SPLYCE VS. VITALITY: LIVE AND DIE BY THE PLAYS
Splyce and Vitality fought valiantly in the third-place match in the EU LCS, as the spot gives more championship points and a ticket to Rift Rivals.
Rift Rivals is a mid-season tournament, in which the top three teams from NA face the top three teams from EU. Although the prize pool isn’t impressive, the international experience is valuable for the teams, who aim to achieve good results in the World Championship. So, even though it wasn’t a match for the cup, Splyce and Vitality gave their best to win this series and it was an explosive match.
Splyce’s early game plan was obvious – bot lane aggression. Recent games showed that Amadeu ‘Minitroupax’ Carvalho’s early game is vital for the Vitality squad, which often concentrated on getting him ahead. So Splyce went ahead of the curve and attacked the lane aggressively, before Minitropax and his support, Jakub ‘Jactroll’ Skurzyński could get any help. But one overstep was enough, and the Portuguese sniper got a double kill, thanks to a timely counter-gank by Erberk ‘Gilius’ Demir and the whole plan backfired for Splyce. Their only hope seemed to be Yasin ‘Nisqy’ Dinçer’s Zoe, which managed to acquire several bounties on the way to the midgame. But in a tank-heavy game, it Caitlyn’s high DPS proved way more valuable than Zoe’s burst damage, and Vitality got the first game in before the 30-minute mark.
In Game 2, Nisqy decided to silence his critics, who claimed he was unable to carry the team in the games he managed to get ahead. This time the fights were in the top side of the map, and the Belgian’s Cassiopeia went to town. After six kills, two of which solo against rookie of the split Daniele ‘Jiizuke’ di Mauro, in 15 minutes, the game looked all but decided in favour of Splyce. The yellow snake strangled its pray as early as 24 minutes, but not before Nisqy got an impressive double kill in a 1v5 battle with Vitality.
As Game 1 was heavily in favour of Vitality, and Game 2 was a dominating performance by Splyce, Game 3 was the one, where things got really interesting. Vitality got a good start for the first time in the series. They showed some proactivity, but Splyce’s reactive play bought things back to balance. But it was Vitality’s Jiizuke, who obviously loves big plays, who ended up tipping the scales. After a spectacular outplay versus Kasper ‘Kobbe’ Kobberup and a three-man Seismic Shove, the Taliyah led Vitality to match point.
With their backs against the wall, Splyce’s teamwork kicked in. After a beautiful teamfight, powered by Andrei ‘Xerxe’ Dragomir’s Zac, and an early baron call, Splyce got ahead, which many people consider a must versus Vitality. With the great engage, provided by Xerxe and his countryman, Andrei ‘Odoamne’ Pascu, Splyce made short work of their opponents. This time it wasn’t a solo performance by any single member, but a gracious team effort. And thus, we got to hear Silver Scrapes – the trademark song, signalling a fifth game and an exciting series.
Game 5’s are notorious for having extravagant picks in them. This time it was no different – Xerxe picked his signature Ivern, something we haven’t seen in quite a while in Europe. The things were going even in the early game. One thing became very clear – Vitality live and die by the plays. In one fight Jiizuke’s Taliyah dove a turret 1v3 due to a miscommunication in the team and died looking like a fool. In the following fight Minitroupax got an impressive double on Jinx. But Nisqy’s Cassiopeia stopped his excitement, and once again led his team ahead. He was assisted by none other, than Vitality’s jungler Gilius, who got caught out of position numerous times throughout the series. A pick an Odoamne looked like a glimmer of hope for Vitality, but good baron control kept Splyce in the lead. Vitality went for a desperate Elder Dragon play… but they gave their base in return, along with the hope to play on American soil. Splyce won the series 3-2.
There are several things to take away from this game. Kobbe, Gilius and Jiizuke underperformed in the match, but Minitroupax, Xerge and especially Nisqy shined. But the deciding factor was Splyce’s team coordination. As the series progressed, the players found their pace. Their teamfighting and objective control was far superior. On Vitality’s side, there’s still a lot more to work on. The team is often not on the same page. For their aggressive and proactive style to work out, they have to smooth out those details. But the players showed a lot of potential, and if the roster doesn’t change drastically, they can achieve higher levels of play and reach a spot in Worlds.
For Splyce, this is good news. The team has a lot of star power and seems to be working together. The international event will give valuable experience too.
Things are looking good for Europe. This season proved to be extremely competitive and the level of play has risen higher than before, even though a lot of stars have left the European scene, in favour of joining the American. It might be too early to speak, but it looks like Europe has a good chance to climb higher in the international rankings, and eventually reach the Worlds Semi-finals again, and possibly more.
But Worlds is far away, and for now Fnatic join Team Liquid in what is to be an exciting MSI. Another proof, that this year’s MSI will be out of the ordinary – Korean colossus SK Telecom T1 won’t be making an appearance for the first time, as the strongest region in the world will be represented by either Kingzone DragonX or Afreeca Freecs. There are a lot of new names on the scene and that is always exciting.