With the EU LCS summer finals now just a week away, we now know all four teams that will compete in Kraków for the summer split trophy and the first two of three Worlds spots available to EU LCS teams. Regular season winners G2 guaranteed their spot at Worlds after H2K decimated Fnatic with a quick 3-0 series victory on Tuesday. H2K’s win guarantees G2 the highest championship points tally of all teams in the playoffs, securing them a spot even if they don’t win the entire tournament.
For Splyce and H2K, everything is on the line. Splyce are in a similar position to Origen in summer 2015: with no championship points to their name, they must at the very least make the final to have a chance of automatically qualifying, or they risk needing to win the gauntlet in the EU LCS Regional Qualifier. For H2K, a trip to the final means Worlds qualification is entirely in their hands, and their spot would be guaranteed should both H2K and G2 make it to the final.
Also, check out our preview of Sunday's semifinal clash between spring split champions G2 Esports and sixth seed Unicorns of Love!
FROM POLAND WITH LOVE
Splyce have a tough task ahead of them in attempting to halt the charge of this H2K team. Since the return of Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou to the bot lane in week 9, H2K are on an undefeated 7-0 streak, but that’s not the scary part. The manner in which they dispatched Fnatic in four games (one tiebreaker in week 9, 3-0 in the quarterfinals) is the most impressive part of their current run. All four games were veritable stomps, as mismatched as a pack of Yordles facing off against Noxian warriors.
Despite FORG1VEN’s return and the banter between teams dominating the discussion before the series, H2K’s star jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and reliable top-laner Andrei ”Odoamne” Pascu carried their team to victory. Odoamne dominated Kikis in games 1 and 2 of the series, the first in particular. Repeatedly tower-diving Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek’s Gangplank in game 1, Odoamne pressed his advantage on Ekko to take tower after tower and left Kikis wondering what technical issue could possibly make his screen permanently monochrome.
In game 2, Odoamne took control of the Saltwater Scourge himself, barrelling through Fnatic before capping it all off with a solid performance on Shen, a crucial component of H2K’s bulldozer composition in game three. He racked up a total KDA of 5/2/31, looking dominant the whole series. It’s hard to think of a bigger challenge for Splyce’s All-Pro top-laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen, and that’ll be a fascinating match-up with the return of standard lanes.
Odoamne wasn’t the only standout performer; Jankos renewed his claim on the title of “First-Blood King” as he comprehensively out-jungled Spirit at every stage of all three games. He put on a jungling masterclass, perhaps the strongest playoff performances of any jungler in the EU LCS. To dominate Da-yun "Spirit" Lee so handily, a player once considered the best jungler in the world, shows the strength of talent EU still offers. Should H2K qualify for Worlds, it will be Jankos’ first time competing on the biggest stage in League of Legends esports.
H2K’s support Oskar “Vander” Bogdan likewise aims to make his Worlds debut, turning in performances on Taric in all three games versus Fnatic that showed what that champion can do in capable hands. He used Cosmic Radiance to perfection, particularly in H2K’s bulldozer comp in game 3. H2K’s victory over Fnatic also means both Jankos and Vander can perform in front of a home crowd for the first time in their professional careers, a point of pride for so many players.
Like G2, we haven’t seen Splyce play for three weeks now since dominating against Origen and trolling against Unicorns of Love. They looked incredibly good in the regular season, improving massively since avoiding relegation in the spring split. Top-laner Wunder and coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi both earned plaudits in the EU LCS summer-split awards; Wunder earned the accolade of All-Pro top-laner, while YamatoCannon picked up the Coach of the Split award, and deservedly so.
One player that might be disappointed with his placement in the various All-Pro teams is Splyce mid-laner Chres “Sencux” Laursen. The Danish mid-laner performed admirably in Splyce’s debut split in the spring, and improved a hell of a lot in the summer split. He brought innovative picks to the League, being the first player to have Taliyah consistently banned out against him and heralding the return of Kassadin to the mid lane.
The chances of him getting either of those champions is slim to none in the playoffs, especially on red side; H2K banned Kassadin in both games they played blue side against Fnatic. The return of standard lanes boosted Taliyah’s strength in the current meta, as her roaming power makes her incredibly strong and helps her easily influence bot lane. That can be a boon for Splyce, however, as it allows jungler Jonas “Trashy” Andersen, Wunder and Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle to pick some of their favourite, high-priority champions like Rek’Sai, Shen and Bard.
Bot lane deserves a mention as well, considering the level of talent on show. FORG1VEN and Vander are known quantities at this stage, but their opponents in lane are the biggest surprise of the summer split. Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup and Mikyx are a fearsome pairing, the latter replacing Nisbeth after Splyce’s disappointing spring debut. The Danish dynamos may be down a Dane with Mikyx’s addition, but they’re up a talented rookie that helped transform Splyce from relegation strugglers to EU LCS final contenders – a huge achievement.
So much rides on this match for both teams, and considering their most recent form, this best-of-five series promises to be the highlight of the weekend. Splyce must win this match for any chance of automatic qualification, while H2K can all but guarantee a spot at Worlds should they perform as they did versus Fnatic and take the victory. Will Polish powerhouses Jankos and Vander earn a spot in the final, or will the great Danes continue their rise to the top? Splyce vs H2K kicks off on Saturday at 17:00 CEST!