Only two weeks are left on the LEC schedule in the Spring Split and teams across Europe’s premier League of Legends competition are finally going under the knife. With five games left on the schedule for everyone in the league, it’s officially crunch time.
Although no one’s been eliminated from the playoff picture just yet and only Rogue have clinched a berth, it’s highly likely fans will start to see the dominoes begin to fall this weekend. Matches between across-the-board playoff contenders, like the suddenly crucial Team Vitality vs. SK Gaming match on Feb. 25, could determine the entire outlook of the Spring Split’s final standings.
Realistically speaking, the bottom half of the playoff race is entirely open, with four teams in contention for two playoff spots. Any combination of Vitality, Excel Esports, SK, and MAD Lions could theoretically end up in the back-half of the playoff bracket if games continue to trend in their current direction. Still, that’s not to say other teams near the top of the table can’t slide down as the split comes to a close.
With the LEC playoff race entering its 11th hour, we asked our team of League writers to rank the region’s teams and evaluate how they shape up ahead of the final push for the playoffs. Here are our LEC power rankings after six weeks of play in the 2022 Spring Split.
On the brink of obscurity: Astralis, Team BDS
Time passes relentlessly and slowly, but playoff time is quickly approaching for the 2022 LEC Spring Split and two teams in particular are on the brink of elimination.
While BDS have slipped to the bottom of our weekly rankings, Astralis’ two miraculous wins earned them a point in the standings, lifting them up from 10th place to ninth. The team came within a step of a dangerous 0-10 record and had to almost hit rock bottom to give themselves the momentum to rise again. That momentum came from a win against the top-ranked Rogue earlier this month and a triumph over the second-placed Fnatic this past week. Despite the weight of past losses, Astralis have shown they have the strength to climb back up to a record that could take them to the playoffs. But that would require a win streak over all of their upcoming games, and right now, Astralis are still in the twilight zone of the bottom of the standings.
If Astralis are trying to resurface, BDS are slowly sinking. It’s now been three weeks since BDS got their last win. And since then, their descent to the bottom of the leaderboard has been increasingly rapid. They’re just one loss away from sitting in last place along with Astralis, but BDS could still find the harmony and stability that helped them achieve two wins in the third week of the split. The next match for both of these teams will be against each other, however. And with playoffs approaching, even a small misstep would mean not seizing the lifeline to the playoffs.
New favorite rivalry: SK Gaming, MAD Lions
If there’s one team that’s prevented MAD Lions from being in the thick of the Spring Playoff race, it’s SK Gaming.
On paper, the defending LEC champions should beat a playoff-teetering SK squad that got off to one of the slowest starts in their organization’s history. But the two meetings between the teams have both gone in favor of SK, and as a result, MAD are three games under the 0.500 mark. They would have to win out to finish the Spring Split with a winning record. Furthermore, SK and MAD are on completely opposite trajectories, with MAD on a four-game skid and SK stringing together three crucial victories.
Above all else, those two SK victories over MAD could prove to be the definitive factor that defines the LEC playoff race, especially at its back-end. As both teams sit tied for seventh, just one game out of a potential playoff berth, SK’s head-to-head over MAD is an extremely valuable reason as to why the team hasn’t been completely knocked out of the playoff race altogether. If those two games go in the opposite direction, MAD sit comfortably in the top five while SK inhabit the basement of the league alongside teams like Astralis and BDS.
It’s been seven years since a team won the LEC in one split and failed to make the playoffs in the next. Not since the Alliance/Elements organization in 2014-15 has a team won a European title and missed the top six altogether the following split. If MAD become the first team since that point to miss out on a split’s playoff bracket after hoisting Europe’s most prestigious trophy, you can look back on the losses to a beatable SK squad as the reason why.
Balancing out: Team Vitality, Excel Esports
Vitality and Excel act as the border between the top four teams in the LEC and those trailing at the bottom. With so much focus on Rogue, Fnatic, G2 Esports, and Misfits, these two teams only have two weeks to really prove themselves before the playoffs.
