We’re here to recap what happened in the last week of the EU LCS Spring Split and preview the upcoming playoffs, with tips on wagers you might like to place at online esports bookmakers (we like Bet365 eSports and Betway).
If you’re looking for our NA LCS preview coverage, it can be found here.
A week of upsets
H2K Gaming and Team Vitality entered week 9 as two of the big three teams. Their ability to adapt to the new meta, while providing excellent team coordination and fighting prowess, have allowed them to rise to the top this year.
H2K’s first game of the week was against Unicorns of Love. Considering Unicorns of Love’s struggles in the past two weeks (they went 0-2 against Origen and Elements in week 8), H2K came into this matchup as heavy favorites. H2K started out strong, building up a quick lead in the first 15 minutes of the game. However, Steeelback decided it was time to put the team on his back and carry them to victory.
Eighteen minutes into the game, Unicorns of Love found the team fight they were looking for, securing their first three kills of the game. H2K would come back though, taking the first Baron of the game and then pushing towards Unicorns of Love’s base. H2K wasn’t quite able to end the game though, intent on playing safely and waiting for the next Baron to spawn.
Unicorns of Love knew exactly what H2K was planning on doing, and they waited for H2K to fully engage Baron before showing their move. While H2K was able to secure the Baron kill, Unicorns of Love won the team fight. With that win, Unicorns of Love was able to push mid lane heavily, sieging the towers and ultimately winning the game.
While the loss was unexpected, Unicorns of Love has shown glimmers of dominance this split. In particular, Steeelback has really shown that he’s a top tier AD Carry. His skills were on full display in this game.
Perhaps even more astonishing than the H2K loss was Team Vitality also choking away a game to bottom-tier team ROCCAT. The game started out fast and chaotic, with Vitality pushing heavily into ROCCAT’s top side jungle at the very onset. ROCCAT was ready though, securing first blood.
Vitality played more conservatively after that, looking to find favorable team fights. Their superiority in team coordination showed at moments in this game, but ROCCAT would not be denied. They fought tooth and nail, finally pulling off the upset after a big team fight win 40 minutes into the game.
G2 and Elements display their resiliency
With H2K and Vitality struggling on day one, the door was left open for G2 to move up into sole possession of first place. G2’s momentum started last week with a huge win against Vitality, their first win against either H2K or Vitality this split.
In both of G2’s games this week against Splyce and Unicorns of Love, G2 struggled in the early game. Perhaps it was nerves, knowing they could secure a much needed bye week with two wins, or the desperation of Splyce (playing for the seventh spot and looking to avoid relegations) and Unicorns of Love (playing for seeding). Regardless, it took an all-out effort by G2 eSports to pull out two wins.
This wasn’t the same dominating G2 team that we saw in week 8. There were plenty of uncharacteristic mistakes in both of their games. But what we saw was a team that could fight back from an early deficit. It wasn’t the prettiest week for G2, but two wins are two wins. They now enter the playoffs with a round one bye.
In our last bit of news, both Elements and Splyce entered week 9 tied for seventh place. Because of Splyce’s head to head win in week 8 against Elements, if both teams were to lose in week 9 Splyce would be moving on. After Elements pulled off a huge upset win against Fnatic, it left Splyce scrambling for a win.
While there were plenty of upsets in week 9, Splyce couldn’t find one against G2 and Vitality. That left Elements in sole possession of seventh place and sends Splyce to the Promotional Tournament.
Now on to our playoff preview with our esports betting insight.
EU LCS Spring Playoff preview
With our playoff preview we’ll be taking a look at each team, providing our own analysis and rankings for how we feel each team will perform. Our ranking will be in descending order, with our perceived weakest team starting out first.
This year’s Spring Playoff has a true division between the top and bottom tier teams. H2K, Vitality, and G2 eSports make up the big three, dominating the European scene this year. Meanwhile Fnatic, Origen, and Unicorns of Love have struggled to consistently win this year.
When I look at Fnatic, I draw strong parallels between them and North America’s Team SoloMid. Both teams have traditionally been dominating forces in their regions since their inception. Both teams have a glorious past and the ability to recruit top prospects. However, both teams have fallen on tough times this year, reaching new all-time lows.
Fnatic perhaps reached their lowest last week, losing to Elements in a huge upset on day one and then losing to Origen on day two.
Following Fnatic’s success at IEM Katowice, many thought that the team had finally turned the corner. Playing as many games in one weekend as they had played all Spring Split gave them much-needed experience. Week 9 was a reminder that Fnatic still has the same weaknesses and inconsistencies that we’ve seen all year.
Noxiak’s replacement, Klaj, also underperformed last week on Soraka. That can’t happen in the playoffs or it’ll be a quick exit for Fnatic.
Fnatic has made their bed, now they must go and lay in it. With Origen winning both games in week 9 and Unicorns of Love taking down H2K, Fnatic now find themselves in the last playoff spot. That means they will face Team Vitality on day one of the playoffs.
