In the aftermath of the Mid-Season Invitational, the two tales of the EU and NA LCS appeared to have taken a differing paths. As chaos reigned in the unpredictable North American region, the heavyweight powers of the EU LCS stood firm.
Many were quick to point to this phenomenon as a sign of weakness amongst the top finishers in NA, with Team SoloMid, Cloud9 and Phoenix1 all faltering in their starts to the Summer Split.
Yet after a week of upsets in EU, in which Fnatic, G2 eSports and the Unicorns of Love all suffered defeat at the hands of supposedly inferior opposition, it may be time to question the strength of the top European teams as well.
The hierarchy of Europe was supposed to be crystal clear. On the back of their second-place finish at the Mid-Season Invitational, G2 eSports were expected to win their group once more and contend for a fourth consecutive EU LCS Championship.
Following the script and nipping at their heels would be the traditional powerhouse and fan favourite Fnatic, with the steadying force of team captain Martin “Rekkles” Larsson leading a team of promising young talent towards the top of the EU LCS.
With victory over G2 eSports, Fnatic were deemed to have made the next competitive step, ready to claim the mantle of the top team in Europe.
Similarly, last split’s runner-up the Unicorns of Love, looked to have once again reasserted themselves as a force that could not be ignored with a win over H2K Gaming.
Coupled with their strong finish to the last split, the victory over H2K appeared to have cemented their place as favourites to capture the top spot in their group.
The first couple weeks followed a largely predictable schedule of results. Many fans and analysts were quick to tout the strength of the teams at the top of Europe’s standings, not only as the clear “best of the west”, but also as possible contenders on an international level.
These assertions may have been thrown into doubt after a week of upsets cast a shadow over the EU LCS. Fnatic, recently crowned the new best team in Europe, fell to an underwhelming Team ROCCAT squad who had been struggling up until their series victory.
G2 set a new season high for losses with their second defeat of the split against a revamped Misfits roster. And finally, Unicorns of Love fell to a Splyce team that had failed to provide evidence they were better than a mid-tier team up until that point.
With all three of the European contenders falling in a week full of upsets, it is clear once again that Europe’s top teams have very exploitable weaknesses.
While the hype train entered the week full speed ahead, with notable momentum building behind Fnatic, the regions heavyweight teams’ may need to slam on the brakes to prevent ‘getting ahead of themselves’:
“After rewatching the games [vs Team ROCCAT], I could definitely tell that we were making a lot of strange decisions.”
“These things happen. As to why it happened, I think we got ahead of ourselves.”
Martin “Rekkles” Larsson
To a certain extent, it appears that each side suffered from complacency during Week 3 of the EU LCS. Fnatic’s drafting appeared predictable, over-reliant on Rekkles Kennen to bail the team out of a tight spot. G2 eSports team fighting appeared uncharacteristically uncoordinated, whilst after a strong Spring Split, UoL’s mid laner Fabian “Exileh” Schubert has failed to find any sort of consistency or rhythm for the boys in pink.
Fnatic, G2 eSports and Unicorns of Love remain to represent Europe at the forthcoming World Championship, though their respective shock defeats during Week 3 should serve as a humbling reminder that they cannot allow their game to slip, even for an instance.