As the fifth week of competition in the LEC came to a close, many fans and analysts were surprised to witness a four-way tie for first place. G2, Origen, FNATIC and Misfits all find themselves at the top of the standings with a 7-3 record, while Rogue and MAD Lions follow closely behind going 6-4.
One fact seems increasingly clear as time goes by; the LEC is likely the most closely contested league among all of the major regions. When rosters were being announced during the offseason, hype was built up for many teams. G2 and FNATIC, in particular, were seen as fan-favorites due to their popular rosters which remained largely unchanged.
But it was certainly unexpected for the teams comprised mostly of rookies, mainly MAD, Rogue and Misfits to make such a big splash in 2020. The latter in particular has exceeded all expectations by going undefeated for several weeks in a row.
But is this success meant to last or is it only a passing trend? How do Misfits measure up to the rest of the competition going into the second half of the split?
Rogue exposes the team’s weaknesses
The strength of Misfits truly came out of nowhere even for many analysts and professionals. From looking sloppy and insecure during the first two days, Misfits rallied and looked dominant in the following weeks. Most surprising of all, they didn’t rely simply on gimmicks or unconventional strategies. On the contrary; they were beating powerhouses such as G2 on the back of solid fundamentals, coordination and team fighting. The ability to employ a wide array of strategies and play around any part of the map made Misfits seem unstoppable at times.
That is, until their winning streak was broken earlier this week by Rogue. A fellow squad comprised mostly of rookies, Rogue has been able to hand Misfits two of their three loses this year. Though one of these victories came during the questionable first week of Misfits, the second match made it pretty clear that Rogue is capable of countering their play-style to an extent.
Misfits mainly rely on the synergy between their Mid Laner, Jungler and Support, utilizing a strategy similar to the former Giants from where Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz and Petr “Denyk” Haramach came from. By giving them early to mid game oriented picks with a lot of roaming potential, they can freely pressure the map as needed; whether that means diving top in the first minutes of the match or securing vision and priority around key objectives.
Rogue were able to shut down this strategy by cleverly stalling the match. They tracked the enemy Jungler and Midlaner and closed the gap on farming. They also kept tight control of river and got some crucial picks. Hence, Misfits could not capitalize on their lead and Rogue pulled of the comeback.
FNATIC threatens Misfits’ place at the top
By far the biggest concern for Misfits fans going into next week is the match against FNATIC. The legendary European organization had a relatively slow start to the split but have been racking up impressive victories ever since.
The matchup in the jungle will be particularly interesting to see. Razork’s strategy in most of his games relies on setting the pace and then keeping up tempo and momentum. But Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek has been nothing short of the superstar jungler promised to FNATIC fans. Despite the eventual poor performance, Selfmade is often the key factor that brings FNATIC the victory. With both players known for their high mechanical skill, their performances promise to define the game.
The Bot Lane is definitely another point of focus. Beyond the flaws in their general strategy, the biggest weakness of Misfits at the moment seems to be the performance of their Bot Lane during the early game. Often being pushed in, whether due to an unfavorable matchup or Denyk roaming, Yeong-hoon “Bvoy” Ju tends to fall behind in CS and pressure early on, which is something Rogue capitalized on in the past.
With Bot being the home of FNATIC’s captain and star player Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, it will be interesting to see if the team decides to exploit this side of the map.
Naturally, the matchup of Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek and Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten in the Mid Lane is also quite exciting due to the history of both players. A veteran goes up against a promising young star. Not to mention, shutting down the roaming potential of the opponent and acquiring priority will certainly be fundamental in this match.
Misfits’ goals going forward
No longer the underdog, Misfits have no need to prove themselves to anyone. The potential and ceiling of the team are quite clear to the community at this point. What’s evident as well is that the current top six in the standings are the obvious contenders to playoffs. As long as no organization goes on a surprising losing streak or is the victim of one too many upsets, the bracket seems to be very well defined.
From this point of view, what should Misfits’ goals be going forward?
On the one hand, trying their hardest to protect their First place spot and earning a bye into the latter stages of playoffs seems like the most convenient objective.
However, perhaps for a team comprised mainly of rookie talent, most of which has never competed in a single best of 3 in the LEC, let alone a best of 5, experimenting may prove more beneficial. Maybe it would be best for Misfits to focus on learning different strategies and trying new things. Perhaps losing just enough to learn and grow but still keeping morale high would see this team in their finest form and dominating come playoffs.
The fact that both outcomes seem equally positive proves just how good this roster really is and what a great job the coaching staff did in putting it together.
Featured photo from @MisfitsGG
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