T1 back on top and Vitality crash and burn: Last week in League
Missed any of the action in the last week of competitive League? We’ve got you covered, from T1’s incredible finals victory to the elimination of 2021 world champions Edward Gaming from the LPL playoffs.
It’s official, League fans: we’re almost a month away from the start of MSI 2022 and we’ve already got our first major region representative locked in. T1 stormed to a clean 3-1 victory against Gen.G in the LCK finals, securing themselves their first MSI spot as an organization since 2019.
The LEC, LCS, and LPL are still yet to lock in a representative. It’s all still to play for, with every region seeing surprise upsets in the opening rounds of the playoffs. Rogue managed to pull off a surprising reverse sweep against Fnatic – the first time the team has ever been able to achieve a reverse sweep in a best-of-five setting.
To use a common turn of phrase, it is still quite literally anyone’s game ahead of the first international event. But if you’ve had your head under a rock for the past week of competitive play, then don’t fret. We’ve got you with a rundown of all the key moments you missed in League esports.
LEC: Team Vitality are the biggest disappointment of the split
It’s been quite the weekend over in the LEC. Rogue finally broke their playoffs curse, beating Fnatic for the first time ever in a best of five with a clean 3-0. Rising stars Misfits Gaming were eliminated 3-0, marking the end of their playoffs run after finishing the regular season in third place.
But perhaps most surprising of all was G2 Esports, who managed to pull a 6-0 weekend out of thin air to keep themselves in finals contention after a disappointing split. They took down EU’s supposed superteam, Team Vitality, in one of the cleaner 3-0 sweeps we’ve seen in the playoffs.
Harshest way to fall tonight. See you in Summer everyone #LEC pic.twitter.com/t8POJIgiY1
— Team Vitality (@TeamVitality) April 1, 2022
Vitality have been, unquestionably, the biggest disappointment of the LEC so far in 2022. Yet more proof that superteams aren’t actually a viable way to build a winning roster (the LCS’s Team Liquid are an anomaly here), they’ve continually struggled with seemingly poor communication and an inability to close out on leads.
They need to make changes in the offseason; that’s a given. This team is too much of an investment to be content with the performance we’ve seen from this split.
And although ‘changes in the offseason’ are often synonymous with roster swaps, that may not even be the correct solution for Vitality. Their issues are much more about their decisions as a unit than they are about individual performance, and that’s not something that will be fixed with a roster swap.
It’s unlikely they’ll get rid of anyone from the top side of the map; midlaner Luka ‘Perkz’ Perkovic has been underperforming, but he’s not the player you get rid of if you want long-term success. He’s faltered this split, but he’s earned himself a split of underperformance after consistently being one of the best Western mid laners in the world.
Their macro and decision-making have been their biggest shortcoming this split. There’s no question that their players are mechanically gifted, but their decision-making is Platinum solo queue levels of sloppy.
Vitality's macro decisions the past 10minutes while having a 6k gold lead is one of the worst midgames I've seen in recent LEC
— Erik Wessén (@Treatz) April 1, 2022
This Vitality roster has one more split’s worth of a grace period before some very serious questions need to be asked of the players and coaching staff. If they’re able to work on their multitude of issues in the offseason and come back as a finals contender in Summer, then this split can be attributed to growing pains and personality conflicts.
If not, then they’ll go down in history as nothing more than another example of why superteams don’t work in League of Legends.
LPL: EDG Scout’s Azir masterclass wasn’t enough to save the former World Champions
Nobody gets to stay on top forever. Least of all in the LPL.
EDG’s unceremonious elimination from the LPL playoffs on March 29 is all the more bitter for the absolutely heroic efforts of mid laner Lee ‘Scout’ Yechan to keep the team afloat. His Azir single-handedly kept EDG in the series with a monstrous solo carry performance in game three.
But even his best intentions weren’t enough to save an EDG who’ve been floundering all split long.
It’ll be a long road for EDG to make it back to fighting form if they want to defend their Worlds title. While not impossible, the chances that they’ll make it to a second title in as many years are looking a little slim.
But Worlds is a long way away, so for now, let’s just appreciate Scout’s incredible Azir team fight from Game 3 of their series against Weibo.
Or perhaps this 1 versus 2 outplay?
Or maybe this moment where he managed to defy death and clean up a failed Dragon fight for Edward Gaming?
