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Excel Esports toppled SK Gaming in a one-sided match that moved them to 9-8 in the standings and earned the organization its first-ever playoffs qualification in the League of Legends European Championship on Saturday. After three years, and roughly 1142 days, Excel will seed into the LEC postseason and have a shot at a domestic title.

For years, it seemed like nothing could break Excel’s playoffs curse. Despite coming close multiple times, the organization has never once ended an LEC season in sixth place or above, even across multiple roster iterations.

Despite past failures, however, this achievement was anything but a fluke for the London-based organization. Excel has been slowly working towards a winning formula for years. In 2019, six-time champion head coach Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool was brought on to set the organization on a winning course. Over the years, the org has tested multiple different roster mixes and committed to players like mid laner Erlend “nukeduck” Våtevik Holm and bot laner Patrik “Patrik” Jírů for the long-haul.

“We made it and can confidently say we deserved it after a very clean game,” said YoungBuck on Twitter. “GG WP to SK Gaming and let’s see if we can do damage in playoffs.”

On Jan. 25, Excel signed four-time LEC champion and 2019 Mid-Season Invitational winner Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle, formerly of G2 Esports, in the support role for a two-year contract. Since joining the team, Mikyx has been one of the anchors of this squad, and added a new layer of strategic experience and playmaking to Excel’s play. 

This season wasn’t the story of whether or not Excel can catch up and earn wins in time for playoffs. Excel has consistently hovered around the middle of the standings and made their case as a legitimate playoff-level team, and a big part of that was the pickup of Mikyx this season. The biggest question for Excel was whether or not they’d maintain consistency and not bottom out near the end of the split. 

Excel still have one more game this weekend against Fnatic on Sunday at approximately 2 p.m. ET.

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