The sixth week of the 2021 LEC Spring Split is right around the corner which means it’s time for a couple of predictions!
It might not seem all that exciting, but looks can be deceiving — this is by all means a barnburner in the making, and a hugely important clash between two mid-tier gatekeepers! This week is packed with action and if things pan out as expected, we should be in for one heck of a ride!
Every Game Matters Going Forward
We’ve also gone past the halfway point of the split. In other words, there are just three weeks of regular season play left or — if you really want to get specific — eight games before the playoffs come around. That, frankly, is not a lot. If a team is struggling at this point in time, then their odds of correcting course and eventually leaving a mark are eroding by the minute.
It’s not just about cohesion and synergy at this point — confidence plays a huge role in competitive esports, and for bottom-tier dwellers and mid-tier gatekeepers that’s a pretty scarce commodity. And, well, there’s a good reason why. Sometimes the beatdowns they endure do a lot more damage than we realize — they affect their psyche in ways we cannot even imagine. That’s what happens when there’s such a large gap between a bottom-tier team and a championship-worthy contender; that’s when those huge, one-sided blowouts tend to occur.
So if a team occupies a spot in the bottom three, they’re all but guaranteed to stay there for the rest of the split. There are exceptions to this “rule,” of course, but they happen so rarely that they might as well be ignored.
What they are focused on, however, is tightening up their play, shoring up their biggest weaknesses, and locking down a spot in the playoffs. For SK Gaming, there’s no bigger adversary than Excel Esports right now, and vice versa.
The pressure is mounting, and the margin for error is shrinking by the minute.
SK Gaming vs. Excel Esports Predictions
Talking about SK Gaming and Excel Esports isn’t as easy as it might seem. Frankly, they’re far too inconsistent and volatile to be taken all too seriously. At their best, they can definitely pack a punch, but their best isn’t always on display.
If there is a big difference between them, it has to be in the way they approach the game and the ease with which they traverse the Summoner’s Rift.
- SK Gaming are much more flexible and coherent as a five-man unit than anyone would expect given their inexperienced nature. They play with more confidence, and they can execute a wide variety of team comps. This, of course, has given them quite a noticeable upper hand against most of their peers.
- Excel Esports, on the other hand, have struggled mightily with anything that isn’t a super late game-focused draft. Their approach early on was quite simple: draft for late and wait for the other team to fumble. And, frankly, it worked more often than not precisely because most of their opponents lacked the cohesion which was necessary to close games out.
With scaling picks by their side, Excel didn’t have to rely all that much on game knowledge or synergy — they had the right champions for the job and could just teamfight their way to victory.
Growth Is Paramount
But there comes a point when that stops being enough, and by the looks of it, we’ve finally reached it. Other teams — the ones that struggled so much early on — have improved in important and nuanced ways. At the very least, they’ve adapted to what’s the most optimal way of playing the game and aren’t making the same mistakes as they did at the start of the season. This, by proxy, means Excel can no longer “guarantee” wins by using the same methods.
Right now, they’re 1W-3L in their last four games, with their sole win coming at the expense of Team Vitality — arguably the worst team in the region right now. Their subsequent losses came at the hands of Misfits Gaming, MAD Lions, and Astralis. And, frankly, only one of those can be excused. For a team that has more than enough talent and a head coach with a proven track record, their level of play is somewhat unacceptable.
Now, it all boils down to what you expected from Excel coming into 2021. They were never supposed to upset the long established LEC status quo, but they had all the right tools to once again become a capable dark horse. But by the looks of it, they won’t be able to do even that much. They have three weeks left to fix their biggest issues and potentially make a run for the playoffs, but the odds are definitely stacked against them.
They are by no means perfect, mind you, but they don’t have to be against a team like Excel. They just need to go comfort, set up their bottom lane for success, get their talented jungler on a pick he likes, and the game will almost surely go their way.
In any case, an entertaining clash is all but guaranteed!