The playoffs will start with a repeat of the 2022 Summer Finals
G2 and KOI Dominate LEC Groups
KOI and G2 Esports have taken the first two playoff spots after the first week of LEC groups and are now set to face each other off in the playoff upper bracket.
After the rapid-fire "regular season" of three superweeks (R.i.P. Fnatic and Excel Esports), the LEC 2023 Winter Season had its first week of groups. The eight survivors were separated in two groups of four that would fight between themselves in a double elimination best of three series to elect the four teams to make playoffs. The two top performers would advance directly to the winners' brackets, while the remaining six would have to fight for the two leftover spots. It is a high-stakes environment designed to show who is immediately prepared or at least adapts on the fly - and here is what we saw.
Day 1: Almost Heretical
Team Vitality 2:1 Team Heretics
Team Vitality had a standout performance in the first round and Heretics... well, did not, so we expected this to be a pretty one-sided affair and were proven right - in the first game. The second, however, saw Heretics defy expectations with a strong start in the bot lane and snowball hard to tie the series. It came to a third game that was bloody and close until a snuck Baron for Vitality let them take over and prevent a big upset in the opening series.
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SK Gaming 0:2 KOI
Coming into the groups, SK Gaming had defied expectations to come just shy of the first place with some amazing performances, but after taking the title last summer, the former Rogue squad was about to test their mettle. Great play by KOI mid laner Emil "Larssen" Larsson and jungler Kim "Malrang" Geun-seong saw them take over the first game to put their team ahead. SK had a somewhat better start in the second one, but they were eventually outdone in teamfights and KOI took the series 2:0.
Day 2: MAD and G2 Show Cracks
MAD Lions 2:1 Astralis
While MAD Lions ended the first three weeks tied for first place and Astralis just barely squeezed in the top 8, this series ended up being uncomfortably close for the Lions. They took the first game in large part due to their good scaling, but in the second the underdog carries put up a standout performance to tie the series. The decider game was close, but eventually the Lions punished an early baron attempt and top laner Kim "Chasy" Dong-hyeon took over.
G2 Esports 2:1 Team BDS
After having a strong "regular season", Team BDS had a rough start in the series against G2 Esports. Just ten minutes into the first game, Martin "Yike" Sundelin's Lilia was already monstrously fed and despite BDS fighting back, the mid-game was all about G2's poke. After the break, however, the underdogs showed their teeth, getting an early lead in the second game and then outplaying G2 in teamfights. Once again it came down to a tiebreaker and this time, a big fight near the Rift Herald proved decisive, giving G2 four early kills and the lead they needed to close out the series.
Day 3: Our First Playoff TEams
Team Vitality 0:2 KOI
With all teams having played a series already, the third day saw the winners face off for the first two playoff spots. The first clash saw Team Vitality taking on KOI and while Vitality drew first blood in the opening game, their opponents quickly struck back. As the game went on, Markos "Comp" Stamkopoulos on Zeri ramped up and took over the teamfights. The former Rogue kept pressuring their opponents and a great early game by Malrang set them for success. Vitality found a few chances, but it was not enough and KOI ended the groups stage undefeated.
MAD Lions 0:2 G2 Esports
What looked like a good start to the series for MAD Lions quickly went sour as they overreached and were punished for it. In the mid-game, Sergen "BrokenBlade" Çelik´s Olaf took over and the team's AD Carry Steven "Hans Sama" Liv followed suit. The second game started well for the Lions as well after an outplay mid, but several early kills for Hans Sama's Draven turned into a massive snowball as the ADC showed the year in NA did not dull his marksman instincts. G2 swept the series to stamp their tickets to the playoff and a rematch with the former KOI roster that took the 2022 Summer Title from them.
- Inside Fnatic's Struggle: Team Releases Heartfelt Video About Disappointing LEC Winter Split
- Our LEC MVP for Week 3: SK Gaming's Exakick
- LEC Week 3: Fnatic and Excel out of Winter Groups after Disappointing Last Week
The LEC groups continues this week with the losers' bracket that will decide the two other teams to join playoffs. On Monday, G2 Esports and KOI will then face off to decide who will get a guaranteed spot in the final and who will have to fight through the lower bracket.
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