Kelsey Moser's EU LCS Semifinal Roundup: The one who broke through

by theScore Staff Apr 11 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

The script was set before the first match started.

Prior to Sunday's match between Fnatic and G2 Esports, The League Championship Series broadcast team sent me a detailed outline as to how the games will play out. The carefully planned best-of-five series would ultimately result in a Fnatic win after Kim "Emperor" Jinhyun found himself caught out late in Game 5. Origen would go on and play Fnatic in the EU LCS Spring Finals, while Counter Logic Gaming would take on Team SoloMid in the NA LCS Spring Finals.

Unfortunately, G2 had other plans.

The taste in their mouth after the planned Game 2 loss was bitter, and they wanted to flip the script. The team is reportedly under investigation for intentionally thwarting Riot's narrative, but really it's Fnatic's fault for not being able to stop Ryze.

Jokes aside, in a string of unexpected semifinal wins, G2 Esports were the team that made it through. Their match went almost exactly as one who followed the regular season might anticipate — and for that reason, it was the most surprising.

Origen defeated H2k-Gaming in an extended series that warred in the draft. H2K's teamfighting blisters rubbed against Origen's more coordinated skirmishing and popped. Like last summer's semifinal match between H2K and Origen, H2K demonstrated that they hadn't evolved beyond discovering this meta's lane swap styles. Though players have repeatedly stated that they will continue to experiment with lane swaps, they remained fixated on the types of swaps they can already do well in trading down lanes. We saw more variety, surprisingly, in G2's series against Fnatic, with skirmishes for tower control throughout the game.

H2K's team fighting also failed to develop. When desperation called, Yoo "Ryu" Sangook locked in Leblanc in the series' last two games, but it failed to synergize with Sivir, and as a result of Origen's tank-heavy lineup, the team couldn't find the assassinations they needed. H2K, a team expected to advance to the final, failed to adapt and grasped at straws.

That's not to say that Origen didn't showcase their improved playstyle. The style that made them successful last year revolved a lot around controlling the jungle around the bottom side of the map, but Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider too often stumbled in the regular season — either due to communication or his own form — to make this style effective. This weekend, Amazing performed well on Kindred and Gragas, building both up with ganks and map pressure which allowed Origen to have a better sense of collapses and allow them to take the fights that they wanted.

Ultimately, H2K need to examine why they fail to continue improving some of their weaker areas, now with two separate rosters, after initial success in the regular season.

Surprisingly, G2 Esports didn't have this problem. The key to G2's successes came in reacting well to turret trades and always finding something else to take on the map. Their one major fumble came in Game 2 — yes, the team once known as Gamers2 ironically suffered their only loss in Game 2 — when they sent just two players to answer a four-man push top and both died.

As a result, this series hinged a lot on the top lane and advantages that could be pressured with Teleports. Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek's Teleport plays remain G2 Esports' unsung strength, and the team's ability to move around the map owes a lot to whoever works together to make these calls. Game 3's comeback came down to Kikis' ability to get into mid lane skirmishes.

G2 impressed by not only applying superior technique in side lane turret trades and assigning their players to take the better advantage, but by putting down deep wards to control the jungle afterwards. Though Origen and G2 are both teams that, at their strongest, operate by laying down vision, looking for catches and then rotating to get a turret, G2 demonstrated an extra layer this week. They took more of their skirmishes in lanes and gained control by first taking turrets before setting up vision.

Both approaches require some form of risk. If one moves to secure a turret first, the enemy can emerge from the fog of war in larger numbers, so it's usually best to count opponents in other lanes and react when they move to take another turret. The jungle invade strategy is slightly more proactive, but risk collapses and skirmishes if one is not prepared. G2 have demonstrated that they can play both and find consistency in getting advantages. This versatility is impressive for a team that has only recently risen from Challenger Series.

G2 also utilized Ryze well. Both Lissandra and Ryze pair well with Sivir because she gives them an extra tool that allows them to swoop in and engage, but Luka "PerkZ" Perković utilized his own positioning and the ability to follow up a Kalista ultimate. The Ryze pick is both an immovable object and a strong scaling pick, which makes him a much better answer than Kassadin in terms of scaling mid lane options. Duels between PerkZ and Fabien "Febiven" Diepstraten were as exciting as anticipated, and both often made the daring play to turn a situation with a numbers disadvantage and succeeded.

Most of the LCS followed the script this split. North America's CLG vs. TSM final will continue as planned, and Origen advanced to represent Europe. The longevity of some of these players and organizations prepared them to pace themselves in the regular season and develop when rising stars didn't. Their experience gave them the ability to quickly adapt to a new patch and to new games in a series.

But G2 seemed to find these answers on their own as a new organization with two rookie players. Even though TSM, CLG, and Origen advancing are generically expected storylines, there's one rule that must not be broken by anyone under any circumstances: Fnatic must make the finals.

Except G2 just did.

Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.