2020 LEC Summer Split Playoffs: Top 6 Narratives to Follow
The 2020 LEC Summer Split playoffs are about to begin, and there’s a slew of reasons to get excited. Watching the LEC is always highly entertaining, and the three Best of 5s that are scheduled for this week should be no different. Let’s focus on the most important 2020 LEC Summer Split playoffs narratives you should keep an eye on going forward.
2020 has given us more twists than you can shake a stick at, and most of them seemingly came out of nowhere. The sheer fact that G2 Esports and Fnatic are no longer at the top of the standings is a shock in and of itself, but it’s been a long time. While it’s still too early to know for sure, we might be witnessing a passing of the guard; needless to say, it’s quite exciting to behold, especially after so many years of seeing the two kings of Europe reign supreme.
Finally, there’s been a lot of talk about the current meta, and one thing is certain: no one’s quite sure what’s the best and most optimal way to play the game at this point. Most teams are still learning as they go, and that’s surprising. Everyone, however, tends to agree on one thing: you have to focus on Dragon soul. There’s just no alternative. You prioritize early Drakes, or you scale into the late game and start fighting around the time the third Drake spawns. But this kind of set-up doesn’t favor everyone. Most teams are still trying to bend the meta to their playstyle slightly.
This means we might see a couple of slightly different playstyles once the playoffs begin. They won’t be vastly different, but these nuances matter immensely at this level of play. Either way, we cannot wait for the six best European teams to step foot on the Summoner’s Rift and compete for regional glory and represent their region at the upcoming World Championship in China.
Rogue — A Flash in the Pan?
If you didn’t watch a single game of the Summer Split, you’d probably be mighty confused to see Rogue ranked as the number one team. And, frankly, that’s not all — they’ve locked a ticket to Worlds as well. Rogue is quite a dangerous challenger, but they’re not the team that comes to mind when someone says “regional dominance” or “LEC giant.” Instead, they’ve been a fairly strong, well-rounded contender throughout the last two years—nothing more, nothing less.
Even though they had incredible flashes of brilliance, they were too few and far between to warrant a spot at the top. Combine that with many inherent flaws and their tendency to throw games at Baron, and you get a team that’s worthy of a playoff spot, but not much else.
This time around, however, they’re trying to re-write everyone’s expectations.
And, fortunately for Rogue, they’re equipped for the monumental task at hand. There’s no weak link on their line-up, and while their players might not be the absolute best performers in their respective roles, they’re still stronger than the sum of their parts.
Right now, everyone’s wondering one important thing: is Rogue the real deal? This isn’t the first time they’ve performed above expectations, nor is it the first time they’ve entered the playoffs with a ton of hype — Summer of 2019 also comes to mind. And sure, they’ve clinched first place thanks to a fairly dominant regular season run, but G2 and Fnatic underperformed in more ways than one. The top of the region was ripe for the taking, and Rogue managed to capitalize at the right moment.
They’ve earned our trust, but the road ahead is by no means less treacherous. This moment matters most. This time, they can write a page in the LEC history book. The pressure is mounting, and with a seasoned opponent like Fnatic lined up for Sunday, Rogue will have their hands full in a Best of 5 that’s bound to deliver.
Fnatic — Do or Die
Speaking of the boys in black and orange, no one’s quite sure whether we’re witnessing a repeat of 2016, or if this is just Fnatic’s patented and well-documented dip in performance — an occurrence we’ve all become accustomed to. Fnatic often goes from abysmal to mind-blowing in just a couple of days, and when the playoffs come around, that’s especially true. There’s just something about Best of 5s that brings out the very best Fnatic has to offer. That’s when their experience and sheer talent shine brightest.
Naturally, even though they haven’t been all that impressive throughout the second half of 2020, no one’s still counting them out, and with good reason. Their highs weren’t as noticeable this year, and their lows were far worse than we expected. Individual members on the team looked so bad at times that many wondered whether Fnatic would be able to even remain in the Top 6 — they were that bad and out of sync.
