The 2022 LEC Spring Split playoffs are right around the corner which means that a fairly comprehensive preview is in order! For this piece, specifically, we’ll focus on the who, what, when, and why, on the many intangibles and multi-year-long narratives that play a vital part and yet are seldom talked about.
2022 has thus far been a very strange year for competitive League, at least when it comes to the LEC. The MAD “dynasty” crumbled (or was blown up, rather), the whole Vitality experiment still hasn’t yielded any great or noteworthy success (and probably won’t), Rogue somehow improved despite parting ways with two absolute prodigies, and Misfits, while certainly flawed, still somehow found a way to outperform the vast majority of their more seasoned peers and colleagues.
None of these things make sense. Then again, competitive League is a fickle beast, so no one should be overly surprised to see so many wild twists and turns. It’s been a fun ride, at the very least, and even though the region, as a whole, did regress somewhat, it’s still stacked with numerous exceptional teams, some of which are bound to leave a mark on the international stage.
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive straight into it!
2022 LEC Spring Split Playoffs Preview | What’s on the Line?
A shot at writing history, a sizable sack of cash, and the honor of representing Europe at the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational. That’s… quite a lot, all things considered, and it’s fair to say that all six teams have a reason to try their absolute hardest.
Still, they won’t be playing with the same amount of pressure — their burdens differ. Take Misfits, for instance, or even EXCEL for that matter. The sheer fact that they’ve made the playoffs cut is tantamount to a small miracle. If they achieve anything at all beyond this point it’ll be considered a momentous triumph. The reason why is quite simple: they’ve already accomplished far more than most folks thought was possible.
Team Vitality, on the other hand, will be under an otherworldly amount of psychological strain and pressure. Their line-up is amongst the most expensive in the West, and if they don’t end up making some kind of a splash, a good number of them might end up jobless in a few months’ time.
They’ve been more of a middling gatekeeper than a top-tier contender; the last three months have been tantamount to a nightmare. And it’s hard to fully assess their potential (or lack thereof), too, seeing how they’re as streaky and volatile as it gets — hardly a surprise given Vitality’s innate penchant for imploding and fostering bravado-fueled line-ups.
The next few weeks will be absolutely crucial. The top four teams (Rogue, Misfits, Fnatic, and G2) will have a bit more room to maneuver and experiment — what with them being placed in the upper half of the playoffs bracket — but they cannot afford to fool around too much. The margin for error is still pretty darn small and they’d all be wise to put their best foot forward and play like their lives depend on it, lest they risk getting upset.
regular season went well, can't wait for playoffs
— LEC (@LEC) March 12, 2022
All six teams have had a whopping three weeks to prepare for the spectacle and all that it entails. That’s quite a lot, and we don’t remember the last time that was the case. Twenty days to prep for just a single team is at once both a blessing and a curse. You start overthinking, going over a million different scenarios, and wondering what is most likely to happen once you finally step foot on stage and play what may or may not be the most important Best of 5 of your career.
Some, like Rogue and Fnatic, are already being deemed as shoo-ins for the finals. Others, like G2 Esports, have assumed the role of the dark horse, a team with a lot of power but maybe not as much potential as the ones just mentioned. Then we have Misfits and Vitality, two contenders who’ve both shown us great things and also two teams with heavily exploitable flaws — flaws which may or may not be on full display once they spawn on the Rift and start rubbing shoulders with the rest of their venerable peers.
Last but certainly not least, we have EXCEL Esports, an organization that has only now managed to crack Top 6. They’re good but not great, capable but not stellar by any means; they’re streaky and feisty and can, at times, produce incredible results with the most meager of means. They don’t have any superstars other than, say, Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle, but they also couldn’t care less — whatever they might lack in star power they more than up for in grit and determination, both of which they have in abundance.
A Layered Challenge
Prepping for a five-game series is a challenge unlike any other. And, naturally, no two teams do it the same; some are better at it than others, and there are also many different factors (both internal and external) that always end up playing an incredibly important part.
Experience is vital. There’s no two ways about it. You cannot replicate playoff conditions in scrims or anywhere else — that kind of pressure is wholly unique and you really have to experience it in person to fully understand its weight and complexity. So, needless to say, teams like Misfits and EXCEL will be at an incredible disadvantage. That doesn’t mean they’ll implode or anything (although it certainly is possible), but rather that they have the biggest hill to climb in order to compete on even footing.
Experience is also tied to versatility and the ability to improvise mid-series. These, too, are crucial. You never know how a five-game series will unravel. Sometimes you step foot on stage and dominate from minute one. Other times nothing you attempt seems to work. And so you change, adapt, evolve, and fine-tune your approach in accordance to what’s happening and whom you’re playing against. To do this, one must have a breadth of experience, ample psychological fortitude, and a champion ocean.
The fact that so few players “fit the bill” should really come as no surprise — it takes an immense amount of time and effort for a player to evolve into such a capable competitor. And, well, only a meager few of them are cut from that cloth.