We’re still waiting to see the full potential of the “superteam” Vitality have long been touted to be throughout the split. The team followed their 0-2 week five with a 1-1 end to week six, continuing their recent trend of only being able to defeat teams lower than them in the LEC standings, despite having one of the strongest and most consistent early games in the region. Vitality are quickly reaching the point where this promise of a “superteam” may have been little more than just that, leaving us questioning what would have been but ultimately wasn’t.
Excel also fall into this pattern of only obtaining consistent wins over the bottom four teams. Recent weeks have showcased a newfound aggression within the team thanks to the addition of Mikyx to the roster. But as seen in their first game this past weekend against Misfits, that aggression results in leads that Excel seem to not understand how to maintain. They’ll have to figure this out soon or else they may find themselves struggling to secure a playoff spot.
Vitality and Excel remain in fifth and sixth place in our power rankings this week as we question how exactly they’ll enter the last two weeks of the 2022 LEC Spring Split. While they continue to stare at the top four teams, we’re left pondering their chances if they make the playoffs following weeks of inconsistencies.
The meat of the race: Fnatic, Misfits, G2 Esports
Fnatic ADC Upset is still the LEC’s KDA leader at a mind-bending 15.0 clip, according to Leaguepedia. That’s almost twice as much as the next-highest mark (Larssen at 7.62). Since Astralis seem to be on a “Team of Destiny” vibe, some won’t worry too much about Fnatic’s loss to them, especially since they took down G2 in the latest edition of El Classico on the back of Hylissang and Razork. The Fnatic jungler has had a rocky start to his career in orange, but despite a couple of brutal Diana ultimates in the mid and late game, he’s looked much improved of late. And in this game, after setting up camp in Jankos’ jungle in the early game, just after the 23-minute mark, Razork found himself up almost 60 CS on Jankos on top of securing both Heralds and the first two drakes of the game, catapulting his team to a lead that not even his missed ultimates could make disappear.
Misfits are still on a winning streak, extending it to five after two huge wins over teams they had been on equal terms with in the standings coming into last week in Excel and MAD. Mid laner Vetheo also racked up two more MVPs and played two more champions for the first time all split (Ryze and Corki, surprisingly). His 10 unique picks in 13 games is the most of any mid laner in the LEC and only surpassed by G2 support Targamas (13 in 13), per Leaguepedia. AD carry Neon and top laner HiRit continue to be consistent, with the latter of the two thriving on high-resource split-pushers like Camille and Graves (twice this past weekend). If the meta shifts with Hullbreaker nerfs in a few weeks, champion pool alone should make this squad immune to that, but lack of experience in the playoffs for Shaltan and Mersa might not.
G2 still hold fourth place in the standings and our power rankings despite a 0-2 week. Throughout the split, they’ve looked like a legitimate playoff threat, especially with MAD, Vitality, and Excel being tough to get a read on. Games against the red-hot Misfits and BDS loom in week seven. Only Vitality and Rogue remain on G2’s hit list for the Spring Split, but if they take care of business this week, a playoff spot should be all but clinched and those tougher matchups in week eight will be a lot less stressful for the samurai.
Clear No. 1, for now: Rogue
After a dominant showing against two of the hungrier teams looking for a playoff berth, it’s clear that the reports of Rogue’s death were greatly exaggerated. The best team in Europe has returned with a vengeance, dominating both Vitality and MAD to secure their place atop the standings—and their place in the postseason.
The team’s new jungler Malrang has been one of the most exciting players in the league so far, constantly finding ways to engage the enemy on almost any champion. He has the highest KDA among LEC junglers and the seventh-most assists in the LEC, according to Oracle’s Elixir. His ability to pressure the enemy jungler and fortify his laners can be seen through his teammates; Odoamne, Larssen, and Comp all sit in the top three for early-game statistics.
Together, Rogue righted the ship with great teamfighting and decision-making, silencing anyone who wanted a reason to doubt them as the best team in the region at the moment. This week, however, Rogue have some important matches to win, including a game against a second-place Fnatic looking to close the distance and a game against an Excel roster trying to maintain their place in the playoff race.