Fnatic needs to be on their best behavior. If they lose to Rogue they could still bounce back in the lower half of the bracket, but there are no easy wins in the LEC this time. They’ll have to fight tooth and nail regardless of the opponent. Fortunately, this isn’t the first time their backs were against the wall, so hopefully, we’ll see a bit of vintage Fnatic come Sunday.
G2 Esports — The Kings
Watching G2’s inconsistent run throughout 2020 has been quite entertaining, making them of the top 2020 LEC Summer Split playoffs narratives to follow. They often fumble and fail in the most baffling of ways, and then — once things go down to the wire — they always manage to pull off the impossible and remind everyone why they’re universally deemed as one of the best teams in existence.
If G2 steps up — like they always do — and win it all in one-sided fashion, no one should be overly surprised. After all, this has happened on so many occasions throughout the past, that it’s sort of expected this time around as well. G2 and the LEC throne go hand-in-hand and seeing how they’re still the most stacked and dangerous team Europe ever fostered. There’s no reason for doubt.
Their road to the finals, however, is by no means easy. They first have to go through MAD Lions, which upset them last split at the same point in the playoffs. Will we see a bit of déjà vu, or will G2 learn from their mistakes, double down on their strengths, and let everyone know that the next breed of LEC talent still has to wait longer before taking over?
Saturday can’t come soon enough.
SK Gaming — Still Undervalued
No one seems to be praising SK Gaming much, and it’s easy to understand why. The organization failed to accomplish much ever since it re-joined the LEC, but this team has all the hallmarks of the perennial mid-tier gatekeeper.
That said, SK deserves a lot more respect for what they could accomplish in the span of just a single split. They don’t have any mind-blowing hard-carries or players you’ll recognize from a mile away, and yet they found success all the same. They’ve been playing such good League of Legends that it took everyone by surprise, and they accomplished such a thing through a meager roster shuffle — and the signing of a seasoned head coach.
With a 9W-9L regular season record, they’re tied with Fnatic and are only slightly worse than G2 Esports. That’s quite good company. You’ll probably agree. They’re up against Schalke 04 next, and even if they end up losing, they’ve still earned a better narrative coming into 2021. They’re no longer a bottom-tier dweller. We need to adapt our perception accordingly.
The sheer fact that they’ve accomplished such a thing in a region as stacked as Europe is a feat worthy of the highest praise.
Schalke 04 — Will the Run Continue?
Schalke’s miracle run is a well-known thing by now, but their journey is by no means over. Reaching the playoffs was a dream, but by no means was it the end goal. Schalke wants most to go to Worlds, and that’ll be an even tougher challenge than the one they’ve faced recently. Still, everyone doubted them back when they only had a single win on the board, and yet here they are, ranked in the Top 6, and considered to be one of the most dangerous and aggressive teams the LEC has to offer.
That’s quite a big compliment because they’re playing in the same region as G2 Esports, Fnatic, MAD Lions, and Rogue. Like SK Gaming — the team they’re slated to face in the first round of the playoffs — they’ve already gotten more wins on the board than anyone expected coming into 2020. They don’t have anything left to prove, and anything they accomplish beyond this point would only serve as icing on the cake.
MAD Lions — In Dire Need of Momentum
The fact that MAD Lions regressed performance-wise at the very end of the split has a lot of people worried and good. It’s impossible not to wonder: what if MAD isn’t all that good in a meta that’s more rigid than they’d like? A meta in which they have to pick standard champions and go for standard team comps?
If true, that’s quite a big problem, and it could end up hindering their chances of finding success in the playoffs. Granted, they’re still one of the best teams in Europe and are a shoo-in for Worlds, but the road towards that point doesn’t seem as easy as it once did — mere weeks ago. Watching MAD Lions compete will be an absolute must, but not just for the reasons you’d expect. They need to adapt and prove their worth yet again, but this time around without their pocket picks. They’re 1W-3L in their last four games. Needless to say, they’re not entering the playoffs with much momentum.
Hopefully, this was just a small blemish in an otherwise incredible season.