified for even the best of reality TV shows. After starting the first week of the season 0-2, the trend downward seemed to be continuing. However, it turned out that Misfits just needed to shake off some rust and get things in gear. Once the roster had tasted blood in Week 2, defeating SK Gaming and Excel, the engine started to run.

 

Against Origen, Misfits first showed what it was truly capable of. Perhaps it wasn’t the cleanest match they played in the Split, but Misfits showed a trait that would continue to carry them to victories for weeks to come: adaptability. All game long Misfits were ahead, until they clumsily let Origen steal a Baron away from right under their noses. Origen turned up the pressure and it seemed like a turning point in the game. However, Misfits understood exactly what needed to happen. In one swift burst Misfits annihilated Origen with a surprise team fight, grabbed a Baron for themselves, and ended the game. 

 

Three weeks in a row, Misfits won every single match they played. Their name had been cleansed. They fell off a bit later on in the season, but it didn’t matter. Misfits had proven they were a worthy contender in 2020.

 

Rogue stomp MAD Lions — Week 7

 

 

For a good part of the Spring Split, Rogue held up decently as a mid-tier team. While the top teams G2, Fnatic, and Origen seemed a hurdle too high, Rogue generally put up a respectable fight against the mid-tier teams. They jumped up and down between fourth and sixth place—they were often at or over the edge of missing Playoffs. When Rogue faced direct playoff competitor MAD Lions in the seventh week of the Spring Split, it had to happen. Rogue would face off against G2 and Fnatic in Week 8. Not exactly the matchups you want to place your playoffs hopes on. 

 

Thankfully for Rogue, everything clicked against MAD Lions, and they made the Lions resemble something along the lines of a house cat. Everyone on Rogue stepped up, and the MAD Lions were flattened with a 20-2 kill scoreline. It turned out to be the final push necessary for Rogue to make it to the playoffs. As expected, G2 and Fnatic were too steep a hill to climb. In Week 9 Rogue’s flatline continued, with losses against bottom teams SK Gaming and Schalke 04. Not a great note to end on, and definitely a blemish on Rogue's resume. However, what Rogue showed in their defining moment is that, when the pressure is on, they have it in them to pull out surprisingly dominant results. Now they just need to find a way to make the synergy work consistently.

 

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