Coming into last split, H2K Gaming had an impressive streak going. In four EU LCS splits, H2K had made four semifinals, cementing itself as a top four team ever since arriving from the Challenger Series in Spring 2015.
Last split, the unthinkable happened. Sure, H2K faltered a bit in the regular season, finishing in second place in Group B with a still-impressive 10-3 record. But for the first time in EU LCS history, H2K was knocked out of the playoffs before the semifinal round, thanks to a shocking sweep at the hands of Fnatic in the quarterfinals.
A defeat like that could be enough to shake any team’s confidence, but there’s plenty of reason forH2K to keep the faith. All five starters return, including the top-side duo that has been crucial to H2K’s success for many splits — Odoamne and Jankos. The team will also be hoping for an improved performance out of former Fnatic mid laner Febiven, back with H2K for the first time since helping the team get promoted from Challenger more than two years ago.
But the key to H2K’s success might be the continued improvement of the bottom lane, where both starters arrived before the start of the Spring Split. Nuclear ranked seventh among EU LCS AD Carries in kill participation, fifth in CSD @ 10 minutes and fourth in damage per minute. Like most AD Carries last split, he played mostly utility bottom laners, with the most success on Varus (9-1) and a total of 25 of his 33 games were spent on Varus, Ashe or Jhin. Chei led all EU LCS supports in assists and damage-per-minute, as he strongly favored the likes of Zyra and Malzahar last split.
The only team to perform better than H2K in Group B last split was UOL, who finished runners-up to G2 in the final. UOL returns all five starters, and the other three teams in Group B each have their own reasons to hope. Splyce breaks in a new head coach who just won a title in Brazil, Vitality hopes an improved bottom lane and a new coach of its own can mean a playoff run, and the Mysterious Monkeys are using a familiar roster that just won promotion from Challenger.
No matter what H2K’s season looks like, it’s probably not going to be easy. But it’ll start Thursday, kicking off the EU LCS season with a best-of-three against Splyce, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. ET. H2K has two series in the first week of the season, playing the Mysterious Monkeys Saturday at 11 a.m. ET. A 2-0 week would go a long way towards a successful year.