The culmination of another fiery Summer split has us with an exciting postseason in the EU LCS. The heated competition of the multi-week campaign of the teams has left six in the final contention for the best in Europe, and, maybe more importantly, a place at Worlds. With all eyes locked on the teams and their players, let’s take a look at some of the matchups in the playoffs, their storylines, and what the stakes are.
The Match Up
Looking at the scoreline between these two does not bode well for an upset from the Splyce boys. Elias "Upset" Lipp and the Schalke 04 boys have a strong 2-0 in victories against Splyce over the regular split, both of which were fairly convincing wins for the Royal Blues. With Schalke having the convincing case for themselves all but plainly stated with their win-loss record against Splyce, the Snakes of the EU LCS can’t be completely overlooked. Their place in the playoffs was hard fought after an abysmal start, largely bouncing back after returning from Rift Rivals.
Splyce’s place in the playoff was definitely secured through finding answers to their limp gameplay from early in the split, but their position was largely maintained through consistent play against weaker tier teams. That said, they have it in them to throw off even the most prudent of pundit, as they did when they unexpectedly managed to overthrow Rift Rival comrades in fnatic. Schalke, too, are no strangers to petering off when they need to be at their best, given last split’s disappointing finish.
The real battle will be between mid laners Erlend "Nukeduck" Våtevik Holm and Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer. Many teams revolve around their mid laners, but both Schalke and Splyce can attribute their second half of the season success to their mid laners returning to form. Who will move on in the playoffs may very well come down to who was better on the day in the mid lane.
Of course, while the actual matchup favours Schalke 04 over Splyce (picking the third seed over the sixth seed, very bold I know,) the overall storyline between these two teams is still of proving themselves before the EU LCS and its fans. Schalke 04 had a great beginning to their returning split after relegation mishaps last year. The mood was soured when they they didn’t make it into the playoffs that same split. That faltering at the finish line can be a worrying sign in an increasingly competitive Europe. Splyce, on the flip side, have had a troublesome beginning to their Summer campaign, but have righted many of those wrongs over the latter half of the split. Their complete lack of any game plan or activity has largely been corrected, but they’re still a question mark roster.
Not many teams function as a one threat roster, as the fall of SKT’s dynasty may or may not attest to. Both teams put much of their carry chips onto their mid laners, however, Schalke’s rookie Upset has had some stellar performances over the split, particularly alongside his bot lane partner in the veteran that is Oskar "Vander" Bogdan. For Splyce, it’s in their Jungler Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir that has largely stepped up to help his roster place high enough to find themselves once again in the playoff race. Both rosters will need to look to not just their star mid laners, but their other players to help shoulder the burden. And, more importantly, they’ll need to have those player step up if they’re to make it any deeper than a decent showing in the EU LCS playoffs. Every team has their hearts set on Worlds, and these playoffs are just the start to that journey.
What’s At Stake
Both these teams have their fair share of question marks hanging over their heads coming into the playoffs. However, their shot at Worlds, the de facto most important tournament in the League esports scene, is the real question. For Schalke 04, this is there only real chance to secure a place at Worlds given their none-appearance during the Spring playoffs. They’ll need a strong showing to try and secure some much needed championship points, or even to (against the odds) win it all, but also to reassure pundits that they’re a Worlds caliber team. The stakes for Schalke are whether this roster can be a real world caliber team or not, and that starts with proving it in the EU LCS playoffs.
Splyce come in from a slightly different position than Schalke 04. They actually have some Championship points, and are secured at least a showing in the Worlds gauntlet, the last minute relay to see who will be Europe’s third seed. But Splyce have been a story of redemption and that a season’s never over til it’s over. From a winless first two weeks into some heroics and stable performances, Splyce snuck into the EU LCS playoffs even after an embarrassing showing for the first bit of the Summer split and Rift Rivals, they’ve managed to bounced back into at least a passable team coming into the playoffs. A strong showing will not only secure a good placement for the gauntlet tournament, but also that their turnaround season wasn’t for not.