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Hello LEC and League of Legends fans around the world! Week 8 of the LCS and LEC Spring Splits are now in the books. During these last three days, LEC teams fought for their spot in the Spring 2021 LEC playoffs. Before the week had even started, many believed the six remaining places had already been decided. However, the last few days took players and viewers on a wild ride of emotions, hope, disappointment, and upsets.
By the end of Friday, three out of the six Spring 2021 LEC playoff spots were no longer certain. That left six of the remaining seven sides the opportunity to clinch a place in the playoffs. So how did this happen? Let’s break it down.
On Friday, G2 led the pack with a 13-2 record. Rogue followed closely behind at 12-3. Mad Lions and Fnatic were tied for the number three spot with a 9-6 record. The top LEC teams were set to face off against the lower ranked teams. Wins would guarantee their position in the playoffs, while eliminating some of their competition. However, things didn’t quite go to plan.
In the final game of the day, number one seed G2 were defeated in a decisive upset by Excel. G2 seemed unprepared for such a fight from a low-ranked team. Before 20 minutes had passed, Excel’s Patrik (Tristana) was 3/0/1. By the 28-minute mark, Excel had established map control around the Baron pit. With limited vision, G2 knew Excel was on Baron, but needed to secure more information. By pushing up, G2 spotted Excel starting Baron, but Mikyx (Rell) was caught while warding. With Rell out of commission, Excel’s attack damage carry (ADC) Patrik was able to pick up two additional kills on Jankos and Caps.
Weakened by the fight, Excel backed up and prepared to contest the Cloud drake. This marked the beginning of the end. Like a wounded animal, G2 attempted to fight for every inch they could get, but it wasn’t enough. G2’s loss was the start of the underdog dream. Maybe, just maybe, a team that started the day eighth in the table could secure a spot in the playoffs.
In addition to Excel defeating G2, Misfits were able to best Mad Lions, and Schalke 04 were able to overcome Fnatic. This meant their LEC playoff dreams were still alive.
At the start of day 2, many expected that Friday’s upsets would be the last of the weekend. Little did we know, a wild ride was on the way. The day started off with the 5th ranked team, SK Gaming, taking on last-place side, Astralis.
By the 28-minute mark, Astralis held a definitive lead against SK. With an 8/2/2 KDA, Astralis’ ADC KaiSa (Jeskla) outpaced SK’s Xayah on 2/3/0. By warding SK’s jungle, Astralis were able to determine that SK had returned to base, so took down Baron with ease. At the 30-minute mark, SK were mentally defeated. Seeing White Night’s Sion alone, SK struck in an attempt to burst him down. Luckily for White Knight, his teammates were able to rotate quickly. The resulting fight saw Astralis ace SK, allowing them to push to win.
Astralis defeating SK Gaming was just the first upset of the day. In the third match, Excel would face Rogue. Early in the game, Rogue’s Inspired (Udyr) invaded Excel’s jungle area, stealing the Gromp from Dan’s Lilia. Inspired attempted to steal Dan’s blue buff as well but, refusing to lose gold, Dan smited the buff away. Knowing that smite was on cooldown, Rogue went for the Rift Herald. Excel spotted this with a ward, allowing them a chance to secure first blood and steal the Rift Herald.
Using Rift Herald, Excel were able to snatched first turret gold. Though they’d fallen behind in kills, Rogue held on to a close gold lead. At the 26-minute mark, both teams prepared for a Baron fight, with Rogue making the first move. Despite being down a man, Excel collapsed on the Baron pit and came out as victors thanks to a well-timed Xayah ultimate. The dominant Baron fight gave Excel’s Patrik (Xayah) the advantage that he needed to carry the game. Rogue's defeat meant Excel were one game closer to securing a spot in the 2021 LEC Spring Playoffs.
Elsewhere in the tournament, Fnatic were looking to fend off Misfits. The result was one-sided bloodbath, as Misfits beat Fnatic 23 kills to eight in under twenty four minutes. In the final game of the day, Mad Lions took on G2. After a shocking defeat by Excel, G2 had a lot to prove. Unfortunately their surprise support pick in Veigar didn’t pan out. Mad Lions destroyed G2, ending the game with 20 kills to G2’s five, and earning them a spot in the top four.
On the final day of the LEC Spring Split there was a chance that Fnatic could miss playoffs for the first time in years. G2, Rogue, and Mad Lions had locked their places, but which of the five remaining teams would claim the final three spots? Fnatic, SK Gaming, Misfits, Schalke 04, and Excel all had a chance to clinch a playoff berth.
In the first game of the day, Misfits faced last-place team, Vitality. With a win here and a little help from some of their competitors, Misfits could make it to the playoffs. During the pick and base, Vitality even allowed Misfits to pick Zoe – one of Misfits Vetheo’s favorite mid laners.
Vitality scored first blood with Xayah taking down Rell, but Zoe answered back with a kill on Skarner. Around the 25-minute mark, it all came apart. Misfits fell for an ambush that resulted in Vitality acing them and securing Baron. With a over ten thousand gold lead, Vitality laid siege with Baron to knock down Misfits’ base and any dreams of making the LEC playoffs.
With Misfits’ loss, SK Gaming and Fnatic secured a spot for free. Only one place remained, to be decided by a showdown between Excel and Schalke 04. After defeating the top two seeds, Excel were favored. But sadly, during this match it seemed like the side simply ran out of steam. by the 25-minute mark, the writing was already on the wall. Schalke had managed to shut down Excel’s Patrik; the hero of the prior two days was contained and unable to do anything. In desperation, Excel rushed to Baron while Schalke’s ults were down. This just allowed Schalke 04’s Broken Blade the time to push the bottom lane, knocking down a turret and taking an inhibitor.
Despite securing Baron, Excel had sealed their fate. Schalke’s Abbegagge teleported into Excel’s base to help Broken Blade while the team’s remaining players stopped Excel from retreating. Only Kryze was able to teleport back, but the baron minions weren’t enough to stop the onslaught. Schalke 04 were able to clinch the final spot in the LEC Spring Split playoffs after running the table and winning all three of their matches during week 8.
In the fourth match, G2 finally proved that their first place position wasn’t a fluke by taking down SK Gaming in dominating fashion. Rogue’s match against Fnatic was a bloodbath. Early in the game, Rogue’s Odoamne turned Mega with Gnar, unleashing his ultimate onto Fnatic’s Thresh, Lucian, and Gragas, killing all three and vaulting his side ahead. In week 8 of the LEC Spring Split, Fnatic, and SK Gaming lost all three of their matches.
The Rogue win meant Fnatic and SK Gaming were both knocked down to the losers brackets. This marks the first time since 2016 that Fnatic has not finished in the top four. Rogue and G2 will now have the opportunity to pick who they want to face in the first round. Will G2 face Fnatic or Schalke 04. Will G2 crush the hopes and dreams of Fnatic yet again this year? We’ll have to wait and see.
Article Author: Matthew Kowalski