Rogue and G2 Esports earned their places in the LEC upper bracket finals with wins against MAD Lions and Misfits Gaming. Meanwhile in the lower bracket Fnatic pulled off one of the most dramatic reverse sweeps we've seen, turning what was seconds away from a 0-3 loss to Excel Esports into a heroic victory.
With the regular LEC season ending in dramatic fashion, it was time to see if the six teams that made it into the playoffs would step up and prove they deserve to represent Europe at Worlds. After their very strong second half, G2 Esports were the clear favorites, but that would not be the first upset we see in playoff history. With two weeks of rest and playing on the newer 12.15 patch, there could be plenty of surprises when the best-of-five series started.
Rogue 3-2 MAD Lions
The LEC's new big rivalry - Rogue vs MAD Lions - kicked off the playoffs on Friday. Despite MAD's weak spring split, they took second place in summer, just one win ahead of Rogue, and the teams clashed in the upper bracket in a hard-fought series. MAD struck the first blow, securing an early lead in the opening game and using it to power through the teamfights. Rogue did have their revenge in game two, securing an early lead and despite being punished several times, took control over the game after a risky Baron attempt by the Lions saw them secure the purple buff only to lose four people for it. After that, Markos "Comp" Stamkopoulos's Sivir took over, ending the game with a flashy Pentakill.
MAD Lions took full advantage in Rogue's decision to play a scaling comp in game 3, destroying their bot lane to take over the map. The deciding teamfight 28 minutes in was dominated by MAD's fed Kalista and soon the Lions were on match point. They had a good start in the next game too, but a big overeach in the bot lane gave it all away. Now in the lead, Rogue used their long-range engage to win teamfight after teamfight. The final game saw MAD botch an early tower dive and they never managed to fully recover - despite some great plays by Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer, Rogue remained a cut above and secured the victory.
G2 Esports 3-1 Misfits Gaming
What we expected to be the most one-sided series of the weekend started with a predictably strong showing by G2 Esports, who showed great coordination between their veteran mid laner and jungler and demolished Misfits Gaming in the opening game. However, the Misfits came back in game 2, smashing G2 in the side lanes before winning a big teamfight and an early Baron 20 minutes in . Soon, the series was at 1-1.
The first two games were very one-sided, but the third one delivered. Misfits had a strong start with multiple early kills going to Matúš "Neon" ( listen) Jakubčík on Sivir, but in the mid-game, G2's carries powered on and eventually secured the victory. Now at match point, the spring champions drafted for the early game and took over after a badly executed Misfits dive to end the series at 3-1.
Fnatic 3-2 Excel Esports
In the lower bracket, Fnatic and Excel Esports both had to fight for their tournament survival. The opening game started well for Fnatic, but they let Excel get back in the game with a bad tower dive. Patrik "Patrik" Jírů's Nilah became a powerhouse and with his help, Excel took the first win. They continued their good performance in the second game, maintaining a gold lead and taking the Infernal soul before winning the key teamfight to get to match point. Fnatic looked lost as Excel once more had the stronger start, but they stayed in the game, even after losing the first inhibitor. The teams traded blows and eventually, Excel were on the cusp of victory before a clutch assassination on Patrik's Nilah resulted in Fnatic winning the fight and taking the game.
After several games of being bullied in the early games, Fnatic drafted strong lanes. Still, Excel denied their advantage with a great fight 15 minutes in and the mid-game stayed close. However, Fnatic got a heroic Baron steal and after several well-excuted teamfights tied the series. The final game was once more hard fought, but despite Excel's best efforts they could not prevail in the mid-game teamfights and 35 minutes in, they were aced near the Baron to see their dream of a Worlds spot crumble.
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The LEC playoffs will continue on Friday, September 2nd, as Fnatic and Misfits fight in the lower bracket for a guaranteed Worlds spot. In the meantime, follow our esports coverage for more news and analysis!