Misfits was not a team meant to achieve success.
The roster is comprised almost exclusively of rookies. Three out of five players have only ever competed six times in the LEC. The brand came into the season on the back of, arguably, four forgettable to disastrous Splits in a row. The organization has a history of “wasting” great talent. Most likely, Misfits were destined to be a bottom-tier team throughout the Spring Split. In summer, they could aspire to be middle-of-the-pack and maybe playoffs, from which surely they would be quickly eliminated.
As of the time of writing, Misfits is tied for second in the LEC after just three weeks; their latest match resulting in a convincing win against Origen. However, the narrative that’s taking place is not a mere story of defying expectations. It is a story of growth and hard work. In the first week of competition, all suspicions surrounding Misfits seemed to be confirmed by sloppy performances. But the team adapted, they learned from their mistakes and they counted on their top-notch coaching staff.
This is a story of underdogs failing, being rejected, and then bouncing back despite mockery and ridicule. This is the story of a true group of Misfits.
Misfits vs Schalke: Sudden Changes
Expectations were mixed going into the matchup between Misfits and Schalke. The affair was quite important for fans of both organizations. Misfits needed the win to rise above the bottom of the standings. Schalke desperately needed a victory in their record and had one promising rookie sub in to try and fix their mistakes. In the grand scale of things however, the match represented a clash between two low-tier rosters. The victory of Misfits was celebrated with caution and skepticism. In the end, they were going up against a “no-good, 0 synergy” squad; winning was expected, losing was embarrassing.
Regardless of the caliber of their opponents, the manner in which Misfits obtained victory made a statement. When one team directly “outclasses” another, what tends to happen is that a lead is built through individual performances. Whether through a great laning phase or through outplays in fights, the better team seems to win almost through inertia.
Misfits’ performance did not rely on the superiority of their players whatsoever; what’s poetic is that they most likely couldn’t. Schalke were defeated through superior macro and clean team play. The first significant play was a drake that Misfits set up beautifully with waves and pressure to capture. This one objective was followed by many more like it. All throughout, Misfits keep control of creeps, vision, objectives and fights. They behaved like a cohesive unit unlike anything fans had seen in the first weeks.
This was a sign of things to come.
Misfits vs Origen: Outclassing Europe’s best
Then came Origen. The organization is one of the most respected in Europe. They have a history of success and this year was no exception. Along with G2 and FNATIC, Origen is often heralded as a member of the top three that stands above the rest of the region. A victory against Schalke did virtually nothing to change expectations of this match. Misfits were bound to be put down.
It’s exactly for these reasons that the dominant display put un by Misfits was so unexpected. In terms of map movement, objective control and pressure the team completely outclassed one of Europe’s best. Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz, in particular, deserves recognition for a performance on Gragas which finally proved his true ability. The first significant play in the early game is a great example of Misfits’ newfound strengths.
What appears as a simple repeat gank on the toplane betrays the true complexity of the situation. Razork and his team were tracking Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir’s movements and knew he was off the map at that moment. Considering that Morde’s flash was immediately blown before and Razorks’ ultimate, they knew that they had a short window of aggression that they needed to exploit. Misfits don’t catch Barney “Alphari” Morris overextending; they punish him for the mere act of being within exp range of the wave and kill him.
Apart from pure macro, the team found picture-perfect beautiful initiations on fights. They knew Origen had a catch and pick composition with Elise and Thresh and expertly exploited their weaknesses. The first Gank in the Bot Lane, with a no hesitation combination of ultimates to blow up Elias “Upset” Lipp was just an example of things to come. In nearly all regards, Misfits proved superior.
Defying expectations and turning heads
Considering how early Misfits are into the season, a lot of things could still change. Their position at the top of the ladder is by no means guaranteed and they could very well go back to having sloppy performances in the next couple of games. Ultimately, what no one can take away from the roster is that they have proven the potential for something truly great.
A victory over Origen does not necessarily make Misfits the best in Europe, but it turns them into a threat for any other team in the league. The rankings speak for themselves: there is a 4-way tie for second place. Europe as a region is incredibly competitive and there is a good amount of strong organizations within the league.
It is within this circle of top teams struggling for supremacy that Misfits has proven to belong. They are beyond a mere “playoff” team at this point. They are contenders for the best, and they have still so much room for growth.
A rookie squad being able to get so far so soon can only be a good sign and both fans and members of the team are justified in being excited and hopeful for a great future.
Featured photo from @DanDanDoubleD
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