Round one of LEC playoffs kicks off this weekend with Splyce and Rogue battling it out on Friday, August 23, and Schalke 04 and Team Vitality squaring off on Saturday, August 25. All four of these teams faced some degree of struggle throughout various points in the split, but there's no doubt that Splyce and Schalke are heavily favored to advance.
Rogue's turnaround from their last place finish in the Spring Split to enter playoffs in Summer as the fifth seed is the most admirable and wholesome story of the LEC's inaugural year. Simply making it there is an achievement in itself, but their path to victory couldn't be more difficult.
Splyce, the once-forgotten middle child of the LEC, finally got their time in the spotlight this split. Not only have they remained a strong team throughout the duration of Summer, but their jungle/mid duo, Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir and Marek "Humanoid" Brázda, have been having career-defining splits. Over the course of the season Splyce have refined their late game style, and only recently saw a dip in performance near the end of the split.
Splyce has a veteran lineup of pros hungry to return to the international stage up against a mostly-green Rogue squad. If there truly is a Worlds seed with Splyce's name on it as they've teased the past nine weeks, they'll prove it by smashing Rogue.
Schalke vs. Vitality are always so exciting almost exclusively because of the mini-rivalry between Amadeu "Attila" Carvalho and Elias "Upset" Lipp that seemed to start with this clip from spring.
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After taking down a struggling Vitality in the Summer Split, Upset was even quick to respond to Atilla's taunts with some choice words of his own.
On Saturday, they'll have the chance to knock each other out of playoffs, but it'll be Upset walking away with the last laugh. He's been on fire this split, makes up one of the most consistent bot lanes in the league with his duo Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun.
The rest of Schalke's strengths can be easily summed up in a few words: Kim "Trick" Gang-yun is insane. His addition to that roster may have been one of the most valuable pickups of the entire split. Felix "Abbedagge" Braun, who'd under-performed heavily in Spring, even credited his upswing to Trick's guidance; they now form one of the most solid jungle/mid duo's in the LEC.
Vitality have showed signs of life after there terrible start, but they've also had to play two games against troll Garen picks, so it's hard to say that they're completely out of the woods. Hell, they even ended up actually losing one of those Garen games up against Fnatic. While they're still trying to figure out how to play their style, the other playoff teams have been refining theirs. With powerhouses like Fnatic and G2 Esports waiting in the wings, only teams who are able to adapt and play up to the level of their opponents will survive.
Splyce face off against Rogue on Friday, August 23 at 9 a.m. PDT, and Schalke 04 play Vitality on Saturday, August 24, at 8 a.m. PDT.