The first round of playoffs in the League of Legends European Championship took place this weekend as the six best teams of the spring split faced off. The three hard-fought matches saw Fnatic endure to continue its lower bracket run, while G2 Esports and MAD Lions defeated their opponents.
The 2021 Spring Split playoff features the best teams from the regular season. The teams fought to the end for the playoff spots, but in the end, only the top 6 could proceed.
Like last year, the LEC format follows a form of double elimination where the 5th and 6th teams - Fnatic and SK Gaming - start directly in the lower bracket.
Meanwhile, in the upper bracket, G2 Esports would take on Schalke 04, while Rogue would take on MAD Lions.
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Fnatic Defeat SK Gaming
After just over a year, the LEC teams would once more take to the stage as the two squads faced off in the Berlin studio. Even without a live crowd, the atmosphere was electric. The two teams brawled throughout the series and while both teams made many mistakes, Fnatic was that much better.
The 2020 finalists started on the wrong foot, but were able to turn game one around and eventually ace their rivals to end the game. SK were tenacious, though, and despite a horrible start of game two dug deep and turned the game around despite losing by some 10K gold at one point.
Still, Fnatic recovered and with great early games by AD Carry Elias "Upset" Lipp they took the third and fourth game. It was far from easy as SK made some great mid-game plays, the German marksman was too much for them to handle and eventually they had to concede the series.
SK nearly took game four before a clutch base defense by Fnatic's carries led to a counterattack (Credit: Riot Games)
G2 Esports Deny Schalke 04 Reverse Sweep
2020 champions G2 Esports picked FC Schalke 04 as their initial opponents. The Royal blues slumped in the second part of the split, but against G2 they showed they are not to be underestimated. The champions had a relatively easy start of the series, taking over the first two games in the mid-game despite a good start for Schalke. Yet if their fans expected an easy 3-0 series, they were in for a surprise.
Schalke rallied in Game 3 with a very strong early game, taking a big gold lead and countering all of G2’s attacks. Their dominance continued in the mid-game until a hail mary attack by G2 nearly turned the game around - but Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik’s Darius was left alive in the carnage and took a Pentakill to win the game for his team.
Schalke won a very long and contested game four, where Matúš "Neon" Jakubčík and Brokenblade again had a great showing. Yet despite a good start to the fifth game that teased a reverse sweep, G2 held their own and turned it around, winning the decisive bout to keep their upper bracket spot.
It looked great for G2 - until it looked great for Broken Blade. (Credit: Riot Games)
MAD Lions Upset Rogue
In a battle between two teams that had been the rising stars of 2021, Rogue came in as the clear favorite as the stronger team during the regular split. They started the series strong, overcoming a fed Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság on Jinx to take the first game. In game two, however, the Lions had a strong start, and with a strong AD Carry performance and good engages, they were able to equalize the series.
MAD continued with their good form in game three and won it after a series of good initiations by Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser decided key teamfights. Rogue rallied in the fourth game with a very strong start, but despite a 5K gold lead at 15 minutes and a 5/0/1 Aphelios for Steven "Hans sama" Liv, the Lions turned the game around after a near-ace and a Baron 29 minutes in. Eventually, the Spanish team closed the game, taking the series 3-1 and sending Rogue to the lower bracket.
Despite being behind in gold and fighting an infernal soul buff, MAD powered on through (Credit: Riot Games)
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The LEC continues next Friday as Fnatic take on FC Schalke 04, with the winner facing off against Rogue on Sunday. Saturday will feature the bout between MAD Lions and G2 Esports.