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Five picks that marked the LEC’s ninth week

The final week of LEC play was nothing short of amazing, and these picks played a crucial part. By the end of Week 9, there was little left to say regarding the teams that had fallen out of the playoff race: the winners did all the talking, tearing opponents apart like swiss cheese one unique pick at a time.

The LEC’s final week of spring split play was one to remember, as teams went against predictions in emphatic fashion to punch their playoff tickets.

Among several noteworthy storylines the split has delivered lie the following: Fnatic recovered from a botched start; SK Gaming and Splyce defied expectations; and Origen slowly and steadily rose to the playoffs.

Had the following picks not seen play, the playoff picture would have looked much different:

Humanoid’s Azir: 9/1/4 KDA vs Misfits Gaming

Humanoid playing Azir

“Arise!” Humanoid heard, as he secured Splyce’s top four spot in the playoffs.

Splyce’s presence at the top of the standings has been a noteworthy story in the LEC, and their game against Misfits Gaming illustrated why: a fusion of seasoned veterans and rookies has taken the scene by storm. The team illustrated the point by eliminating Misfits from the playoffs off with a strong play from rookie Marek “Humanoid” Brazda on Azir. The champion is rarely spectacular (bar one specific combo), but the champion’s ability to dish out consistent damage is what usually wins him games.

Humanoid patiently farmed his way into relevance, and it was go-time as soon has he purchased his Nashor’s Tooth at the 14:47 mark – with the Morellonomicon purchase further driving the point home. Misfits were unable to circumvent him when team fights began, as he tore through their back lines effortlessly. In the process, he cemented Splyce’s position in the top four of the LEC standings, with side advantage heading into their playoff match against SK Gaming.

Crownshot’s Tristana: 13/3/11 KDA across two games

Crownshot playing Tristana

After unleashing Jinx a few weeks ago, Crownshot continued exploring the available champion pool. Next stop: Tristana.

SK Gaming entered the season with little to show, except for fans of the LVP SuperLiga Orange. Those fans knew what to expect from their carries, and changes to the lineup further bolstered SK’s quest for a playoff spot. Leave it to Jus “Crownshot” Marusic’s Tristana to propel SK Gaming to the playoffs in two games, including the deciding tiebreaker against Schalke 04.

SK Gaming were aware of what they had in their hands against Rogue, and they allowed him to scale and single-handedly take over the game after setting up his Lethal Tempo in team fights and tearing through opponents. Indeed, following a Mercurial Scimitar purchase to complement his Infinity Edge, Statikk Shiv and Phantom Dancer, there was little for him to fear. That victory from the jaws of defeat proved determinant in SK’s momentous playoff qualification, two years after they last played in the league.

Hylissang’s Rakan: 2/2/9 KDA vs G2 Esports

Hylissang picked Rakan

Ocelote’s latest traumatic event: a work delivered by Hylissang’s Rakan.

What is a team to do when they are climbing from their lowest point ever? In Fnatic’s case, they have chosen to dial it back to an old classic: backdooring whichever team Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez Santiago plays on or owns. However, they did not need to do that, as Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov’s Aftershock Rakan had already helped them secure significant advantages during the game.

Following a buff to Rakan’s W – Grand Entrance, Hylissang was able to set up engages with it, enabling R – The Quickness beforehand to pin down targets of interest. For a while, it seemed to be all Fnatic needed, as they cruised for a long time. However, things did go south for a while, and he recovered the game through a heads-up inhibitor takedown in the wake of a botched team fight, without which Fnatic would have been unable to launch a last-ditch base race (and win the game). Following that, they were able to claim third place over Splyce.

Patrik’s Ashe: 9/0/4 KDA vs Excel Esports 

Patrik picked Ashe

There was a chill in the air when Patrik faced Excel Esports during Week 9.

In the end, neither Fnatic nor Splyce were able to claim second place, as Origen’s slow and steady rise allowed them to safely secure second place. A 2-0 week greatly helped their prospects, as they separated themselves from the two teams for good. In the process, Patrik “Patrik” Jiru showcased his prowess on Ashe – a rarely seen champion in the LEC nowadays – to great effect. In fact, Patrik was the only player who won on Ashe in the league during the spring split.

With the Lethal Tempo keystone, the Overheal rune and an 8:54 first blood in the bot lane, Patrik faced little resistance from Excel Esports. Whenever he did, Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez’s Tahm Kench was ready to help. However, those occasions were few and far in-between, as Blade of the Ruined King and Runaan’s Hurricane did short work of opponents at minute 16. An Infinity Edge purchase at 23:56 merely drove the point home: Patrik would finish what he started with his R – Enchanted Crystal Arrow, or what his teammates orchestrated.

Selfmade’s Rek’Sai: 5/0/6 vs Team Vitality

Selfmade's Rek'Sai

Selfmade engineered the fastest game in LEC history, one tunnel at a time.

Before SK Gaming secured their playoff spot, they had to score a 2-0 week to score a tie with Schalke 04. Crownshot’s Tristana greatly helped his team overcome Rogue, but she would not be needed against Team Vitality: Selfmade had secured an easy victory off the back of strong early-game play on the mobile Rek’Sai. By the time 9-minute mark, SK had secured a 2k gold lead.

The map looked like swiss cheese as Selfmade burrowed his way to engineering a massacre. A quick gank in the mid lane preceded another in the bot lane, then a jungle invasion cemented his lead. His opponents might have documented a Hail of Blades falling upon them, or the quick Warrior Enchantment he built at a critically early stage of the game. More than that, they served as a showcase for Selfmade’s devastating play ahead of the playoffs.

Were these the biggest picks of Week 9? Would you rather have seen Kobbe’s Vayne or Xerxe’s Aatrox? Or is Febiven’s Syndra sorely missing from the list? Let us know your view in the comments below.