EU playoffs update: Quarterfinals review and semifinals preview

The first stage of the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split playoffs kicked off this past weekend, with Splyce facing off against ROCCAT and H2K versus Team Vitality. These two pairs battled in best-of-five matches to determine who would continue into the semifinals. Here is what has happened so far, and what playoffs looks like moving forward. 

SPY v. ROC

ROCCAT faced Splyce in the quarterfinals of 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Splyce was the heavy favorite coming into their quarterfinals match against ROCCAT, since they closed the regular season in third, while ROCCAT finished sixth. Splyce had four of five members voted into EU’s All-Pro team; ROCCAT had none. The Snakes finished the last four weeks of LCS with only two losses, while ROCCAT went 4-4, including one loss to Splyce.

The first game of the series began with Splyce reacting to deep invades from ROCCAT. Nisqy secured three early kills on Kassadin, two from Memento, one from Blanc. ROCCAT maintained momentum, taking the first three turrets, three dragons, and Rift Herald, until a three for zero fight in Splyce’s favor around 25 minutes. Splyce took Baron, which unlocked the map. Nisqy finished the game 12-0-2.

Top lane pressure characterized game two’s early game, with Xerxe and Memento both pulling off successful ganks. Splyce gained the momentum with an Infernal Drake, a two for zero fight, and mid lane turret secured by 17 minutes. ROCCAT were completely out of sorts from there, as Splyce knocked down three more turrets by 20 minutes. With the map opened up, Odoamne’s Camille and Xerxe’s Zac were unlocked to roam the map and engage at their leisure. Splyce took Baron and ended the game by 29 minutes.

ROCCAT started game three with early game success on the bottom side, with KaSing dying twice and Nisqy dying once pre-10 minutes. However, ROCCAT’s messy skirmishing around the bottom side allowed Splyce to grab the reins. Odoamne’s Camille wreaked havoc once again, split-pushing down turrets and catching out unsuspecting ROCCAT members. Splyce took a 30-minute Baron and ROCCAT was unable to stall long enough for HeaQ’s Jinx to come online. The series ended in a 3-0 for Splyce, eliminating ROCCAT from playoffs in fifth-sixth.

H2K v. VIT

H2K faced Team Vitality in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Saturday kicked off with fourth place Vitality battling fifth place H2K for the semifinals spot versus Fnatic. H2K looked to ride the momentum of the back half of their split, which finished 7-3 over the last five weeks. Vitality felt the inverse effect, finishing 3-7 over that same time. This quarterfinal match-up would be a nexus point between the rise and fall of these two teams.

Game one saw H2K controlling the top side with Smittyj’s Camille gaining a leading and taking the turret, while Vitality’s bottom lane gained a lead and took their turret. Both teams matched their rotations to take second turrets, but Vitality’s Infernal Drakes and superior skirmishing allowed them to take a 2,000 gold lead, their third Infernal, and mid lane turret around 20 minutes. Vitality took the Baron and sieged bottom lane to end in 27 minutes.

Vitality won out bot lane again in their second game against H2K, with Sheriff and Promisq falling to an early turret dive. Minitroupax’s Caitlyn sieged down all three outer turrets by 17 minutes. However, Shook’s Baron steal around 27 minutes was the great equalizer. H2K pushed Vitality’s bottom lane all the way into the Nexus turrets, which gave them pressure to take the second Baron. Vitality never found the proper engage between Shen, Sejuani and Thresh, and H2K closed the game.

With Caitlyn and Leona locked in, Vitality continued to index heavily on bottom lane dominance in game three. By 18 minutes, Vitality knocked down two bot lane turrets and two Ocean Drakes, compared to H2K’s single top turret. Despite their 8-1 kill lead, Vitality were unable to properly posture around Baron. H2K forced them off with a three for one fight, then secured Baron for themselves the next go around. Sheriff got caught out during the siege, which gave Vitality enough control to take the third Baron. Vitality pushed down mid, but H2K defended the inhibitor, which caused both teams to dance around the 44 minute Baron. Neither team lost members, but Vitality secured Baron, rotated and took Elder Drake, then rolled over H2K to take the series to game four.

H2K flipped the script by taking the Morgana-Caitlyn bot lane combo, killing Jactroll, and taking turret around 9 minutes. Shook ganked bot with Zac and helped secure two more kills on Vitality’s bottom lane. With Smittyj solo killing Cabochard’s Shen with Sion, H2K maintained tempo advantage. They aced Vitality in the mid lane around 18 minutes, including a Quadra Kill for Selfie’s Kassadin. A 20 minute Baron for H2K set them up for an unstoppable siege. They ended the game in 23 minutes for “silver scrapes.”

The match point game saw both teams return to top side focus. Gilius and Jiizuke visited top lane for kills on Smittyj’s Ornn in the first 12 minutes. H2K responded by outplaying Gilius’ gank to bottom lane, resulting in a Double Kill for Smittyj. They took bottom turret, then rotated top for Rift Herald, where Vitality lost the fight 0-2. H2K contested Vitality around Infernal Drake, which Shook stole, but Minitroupax’s Tristana also got a Double Kill. From there, Vitality won siege after siege, eventually taking a 22 minute Baron. Over the next 10 minutes, H2K was only able to successfully engage and kill Minitroupax once, and Vitality used the Tristana and Baron buffs to push down all the way to the Nexus. The series went to Vitality, eliminating H2K from playoffs in fifth-sixth.

