We are officially into the final game week of the round robin stage of LEC Summer, and there are still a lot of spots to be resolved. While there’s a logjam at the top where four teams are tied in second place, we’ll focus on Saturday’s matches involving the teams who are tied in sixth heading into this weekend – Astralis, and Excel. These two teams will play each other on Sunday, but it is Saturday’s fixtures that will dictate how they’re placed by then.
MAD Lions vs Astralis
Predictions: MAD Lions to win
LoL Odds: 1.37
Betting Site: Odds provided by GG.Bet
When: Saturday, August 13 – 18:00 CEST
As things stand, Astralis are among three teams – Excel and Fnatic being the others – who need to win at least 2 of their 3 fixtures this weekend to still be in the conversation for the playoffs. Astralis have the permutational advantage of facing both their direct competitors on such a weekend, with Fnatic on Friday, and Excel on Sunday. Fnatic have beaten them in week 3, remember, so the significance of this game against MAD Lions will not be lost on them.
Simply put, Astralis have to defy their underdog status and clinch a win against the table-toppers, who wobbled last week in losses to Rogue and Misfits Gaming, but still have no real existential issues to deal with when it comes to playoff qualifications. Astralis had better returns in week 7, coming in clutch against Team Vitality to place where they are in the tabe at the moment. Once again, what stood out for Astralis was their macro, executed in all its glory by the very experienced players on their roster.
Now, generally, we’d count on experience in high-stakes weekends like this, but on overall ability and form through this summer, it looks unlikely that Astralis could pull off a win against MAD Lions, whom we expect to be back to type this week. The obvious mismatch we spot is that Astralis’ defense could be vulnerable to a hard-hitting team like MAD Lions, whose average match duration this season has been 31:56 to go with 13 kills per game on average; they’ve also won 72% of the games in which they’re ahead at the 15-minute mark, and with Astralis’ focus on method rather than madness (highest avg. game duration in the league at 34:52) we fear they could be vulnerable early on. If it gets to the point where Astralis have to play catch-up, this game could be all but done.
SK Gaming vs Excel
Predictions: Excel to win
Esports Odds: 1.64
Betting Site: Odds provided by GG.Bet
When: Saturday, August 13 – 19:00 CEST
The bookmakers have Excel listed as favorites for this one, and there are two things to remember before you process that. Firstly, no team in the league is in bad form like Excel is in bad form at the moment; they come into this fixture with a four-match losing streak. And secondly, Excel – and anyone who follows the LEC, really – learnt in week 4 that one calls SK Gaming underdogs at their own peril.
Excel are already operating from a place where they have far too much to lose, with SK Gaming’s situation quite the opposite – it’s all or nothing for them from here on, with even one loss potentially ending their season. As mentioned earlier, Excel need at least 2 wins this weekend, and having looked at the fixtures, they’ll have marked this game out as the one that they simply cannot lose, considering that they could be felled by Rogue on Friday before they even get to this game.
It has been a pretty significant fall for Excel over the last four weeks, with just two wins from eight games, a record that has seen them tumble into the mid-table muddle. Their gold differential per minute at the moment – 37 – still has them in the top five in the league, and on gold differential at the 15-minute mark, they’re in the top four (289). Really, any way you look at the numbers, they continue to rank among some of the best teams in the league.
What that really tells us is that this isn’t a team struggling for ability; it’s just a very good team that has found ways to lose. They’ve won 77% of the games in which they’ve led at the 15-minute mark, have a first tower metric of 73.3%, and a decent damage per minute metric of 2085. Will they be able to bring it all together on Saturday? We’re going to stick our necks out and say that they will do that and, in turn, set up a nail-biter against Astralis on Sunday.