Excel Esports and Team Vitality had a slugfest in the lower bracket of the LEC playoff, going all the way to five games. Excel would get the lead twice, but in the end Vitality would close out the series with a confident fifth game.
After both matches in the upper bracket were concluded, it was time to get to the bloody business of the lower bracket. Excel Esports and Team Vitality would clash in the last series of the weekend, with the loser going home and the winner continuing on to face off against G2 Esports next week. For both teams, there was a lot on the line - Excel had finally gotten a playoff spot, while Vitality was looking to salvage what looked like a very disappointing season for a team expected to be at least a top 3 squad.
Vitality Shaky in the Opening Games
The opening game left a lot of questions about how well Vitality had managed to solve the issues that plagued them late in the regular split. Excel were more proactive and jungler Mark "Markoon" van Woensel on Viego was very impactful on the map, setting up his lanes. Excel secured an early Baron after a successful skirmish and kept up the pressure. Vitality found a few picks, but could not match up in the teamfights and in the end, it was Excel who drew first blood.
Things didn't look much better for the French team once they returned for game two. Markoon had another great early game and set up several ganks. However, Vitality had a firm control on the neutral objectives, and as the game went on they punished several overextensions leading to a Baron and a cloud soul by the 23-minute mark. Excel found no way to get back into the game in the face of a fed Olaf piloted by Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek’ and Vitality equalized the series.
In for the Long Haul
The third game saw a change in pace as Vitality was the more proactive team and would eventually get a lead. Excel kept the gold close for a while, but eventually a pick on Markoon 30 minutes in gave their opponents a chance to secure Baron and use it to get the first inhibitor. Things looked dire for Excel, but they did not give up and eventually a key engage by Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle led to three kills for them. With the long death timers, the UK squad rushed down the mid lane and took down the nexus to get to match point.
Vitality did not give up, however, and had an even stronger start in the next game. What looked like an early advantage for Excel quickly evaporated and between the first tower and a big lead for Barney "Alphari" Morris on Gnar, Excel were quickly on the ropes. The underdogs showed they could still bite 25 minutes in as they landed a lot of poke and then engaged to get two kills and the Baron. Yet just as we thought the game could drag on, Vitality struck back, catching Excel split and acing them to get to game 5.
Cue Silver Scrapes
It was time for the decisive game and with everything on the line, Vitality stepped up. Selfmade executed several early ganks in all lanes to put his team ahead and Vitality used this to set up camp in the Excel botlane jungle. With it, they got pick after pick - and when Alphari got a solo kill on the enemy mid laner 28 minutes in, Vitality easily secured the Baron. With it and a big gold lead, Vitality besieged the enemy base and eventually found the right fight, acing Excel to take the game and the series.
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With this, Excel are out of the playoffs. Team Vitality, meanwhile, will play G2 in the next lower bracket series next Friday, April 1st. In the meantime, make sure to check our coverage for more LoL news and analysis!