This Split had no shortage of amazing storylines. From Fnatic and G2’s fight for the throne to S04’s rise and the re”VITALI”zation of Kikis. And things should only get more interesting with higher stakes and a few Worlds spots on the line.
No one has had better seats for the action than the EU LCS hosts and casters. They took some time to talk with us about the Split as a whole and what they’re looking for come Playoffs time!
What was the story that you most connected with throughout the Split?
Medic: The story of Vitality and Kikis. The fact that he comes in to the team and totally adjusts to the way they play. He has adapted perfectly to the team and now is leading some of the best early game play we've seen this Split.
Quickshot: The Vitality story with Kikis returning. I've been a fan of Kikis personality and his playstyle for a while, and have had the pleasure of casting him for years. Seeing him take this hungry set of young players and lead them to second place from potentially not even making Playoffs was amazing.
Sjokz: Vitality! I honestly thought after their fantastic Spring Split off the back of three rookies and the strength of Jiizuke, Summer looked all but lost for them in the first couple of weeks. Jiizuke wasn't as explosive, Gilius wasn't always performing and, strategically, it seemed Vitality always resorted to 'Let's go mid and fight' in terms of their playbook. The introduction of Kikis, a guy who has been on a million teams, who was waiting for his chance, absolutely transformed the squad and delivered Vitality the Quarterfinal bye. The question is, has Kikis made Vitality a title contender? I definitely think so.
What area do you feel Kikis has had the biggest impact for Vitality's surge?
Medic: Has to be their early game. His pathing is really inventive and he's willing to force plays that other junglers shy away from.
Quickshot: This is purely speculation, but I think synergy and communication going back to the honeymoon phase. Kikis joined a team struggling to grow beyond their skill ceiling and added a fresh hungry strong voice into the mix. It's working and it compounds the strengths of everyone else while removing the frustrations the team had with Gilius. I'm concerned that if the team starts to struggle they will hit the same rut they did with Gilius, but that remains to be seen.
Sjokz: First off, when bringing in a new player there is always a honeymoon phase and that is the kind of reset Vitality needed. They looked stumped and needed a new impulse, a fresh face, a way of looking at things. Kikis has shown to be extremely confident in interviews and in game. He bullies the enemy jungler and exerts so much pressure on the map it automatically puts Vitality in the driver’s seat. That paired up with roaming from Jactroll where possible, Cabochard having some of the strongest weeks of the Split, some of Jiizuke’s picks coming back, and Attila performing created the perfect storm for Vitality. I think Kikis has been the motor that kick starts and elevates all individual players.
Which did you find more interesting: The growth of S04 or the hot-and-cold streaks of Misfits?
Medic: For me it's S04, consistent growth trumps inconsistency everyday.
Quickshot: For me it's definitely S04. I didn't fully buy into the hype in Spring and I was right as they failed to make Playoffs. Adding some leadership and experience from Amazing seems to have helped them develop and, more importantly, their training and growth has been slow but steady for the entire year. 10-2 in the last 12 regular season games going into Playoffs is a good record to have. For me, Misfits aren't a surprise. I didn't think their roster swaps for the 2018 season made sense and I'm gonna be impressed if they can untilt for Playoffs.
Sjokz: I am hooked on the S04 story. How weird it is to say it is a team you always WANT to see succeed. They do everything by the book: their infrastructure, training, selection of star players and even the way they strategically play out their games. Unfortunately, in Spring they lacked a real superstar and didn't have enough spice in their step to push even games to victory. That has changed now and with the consistency of Nukeduck and the starpower of Upset, S04 finally look in a position to live up to their HUGE expectations.
Splyce is a bit of the odd man out in terms of expectations for Playoffs. What are your expectations for them?
Medic: Possibly. If they can play like they did in Playoffs in Spring, they can definitely cause an upset. The meta is becoming more favourable towards them too, so there's an outside chance they have a shot.
Quickshot: The meta shift before QF and the fact this team shows up in Bo5's (They took 3rd in Spring, remember) means they can surprise everyone. Kobbe has been a star in Summer and the meta is shifting into his favour with later game comps and potentially stronger ADC's on the forefront of 8.16. If Kobbe can unlock SPY then they have the calibre to surprise the other EU LCS teams.
Sjokz: Splyce look like the weakest team in Playoffs all things considered, maybe on par with MSF's current form. I think SPY can use the underestimation as a positive and look to surprise especially in combination with the meta favouring longer games. Kobbe was a standout in Spring as a late game ADC and was incredibly impactful. My biggest question is can they work around the nerfs to their key picks on Patch 8.16? Trundle, Zoe and Tahm Kench have all been nerfed and were part of SPY’s DNA in the last couple of weeks.
Who is your favorite to take the title? Who is your dark horse pick?
Medic: Has to be Fnatic. Their 6-man roster looks really strong and they have so many different styles they can use. My dark horse is S04, they looked so good in the second half of the Split and I think that their carries are peaking at the perfect time.
Quickshot: FNC are still my favourites for the Summer Split title, however I think the meta is shifting back into a place where teams like MSF and S04 can step up further. A new patch lands for QF and beyond, and FNC gets an extra week to watch and prep before playing. My dark horse contender is S04, I can't shake the feeling they aren't done with this run of good form.
Sjokz: Favourite: Fnatic - What a surprise! After Copenhagen, the defending champions have dealt with some unexpected changes and their back-to-back MVP benching himself, but somehow they have come out stronger on the other end with a flexible 6-man roster. Bwipo has been the botlane surprise of the Split and, as always, Caps looks in top form and the strongest EU mid. It’s going to take a lot to keep them from the title in Madrid.
Dark Horse: G2 - In their current state G2 feel much weaker than the squad that made it to Finals in Spring. But I'm looking at Perkz to go above and beyond this Playoffs and Jankos finally finding consistency this Split to get them back to their peak form. Have all other teams around them just leveled up too much? Can they be more than the fourth best team in Summer? I think so, but every single individual on the squad will need to return to form.