98% of the world thought it would be impossible for Europe’s second seed, Misfits, to challenge the might of three-time World Champions SK Telecom T1.
But as the curtain falls on one of the most exciting series ever to have played out on a World Championship stage, EU LCS fans and Misfits will look back on a five-game thriller that so nearly made history.
Unafraid and unwavering in the belief in their own abilities, Misfits made SK Telecom T1 sweat for their place in the semi-finals, coming so close to eliminating the LCK powerhouse and cementing themselves as legends.
Misfits’ self-belief was undoubtedly the source of their power. Tracing back through years of matchups against the perceived-to-be-superior South Korean opposition, Western League of Legends continued to back the same mistake time and time: trying to beat Koreans at the own game.
But not Misfits. After being stomped across the rift in the opening game of the series, Misfits chose a different path to every EU and NA team before them, shunning the meta and innovating with their own tailored strategy.
Misfits’ support, Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun, was the star player in this revolutionary approach. At a World Championship in which ardent censer has been so heavily prioritised for supports, IgNar opted to unveil, first Blitzcank, then a fervor of battle empowered Leona to terrorise SK Telecom T1.
The Koreans were caught shell-shocked, as innovative drafts and item builds appeared across the map on the side of Misfits.
Finding new ways to incorporate ardent censor into their draft – primarily through Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage’s flex picks in the mid lane and Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian’s unexpected Ivern in the jungle – Misfits brought a whole host of playmaking potential to the table.
It was a style of play the likes of which SK Telecom T1 had no answer. Misfits had chosen not to conform to the standard metagame, taking SKT out of their comfort zone and into theirs.
PowerOfEvil was even able to notch another victory with his patented ‘Orianna Nashors Tooth‘ build…
Grabbing and stabbing their way to victory in Games 2 and 3, Misfits, despite all the odds, held match point against SK Telecom T1 as the two teams loaded onto the rift for their fourth battle of the day.
This was the first time any Western team had taken SKT to match point at a World Championship, Misfits had already accomplished more than any European or North American team before them.
Drafting yet another innovative composition, with standout rookie AD carry of the tournament, Steven “Hans sama” Liv, on Sivir, Misfits looked to close out the series and write their names in the history books.
Europe’s second seed came so close, but ultimately they had awoken the ‘unkillable demon king’ that lurks inside of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.
One disastrous teamfight inside of SKT’s base was all it took for Faker to make his mark and find the comeback his team so desperately needed in Game 4.
In yet another game of fine margins, SKT finally doused the Misfits fire after a critical Elder Dragon steal and a five-man ace to close out Game 5.
Though Misfits could not deliver the ultimate upset and fell SK Telecom T1, the boldness of their play and the diversity of the playstyle will live long in the memory of every League of Legends eSports fan.
Not bending to the will of their Korean opposition and coming within inches of securing a semi-final spot, Misfits bow out of the World Championships having proven one important truth: as far as Europe is concerned, the gap IS closing.