Vitality won both games against Fnatic this split, and they’ll enter this matchup as the superior team. The pedigree is still there for Fnatic, but they’re just too inconsistent to realistically pick them in an upset over Vitality.
5. Unicorns of Love
One week, Unicorns of Love looks like a top tier team in the EU LCS, dominating their opponents. The next week, Unicorns of Love looks like a mid-tier team, struggling to find ways to win outside of Steeelback going off. That’s the life for Unicorns of Love fans.
Unicorns of Love are one of the most inconsistent teams we have in these playoffs. I could see them upsetting a few teams and making it all the way to the finals. I could also see them losing in spectacular fashion to Origen (their round one playoff opponent), not even making it out of the first round.
Unicorns of Love like to play in a chaotic fashion. When their gambles pay off, it looks amazing. When it doesn’t, we have games like we saw in week 7 when they went 0-2. It’s essentially how Unicorns of Love has won throughout their history though, taking risky plays and then hopefully being rewarded for it.
We like that Unicorns of Love is always looking for the team fight, but their inability to focus on map pressure and objectives can be a huge hindrance. Furthermore, they heavily rely on Steeelback to win their matches. That means every team knows Unicorns of Love’s one win condition, and the top teams should be able to exploit that.
For most of this split, Origen has experimented with PowerOfEvil in the mid lane. There were flashes of success, but mostly Origen couldn’t string together enough wins to be in a position they’re used to. That resulted in the return of xPeke in week 8 and again in week 9.
While it’d be unsubstantiated to say xPeke is the direct result of Origen going 4-0 in the past two weeks, the results can’t be argued with. Mentally the team has been rejuvenated, playing with a sense of purpose now. xPeke is starting to get back into the swing of things, and the team has seemed to solve their communication and synergy problems.
With xPeke back, the question now lingers, what is Origen’s ceiling? We’ve only had a small sample size, but so far the results have shown a much improved team. They beat Unicorns of Love in week 8 with xPeke back, and I feel they have the edge in a best of three series against them.
3. G2 eSports
What?! Putting the top team with a first round bye in the third spot? Yup, we just did.
G2 has finished the split strong, but by no means are they blowing teams out. As noted earlier, G2 fell behind early in both games during week 9. While their competition couldn’t capitalize and carry those early leads to victories, it’s only a matter of time before a team of the same quality does.
G2’s greatest strength has been their ability to win the majority of their team fights and skirmishes. It’s why they’re 15-3 this Spring Split. But I want to focus on those three losses. G2 is 1-3 against H2K and Vitality, and that is somewhat worrisome.
H2K and Vitality have the ability to win the team fights G2 has predominantly won this split, and they’ve shown they can. G2 won’t be able to snowball the early game like they’ve done against lesser competition.
We still think G2 is a great team, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they make it to the finals and win. We’re just not ready to jump on the hype train because of two weeks of play and a number one seed.
2. Team Vitality
We’re going to start this by acknowledging that Vitality lost to ROCCAT last week. In fact, Vitality is 0-2 against ROCCAT this split, losing all the way back in week one as well. Despite those two unexplained losses, Vitality still finished the split 13-5. An added bonus, Vitality won’t have to play ROCCAT in the playoffs.
Before IEM, Vitality looked like the top team in the European LCS. A loss to ROCCAT and G2 in the last two weeks has changed perceptions. They’re still a dominant team with a great macro game, they’ve just been slow to adjust to the meta.
Furthermore, Team Vitality has the players to win in the playoffs. Cabochard is one of the premier top laners this split, posting the highest KDA (5.7) for his position. HJarnan has also been one of the more consistent AD Carry’s this Spring Split, posting a 6.4 KDA, top 6 in the EU LCS. He’s paired greatly with kaSing, who has a top 10 KDA (5.7) and Kill Participation (77.4 percent).
Can Vitality put it all together and succeed in the playoffs? They missed out on a first round bye, but they’re still in prime position to win it all.
1. H2K Gaming
H2K has played phenomenally this split, earning a well-deserved first round bye. They’re 14-4 this split, without a bad loss (a bad loss constituting losing to a bottom-tier team or being blown out).
H2K has shown they can create multiple win conditions. They can thrive in chaos or play the conservative, drawn-out game. They know how to defend and control map objectives as effectively as any team in the EU LCS.
Statistically, H2K is also one of the top teams in their region. FORG1VEN, Vander, and Ryu are currently second, third, and fourth in KDA, respectively (Jankos is also in the top 10). Jankos and Vander are also in the top 5 for Kill Participation this split.
H2K has a great chance here to capitalize on all of the success they’ve accrued during the Spring Split and to have a deep playoff run. They won’t have to play in the first round, and they won’t play G2 until potentially the finals. In a best of five series, we really like H2K. It’s the reason we’re predicting H2K to finish on top and take the Spring Split crown before MSI.
And as a reminder, if you are planning to get in on any of this action, you can always consult our odds tracker for esports betting to get up to date odds from a variety of eSports betting sites.