Unlike the North American League Championship Series quarterfinals, the European playoffs are brimming with possibilities. This is largely because very few of us understand how we got here in the first place. G2 being at the top of the standings is no surprise given its performance last split, but just about everything else in Europe defies even the most intelligent analyst’s preseason predictions. Both Giants Gaming and Unicorns of Love turned risky gambles into a playoff berth. Meanwhile, pillars of the EU LCS scene, H2K and Fnatic, have both stumbled across the finish line, leaving big questions as to what form they’ll take heading into the playoffs.
Even at the beginning of the split, it was hard to imagine Giants Gaming turning things around and becoming a mid tier team, let alone the No. 3 seed. They made a big statement with a 4-0 showing in Week 5 and never looked back. At first, it was simply the Na “NighT” Gun-woo show, with the outcome of the game entirely dependent on how heavy the rest of his team was to carry. Now, thanks to some LCS experience, players like Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian and Lennart “SmittyJ” Warkus have stepped up as powerful threats in their own right. The team may not have the best track record of coming back after a loss but when grabbing a lead has been incredibly difficult to take down.
The Unicorns of Love, on the other hand, are a lot harder to pin down. Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss became a top tier European top laner almost by default in a region that is seriously struggling to find talent in the area, but he’s hardly been a solo carry. The key for the Unicorns of Love has come down to how they play as a unit, with Fabian “Exileh” Schubert and Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min coming up with surprisingly big moments at different times throughout the split. Though the team rarely has everyone firing on all cylinders, their ability to adjust makes them a dangerous opponent for Giants.
Meanwhile, Fnatic has left the entire world wondering what the heck is going on. Replacing Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin with Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek made sense on paper, but as the great Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw once said, “Paper is a flimsy thing that turns clear when you rub grease on it.” It’s clear Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon is not playing to his former level of play, and watching coach Luis “Deilor” Sevilla Petit and analyst Fabien “GuySake” Ungerer leave right before the playoffs leaves Fnatic fans seeing a swarm of red flags that may put their worlds dreams to a close.
Luckily for them, H2K comes with its own share of problems. Despite an incredible last week of play, the team struggled to find an identity throughout most of the split that can’t simply be blamed on Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek’s unfortunate tendonitis injury. The reemergence of Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou is both a blessing and a curse. He brings a level of lane dominance that cannot be denied — and a reputation for being a cancer in the gaming house that has led him to be dropped by every single team he’s played for without a single playoff victory to his name. He, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, and Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan have curses to shake if they’re going to finally emerge victorious and prove themselves worthy of a potential Worlds spot, and the bright lights will be the true test of whether they have earned their place at the table of all-time great EU LCS players.
There are so many storylines at play that I’ve barely scratched the surface of here. Luckily, Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk and I did a whole podcast hashing them out, including one of the biggest arguments we’ve had as a podcast duo. Enjoy the episode.
Today on the Rough Drafts Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk break down the EU LCS Semifinals and continue their hunt for value bets in a scene that’s treated them well this split. Together, they discuss whether Giants have what it takes to come back from a loss, if there is some logic behind the Unicorns of Love’s seemingly magical playoff run, and whether Fnatic or H2K should be more worried heading into their quarterfinal series. They close with their smart money bets of the week.
Be sure to subscribe to the Esports Rough Drafts Podcast on iTunes to keep up with every episode here. And if you happened to leave a nice review along the way, that’d be cool too.
Go to Unikrn today to bet alongside all your favorite esports matches for the chance to win awesome prizes.