DOMINANT FIRST TWO SEEDS DISPATCH THE CHALLENGERS IN THE EU LCS SEMIFINALS
After the quarterfinals, only four teams remained in contention for the EU LCS championship cup. The two historically most successful teams, Fnatic and G2, had managed to secure a bye to the semifinals, where they waited for their challengers, Vitality and Splyce. Both new teams were hungry for success, having shown impressive games during the regular split and scoring wins against their current opponents. The question was, could they manage to defeat them when it truly counts – in a best of five series during the playoffs?
G2 vs Splyce: 3-1
Although G2 had managed to best Splyce for the 2nd place and the semifinal bye that it gave in the only tiebreaker match EU offered this split, the two teams had to face each other again in the semifinals. Both teams had to shows their growth and while for G2 this was an opportunity to once again make it to the EU finals and pursue a fifth consecutive title, Splyce had a chance to avenge their earlier loss.
In Game 1, Splyce drafted a powerful teamfighting comp and the game was fairly close early on. It was G2 to first get a significant advantage due to a Splyce five-man engage around the 24th minute backfiring, but it was Splyce that was able to close the game at the end with a quick engage that picked of the G2 AD carry, followed by three extra kills as G2 were split and unprepared, despite having the baron buff. After that, their support Kasing prevented Jankos’ return to the base while his team demolished their nexus. G2, however, were unperturbed and showed they had indeed improved from their poor showing in the early season as they got the advantage and pushed it for the win in the next three rounds.
In Game 2 they were able to gain an early advantage by having three pushing lanes, and it grew even further after a successful collapse on Splyce’s pushing bot got G2 three kills in what eventually became a 5v5 fight. The difference would only grow later on, based off Wunder’s splitpushing and G2’s successful baron baiting, which netted them two extra kills and the baron itself, while Splyce were unable to mount an effective resistance.
Game 3 started on a much more equal level, but eventually Wunder’s toplane Swain ramped up and showed why it is seen as one of the top-level picks in this meta as it gave G2 a big advantage in fights. Finally, the game broke around the baron, where G2s Hjarnan scored a quad kill and G2 were able to close the game soon afterwards.
In Game 4, Swain was banned and Splyce’s Odoamne decided to play Camille for some split pressure of his own, but G2 let Wunder play a fighter toplaner of his own, Fiora. The teams stayed close, but G2 eventually managed to obtain small pressure advantage and vision superiority in the river, so a Splyce three-man collapse on the Fiora was punished with a swift baron for G2. This gave them the clearly superior pushing and made the splitpushing Fiora even more of a threat. Splyce did their best to fight back, attempting a baron of their own around the 32-minute mark, but they were unable to secure it before G2 collapsed and won the ensuring teamfight with four kills to one. Finally, Splyce moved to contest a G2 elder drake but were unable to make it in time and had to rely on a Jhin ultimate to attempt a steal. Sadly, it was not enough, and G2 collapsed, getting another major teamfight and finished the series.
G2’s toplaner Wunder managed to split the map time and again with Splyce not being able to find an answer, and G2 showed they could also rely on their ADC Hjarnan who in game 4 made the difference as he did a ton of damage in the baron pit and cut back Splyce’s attempt to get back in the game.
Fnatic vs Vitality: 3-1
While the two teams had ended up with a 1-1 head to head record, they were not seen as nearly as equal. Vitality started with a very strong first half of the split, but then had to endure a long losing streak and ended up in fourth place. Meanwhile, Fnatic had quickly improved their playstyle after a shaky start and ended the season as the undisputed best team in the regular split. However, an unexpected injury on their toplaner Paul ‘sOAZ’ Boyer forced them to play with their substitute toplaner Gabriël ‘Bwipo’ Rau, forgoing the legendary ‘sOAZ buff’ for the playoffs. The French veteran would have to sit this one out.
Game 1 had Fnatic start with an unexpected pick – Nidalee jungle – and surprising aggression, as after 2 regular season games where Vitality got ahead by camping Caps, Fnatic decided to return the favor and played aggressively around the midlane. Broxah’s Nidalee made a big difference early on getting a kill for Caps’ Zoe, and with the rest of the team joining in Jiizuke was 0-4 at around 15 minutes, while Vitality had only gotten kills on Fnatic’s support. Soon later, Caps showed that he can quickly delete the enemy AD carry and things were looking quite grim for Vitality. While they struck back with a 3-0 fight as Fnatic overextended trying to kill Cabochard. Still, this didn’t stop Fnatic as they got the baron from sheer pressure, only losing their toplaner who delayed Vitality so the team could finish the objective and get away. Soon thereafter, Fnatic won a fight with three kills and losing only their support and closed the game in under 26 minutes.
Fnatic was aggressive in its start to Game 2 as well, as a bold invade gave them a kill on Gilius’ Skarner, but Rekkles’ Ezreal gave his own life shortly after. However, Gilius showed he had absolutely no fear with several early ganks and Vitality got a lead, the first tower and the first drake. However, at around the 17th minute an attempt by Vitality to collapse on Bwipo’s Gangplank backfired horribly as Fnatic’s midlaner and jungle interfered, and Caps’ Swain proved once again just how dangerous this champion is, getting three kills and keeping his toplaner alive to boot. Vitality compounded this error with several poorer engages, until Fnatic’s advantage became too much and they ended the game with roughly 20 kills at just over 30 minutes.
Vitality had not given up, however. They started Game 3 on a good foot, getting two early kills on Bwipo’s Cho’gath and the first tower before the 10th minute, but Fnatic was able to equalise the game. However, their first baron attempt went very poorly as Vitality punished the risky call, pushed them out with one kill and took the baron for themselves. Fnatic lost the baron, which got Vitality an opportunity to take the advantage. Another Fnatic baron attempt shortly before the 30-minute mark was turned by a bold vitality call to splitpush into the base with 2 champions and contest the baron with 3 – but between Minitroupax ‘Kog’ Maw and Gilius’ Olaf, this was enough to steal the baron and kill several Fnatic members while Jiizuke destroyed Fnatic’s nexus towers and nearly ended the game. The next attack destroyed the remaining inhibitors and while Fnatic tried to counterattack, they would be the ones to end up defeated, incidentally breaking Swain’s winning streak in Europe.
Like the G2 versus Splyce series, the series was decided in its fourth game. Things started well for Vitality as they were again able to secure the first blood. However, Caps’ Swain was able to barely survive and get kills in several fights, and within 12 minutes had already amassed a scary 3/0/2 record. Vitality fought back and were able to surprise Caps with several collapses, but once teamfights started, he was in his element. Around the 25th minute Fnatic was able to get a kill on Vitality’s AD carry Minitroupax and turned to the baron. Things looked dangerous for them again as Gilius rolled the dice but, this time he failed, and Fnatic got 3 kills in the ensuing fight. They proceeded to methodically take two inhibitors with the baron buff and, despite a desperate engage by Vitality’s Gnar, they soon after took the third one and the game, ending the series with a 3-1 result.
This week will open with the third-place series between Splyce and Vitality on Saturday. In addition, for extra points for the world qualifier circuit, the third-place team will also represent the EU region at rift rivals. The main event will take place on Sunday as Fnatic and G2 will fight once again. This is a game which will make or break legacies – will Fnatic take their 6th EU title and be crowned champions for the first time since 2015, or will G2 continue their winning streak and equalize Fnatic’s five titles?