As of the time of writing, only two weeks of competition remain in the 2020 LEC Spring Split. Throughout these past months, the European League community has witnessed organizations rise and fall as they struggle for dominance. Some, such as Schalke, have had disappointing results in comparison to previous years. Others, such as Misfits, have experienced incredible success despite doubt and controversy surrounding their roster.
Indeed, very few people expected Misfits to stand in the top half of the standings after the failure of a “Super Team” in 2019 and the subsequent release of most of their young talent ahead of 2020. However, despite all setbacks, Misfits acquired a solid leadership in Alejandro “Jandro” Fernández-Valdés and Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider and from that foundation built a strong unit.
Showing off incredible fundamentals, coordination and team fighting, Misfits hopped above all expectations and even managed to take down Origen and G2 to secure themselves a place among the best teams in Europe. But the road has not been flawless for the underdogs. After accumulating a good win streak, they faltered and have dropped games to Rogue, FNATIC and even Origen themselves.
Ultimately, now that they have guaranteed a spot in playoffs, the question is how far can the Cinderella story really go. Where does Misfits truly fall within the power rankings of the best teams? Do they truly have a solid chance at winning playoff finals or will they just be fodder to the perennially dominant top 3?
The Identity of Misfits
The success of Misfits, in the eyes of many analysts, has come on the back of a surprising amount of synergy among their members. The coaching staff did an excellent job balancing the skills of each player. A strong core of Mid, Jungle and Support was set up to dominate the early to mid game. The plan is usually putting the young superstar Iván Martín “Razork” Díaz on high impact picks such as Lee or Gragas and have him dictate the pace of the match often with the assist of Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten and Petr “Denyk” Haramach. Danny “Dan Dan” Le Comte and Yeong-hoon “Bvoy” Ju aim to either scale into the late game or just generally play the sidelane and dominate team fights respectively.
This strategy was pulled off successfully several times. Febiven had a seemingly career revival, displaying some incredible mechanics on assasins. The rookies showed off as well and Razork and Bvoy are being heralded as star players.
The weaknesses of this strategy however, begin in the Bot Lane. Bvoy and Denyk often find themselves pushed in and at a CS disadvantage. Such a situation chains Denyk to the tower and prevents him from roaming. It also blocks off a pressure point for Razork and even opens the team up to dives.
Across the map, if the enemy Jungler knows that Bot Lane is in low risk of dives or fights, that opens them up to focus Top Lane. Oftentimes, Dan Dan is shut down early by a roam from the enemy team. If Dan Dan is stuck in a reactive position and Razork can’t help him come back, the team loses much presence in the map.
Misfits Struggle to Fit In
Any strategy has weaknesses, and Misfits have done a great job of playing around them. However, in the past couple of weeks specifically, another problem has come up for them. Despite minimal mistakes by the players and despite good proactive play and control, the team has frequently found itself on a severe disadvantage.
The game against SK in Week 6 is a good example. Misfits held the lead throughout but a single bad call almost ended the match for them.
More recently against Origen, Razork was put into Lee Sin to try and make an impact early, yet did not have any good pressure points on the map. With Top and Bot side being pushed in, Mid Lane was the only possible area of focus for him. However, with Nukeduck’s Corki being able to deny any attempt of an approach with the press of a button, Razork had little left to lean on. Febiven clearly tried to make the best out of a bad situation and tried, failing repeatedly, to catch Corki out. The result was a losing matchup in most lanes and Misfits being unable to force anything anywhere.
With the end of the split quickly approaching, this is a problem that the coaching staff has to address. Whether it’s being behind the meta or simply drafting incorrectly, Misfits has often lost despite (and not because of) the performance of their players.
An Opportunity to Adapt
Luckily for Misfits, the matchups in the final weeks have lined up perfectly for them to experiment and develop. They will face three teams that are lower than them in the standings before a climactic final bout against region champions G2.
Especially against Schalke and Vitality, fans should expect Misfits to mix things up both in terms of draft and general strategy. It is imperative that they plan for key win conditions and allow their players to have clear objectives to play around throughout the match.
One example of an increasingly common strategy which Misfits has yet to implement is utilizing a niche support pick in the Top Lane. Due to the changes of experience and priority on the map, some rosters, such as G2, have found great success in allowing their Top Laner to pick a support. Players could also stick to their comfort picks. Vladimir for Dan Dan and Ekko for Razork are two examples of signature Champs which have proven quite effective in the past; perhaps the coaching staff is saving these for a potential deep run in playoffs.
The community also witnessed some interesting play during the Neosurf cup which may prove effective if replicated. Misfits rotated very early and often during those games and focused on securing the herald. If the team wants to keep up the identity of early aggression, giving up the first drakes in exchange for tempo and control seems like a worthwhile trade off.
A World of Potential
Misfits have proven to be capable of pushing “The Big three” of FNATIC, Origen and G2 to their limits. They have remained incredibly consistent throughout the Split and, despite the aforementioned flaws, have been able to pull through and not drop many games.
For a team of rookies, Misfits is likely one of the rosters with the most potential out of any other in Europe. However, history is relentless in the world of esports. Promising squads have risen in the past only to be stomped out by the status quo come playoffs and then be forgotten.
It is very important for Misfits to have a strong showing in these final weeks, but also to learn as much as they can and have a good amount of tricks saved up their sleeve.
With a bit of Mischief, a bit of playfulness and a lot of skill, Misfits may just be the team to break the standards in the LEC.
Featured photo from @MisfitsGG
“From Our Haus to Yours”