And don’t even get started on the amount of resilience and fortitude which are necessary to pull off a reverse sweep — that feat is reserved only for the all-time greats and those who are destined to etch their names in history!
The reason why we’re saying all of this is rather simple: these are incredibly important factors that affect a team’s performance, either in huge, sweeping ways, or in a more nuanced fashion — one that isn’t as discernible but is but no less important and influential.
2022 LEC Spring Split Playoffs Preview | Who’s Playing?
Only six teams are left standing; we’re talking about the absolute best the LEC has to offer — the crème de la crème, if you will. Still, just because they’ve all made it to the postseason doesn’t mean they all have an equal shot at leaving a mark.
The reality of it all is much different and far less favorable towards most. Let’s take a closer look.
Rogue [14W-4L] — The number one team in the regular season. How in the world they’ve managed to pull it off is beyond our comprehension. Luck played a part, too, but so did hard work, a boatload of effort, and an immense amount of inherent talent — all of which was harnessed and channeled appropriately.
Despite parting ways with two absolute prodigies, Rogue somehow still found a way to not only remain relevant but even top the standings. Incredible, really.
They’re not perfect, but their few weaknesses were seldom exploited. They’re constantly evolving, too, which means that we’ll probably see the absolute best Rogue yet in just a few days’ time. Whether they’ll be able to go the “whole nine yards” still remains to be seen, but they are one of the biggest favorites to do so.
Fnatic [13W-5L] — The boys in black and orange are a force of nature. They’re so darn good at the game and, better yet, they’re nowhere near reaching their peak. They do fumble and fail from time to time, often in the most egregious of ways, but we’ve seen what they’re capable of and, needless to say, if they don’t fall off a cliff performance-wise (for whatever reason) they’re our number one pick to claim the LEC throne.
There are still a couple of scenarios in which they end up falling short, but betting on their vast experience (not to mention incredible talent) does seem like the most logical option. They’ve won five of their last six games and even that one loss should’ve been a win.
No one can keep up when Fnatic get rolling. And while they still have a lot of work ahead of them before they can truly compete on the international stage, we’ve nonetheless seen many glimpses of greatness and their immense potential, and we cannot wait to see what they’ll be able to do and accomplish further down the line.
Misfits Gaming [12W-6L] — The sheer fact that Misfits somehow managed to end up third is still as baffling as it is impressive. Their record is also worthy of praise and commendation. How in the world did they lose just six times across a two-month period? This is the youngest team in the LEC by average age, and yet you’d never be able to tell based on how well they’ve been playing.
No fear, no hesitation, and no giving up. That’s perhaps the best way one could describe Misfits and their unyielding confidence and self-belief. They’ve made numerous egregious mistakes thus far, and that’s okay — winning is the only thing that ultimately matters, and they’ve already left a much bigger mark than most of their more seasoned peers.
So what’s realistic for Misfits Gaming? Well, that’s a very hard question for us to answer seeing how no one expected them to be here in the first place.
They’re a very capable bunch, and though they are somewhat exploitable and flawed, they haven’t been punished nearly as often as we thought they would.
Could that change in the Best of 5 setting? For sure, but we cannot know for certain at this point in time. That’s why they’re such an alluring dark horse, a team that — while not good enough to ascend the throne — could definitely upend the status quo and wreak havoc on everyone’s predictions.
At their best, they really are a Top 3 team, and that alone is not only mind-blowing but also mighty impressive. If they can build upon the foundation which they’ve set a few weeks ago, they could very well secure a deep playoff run.
It sounds crazy, we know, but if they’ve gotten to this point with such seeming ease, who’s to say that they can’t go even further? We, for one, are done with underestimating them.
G2 Esports [11W-7L] — This is where things get a lot more complicated. No one’s all too sure if G2 have what it takes to rub shoulders with the LEC pantheon or not. They’re a bit too streaky for our liking, but their talent and ability to perform at the highest of levels — to say nothing of their experience — are undeniable.
Still, those virtues, incredibly valuable and rare though they are, don’t really mean much if they cannot be harnessed “on demand.” G2 have had both great moments and some pretty darn abysmal ones as well. Sometimes they spawn on the Rift and blow their opposition out of the water, other times they implode trying and look like a bunch of struggling scrubs. The former has been a bit more frequent an occurrence, but not by much.
G2 are hard to read, but make no mistake: they are capable, and they will not go down without a fight. They’re also in the upper half of the playoffs bracket which means they’ll have a shot at redemption should they lose to Fnatic on Saturday (March 26th).
Our current take is that they’re a very dangerous contender, but also one that needs a bit more time to figure things out and truly mount an offensive. We don’t think they’ll accomplish much in Spring, but that could very well change once the Summer Split comes around.
EXCEL [9W-9L] — This is the very first time that EXCEL have ever made playoffs. For some, it is a regular occurrence. For EXCEL, however, it was always a goal far out of reach.