You get the idea. It’s quite frankly criminal that we won’t be seeing Scout at MSI this year. He’s still got so much to offer even after six years with EDG, and Azir fans worldwide will need to hope for a miracle turnaround if they want to see him pilot the chicken at the World Championships this year.
LCK: T1 back on top
You thought the LCK’s era of dominance was over? Well, think again. Fresh off the back of their first-ever 18-0 split, T1 are the first team to qualify for MSI 2022. And boy, did they do it in style.
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The LCK is in an odd spot at the moment. The times they are a’changin, and the region is looking to its young talent to take up the mantle of the legendary names that came before them.
And what better way to culminate the region’s growth than its undefeated spring champions being a team of hotheaded youngsters, captained by the greatest player League of Legends has ever seen? Nobody could quite have foreseen just how dominant T1’s roster would become before the start of the spring split, with Gen.G’s signing of Jeong ‘Chovy’ Jihoon very much dominating the conversation in terms of finalist predictions.
The best part of all of this? T1 aren’t perfect, by any means. Their games against Gen.G were not the same kind of clinical dismantling that the SKT of old were so famous for. They’re a team full of young players who sometimes make mistakes, and that’s what makes them so exciting.
Who wants to watch a perfectly executed Baron rotation when you could watch MVP jungler Moon ‘Oner’ Hyeonjoon commit aggravated assault on Lee Sin?
Why farm until 45 minutes to win the game with a single team fight when Ryu ‘Keria’ Minseok could simply roam top at eight minutes for the fun of it and pick up a double kill?
Will they sometimes drop an 8k gold lead for the fun of it? Yes. Is this roster one of the most exciting and entertaining rosters the LCK has seen in recent years? Also yes.
There’s an expectation of what a ‘good’ LCK team should look like, built from years of international dominance and the same slow, methodical playstyle. But that’s in the past now, and T1’s young guns are ushering in a new era of Korean League of Legends.
There will always be a caveat hanging over T1’s regular-season dominance. They never got to play Gen.G at their full power level due to various roster substitutions for illness.
But this finals victory can’t be taken away from them: they beat a full-power, full starting roster Gen.G fair and square. A heroic end to what has been a truly heroic split for T1.
LCS: 100 Thieves steal the show
Admit it. You’d forgotten 100 Thieves were reigning LCS champions.
After winning the Summer split in 2021 and putting on an entirely average showing at the 2021 World Championships, 100 Thieves made the slightly surprising decision to not replace a single member of their roster in the offseason.
They went pretty unnoticed in Spring 2022. The conversation in NA was dominated by controversies, underperformances, and the Team Liquid super team. 100 Thieves performed well, ending the season in third place, but they were very much the unsung heroes of the split.
Kim ‘Ssumday’ Chanho has always been a contender in the conversation for best top laner in the LCS. He’s 100 Thieves’ most consistent player, even when the team’s been struggling. He’s a reliable, immovable object in the top lane, who’s not afraid to carry when he needs to.
So who better to neutralize Park ‘Summit’ Wootae, C9’s star top laner?
🔥 HOT start for the @100T_Esports topside. #LCS pic.twitter.com/QDGRryPmt9
— LCS (@LCSOfficial) April 2, 2022
Ssumday knew his role in this series would be to shut Summit down. Summit’s been C9’s win condition on multiple occasions, and received 43 out of 47 possible nominations for All-Pro top laner. He was instrumental in every single one of C9’s 13 regular-season wins, and he is, putting it mildly, a very good player.
That is until 100 Thieves completely shut him out of all three games and clean-swept C9 in the opening round of the playoffs.
Now there are plenty of arguments to be made here about whose responsibility this 9-0 really was. It’s easy to argue that the loss was on C9; that they drafted poorly, and failed to play to their strengths in letting Summit be shut down.
Not a good day for Cloud9 but I'm sure they'll bounce back for next week and figure some things out.
I really did expect this to be a much closer series, but I'm not surprised 100 Thieves have "found themselves" late in this split and look like such a strong contender. #LCS
— Tim Sevenhuysen (@TimSevenhuysen) April 2, 2022
But it would be entirely disingenuous to claim that 100 Thieves didn’t put in the work. They came into this series fully prepared for what they knew C9 would throw at them, and they executed perfectly on a clear, well-thought-out game plan. Jungler Can ‘Closer’ Çelik had one of his best series of the split so far.
If this is the performance we’re to expect from the Thieves in a playoff setting, then Team Liquid had better watch their backs.