Looking ahead towards the EU LCS Spring Playoffs 2016 – The Teams (3-1)
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be very short and cover basic concepts only. If you are really interested in EU LCS and want to know more about a specific team, this article may not be for you. This one is just a heads up for people who may not have watched many games or just have not looked into strategy of teams so far. This article is part 2 of a two part series. The first part covering the lower seeded teams can be found here
Looking ahead towards the EU LCS Spring Playoffs 2016 –
The Teams Part 2
With the end of the regular season on March 18, the top six teams in Europe are now getting ready for playoffs. While G2 and H2K managed to secure a spot in the semifinals already, the remaining four teams Vitality, Origen, Unicorns of Love and Fnatic will have to battle for the remaining two spots first. In the following each team will be looked at in ascending number of their regular season finish starting with Vitality at number three. The bottom three teams are covered in a seperate article which is linked here. The final percentages at the bottom represent my personal prediction given the matchup and each team's style.
3rd Place – Vitality
The top three teams have looked far ahead of the other EU teams in terms of consistency and overall strategic play. Of these three Vitality is the one that will have to participate in the quarter finals following their third place finish in the regular split. They lost both games to 9th place team Roccat but other than that Vitality does not have a negative record against any team. Their record against other playoff teams is 9-3 which is better than H2K's (8-4) and equal to G2. Moreover they have won both games against Fnatic, whom they will face in the quarter finals, in the regular Split.
Vitality usually relies on their individually strong laners to win the early game and snowball the game from there. They often use the advantages gained in the early game by their pressuring lanes to establish vision control around crucial objectives in the mid game. The team has the highest first tower rate together with H2K and the single highest first Baron rate in the entire league. Their average Wards per Minute are exceptionally high compared to other EU Teams, too and only second to H2K.
Vitality's biggest weakness so far has been that they would sometimes make wrong decisions in clutch moments that end up in losing more than they gain for a play. Together with overly aggressive plays enemies have some way of finding a point to attack on to beat Vitality. Their team fights on the other hand have seemed very well organized and it is very possible to attest that they are the best team fighting team in the league.
Chance to make Semifinals: 80%
Vitality's players have looked superior to those of Fnatic. With Fnatic not being known for their flawless macro game during the split it is hard to imagine how Vitality will lose three games in a best of five series against them. Maybe a composition that Vitality are unable to deal with could win them a game but everything beyond that seems pretty unlikely.
Chance to make Finals: 40%
If Vitality make it to the Semifinals they will face H2K there due to their number 3 seed. A match between those two teams can clearly go either way but in my opinion H2K have a slight advantage over them. With their superior macro play H2K should be able to outsmart Vitality and avoid any full grown fights that Vitality loves. However if Vitality gets a lead early on in a game it may prove very difficult for H2K to come back from there since Vitality can force their style onto them as much as they want.
2nd Place – H2K
H2K on paper looked like probably the best team coming into the season and almost everyone agrees that their roster looks even better than last year when they made it to the world championship as Europe's number 2 seed and dropped out in group stage there. Contrary to Origen, who had huge expectations, too, H2K mostly lived up to the hype and they are considered one of the strongest teams of the league for a reason. Their 14 wins have mostly been very solid and they beat every team in the league at least once.
When it comes to their playstyle H2K is probably the best team for macro play and objective control. Their Jungler and Support have played together for a long time now and the synergy between the two is one of the main reasons for their success. The team has the highest average wards placed per minute in the LCS and also has the most enemy wards killed. Furthermore they have what many consider the strongest AD Carry in the entire west in their line up and their solo laners make a very solid case for themselves, too.
Their biggest weakness has been team fighting so far. Often they have looked like they were not on the same page and their targeting seems to be problematic. Ryu and Forgiven are a lot of times left to their own business while the rest of the team tries and dives the enemy backline. If they could fix this problem during their weeks until they have to play in the semifinals, H2K can truly become the strongest team in Europe this season.
Chance to make Semifinals: 100%
H2K finished 2nd and get to play in the semifinals.
Chance to make Finals: 60%
Being second seed means that H2K will have to play against the hardest remaining opponent besides G2, which will most likely be Vitality. These matches should highly benefit whichever team gets the lead early on in a game since their styles are very different and the leading team can somewhat force their opponents to adapt to their style. I expect the series to be very close but H2K has a slight advantage with their slightly superior macro play.
1st Place – G2 Esports
Originally considered as a middle of the pack team G2 have surprised experts and fans with a first place finish in the regular season and a very strong record of 15-3. Like H2K the team has a positive or even record against every other team in the league and has only dropped a game to Fnatic, Vitality and H2K. Their Mid laner perkz and their jungler Trick have been the two best performing players both in the team and in the league and these two have been the main reasons for G2's successful split so far.
G2 are a very aggressive team that is always looking for fights which they will most of the time win convincingly. Their main strength is surely skirmishing and fighting in general. Regardless if the fights are one versus ones in the jungle or straight up five on fives where the whole team is involved, G2 will always try and hit the enemy where it hurts. In full grown team fights their Top laner Kikis will just act as a distracting punching bag who will keep enemies occupied while the carries rip the enemy teams apart.
G2's main weakness this split has been their sometimes over aggressive approach where they try and force fights even if they are not properly set up for it. Rarely has that lead to them throwing the game away and if teams find no answer or abuse of their aggressiveness G2 is very likely to be the most unexpected winner of the EU LCS so far.
Chance to make Semifinals: 100%
As number one seed G2 were seeded directly to the semifinals.
Chance to make Finals: 70%
As number one seed G2 cannot face Vitality in the semifinals which on paper is by far the strongest opponent besides H2K. The remaining teams have not looked strong enough to punish G2's very aggressive style repeatedly and will have a hard time standing against G2. The only team that might have a somewhat decent chance to overcome G2 in the semifinals is Origen if they can continue their improvements and find back to old strength before playoffs. G2 is quite an inexperienced team and therefore nerves could become a little shaky if the team gets pressured in a five game series. If everything goes as expected however G2 should reach the finals almost certainly.