This weekend we have the start of the first LEC playoffs (since the rebranding). The weekend starts with Fnatic versus Team Vitality in the first best-of-five of the year. The season ended in dramatic fashion with Vitality finishing in 5th place and being picked by Fnatic (as the 3rd place team). The series is set to start at 12:00 PM ET and hopefully will feature a five-game set to give us a taste of what is to come. Let's take an in-depth look at these teams.
Top Lane: Cabochard
Mid Lane: Jizuke
How they got here
Team Vitality started the first half of the split with a 7-2 record. This strong showing proved that Vitality was a team to be feared and that there was no reason for them not to be considered a top European team. However, the second half saw them go 3-6 and an even more lackluster 1-3 during the last two weeks of the regular season.
With their faltering towards seasons end, it feels as though Vitality might not be the second-best team like they had shown during the first few weeks.
However, it came as a shock to many that Fnatic decided to choose Vitality as their quarterfinals opponent. Team Vitality is seeking the upset to advance to the next round, but still, need to fix a lot of critical late-game mistakes to show that they deserve a spot in Rotterdam.
Vitality's playstyle is probably one of the hardest to describe. The best way to put it was mentioned by SK Dreams, in EUphoria, as the 'aggressive warriors'. Throughout 2018 Worlds, Vitality nearly proved the impossible by defeating the number one team of the LPL. In the LEC, Vitality has also shown success with this playstyle. The issue has been when teams react accordingly to the over aggression and punish accordingly. This was evident more so recently in the last two weeks of play.
Top Lane: Bwipo
Mid Lane: Nemesis
How they got here
Fnatic had one of their worst starts in team history. They started the first three weeks with a 1-5 record that slowly transitioned to 3-6 by the end of the split's first half. Fnatic seemed to be out of consideration after they dropped their second (official) game against SK. Fnatic then had the inverse Vitality and showed up with an 8-1 record in the second half. Their only loss came to SK, but even then, Fnatic looked like the best team in the league.
Fnatic finished in third place after beating Splyce and getting one spot above by having a 2-0 record over them.
By choosing Vitality, Fnatic may feel that they want to play against the more volatile match and show that they are the most dangerous in the LEC.
Fnatic struggled to find much of a style throughout the first weeks of play. This was evident as they attempted to play like they played when Caps was part of the team. The primary issue was that nemesis did not have the same capacity to defend himself against some of the EU's best mid laners.
Fnatic has a varied style that relies on getting advantages on the most reliable player, Rekkles. This is a style that Fnatic has used multiple times with the difference being that it is not as one dimensional as just playing through bot lane. During the last few weeks, we saw Fnatic have the chance to play through top and bot, while Nemesis also found his footing and has been the rock that is needed for this style to work.
Matchups to Watch
Cabochard vs. Bwipo
Cabochard comes into this matchup as the All-Pro Top Laner for the LEC. However, this should not give him too much confidence going into the match. The reason being Bwipo has shown multiple times that he is capable of playing against any of the top players in the league.
This matchup will be interesting because there is a good chance that Vitality tries to put Cabo ahead and split the map with the help of Jizuke and Mowgli. Broxah will be in charge of applying pressure elsewhere or helping Bwipo overcome the challenges of playing against the All-Pro top laner.
Rekkles vs. Attila
Rekkles was 3rd place in the All-Pro standings for ADC. This was beyond belief when it came to judging the Fnatic veteran at the beginning of the season. He has shown some incredible prowess and will be against Attila, one of the more aggressive and vocal players in the LEC. This lane will not be up to these two of course but where it is important to judge will be in the mid to late game fights that we see throughout the series. Due to recency and overall repertoire, most will give the edge to Rekkles. However, it is likely to see this matchup be a lot more even than anticipated.
Who do you think will take this match? Let us know via Twitter. Also, be on the lookout for more playoff previews coming soon.