After eight weeks of unbelievable results, the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) has its six Summer Playoffs teams as well as its first World Championship participant but every team still has plenty of work to do.
For the first time ever, Europe will send four teams, rather than the usual three, to fight for international glory at Worlds but the region has also never experienced such fierce competition. Here’s what you can expect from the opening round of the Summer Playoffs.
A lot has already been said about Schalke’s miracle run but it deserves repeating. In a history-making moment, the 1–10 squad of Schalke pulled off an extraordinary seven-game win streak which included victories over G2 Esports, Fnatic and MAD Lions to defy all the odds and secure a spot in that playoffs.
On current form, Schalke are one of the best teams in the league. Those wins were not flukes, either as all five players had some of the best performances of their careers hence why they will be heavy favourites going into this series.
However, SK Gaming should not be underestimated nor should their own story be overlooked. SK have undergone a similar transformation having finished ninth in Spring before comfortably securing their own spot in the playoffs this split with the squad showcasing superb macro throughout.
SK has taken games off all but one of the playoffs teams this split which speaks volumes of the squad’s ceiling. However, the squad has also lost games to all but one of the teams that failed to finish in the top six which showcases the team’s lack of consistency.
Still, SK should not be underestimated. For the first time all season, Schalke are no longer underdogs and there will be much more pressure on their shoulders to win. Mid-laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun has been in scintillating form and putting in the type of performances he had previously only shown in scrims. The German has previously struggled to perform under pressure, if SK can dent his confidence early on the series could spiral out of Schalke’s control.
A highly anticipated rematch from one of the most entertaining series last split, G2 and MAD Lions will clash once more and the latter will hope they can cause an upset once again.
MAD had an incredible split as they pushed Rogue to the final week in the race for first seed as the two young squads knocked G2 and Fnatic off the top spots. However, MAD’s form has dropped in recent weeks with the loss to Rogue a major blow.
Meanwhile, G2 have experienced the opposite as the former Worlds finalists have recovered at the perfect time. The experienced squad ended the split on a six-game win streak with Luka “Perkz” Perković returning to form while Rasmus “Caps” Winther has been playing out of his skin.
At peak form, MAD was likely the best team in Europe this split and they can challenge G2 without a doubt. G2 are still the favourites for now but this could go either way — especially considering both teams’ like to pull out surprise picks. This series will likely be defined by the drafts.
Rogue are somewhat Europe’s forgotten team. The squad have been phenomenal this split and deserved to lock in first seed for playoffs as well as a guaranteed place at Worlds. Yet, there was more hype around MAD and many still aren’t sure if Rogue can challenge for the title.
Rogue certainly have clear weaknesses with their mid-game needing a fair bit of work — many pro players have made that clear. But something is clearly working as most teams have struggled to find a way to beat them.
And considering Fnatic’s performances this split, this is Rogue’s series to lose — especially considering they chose their opponents. Fnatic were phenomenal during Spring and many even favoured them over G2 back then but the team hasn’t looked the same since their loss in the finals.
Fnatic managed to narrowly claw their way back into the playoffs and showed glimpses of their previous best but still have plenty of work to do. They haven’t once-beaten Rogue this split but with the LEC you can expect the unexpected.
Fnatic used to excel at playing with a fast tempo that forced teams into making decision after decision — something that Rogue would likely struggle to handle. But for that to happen, Fnatic will have to regain their confidence.
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