It’s still one week until the 2022 LEC Spring Split playoffs finally commence. The long break has deflated the excitement about the top European competition somewhat, but we’re here to ignite the spark again. Only six teams are left standing in the race for the trophy and a coveted ticket to the Mid-Season Invitational. Who will lift the trophy?
Whichever team you support, we’re here to provide you with an injection of faith for your favorite team. Each Inven writer was assigned to argue in favor for one of the LEC teams competing in the playoffs. Here’s why your favorite team will be crowned the champion of Europe.
Rogue: Malrang difference
Rogue’s last few splits have followed the same trajectory: they establish themselves as the strongest LEC team during the regular season only to lose a step in the post-season and ultimately come up short of a domestic title. So far, this spring looks to be repeating the cycle for Rogue, but this will be the time where Rogue break the cycle and win their first domestic title. Unlike the methodical, clinical Rogue rosters of seasons past, this Rogue’s best days come when jungler Kim "Malrang" Geun-seong plays like a man possessed, leading the team at a demon-fleeing pace headfirst through the early game and not letting off of the gas pedal until the opposing nexus has been steamrolled.
Malrang, and by extension Rogue, may have lost some of the edge in their early game in recent weeks, but in the break between the Spring Split and Spring Playoffs, Rogue should have had more than enough time to retain their identity through the changes to the meta. Should Malrang once again find the same form he possessed early on in the Spring Split, expect Rogue Time to last all the way until summer, if not longer.
— Nick Geracie
Fnatic: They lack nothing
Fnatic are the easiest choice for winning the LEC in Spring because of how complete they are. Every other team is missing something. G2 Esports and EXCEL don't have the on-stage experience. Team Vitality don't have proven team cohesion. Rogue don't have the game versality. Misfits don't have anything besides Vincent "Vetheo" Berrié. Fnatic havе it all: a lineup of talented veterans working in unison to murder you in a variety of ways. Elias "Upset" Lipp and Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov are now the definitve strongest bot lane in Europe — both the best in their role, with refined synergy between them.
Marek "Humanoid" Brázda is once again in the conversation for the best mid laner in Europe, and is a fearsome force throughout each stage of the game — especially teamfights. He has paired well with Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz, who has balanced aggressive plays with a smart game sense that doesn't often get his team in trouble. Finally, Martin "Wunder" Nordahl Hansen has looked more and more like the Wunder of old — easily one of the best top laners in the west, capable of playing strongside and weakside well. The only team that looks more refined is Rogue, but part of that is most likely Fnatic's choosing to hone several styles throughout the split — dangerous weapon come playoff time. You can make arguments for other teams, but let's be real: it's Fnatic's to lose.
— John “Oddball” Popko
G2 Esports: A revamp you can trust
G2 took an extended vacation last year. The team failed to make both the Spring Split and Summer Split final and missed out on Worlds as well. But after a thorough revamp of players and support staff, that saw only Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski and Rasmus “caPs” Winther survive, G2 are back in action and are a dangerous contestant for the LEC trophy.
TheJankos memes sometimes obscure his performance and he was once again among the best in the region. Especially in the early weeks, when G2’s new squad was finding their synergy, Jankos’ jungling was like glue to the team and set them up for early success. But when we talk about peak G2, we can’t omit caPs, who might not be the outlier superstar of the LEC anymore, but is still on an upward trajectory. Reportedly uplifted by the hunger of his younger teammates, the glimpses of peak 2018-19 caPs are becoming more frequent.
That brings us to the trio of Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik, Victor "Flakked" Lirola, and Raphaël "Targamas" Crabbé. Broken Blade is in the race for best top laner in the LEC, simple as that. Targamas has played the most different champions of any LEC player this split with 15 different champions across 18 games. He’s the adaptable ace up the sleeve in G2’s draft phase. Flakked has had a quieter split compared to other bot laners, but he’s been stable. Moreover, as alluded to earlier, the young Spaniard is key to the great atmosphere within the team — pivotal in best-of-5 series. G2’s lineup isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s a potent cocktail and I’m drunk on it.
— Tom Matthiesen
Misfits Gaming: Comeback power
Misfits have to be my pick for playoff winners. They may not be the most optimized team, and they certainly have their fair share of weaknesses in comparison to other top teams like Fnatic and Rogue. However, the storyline for this team winning is just too damn good not to root for them. Their identity as a comeback team comes with the caveat of Misfits having a pretty poor early game, but Vetheo’s incredibly strong performance this split has really come through for Misfits.
Vetheo isn’t the only strong player on this team, either. Neon’s had an incredible split. Shlatan’s first split in the LEC has had ups and downs, but his mental fortitude and ability to play from behind is unshakeable. HiRit’s also been mixed, but he does well with limited resources and always comes through late game. And Mersa’s been a big surprise for everyone. His backline-focused playstyle is a great fit for Misfits. While Misfits may not be the best team in the LEC on paper, their ceiling as a team is higher than anyone else in the LEC. They’re a bit of a dark horse team, but one that has a very real chance of winning playoffs. I hope we get to see what this team is truly capable of.
— Carver Fisher
Excel Esports: Spanner in the wheels
I’ll be honest, I haven’t had much time to watch the LEC this split. But when history is made by Excel as they make their first-ever playoffs appearance, you bet I ask my writers what the hell finally got them there. After doing a bit of research I’m actually quite confident that this Excel lineup can throw an unexpected spanner in the works in the best-of-5 stage. It starts in the bot lane with Patrik "Patrik" Jírů — consistently one of the best ADCs in the LEC, despite Excel’s poor finishes — and Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle, the surprise mid-split buy for Excel. These two took some time to get adjusted to each other, but now flow perfectly fine and live up to the expectations one should have for them.
Mid laner Erlend “nukeduck” Holm has flown under the radar in my opinion, putting his experience on display with a wide variety of champions while playing a stable split. Mark “Markoon” van Woensel’s champion pool has been criticized, but honestly, the Dutch jungler didn’t really need to diversify. He played his part in the team and can now do that with the same consitency we saw him steal the spotlight with last Summer Split. The only question mark I have is with top laner Finn "Finn" Wiestål, whose performance has been underwhelming. Still, with four solid teammates, I don’t expect him to be a big liability.
— Radoslav “Nydra” Kolev
Team Vitality: The Superteam™
Vitality were billed to be the Power Rangers Mega-Zord, five elite players coming together to form the ultimate super team. In reality, Vitality have proven to be the knock-off brand: the Powerful Riders Mega-Dino where, instead of each individual part being its own, powerful dinosaur robot, it's just a guy in a Barney the dinosaur suit with a pellet gun. What does Vitality need to do? Probably upgrade all of their positions to significantly better players. It's a pure talent gap. For each individual player, they're just clearly outmatched by everyone else in the LEC, the 9th best player at their role in the league (sorry Astralis, but no one is worse than you).
This is all in jest, of course. Vitality are still very much the uber-talented team they were billed as entering the 2022 LEC season. The Monstars didn't sneak into their locker room and suck out all of their talent, turning Perkz into a guy who's never seen a keyboard and Alphari into someone with permanent beer google vision. This team has players good enough but they just haven't put it all together consistently. Can they? Absolutely. Will they? No clue. There really isn't anyone glaring issue to pinpoint other than just, plain lack of coordination in the late game. That makes it a very tough fix, but if Vitality have used the break to fix that issue, they're absolutely a title contender.
— Josh Tyler
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.