With the EU LCS Finals complete, eyes turn towards the World Championship. and have already secured their spots but who will join them? This years gauntlet is stacked, , , and all looking to secure their spot as Europe’s third seed. Kicking of the gauntlet this weekend is a battle between and with the winner advancing to play in the next round. Lets take a look at what we can expect from this match up.
One of the recurring themes of the European LCS this summer has been stark stylistic disparity between teams vying for the top spot. The first series of the gauntlet is no exception, have found their success playing early game styles facilitated by Maxlore. in their playoff quarterfinal were all about the late game relying on their carry duo of Nisqy and Kobbe to provide the damage. Whilst found success in their dominant win over with their aggression, they also struggled against Fnatic when they failed to snowball.
Whilst both teams have strong lanes, Nisqy being a consistent performer for and Hans Sama has torn teams apart for I predict that the difference maker will be the Junglers. Last year Maxlore was considered one of the best Junglers in Europe, carrying on their incredible World Champioship run. Similarly Xerxe was awarded Rookie of the split in spring 2017 for his explosive debut. Despite the apparent caliber of both Junglers they haven’t lived up to their previous performances in the latter half of the summer split. With favouring a mid to late game style if Xerxe can protect or snowball his lanes they will be in a strong position to close out the game through superior Macro orientated play. However if Maxlore can snowball the line up, Hans Sama in particular, will struggle to stall until their comp comes online.
With that being said there are two players that could take over individual games or even the series for their team.
Whilst not considered a premier EU top laner, Alphari can have a dramatic impact on a games landscape. In their quarterfinals victory over Alphari’s Chogath took over the early game, solo killing Wunder’s Gangplank twice in the first game. This helped build momentum and crush in the first game. Although under performed, and their aggressive style didn’t let play the controlled game that they have historically been known for. If Alphari can dominate the top lane against it would give another point of pressure to play around, making them less reliant on Hans Sama for success. I don’t think that this is an especially unlikely scenario either with Odoamne playing a shaky series against . If Alpahri can show up like he did against Wunder and not falter like he did against Bwipo in the first game of their Semifinal against we will likely see this cascade into a more effective Maxlore.
It should be no surprise that Nisqy is the player I’m looking at to show up and carry through the gauntlet. On his day Nisqy is close to being the best Mid laner in the region. Who doesn’t remember his 1v5 outplay against in the the spring 3rd/4th match? With playing so heavily around the botlane and predominantly drafting safe, defensive midlaners such as Malzahar and Lulu. I expect to see Nisqy with plenty of room to flex his muscles and take over games from the mid-lane on picks such as his now famous Cassiopeia.
So with that said I do expect to take the series. While looked strong in their Quarter and Semi-Finals they fell apart against in the 3rd/4th match. Although this can be attributed fairly to the aggressive early game are known for. I expect Splyce to come prepared with three Bo5’s of information on and their current strengths/styles. I do not however think it will be a clear cut 3-0. If turn up to play as they have done so far, I expect to see a close series, similar to the vs semi-final.
We’ll see on Friday (14/09/18) who will take the first steps on their gauntlet run and I’ll be back with more updates as the Gauntlet progresses.