In a few days, the LEC and LCS will both reach the conclusion of the first half of their seasons. Just six teams remain across the two leagues, vying for spots at the mid-season invitational and chances to cement their status as the best team in their respective league.
In the LEC, the remaining teams are G2, MAD Lions and Rogue. Intense games over the weekend led to the elimination of two of the other playoff teams; Fnatic fell at the hands of Schalke while Schalke themselves fell two days later at the hands of Rogue.
Now, the MAD Lions sit with a spot in the Grand Finals and a chance to make it to their second international event in a row has been secured. They dominated in their best-of-five against G2, capitalizing on mistakes by the first seed in order to come out with a 3-1 victory reminiscent of their win last spring over the perennial favorites.
G2 is left in the lower bracket with a matchup with Rogue. Rogue, who ended the season in second place, is looking to overcome their poor start to the postseason by continuing the streak they began by crushing Schalke’s hopes in a 3-1. That series was heavily controlled by bot laner Hans Sama and top laner Odoamne, who will both need impressive performances against G2 if they want their season to continue.
However, G2 has looked mortal. That’s an idea that has more than once bit back, becoming sort of an Achilles heel; they always look beatable. Every playoffs, we think G2 can be slain. Maybe it’s because they lose a series in the upper bracket or because they almost do, like their series against Schalke. Maybe they’re just playing badly.
And yet, they never really seem to lose. They won last Spring, after their defeat at the hands of the Lions. They won last summer, after defeat at the hands of Fnatic. And both times, they bounced back; over the summer, they even went on to beat Fnatic in the finals 3-0 to make up for their 3-2 loss earlier in the playoffs.
Perhaps being in the lower bracket fuels G2’s competitive fire. Perhaps it’s only possible for them to lose one best-of-five a split. Perhaps they just get lucky. But if MAD or Rogue want to beat G2 and represent Europe at MSI, an event that G2 are the defending champions of, they’re going to have to hope that none of those things are true this weekend.
In the LCS, things are a little simpler. In recent years, the LCS has lacked the unbeatable team that G2 has been in Europe. Cloud9, who floundered in Summer but was unbeatable in the spring of last year, are the favorites going into finals weekend. After all, their spot in the finals is already secured following their 3-1 over Team Liquid on Saturday.
Now, they are watching the lower bracket, where Team Liquid will attempt to get a chance for revenge in a series against TSM, who Liquid beat in the first round of the playoffs. That should be a good sign for the team, although TSM is also a team known for getting a sort of playoffs buff where sometimes they just cannot seem to lose.
Thankfully, if you’re a Liquid fan, that might not be the case this season. TSM has often seemed to lack that spark that came with their many lineups under Bjergsen. They survived the first two rounds of the lower bracket by beating 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses and, while they won both pretty handily in 3-1s, neither of those teams are known to be super dominant this season.
TSM will have to perform better than they did a few weeks ago if they want a chance to show that their loss to Team Liquid was a fluke and that they are better than that record indicates. Cloud9 and MAD Lions are waiting to find out who they’ll fight in what will, win or lose, be their last games of the Spring split. For all six of these teams, this weekend will be one last chance to write their names into the fabric of history all the while knowing that, for most of them, they will not be good enough.