The first week of competition in the LEC was disastrous for the Misfits organization. Analysts often pointed out that, statistically, the team had one of the worst performances in the history of the European League.
Few among fans gave Misfits a chance to bounce back from their situation and many were quick on declaring last place finishes and crying out for players to be substituted or shafted. As the team stepped into their match against SK Gaming in Week 2, the best that casters had to say about them was that “it could only get better for them”.
As the team left victorious after a dominant performance, an air of change could be felt blowing through the eyes and expectations of everyone watching. Even then, many still hesitated in giving Misfits a chance against other opponents. After all, even a bad lineup could manage to get a fluke victory, but that would prove nothing. Excel, the roster that beat them in the Neosurf cup, would surely have no problems putting them away.
Yet another great performance by Misfits later and suddenly all excuses and arguments were out the window. Preconceptions were shattered and Misfits is now arguably a legitimate contender for playoffs. But how exactly did this happen?
Misfits VS SK Gaming: The Importance of a Draft
The unexpected success of Misfits was mostly due to them out-drafting their opponents. SK made two crucial mistakes early on: blind picking Miss Fortune and Ornn. Though both champions are usually a force to be reckoned with, they also leave themselves open to hard counters. Misfits capitalized by picking Braum to block the damage of the ADC and Sett, who has a very easy Laning Phase against the tank.
Even though their opponents countered their strategy, SK seemingly doubled down on their plan and picked strong initiators in Jarvan IV and Rakan. However, they were only further shut down by the Xayah, who with her ultimate can completely negate the aggression and kite back.
Mifits VS SK Gaming: Executing the Plan
One thing is to draft the better team, but it’s a completely different endeavor to try and execute a strategy effectively. It is mostly in this regard that Misfits made mistakes in their first week. Misplays and hesitation resulted in sloppy play, and both Rogue and FNATIC simply walked all over them.
This game was a different story. After a relatively uneventful Early Game, in which SK had priority in most of their Lanes, the pace of the match quickly accelerated around the 10 minute mark. Both teams employed a rotation of their Bot Laners into Top with the goal of securing the Rift Herald. Despite being shoved under tower for the majority of the game, Petr “Denyk” Haramach managed to catch Crownshot out of position with a bold Braum ultimate. Now counting on the numbers advantage, Misfits moved to claim their Herald. SK would try to contest, and the subsequent fight would prove the real importance of the draft.
Jarvan immediately initiated on Xayah, but she simply ulted and kited back to safety. Meanwhile, caught in the chokepoint of the pit, SK members were easy pickings for Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten’s Qiyanna. With two kills in his pocket, the Mid Laner was free to roam around with kill pressure on virtually every enemy.
Misfits VS SK Gaming: Pushing a Lead
Misfits only found a bit of difficulty in closing out the game. They utilized the Herald quite effectively, knocking down two towers in the Top Lane at the cost of trading drake.
However, after that, the team failed at finding a good fight or siege on the Mid Lane tower of SK. Whether through lack of coordination on the waves, bad execution on flanks and initiations or Bvoy’s aggressive style getting him low on crucial moments, Misfits just couldn’t close out the match in a clean manner. In fact, in the end, it was SK who initiated onto them, only to be completely countered.
Xayah once again escaped most of the damage with her ultimate, Braum blocked crucial abilities and Gragas cut off the enemy ADC from the fight completely with his casket. One successful team fight and a baron later and Misfits were well on their way to a definitive victory.
Both Febiven and Yeong-hoon “Bvoy” Ju deserve recognition for their performance in this match. The Mid Laner popped off on Qiyanna even though he was not particularly well known for playing assassins. With Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz, he made crucial picks and crushed fights. Bvoy had a shaky laning phase, but more than compensated for it with incredible team fighting.
Misfits VS Excel: Stealing a Game Pirate Style
The beginning of the match against Excel looked eerily similar to those of Misfits’ first matches. The influence of coach YoungBuck is clear in the macro of the UK team, as they employ clean strategy to gradually build a sizable lead. Excel make sure to shut down the scaling of Gankplank with a tower dive early and then take Herald, Dragon and Tower Plates almost uncontested.
However, as much as Misfits seemed to be stuck in a reactionary position, a quick glance at the gold difference revealed that they never allowed their opponent’s lead to grow too much. Through small victories and actions, the team is able to stay just half a step behind of Excel.
Great importance must be given once again to the draft. The Aphelios and Gankplank made sure that the team had a strong Late Game even if Lee Sin and Leblanc fell off. Tahm Kench proved crucial in several moments as he saved Bvoy from being caught out multiple times and denied Excel plays and objectives with his ultimate.
With Misfits being able to outscale and Excel not extending their lead far enough, a breaking point was destined to come. And it did near dragon, where Gankplank was able to pick up a triple kill and put his team ahead.
As MVP Danny “Dan Dan” Le Comte himself said in the post game interview, all that was needed for Misfits was a single team fight. When they got it, he knew that they had won.
The Gankplank of Dan Dan deserves to be especially recognized.
Marching Confident into the Future
Misfits performed quite poorly in the first week of the LEC. But that much was expected; for many fans and even some analysts, the team was comprised of a bunch of unknown rookies with virtually no experience in major regions.
Their shaky and hesitant play was expected, and even loyal supporters of the team were prepared for a lack-luster Spring Split for the sake of developing young talent.
This week, however, the underdogs obliterated all expectations and preconceptions surrounding this roster. The fact is, Misfits still looked inexperienced; they still made plenty of mistakes; and yet, they won. They were good enough on draft and execution to beat both SK and Excel despite their flaws.
What this means for the ceiling and the possibilities of this lineup, not only in this Split, but throughout the entire year, is quite promising to say the very least. Misfits fans have a lot to be excited about, and they can surely wear their colors proud.
Featured photo from Misfits
“From Our Haus to Yours”