For much of the EU LCS Summer Split, Misfits and Fnatic have been the region’s best teams. Misfits got off to a strong start, taking advantage of their ability to play traditional marksmen. Fnatic caught them midway through by making non-traditional bot lanes work. The playoffs were supposed to be a final referendum on which of the two styles would work.
Instead, we’ve already found out. Instead of building on their strong start as traditional marksmen came back, Misfits fell back to the pack as teams figured them out. With the bot lane not able to exert any pressure, Misfits tried to find other avenues to win. For the most part, they failed.
The inability to find a carry led to a stunning slide down the standings. They went 3-7 in the last five weeks of the regular season to fall into a tie for third place. Then they lost the tiebreaker to fall into fifth place, which involves a first-round matchup against G2, one of the best playoff teams in the history of the region.
One of the biggest red flags for the team’s struggles has been their priority in picks and bans. It’s okay to leave the bot lane to the wolves and rely on bot laner Steven “Hans Sama” Liv to scale—but only if they have pressure elsewhere.
At first, they tried to get that pressure in the top lane with Barney “Alphari” Morris. Alphari is one of the better top laners in the region, and given resources, he can be a significant splitpush threat.
The problem is, when Alphari is splitpushing, the rest of the team cannot be trusted to stay safe. Misfits tried to focus on his Camille in a week eight match vs. FC Schalke 04. Schalke simply ignored him and forced fights as a group. And Alphari himself isn’t a strong enough teleport user to drag people around the map.
The answer since then has been to give draft priority to mid laner Chres “Sencux” Laursen. In a pivotal week nine matchup against Vitality, a team hoping to catch them in the standings, they first-picked Akali for Sencux and asked him to carry.
That was a bad idea. Sencux could never catch Vitality mid laner Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro’s LeBlanc. Meanwhile, the rest of Vitality took advantage of Misfits’ passive bot lane and dove them for kills.
This isn’t all Sencux’s fault. First-picking Akali telegraphs a lot of what Misfits want to do. But it’s still shocking to see Misfits jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian farming instead of ganking mid, the only lane in which Misfits could have had an advantage. Instead, all of Misfits’ lanes went to hell and Vitality won the game.
To fix all of this, Misfits have to do something they’re uncomfortable with. They either have to figure out how to pressure mid lane—something Sencux has never been good at—or decide on a side lane to focus on. None of the decisions are easy, but they aren’t meant to be, not when the LCS playoffs are on the line.
Whatever Misfits do, they have to figure it out, fast. G2 are the best team in the region at preparing for a single playoff opponent. When that quarterfinal kicks off tomorrow at 10am CT, we’ll know what Misfits’ answer is.