Predictions for EU LCS Playoff Brackets and Results
Posted: Mar 16 2016
With just one regular week left in the split, it's time to start making some predictions for how the end of the split is going to play out, and which teams will surge or tank under the pressure of a playoff series. However, in typical Godmode fashion, we're going to make some potentially unpopular/unconventional predictions, not for the sake of being controversial, but to dispel a lot of the myths and fallacies surrounding the LCS.
Let's start with the EU LCS. There are three clear top-tier teams in H2K, G2, and Vitality that will be hard to predict against in any playoff series facing a lower team. The potential dark horses would be Fnatic and Origen, who have both looked quite inconsistent but are both still teams with a veteran presence that find a way to win.
In the case of Origen, a lot of their success will depend on the potential return of owner and veteran mid-laner xPeke. Nobody is certain if xPeke plans to play in the playoffs over his newly-signed replacement Powerofevil, but his presence and experience does elevate Origen into a spoiler-pick if he continues to start. Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of teams they may have to face. Let's first predict how the EU season will end:
Predicted final Spring Split Standings:
1) G2 Esports (15-3)
2) H2K (15-3)
3) Team Vitality (14-4)
4) Fnatic (11-7)
5) Origen (10-8)
6) Unicorns of Love (9-9)
7) Elements (5-13)
8) Splyce (5-13)
9) Roccat (3-15)
10) Giants (2-16)
The top three teams look fairly locked in at this point. Unicorns have a chance of playing spoiler, facing against both G2 and H2K this week, a daunting task had they not already secured their playoff spot. Vitality having seemingly easy wins against Splyce and Roccat could shake up the standings if Unicorns get a win against either top team, but they just haven't looked very good with Loulex, and thus we predict all 3 top teams to win out in Week 9.
The 4th and 5th seed are in an interesting spot, particularly because those two seeds will play each other in the first round. As mentioned previously, Unicorns have an impossible schedule, and will likely leave Origen and Fnatic to batle for 4th/5th with easy wins on Thursday against Elements and Giants respectively. Since the two rivals then play each other on Friday, we'll be watching a battle for blue-side for the first round of playoffs. Our conclusion is simple, if xPeke plays, Origen wins and secures the 4th spot. If not, Fnatic takes 4th and thus secures 3 blue-side games.
These standings will result in a first round bye for both G2 and H2K, leading us to the playoff brackets below:
On first glance, people will probably call us crazy for having Fnatic make it so far, but let's pump the brakes and break down the matchups and recent history. Fnatic have been looking better since their trip to Katowice to compete at IEM. They are still getting wildly inconsistent performances from their two new Korean imports, Spirit and Gamsu, and on top of that, their new Swedish support, Klaj, looked extremely nervous and shaky under the high-pressure environment of IEM.
Quarter-final: Fnatic vs. Origen
Looking at Origen, Fnatic's all-but-guaranteed Quarter-final opponent, they have similar issues with their top laner and jungler. Amazing has never quite looked the same as he did in Season 5 Summer, and sOAZ has never quite looked so bad. The majority of their issues seem to be that Amazing, their veteran German jungler, has no synergy with sOAZ, often being across the map while sOAZ is being ganked. On top of that, Amazing doesn't seem to have much better synergy with Powerofevil. It's no wonder Season 6 has been a disappointing one for Amazing, with him being on totally different pages with both his solo-laners.
We're assuming xPeke will not play this series, and Origen's woes will continue to haunt them, losing a close series 2-3 to the reigning EU champions, simply because even at their lowest points, Fnatic's individual players are much more stable and able to recover from bad games. That could be a testament to their coach, Deilor, and support staff, something notably lacking from Origen's side of things.
Quarter-final: Vitality vs. Unicorns of Love
Not to much to say about this matchup. Vitality are overall a stronger team in each role and as a team. Unicorns are fielding Loulex who appears to be struggling to adapt to the team with such little time to build synergy. I have the Unicorns winning game 1 due to some jitters on Vitality's part, and some luck from the Unicorns.
