With just one week remaining in the European League of Legends Championship Series, the stage is set for the regions best to solidify their standings and earn valuable circuit points. For what has been an otherwise uneventful split, the closing weeks of the EU LCS have significantly deviated from the script. With Fnatic looking to hold on to their playoff spot by the skin of their teeth amidst a Team ROCCAT resurgence, how will the EU playoffs pan out?
Following the controversial change to the EU LCS format – splitting into two groups ahead of the opening week of the season – the league standings for many of the squads have deviated very little over the course of the split. Whilst teams have their ups and downs in form throughout the Spring, the long fought battle for the top three playoff places in each group was seemingly set in stone.
From Group A, G2 eSports and Misfits quickly established themselves as the front runners, with Fnatic expected to clinch the final slot. The battle for top spot in Group B made for a more engaging contest as the Unicorns of Love and H2K-Gaming alternated between 1st and 2nd at numerous points throughout the split. Last season’s 3rd European World Championship representative, Splyce, have failed to continue their form of 2016, but are considerably stronger than both Team Vitality and Origen beneath them.
Whilst the playoff participants, with the exception of Team ROCCAT and Fnatic, have been all but confirmed from the opening weeks, the results between the league’s top teams have thrown up a number of surprising results. As the teams enter playoffs, current form will be a decisive factor:
CLICKON eSports’ EU LCS Spring Split Playoff Predictions
Splyce's dramatic late run for qualification to the 2016 World Championship feels like a distant memory. YamatoCannon's squad have fallen flat in 2017, looking unlikely to challenge the likes of UOL and Misfits for Europe's third World Championship seed in the summer. Capable of beating weak opposition but toothless against the regions top teams, Splyce will likely fall at the first hurdle into a 5th/6th place finish at these playoffs.
Given their marginally superior record over Team ROCCAT, Fnatic seems the most likely to cling on to the final playoff spot. Fnatic represent perhaps the most depressing story of the split. Taking into account their experience and previous failures, Fnatic will probably not perform much better than they have done all season. Barely scraping victories over the League's worst teams, their playoff fate seems a foregone conclusion.
The surprise package of the Spring Split, few knew what to expect from Misfits at the start of the season. Currently boasting 2nd place in Group A, the newly promoted side have looked very impressive in spells, but have yet to convincingly challenge the region's top three organisations.
3rd: Unicorns of Love
The "love bringers" may well end up heartbroken once more in the playoffs. Whilst tussling with H2K for top spot in Group B, when the ultimatum of the semi-finals draws around, UOL will likely fall short of the mark once more.
The fight between G2 eSports and H2K-Gaming is the EU LCS final every neutral fan is hoping for. Despite their somewhat shaky form, H2K's experience will allow them to secure a 2nd place finish this split, whilst agonisngly unable to mount a serious challenge to G2 reign.
1st: G2 eSports
Undoubtedly the strongest squad currently in the EU LCS. Whilst it makes for a less exciting playoff run, the prospect of the league's undefeated side slipping up is hard to envisage. It would take something remarkable to stop G2 eSports getting their hands on the trophy.