The first day of the LEC Winter Split saw team reunions, exciting plays and new seasonal announcements.
With the LEC's electric start, the potential was skyhigh for these pro teams - and so were expectations. While celebrated names in the EMEA found high places on their tierlist, other groups that had disastrous performances in past scrims also got discussed during the day's pre-show "EUphoria" podcast.
European league matches will now take place from Saturday to Monday among other changes. With context to the current Patch 13.1 meta, win conditions can switch up for even the strongest of the LEC.
The event also came with important updates and announcements. K'Sante and Chemdrake got introduced, while Jax's kit received major updates. Rod of Ages comes back to Week 1, while Jungler Pets enter the Rift for their first pro-play game of the official EMEA splits. Besides that, the location for 2023's Season Finals was confirmed for Montpellier, France. Find outt the complete details here.
The main show began on an ecstatic (and quite nostalgic) note. When the time finally came, the 10 biggest LEC teams clashed for the first games of the season - and the first step of the LEC's journey to Worlds 2023.
Excel vs G2 Esports
The seeding matches began to the lively chants of hyped fans. With their old reliable jungler switched out, G2's Yike had big shoes to fill. Further, the stunning power players surrounding Excel's star ADC Patrik was also considerable.
With a quick Lucian-Nami ban, the game swung into action. Early game aggression by Yike and Mikyx broke past the silence, while most of G2 focused on Patrik's bot lane. Targamas' first blood was followed with a long pause before the new show continued.
Bloodbaths on both top and bottom lane rocked the show into the midgame. As a consequence, XL ended up having an enormous gold deficit after losing in multiple team clashes. Odoamne's K'Sante tried his best to pull the score back to a tie against BrokenBlade's Jax, to no avail. After the final disadvantaged teamfight on blue side, G2 earned enough kills to dominate Game 1.
- Teams: XL 0 – 1 G2
- Time: 24:15
- Kills: 11 – 18
- Turrets: 0 – 11
- Gold: 48.9k – 63.4k
- Dragons: 1 – 3
- Barons: 0 – 2
KOI vs Team BDS
Malrang's crazy Sejuani plays earned KOI the first kill of match 2. After that, the entire early game was a quiet back-and-forth that didn't see a real difference in score until BDS got a 2 dragon lead in midgame. From there, the stagnant killscore remained tied while KOI destroyed more turrets. The volatility between the two teams finally reached a head at minute 31 when BDS maintained a 2-kill advantage before stealing Baron. Despite this, KOI stacked all their small wins in a drawn-out game to break the enemy nexus.
- Teams: KOI 1 – 0 BDS
- Time: 36:26
- Kills: 10 – 9
- Turrets: 10 – 1
- Gold: 68.7k – 57.1k
- Dragons: 3 – 2
- Barons: 2 – 0
Astralis vs Heretics
Jankos and Evi graced the stage with their return to the spotlight as one of the the biggest names in the EMEA league stepped up to meet them.
An early game battle in the jungle showed Finn taking control with Fiora where he invaded top side and denied red buff. On top of that, 113's first blood on Viego let Astralis secure a small lead. Heretics was able to capture the first Rift Herald for an advantage, however they paid the price when they lost 2 kills to Astralis due to poor positioning. A considerable advantage in the mid game gave AST a constant teamfight advantage, which forced Heretics to change their playstyle - never engaging unless they had a massive numbers advantage.
TH carried this approach late into midgame and was finally able to catch up to the score. The game stayed close while Astralis constantly looked for smarter ways to curb Ruby's progress, but the Danish-owned team eventually eked out a win with dragon soul.
- Teams: AST 0 – 1 TH
- Time: 26:27
- Kills: 16 – 24
- Turrets: 4 – 8
- Gold: 64.0k – 69.8k
- Dragons: 1 – 4
- Barons: 1 – 1
MAD Lions vs SK Gaming
The 4th game of the Winter split stayed incredibly close until a 4v4 on top lane that saw MAD finally break past the tie. After winning the first Baron of the game, the match felt decided.
Better meta comp pick by MAD Lions had Carzzy and Hylissang go Lucian-Nami to establish early game control in bot lane.
The start of the game was slow, without anyone finding first blood past the first 5 minutes. Pressures mounted before an explosive 1-for-1 occurred in the 9-minute mark. This was later followed by a released Herald at SK's mid lane to help pick up the gold slack. All the while, Elyoya's stylish engagements as Wukong helped contest objectives and suppress the enemy botlaner.
Another teamfight led by Nisqy erupted in the midgame which resulted in another trade. This extremely tense river brawl showcased each side's power spikes well, leaving MAD and SK evenly matched. Finally, a late-game ace determined the winning team after a top lane skirmish. The winning team emerged as the 4th victor of the day.
- Teams: MAD 1 – 0 SK
- Time: 30:23
- Kills: 19 – 5
- Turrets: 9 – 2
- Gold: 54.8k – 40.9k
- Dragons: 2 – 1
- Barons: 1 – 0
Vitality vs Fnatic
The great return of Rekkles to his winning team in the LEC was the moment fans had been waiting for, and the match between the two majorly meta comps was won by a hair's breadth.
Bo's Graves struck first blood on the second minute while Rekkles' Varus was eager to return fire. Team skirmishes traded kills down midlane early game, but neither side kept their lead for long.
Ganks and 2v2's were constant occurrences as high-risk dives scattered members from both LEC teams. Either side had scrappy skirmishes that had fans going wild. Additionally, Razork's zone control over jungle put the pressure on the whole of Vitality as he secured both the first dragon and Herald for FNC.
Kaiser, Photon and Bo coming together to pump up their team's numbers on the killboard was like watching a well-oiled machine. When FNC's top lane was being pushed, they responded in kind by releasing Rift Herald onto Team Vitality's tier two botlane turret.
With 3 objective kills, Fnatic was in the lead. After a quick clash at top lane, they ventured towards Baron but dove back into the remaining stragglers by surprise midway. After a phenomenal soul point, the match felt decided. But as long as there was time, all bets were still off.
Wunder and Humanoid did their best to keep the enemy Ryze from sneaking past their defenses until the time came for the second baron. Vitality came in from blue side thru three directions. Split up, they were easily chased down to mid by the FNC, but Humanoid got burst down. From there, the Kindred was next to fall, and what seemed to be the final stretch for Team Fnatic fell apart. Wunder started being isolated before VIT managed to pull off a few more skirmishes. In an incredible display of resilience, they rushed bot lane and took care of what little resistance there was. Team Vitality destroyed the last nexus of Winter Split Day 1 in an absolute spectacle.
- Teams: VIT 1 – 0 FNC
- Time: 29:16
- Kills: 14 – 13
- Turrets: 7 – 6
- Gold: 63.0k – 63.3k
- Dragons: 0 – 4
- Barons: 0 – 2
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