Semi-final: Fnatic vs. G2 Esports
Moving on to the Semi-finals, Fnatic will then find themselves playing G2 Esports, a truly exciting new team lead by infamous owner and former SK mid-laner Ocelote. G2 were perhaps the most impressive team for the majority of the year, particularly due to the performances of their mid-laner Perkz and jungler Trick. While the team is stacked with talent, the key to beating G2 appears to be to avoid letting them get an early advantage around their playmakers (Hybrid, Trick, and Perkz).
The reason why Fnatic will be able to match up against G2, despite almost losing to them twice this year, is that G2 plays very well around Perkz in the mid lane, which also happens to be Fnatic's strength currently with Febiven being their most consistent player. While not having quite as tremendous a year as he did last season, Febiven has been able to go toe-to-toe with every LCS mid, and should be able to control mid lane enough not to allow G2 to get Perkz fed early on in the game.
Additionally, G2 have been somewhat 1-dimensional in their strategy which is definitely exploitable in a long series. We haven't yet seen G2's ability to adapt in a series, and their progression over the split has been relatively minor. Granted, when you win the majority of your games, you won't need to change too many things, but it's often safe to err on the side of experience and veteran status in a difficult series. Fnatic are very good at stalling the game long enough for Rekkles to get over his early game woes and get the items he needs to carry. If Fnatic avoid giving G2 too big of an early lead and can surprise them with a pick or two, they should be able to make it back to the Grand Finals.
Semi-final: Team Vitality vs. H2K
In what will probably be the best series of the playoffs, Team Vitality are looking to make big waves in their first LCS split as a team over favored H2K. This series features indisputably the two premier top-laners in the EU LCS currently, with H2K's Odoamne vs. Vitality's Cabochard. Unfortunately for Team Vitality, however, is that behind Odoamne sits Jankos, who is probably the best jungler in EU, and an absolute force in the early game.
H2K plays a very controlled and tactical game, focusing on objective control first and foremost. We don't expect Vitality to be able to push them out of their comfort zone too much, primarily because they don't have enough of an advantage in the bottom lane against the always aggressive Forg1ven, or in the mid-lane where Nukeduck and Ryu match up about evenly. It seems entirely up to Cabochard, who is our Spring Split MVP, to put a wrench in H2K's well laid plans, but we doubt it will be enough to overcome H2K's crisp, clean play.
Grand Final: Fnatic vs. H2K
Unfortunately, if the playoffs do indeed play out this way, I expect we'll have a rather dull Grand Final. Even with recent improvements, it would stand to reason that Fnatic's apparent communication issues and tendency to want to stall games for scaling will be too much of an obstacle against a team of H2K's skill and experience.
Unlike G2, H2K's strengths are mostly in their sidelanes and in jungle pressure, which is the worst possible matchup for the defending champs. Febiven won't be able to stop Forg1ven and Vander from punishing the passive, and quite frankly inferior bot-lane. Additionally, H2K play much better around their top-laner than Fnatic, who essentially tell Gamsu to play a tank and be useful about 25 minutes into the game.
While the games may not be blow-outs, we don't see Fnatic being able to take a game off H2K, who are too good at punishing passivity and snowballing a lead.
3rd Place Match: Team Vitality vs. G2 Esports
An important series for championship points, the battle for third in EU should also be an entertaining contest, and a repeat of a recently well played, nail-biter of a game. The primary force in this series, however, I believe will be the team's mentality and preparation. After losing to H2K, a team many regard as the overall best EU team, Vitality won't be too down on themselves for their performance, and instead look towards the next split to continue their improvement.
G2, however, losing quite easily to Fnatic, a team that struggled most of the year may have their mentality very negatively affected, despite being a new team. G2 seem to play with so much confidence and bravado that losing to a lesser opponent may just set the team off on the wrong foot coming into the series.
The premier advantage Vitality will be able to exploit is in the top lane, where Cabochard will likely have his way with Kikis, a recent transplant to top from jungle. Additionally, like Febiven, Nukeduck's prowess will be able to keep Perkz in check for the most part. I could see Vitality dropping game 3 with some oddball picks.
As always, thanks for reading, and look for our NA LCS playoff predictions later this week!