MAD Lions and Team Vitality to Head Groups after Shared First Place with 7-2 score
LEC Week 3: Fnatic and Excel out of Winter Groups after Disappointing Last Week
For Fnatic and Excel Esports, the LEC 2023 Winter Split ended on Monday as the two teams were unable to win any games in the third week and end the season in ninth and tenth place.
The third week of the regular season of the LEC 2023 Winter Split kicked off on Saturday for another round of high-stakes games. The first two weeks had already upended many expectations that we had and despite the fact that only two teams get eliminated for the groups seeming like a generous selection, we found out that the teams are in fact a lot closer than we originally expected - and that even a short slump could be lethal. After the second week, it seemed very likely that a at least one squad we expected to be top 4 might not make it into the groups at all, as KOI, Fnatic, Excel Esports and Astralis had only won one or two games each.
Astralis Stays in the Fight with Win against SK Gaming
The week kicked off with a game between Astralis and a SK Games that had been very strong in the first two weeks. The German team looked dominant for most of the game, but they could not close it out and as it went on, Finn "Finn" Wiestål's Gangplank barrels started making a huge impact and eventually won them the decisive fight. After the break, however, Team Heretics' early game efforts did prove decisive as their fed Draven monstered through the game against Excel, putting TH on a 4-3 result that almost guaranteed they would make the groups. Team BDS looked like they would follow the same pattern against G2, but several early kills on the Lucian were not enough - the spring finalists soon got back in the game and after a top-tier carry performance on Rasmus "Caps" Borregaard Winther G2 won the game in a dominant fashion.
Meanwhile, Fnatic's poor form continued against MAD Lions. The Lions had a big gold leading from the opening minutes and snowballed hard. For the final end of the day, KOI showed they are not to be underestimated with a very strong game against Team Vitality, taking early objectives and closing out the game with a solid performance.
Pentakill Saves MAD in Heretics' Game
On Sunday, Excel Gaming had their last chance to maybe earn a top 8 spot, but despite a good start against SK Gaming they ended up losing after a risky Baron 27 minutes in led to SK stealing it and taking over the game. Next up were Team BDS and Team Vitality - and while BDS had a very strong start to their game and heavily punished Bo, they couldn't close out the game and a decisive fight 41 minutes in turned the game around for the favorites. The emotional rollercoaster games continued with Team Heretics and MAD Lions. TH looked set to win the game, but a heroic defense for MAD gave time for Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer's Sylas to respawn and clean house, leading to a Pentakill for the Lions' mid laner.
Fnatic clashed with Astralis next in a very impactful game for both teams. What looked like a close game was once more rescued by Finn as his Gnar pounced on a Fnatic engage for a brutal wombo combo that led to his team surging past Fnatic in the standings. The day ended with a showdown between KOI and G2 and while the game was close at first, G2 snowballed hard after a few won teamfights and closed the game out with ease.
MAD and Vitality Share First Place after Monday Wins
Team BDS bounced back with a win against Team Heretics on Monday, falling behind early but taking over after a big teamfight 27 minutes in. In the second game, KOI showed themselves to be a cut above Astralis despite both teams starting the day 3-5. This game Fnatic a chance to play a tiebreaker against Astralis if they could win their game against SK Gaming, but the German squad quickly proved itself to be better on the day and made sure that for the first time in LEC history, Fnatic would miss playoffs.
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The next two games, however, ended the day on a much more exciting note. First, MAD Lions faced off against G2 Esports and after a mostly even early game found the clutch teamfight 24 minutes in that allowed them to take over the game and complete a 3-0 week. In the final match, Excel Esports seemed to finally find their form and pushed Vitality to the limit, but a heroic Elder Dragon steal by Luka "Perkz" Perković saved the game for his team. The two teams continued fighting well intot hte late game, but in the end, it was Vitality that ended the game - just seconds before the Excel superminions would break their own Nexus.
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The LEC Winter Split continues this Saturday with the first round of Bo3 group games. Don't miss it!
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