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Fight for First: The Battle of the Byes

It wouldn’t be the EU LCS without a photo finish!

There is one week left in the Summer Split and while the 6 Playoff teams are decided, the seeding and placement of these teams can change vastly as we race to finish. Let’s take a look at the Battle for the Byes.

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Fnatic

Fnatic have been the most consistent team throughout the Split. Never dropping out of top four in the standings and being the only team to not have a 0-2 week, they have the easiest road to a bye. Wins vs both non-Playoff teams in ROCCAT and Unicorns of Love give them the 1st place seed, while just one win gives them a guaranteed tiebreaker for 1st.

Caps and Broxah have led the way for the squad. Caps leads all mid laners with 30.7% of his team’s damage and is tied for the most “Player of the Game” awards in the league. Broxah is running away with the top jungler KDA at an incredible 9.5, and has also helped his team secure the second best dragon control percentage with 67%.

However, their greatest strength may also be their biggest worry. They like to play fast and pressure their opponents early, shown in their league low average game time (29:12 min), but this does make them prone to mistakes due to over-aggression. Couple this with their 2.76 wards per minute, which is the lowest in Europe, and there is pause for concern if they don’t gain an advantage early.

The elephant in the room for them now is the return of Rekkles. Bwipo has been a consistent contributor in the bot lane, so it is looking more likely that Rekkles will be re-joining the roster in the support role. The question is whether Rekkles’s return will give Fnatic yet another experienced veteran that can help solidify them as the strongest team in Europe, or if the shift in the lineup will cause a hiccup in momentum and have them stumbling down the stretch.

 
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G2 Esports

After taking four straight EU LCS titles, G2 weren’t happy with a second place finish in the Spring and came out in the Summer firing on all cylinders. They started 6-0 before heading off to Rift Rivals. After a shaky showing overseas, they went 0-2 in Week 4, but have steadied the ship and gone 1-1 for three straight weeks before finally breaking through with a 2-0 in Week 8. G2 also control their fate for at least the 2nd seed in the Playoffs. Two wins guarantees at least a tiebreaker match for 2nd, but they could drop all the way to 5th if they go 0-2.

Much like Fnatic, G2 rely on a strong early game and map pressure to gain tower advantage. They boast some of the strongest kill participation numbers across all of their roles and it stems from their communication and focus around brawling and teamfighting. Perkz tends to be the main focus of their attack, as he leads all EU mid laners in KDA and gold difference per minute. However, they rely heavily on Jankos to be the catalyst in creating the map pressure they desire. His slight slump after Rift Rivals was a major factor in their inconsistent play. He showed more solid performances the last two weeks and, if it continues, G2 will be a favourite to grab one of the top two seeds.

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Misfits

We just talked about how G2 came out hot to start the split. Well… Misfits. They came out hotter than a white dwarf star! They looked unbeatable as they swept the first round robin, 9-0, to start. This coming off of a rather disappointing Spring where they failed to get 9 wins total! That being said, they did cool off and have only a 2-5 standing over their last seven games. However, they are tied with G2 for second place and (like G2) they control their fate. Two wins guarantees at least a tiebreaker match for 2nd, but losing both would could drop them to 5th.

Their turnaround this Split could be credited to Alphari’s improvement. He has been put on more tanks and it’s resulted in a top lane leading 7.8 KDA, nearly double his KDA from the Spring, an increase in kill participation, and the lowest percentage of Misfits’s deaths. That said, it’s hard to say where they have misstepped in the back half of the Split. Their levels of aggression and pressure have declined. Even when they are able to get a semblance of early game advantage, they are unable to convert it into victories.

They are starting to change things up, such as taking Hans Sama off of his more comfortable marksman, but nothing seems to be kick starting the engine. Could teams have figured out the “Misfits magic”? Or have they just lost their swag? Which Misfits do we see in Week 9 and into Playoffs?

 
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FC Schalke 04

Schalke’s season is almost the exact opposite of Misfits. Like Misfits, they had a disappointing spring and had pretty low to moderate expectations for Summer. They made an offseason move to bring in Amazing to replace Pride in the jungle, and struggled early in the split to stabilize and gain momentum. After a 2-4 start, they have gone 9-1 and climbed toward the top of the standings.

They are the slowest of the top 4 teams with an average game time of 33:50 and a nearly even average gold difference at 15. Their winning ways have come from outstanding vision/map control and smart rotations. Amazing has given them more flexibility in jungle champion pool, unlocking the full range of possible picks for Nukeduck, who is tied for the most “Player of the Match” awards, and has allowed Vander to fall back on his strength of playing tank supports.

Going 2-0 in the final week gives them at least tiebreaker for 2nd place. Luckily, they are the only playoff-bound team to play the 1-15 H2K this week, so things may be in their favor.

 
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Vitality

Vitality are peaking at the right time and are probably the team with the most momentum heading into the Playoffs. Early in the Split, Vitality would go from looking like a title contender one week to a chicken with its head cut off the next. They signed Kikis before Week 6 and haven’t looked back. They’ve gone 5-1 over the last three weeks, including a clean victory over Fnatic.

The addition of Kikis cleaned up the team’s issues of over-aggressive dives and looks to have given the team a focus and clear in game leader. Now they still have issues in decision making, as they are prone to over pursuing in teamfights and making poor choices in map rotations. But, given how much they’ve grown and adjusted in the short time they've been with their new jungler, they are a clear threat to grab one of the top two spots.

However, they have the toughest road to get there. They have to play both Misfits and G2. Even if they win both matchups, they would only be guaranteed a tiebreaker for 3rd and would need Schalke to drop a game to even have a shot at 2nd.

 
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Splyce

Splyce is a bit of a dark horse in this race. They have the worst record of the playoff teams and are pretty much locked into the 6th place slot. But they could still be the threat to shake things up.

They had some struggles with the change in meta, but even now they tend to struggle in early game. They have the longest average game time of all playoff bound teams by far (37:06), and are a bottom 3 team gold difference at 15 min. Many of their games are summed up by early lapses in judgement or decision making that put them in a hole they need to climb out from.

Like we mentioned earlier, they cannot get higher than 5th place. Even going 2-0, Splyce would require a lot of dominos to fall correctly for them to get 5th. However, they could make things interesting as they play Schalke. If they win that match up, it could open the door for Vitality to secure a tiebreaker slot for 2nd place.

 

It has been an up and down split for many of these teams, and it all comes down to this week.

The tiebreaker tradition looks like it’s alive and well in the EU LCS and you never know what could happen next!