In a stunning upset, Misfits defeated the Unicorns of Love in the first round of the EU LCS Playoffs. The victory blew expectations out of the water, especially for a team that has struggled to find consistency in the EU LCS Summer Split.
Misfits defeated heavy favourites, Unicorns of Love, in a 3-0 sweep. The 6th seeded team provided flashes of brilliance but struggled against the weaker teams in their group during the summer.
Defeating G2 eSports early in the split, but narrowly avoiding defeat to Ninjas in Pyjamas, Misfits established a reputation as one of the most inconsistent sides in the EU LCS.
Even as the split came to an end, Misfits remained an enigma, unable to capitalize on the talent they possessed within the roster. Now, they appear to have harnessed that potential and used it to give themselves a berth into the next round of playoffs.
As the dust settles on their incredible accomplishment, the question remains: How did a team with a losing record defeat a team seemingly destined for Worlds? How did a team infamous for dropping games to bottom tier opponents, go undefeated against one of the best in the league? How did a team, knocked out of playoffs by the Unicorns in Spring Split, show up stronger than ever in their first round rematch?
On paper, there’s only one difference between the team that lost to UOL in Spring of 2017, and the one that demolished their hooved opponents in the LCS playoffs this summer.
Between the Spring and Summer Splits, Misfits brought in ex-ROCCAT jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian to replace Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon as their only roster move during the off-season.
Unfortunately, Maxlore did not live up to initial expectations. The jungler’s early game presence was virtually non-existent, playing reactively, he was seldom the trailblazer for his teams’ early leads.
Without significant early game pressure from their jungler, Misfits continually failed to build early leads on their carries. AD carry, Steven “Hans sama” Liv, in particular, was often forced to create his own plays, without the support of his jungler.
This limited Misfits’ carry threats solely to mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. With a lack of early game pressure from their jungler, Misfits became one-dimensional and vulnerable to early ganks.
Another issue with Maxlore’s play was his lack of synergy with his support. While KaKAO’s poor English may have stalled communication, his relationship with Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun was very important.
The two Koreans had incredible chemistry in game, which helped to minimize KaKAO’s issues with aggression. Maxlore, however, did not have the same bond with his support. Misfits’ jungle-support duo was last in the league for time spent together, a dramatic departure from the constant roams that the Korean duo pulled off last split.
The disconnect between jungler and support was a blow to the team’s overall performance. Vision control suffered, and Maxlore rarely went for big invades to get himself ahead early on. He simply didn’t have the support he needed to control the map.
Maxlore showed the world why Misfits picked him up in the LCS Playoffs. His presence was far more defined than in the rest of the split.
In Game 2, he served as PowerOfEvil’s right hand man, aiding the mid laner to get his Lucian ahead and shut down UOL’s Fabian “Exileh” Schubert’s Kassadin early. His pressure made an impact, and Exileh was 0/4 before the 20 minute mark.
— lolesports (@lolesports) August 19, 2017
Fans will be quick to recall the star performances in this classic series between Misfits and UOL; they’ll remember Hans sama’s pentakill, and PoE’s solo kills on Lucian. While these players certainly deserve a large portion of credit, it’s important to observe the smaller factors that won the series in the end.
Against the Unicorns, Maxlore was a changed man, entirely different from the subpar replacement that showed up on stage in the earlier portions of the split. His impact across both games was outstanding, especially compared to his early performances in the season.
In the end, it was Maxlore who made the change for Misfits, and saved the day in the EU LCS Playoffs.