But they persevered and they deserve to be praised for it. Not too much, of course, but a Top 6 finish in one of the most competitive regions in the world is no small feat. Will they accomplish anything else worthy of note? We seriously doubt it, but that won’t stop them from trying. They’re a very resilient bunch — surprisingly so, even.
They’ve also been a fair bit better than anyone had expected, both individually and as a five-man unit. The inclusion of Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle, in retrospect, was a phenomenal decision, one that has “paid off” in spades. It wasn’t the morally correct choice — and it sure did draw the ire of the community — but it has yielded them the one thing they’ve never had before: a spot in the playoffs.
They’ve been good, bad, and everything in between. They’re the quintessential gatekeeper, is what they are, which doesn’t mean they should be underestimated — far from it. The EXCEL boys are motivated and far more talented than most folks want to give them credit for.
They’re also up against Team Vitality first which, frankly, might be the “easiest” test of them all. It’ll be a hotly contested affair, no doubt, but it’s arguably the only match-up they stand a chance of winning.
Unlike the four teams listed above, however, they don’t have the luxury of experimenting nor will they get a second chance should they lose to Vitality — it’s “one strike and you’re out,” and the same holds true for Luka “Perkz” Perković and his venerable teammates as well.
Team Vitality [9W-9L] — A “superteam.” A line-up stacked with giants. Or so we thought. Vitality accomplished very little ever since the split began. They were set up for success, they were given all the right tools to succeed, and yet they barely made the playoffs cut.
Who’s to blame, then? We’re not entirely sure and, frankly, it doesn’t even matter all that much. Not now, at least. They still have a shot at leaving a mark so there’s really no reason to count them out just yet, but they’ve been as flawed and exploitable as even the worst teams in the LEC, and that’s just not something one can accept given their pedigrees and obscenely lucrative contracts.
They’re up against EXCEL Esports first which, frankly, is not the hardest of challenges. They’re a team with very pronounced strengths and weaknesses and, therefore, a team that is somewhat “easy” to prepare for. Well, at least it’s easier than it would be if it were Fnatic or Rogue or even G2 Esports.
That doesn’t mean that Vitality will win, though. There’s a humongous gap between them in terms of talent and experience, but it’s no coincidence that EXCEL have finished the regular portion of the split above their more revered peers and contemporaries.
They also have a seasoned head coach leading the charge so there’s a very real chance that EXCEL will come out the gates swinging, eager as ever to prove their worth and finally etch their names in history — after years of playing second fiddle.
That could, potentially, be a problem for Team Vitality. Now sure, they’ve weathered many a storm and they’ve seen and played through it all, but their staggering experience obviously hasn’t played that big of a part thus far. Could that change at any moment? Absolutely, but we wouldn’t hold our breath for it to happen.
Either way, we suggest a very cautious amount of optimism. If they’ve shored up their biggest flaws they could, potentially, finish in the Top 3, but we’ll reserve judgment until we see just how well they can navigate a Best of 5.
In any case, a capable, dangerous Team Vitality would no doubt serve as a boon to the LEC and its many top-tier teams — the higher the level of competition, the better the region as a whole will be.
2022 LEC Spring Split Playoffs Preview | What’s Most Likely to Happen?
Competitive League is a very fickle beast. We always know who’s better than whom, but how things will pan out is never an easy thing to predict — there are simply too many intangibles lingering in the air.
Best of 5s are especially interesting and, fortunately, a fair bit simpler when it comes to betting. Favorites almost always end up on top — they have the most experience and, therefore, the highest odds of emerging victorious. Upsets can still happen, mind you, but they’re quite rare, especially in the West where just a handful of teams have been dominating throughout the years.
All three Best of 5s are incredibly hype and, needless to say, we can’t wait for these six teams to step foot on stage and play to the best of their ability. We know who’s favored and why: Rogue, Fnatic, and Team Vitality are all expected to come out on top.
The only possible upset, we feel, is that last one: EXCEL are not to be trifled with, although they have, in all fairness, gotten a bit predictable near the tail end of the split. They’re still incredibly capable and dangerous, but their arsenal of weapons isn’t nearly as varied or impressive as that of Vitality’s.
After the first round’s done, things will become even more interesting. We can’t predict who’ll end up where (in regards to the whole playoffs bracket), but we do expect Fnatic to go the “whole nine yards.” Rogue will end up in second, G2 Esports in third, and the Vitality in fourth.
These teams have too much experience under their belts to end up any lower. Misfits could, in theory, upend the status quo, but we wouldn’t put our money on it. They’ve been absolutely stellar thus far, but they did lose to Vitality (twice), and they barely went even with G2 Esports.
They’re obviously an incredible team but a Best of 5 is a completely different beast — one they’ve yet to tackle and experience.
In any case, make sure to tune in as fireworks are pretty much guaranteed! You can catch all the action on Twitch, YouTube, and the official LoLEsports website!