It’s not often that four good teams who all have a chance to win come into a gauntlet, but that’s exactly how we are going to close out the 2017 in the EU LCS.
After Misfits ran through their own gauntlet with their improbable trip through Playoffs, some of Europe’s best talent was left stunned, and forced to pick up the pieces and get ready for the Play-In. Now there are compelling cases to be made for any of the four teams still trying to make it to worlds.
While Splyce may have lost in the first round of the playoffs, they looked as good as any team that wasn’t in the finals in their five games against G2. Meanwhile, Fnatic and H2K disappointed in the semifinals, but made up for it with a strong showings in the third place match. Unicorns of Love have really only had one bad series, their quarterfinal match up against Misfits, but have other wise been one of 2017’s most consistent EU LCS teams.
With so much talent on display in every match, the EU LCS Worlds Play-In gauntlet should be one of the best weekends of the entire year for European fans.
Like the name suggests, the Play-In will have a gauntlet style format with the highest seeded team, Fnatic, starting in the finals, the second highest seed, Unicorns of Love, starting in the semifinals, and the two lowest seeded teams starting in the quarters. This forces teams to compete against progressively higher seeded opponents leading up to Fnatic who earned the most Championship Points during the regular season, meaning they only need to win one series to qualify for Worlds.
It may seem strange to say this about a team that was eliminated in the quarterfinals, but Splyce had one of the best playoffs of any team in Europe. After a fairly disappointing season in which the team barely qualified for the playoffs to begin with, Splyce managed to take eventual champions, G2 Esports to five games in their quarterfinal series, even dragging the last game to the 52 minute mark before being narrowly defeated. These two defeats were the only G2 suffered the entire tournament, giving Splyce plenty of reason to hold their heads high coming into the Play-In gauntlet.
H2K may have automatically qualified for the semifinals during the Summer Split playoffs, but that didn’t mean they had an easy road to travel. In their first match, they were faced with G2 Esports and were met with a quick 3-0 sweep from a team that finally looked to be back to normal after almost four months of slumping, and in the third place match, H2K was forced to go up against Fnatic, a spectacular team and the best throughout the Summer Split’s group stage. While they ultimately didn’t make much of their time in Playoffs, H2K will likely enter the gauntlet more motivated and prepared to succeed, and at least to start with, have to play some slightly easier opponents.
Most of Europe was more than a little surprised when Unicorns of Love were blown out of the water by Misfits in their quarterfinal series. The Unicorns are a roster that has played together all year and seen a fairly high degree of success pushing past almost any opponent and only struggling to beat some of the best teams in the league. So, being the team that kicked off Misfits amazing run through the EU LCS playoffs was not only a shock, but likely a wake up call to the Unicorns that it was time to get back to their winning ways now that the gauntlet has come around.
Fnatic weren’t supposed to be here. Far and away the best team during the Summer Split, it was always seemed like their Finals to lose. At least, until Misfits came along and breezed by Fnatic with only a momentary slip, making the whole series look easy. But Fnatic are more than capable of bouncing back and they’ll need to if they want to recover from their disappointing playoffs and win the one series that stands between them and Worlds.
Friday, September 8
H2K vs Splyce, 3-0
Saturday, September 9
Unicorns of Love vs H2K, 3-2
Sunday, September 10
Fnatic vs H2K, 3-0