Coming into this weekend’s LEC playoff games, not a lot was decided in terms of ranking. With EU locking its playoff teams incredibly early in the split, only seeding was left to be decided after Week 8, leaving ten games where teams were able to… let their hair down a little.
After Teemo top, Aatrox AD Carry and a role-swapping Jarvan IV support had their chance to roam free in Week 10’s games, it was a little difficult to predict any kind of strengths leading into the first round of playoffs.
However, teams cleaned up their play just in time to give us an incredible weekend of games, kicking everything off with perhaps one of the most historic upsets of the Spring Split so far.
G2 Esports vs MAD Lions
This was possibly the only series of the weekend with what people assumed was a clear winner. Analyst and fan predictions alike favoured a G2 roster that showed no signs of slowing down from their regular split dominance, and it was generally assumed that the youth of MAD’s roster would leave them unprepared for a best of five format.
However, if there's one thing this series taught fans, it is that experience is not always a guarantee of performance - with MAD Lions taking the series 3-2, securing the win with a close-fought game five that left their nexus a single Ziggs auto-attack away from a G2 victory.
Despite a stunning performance by Luka "Perkz'' Perkovic, MAD's superior team fighting and incredible support/jungle synergy prevailed.
With jungler Zhiqiang "Shad0w'' Zhao showing that Olaf can actually be used as a late game hyper-carry in their final game - going 16/2/5 in what was inarguably his best game of the split so far - it looks as though MAD are going to be real contenders in this playoffs race.
Fnatic vs Origen
Next up was the battle of the tied second-place finishers. With game styles that could not be more opposing, it was assumed that this series was one that would be decided by draft and play-style as opposed to the ‘win lane, win game’ style that a team like G2 is known for.
However, it quickly became clear that early game skirmishing beats late game scaling, with Fnatic taking a series win despite a few hiccups in their final two games, allowing Origen to level out the scoreline to a 3-1 total.
With the first two games being sub-30 minute stomps in favour of Fnatic, it looked as though this series was over before it had even truly begun; with the deadly topside trio of Gragas, Zac and Yasuo coupled with the unpunishable botlane of Senna/Zilean never really allowed Origen the chance to gain a lead.
Read more: Top 5 rookies of the LEC Spring Split 2020
This Senna/Zilean pick was repeated for every single game of the series, allowing mid laner Tim "Nemesis" Lipovsek to take on the role of damage dealer.
With four hard-carry picks in Yasuo, Diana, Azir and Cassiopoeia, it was interesting to see a style of Fnatic gameplay where the team isn’t reliant on AD Carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson for late game insurance. Only time will tell whether the team will continue this focus on the top side of the map for future playoffs victories.
Rogue vs Misfits
Rogue vs Misfits was another series that fans were expecting to be a pretty close call, although ultimately, fan predictions favoured Misfits.
However, as with the Fnatic vs Origen matchup, this series never managed to get to that close-fought game five that fans were expecting.
Despite Misfits picking up a win in the first game of the series, only giving over two kills to the side of Rogue, they simply could not replicate their initial performance, with Rogue taking the series 3-1. This unfortunately marks the end of Misfits’ playoffs run - however, they show a lot of promise heading into the Summer Split, and with a little work they could become an incredibly threatening team.
Rogue managed to take their wins in stylish form; with AD Carry Steven "Hans Sama" Liv putting on a masterclass in his signature Draven pick in game three (despite some hiccups in the laning phase).
However, it was top laner Finn "Finn" Wiestal who took the player of the series award. His strong topside carry performances on Renekton and Kled, indicative of the top-focused early game style that has become Rogue’s bread and butter, allowed their bot lane to scale relatively undisturbed into a late-game carry force to be reckoned with.
Despite the scoreline, however, it is important to note that these victories game from long, hard-fought games, and despite advancing further into playoffs, it doesn’t look as though Rogue will be able to challenge for a finals spot into early-game teams like Fnatic and MAD.