With the Spring Split 2017 Playoff Finals fast approaching, the EU LCS’s representative for the Mid-Season Invitational will be determined after a best-of-five series between G2 eSports and the Unicorns of Love. While G2 has already bested UoL twice this season, once during the regular season and once at IEM Katowice, European fans seem split on which team they are supporting to claim the EU LCS crown. With MSI on the horizon, the team you should root for largely depends on how strong you view Europe as a region.
As the two strongest European teams for most of the spring split, G2 eSports and the Unicorns of Love have both earned their place at the finals. The two contenders came into the playoffs as the top two seeds in the tournament and have expectedly secured their spot in Hamburg with little hassle.
With both teams likely to retain their same roster for the next split, it is also easy to believe their strong runs of success should continue into the next split and earn both teams a spot at the World Championships. With that being said, the actual winner of the EU LCS crown may have the most significance in the fact that it decides who will represent the EU region at MSI and try to earn a top four finish.
At MSI, as exciting (though unlikely) as it would for a region outside of Korea to win the tournament, it is likely more important for a major region not to fall out of the top four spots and lose preferential seeding for the World Championships. Assuming both the NA champions and Flash Wolves make it out of the play-in tournament, and that the wildcard team will finish in a bottom two spot, that leaves one of the five major regions to fall out of that preferential seeding at Worlds.
Last season, that region was Europe. Their performance at MSI cost Europe’s top seed (G2) to be drawn into a group with Korea’s number one seed (ROX), almost unanimously considered the strongest team in the tournament at the onset. Europe needs to avoid this type of result at MSI again, in part to salvage their international reputation and to give their top seed the best opportunity to make a deep run at Worlds. It was the start of a PR meltdown for the
Throughout the regular split. G2 eSports has been the more consistent team between the two finalists. A team loaded with talent and with a wealth of international experience, G2 have been the best team in Europe this season and also had the strongest showing of any European team at IEM. Their smooth and controlled playstyle has allowed them to secure many victories even when they fall behind, and rarely do their fans ever feel a sense of panic as they fight through a series. UoL brings a much more exciting but risky playstyle, with an aggressive macro game that can flatten their opponents or cause themselves to suffer at times. After failing to make both MSI and Worlds last season, they have not played in an international tournament outside of IEM.
Looking to MSI, when determining which team would be a better choice for European fans, the answer can be found in how strong you view Europe as a region. If you consider Europe to be a top four region, the best choice for international representation would be G2, showcasing a consistent and calm playstyle. The reigning champions simply need to perform at their expected level to secure a spot in the top four; with no upsets over the top teams, but also no losses to those teams below them.
If you view Europe as the weakest of the major regions, UoL is the better choice as they are the team who is more likely to pull an upset over one of the top regions. Their aggressive playstyle could grant them early advantages that could surprise NA, China, or even Flash Wolves.
For European fans who are still undecided on who they should be rooting for this weekend, the best way to decide is to look outside your own region. Can an EU champion beat the top NA team, after fielding a 0-8 record against NA teams at MSI and Worlds last season? Could an EU champion avenge the IEM losses to Flash Wolves and pull an upset? Or could the Chinese champion stumble and allow Europe to pull ahead? The answer to who the European team should be, lies in the strength of the region as a whole.