G2 v. SPY

Splyce will face G2 in the semifinals of the 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 awaits Splyce in Europe’s first semifinals match. The Samurai hold a slight advantage in this match-up, considering they defeated Splyce in a tiebreaker two weeks ago to secure second place. Both teams ended the regular season 11-7, with G2 winning in week three and Splyce winning in week seven.

In their first best-of-one, G2 gained a slight lead in laning phase. Most of the game held a 2-2 kill score, with both teams focusing on trading turrets and vision. Around 36 minutes G2 secured a 50/50 Elder Drake, which allowed them to win the fight and blow the game open.

When they met in the seventh week of LCS, Splyce took decisive control of the early game. Nisqy’s Galio paired nicely with Xerxe’s Ivern to wander around the map catching G2 out. Splyce also took the first turret and dragon by 11 minutes. The open map made it even more difficult for G2 to wander out of vision, and Splyce took over. Their Rakan-Galio engage combined with the buffed Baron-Banner-Ivern bush minion to mow down all of G2’s base without much resistance. Splyce almost perfect-gamed G2, who only ended with one kill and one turret.

Their tiebreaker match began with Splyce taking early control, yet again. Xerxe pulled off successful ganks in top lane and bottom lane, but a couple of uncoordinated plays in the top river cost Splyce several kills, two more turrets, and, ultimately, a 21 minute Baron. With G2 fully unlocked, they gained a 12,000 gold lead and bled Splyce out for second place.

Expect both of these teams to play standard League of Legends for the first 20 minutes. G2 and Splyce will politely lane against one another with the occasional gank from Xerxe or Jankos. They will group and rotate to contest turrets and dragons, but will otherwise avoid one another. Baron and Elder Drake will be game-breaking for these two, because once one of them secures the major neutral objective, they kick the game into overdrive and push their advantages hard.

G2’s individual members should be able to gain laning phase leads, if left to their own devices. Xerxe has been fairly successful with early game ganking in top and bottom lane, though. Over the course of a best-of-five, both of these teams should hold up. Splyce seem most likely to adapt their draft between each game, and prepare surprise strategies that could net them wins. This series should go to five games, unless Splyce or G2 heavily over-performs.

FNC v. VIT

Vitality will face Fnatic in the semifinals of the 2018 Spring Split playoffs

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Vitality will challenge first seed Fnatic in the second semifinals series this weekend. Fnatic are favorites in this match-up, as they only lost four games all split. Vitality finished the season 10-8, but the back half of their spring was much less convincing than the front half. These two went 1-1 against each other over the regular season, with Vitality winning first in week two and Fnatic getting revenge in week seven.

Jiizuke’s Ryze was the star of the show in Vitality’s win over Fnatic. Gilius basically camped mid to put Caps’ Azir far behind. In response, Fnatic rotated top several times to shut down Cabochard’s Lucian. However, Jiizuke persistently pressured the side lanes with Ryze, frequently winning versus multiple opponents. Vitality ultimately feigned an Elder Drake take, but instead backdoored Fnatic’s nexus to end.

In their rematch, Vitality attempted a similar strategy, earning two kills for Jiizuke’s Azir by camping Caps’ Corki in mid lane. This pressure spilled over into bottom and top lane, as Vitality had a 4,000 gold lead by 15 minutes. Fnatic held it together long enough to sneak Broxah’s Kha’Zix into the Baron pit and steal it from Vitality. The steal brought Fnatic right back into the game, and allowed Rekkles’ Tristana and Caps’ Corki to lay siege. They pushed all the way to Vitality’s nexus turrets, then back off. Vitality responded with several picks and an Elder Drake, which they used to break open Fnatic’s base. Caps and SoaZ tried to teleport and backdoor, but Cabochard and Minitroupax stopped them. Vitality attempted to take Elder Drake, but Broxah stole that, too. The buff pushed Fnatic over the top to almost aced Vitality and end the game.

Vitality may have some weaknesses in their draft, if they try to utilize the same “camp mid” strategy every game. Rekkles has shown multiple times that he can remain self-sufficient playing into losing match-ups. Fnatic could easily force Vitality to pick Jiizuke’s mid lane champion first, and save the counter for Caps. They could also remove Gilius’ safest champions, Sejuani and Zac, and force him to play Trundle or Olaf. He would have less crowd control for mid lane that way, and less agency to gank early. Fnatic also have much more experience as a team in longer high pressure series, and should be able to adapt.

On the other hand, Fnatic will not start SoaZ this weekend. He is out with an injury, which means Bwipo will step in as their starting top laner. Putting a rookie in such a position could slightly compromise Fnatic’s chances. However, in their two games with Bwipo so far, Fnatic seemed just as dominant. They should be able to take this series quickly and efficiently, but Vitality will probably take a win in the first two games. Vitality’s unbridled playstyle should yield some exciting games, but if any team can stamp out their sparks before they burn everything down, it is Fnatic.

credits

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

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