It seems like one team always goes from the Promotion Tournament to the playoffs in the EU LCS. Last year, Splyce was that Cinderella team. Sure, Giants had a good run too, but that was more of a fluke than something sustainable. Splyce proved their mettle when it counted: By winning playoff matches.
This year, Misfits has become the underdog everyone can believe in. Before the split, we wondered how this team would fare against LCS competition. Another potential issue was the team’s addition of a new Korean jungler, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon. For that reason, we put KaKAO on our “Players to Watch” list for the split.
The results have been tremendous. KaKAO has, at times, looked like the best jungler in the region. Bolstered by his synergy with support Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun, whose strong English helps bridge the language gap with the rest of the team, KaKAO has helped the roster to an 8-5 record. Crucially, one of those match wins was against Splyce—a 2-0 in week four—whom they will now face in the playoffs.
That match was a long time ago and was played in a different meta, but we can still learn a lot from the two teams’ approach to the game and how they interact. Splyce are famous for favoring a split push 1-3-1 style that allows them to exert global map control. They want to play strong lanes and beat you over the head with them.
On the other hand, Misfits play in nearly an opposite manner. Sure, they regularly pick split pushing champions for top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris. But in reality, none of Misfits’ three laners are their most critical members. Instead, much of the game is spent on getting KaKAO ahead and in a position to roam with IgNar. When Splyce tried to contest without vision, those two punished them repeatedly.
The way they play through the jungle and support was immediately evident in the regular season match with Splyce. Misfits traded towers comfortably, knowing that would constrain Splyce’s vision (as well as their own) and give KaKAO more avenues into the enemy jungle. With his control, they rotated ADC Steven “Hans Sama” Liv around the map for objectives, beating Splyce to the punch nearly every time.
By doing this, they neutered Splyce’s advantage and forced them to make proactive roaming plays of their own, rather than patiently split push. Splyce was able to get some control of both games by fighting around top laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen. But when it came to chaotic engages, Misfits uniformly had the upper hand. KaKAO, IgNar, and Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage carried the day.
Splyce tried to adapt to Misfits’ roaming play, especially from PowerOfEvil, by picking Ryze in the second game. It wouldn’t matter, as KaKAO was again all over the map on Lee Sin. It also didn’t help that Splyce chose a risky red side strategy that gave away Camille for Malzahar/Kha’Zix, two picks that didn’t end up panning out.
If Splyce want to improve in this playoff series, they need more from their carries. PowerOfEvil looks reinvented this split, but Chres “Sencux” Laursen has to find a way to keep him contained. Splyce should make a more concerted effort to drop the mid lane outer turret without over-diving. Both Wunder and Sencux finished the split strong as the meta has shifted to more comfort picks.
As a team, they need to do a better job contesting vision and controlling KaKAO. They are second-to-last in wards-per-minute—not a perfect stat by any measure—and that lack of vision really hurt them against Misfits. They may even have to abandon their split-push identity when the comps call for it. The most success they had against Misfits was in orderly teamfights where they had vision control. By grouping, Splyce can reduce Misfits’ ability to extend across the map. Misfits can also be punished for late rotations, especially when they don’t control mid lane.
Finally, Trashy has to play better. He was thoroughly out-foxed by KaKAO, and after a good amount of time to prepare, should put forth a better showing this time.
On the Misfits side, they need KaKAO and IgNar to continue playing well. Alphari has turned into quite the monster on bruiser champs, and if he can win the matchup with Wunder, it will go a long way to helping Misfits succeed. And when they get a lead, they need to continue to push. They let Splyce back into both games by hesitating on map movements, looking unsure of where the next objective should be. Sometimes when KaKAO doesn’t have a ready target, it seems like the team goes nowhere.
In their split-ending loss to Fnatic, Misfits were punished for not being proactive with the duo lane. Fnatic’s duo lane dictated how the map should be played and shoved aside all of Misfits’ plans. Splyce don’t have the same caliber of players in the duo lane, but Misfits need to continue to be proactive.
This match is a fantastic clash of two vastly different styles. It would appear that Misfits have the upper hand owing to that 2-0 victory, but that was a long time ago. Splyce certainly have the tools to get revenge in this one.