In September, the top four teams in Europe will head to Madrid to decide who will finish first, second, and third in the EU LCS Summer Split.
Although we know who the top four teams are—Fnatic, FC Schalke 04, Misfits, and Vitality—we still don’t know which two teams will make it all the way to the final Bo5 series.
With a one-in-four chance of getting to first place, and less considering their summer, could Vitality defy all odds and make it to the top?
Vitality has shown their mettle...
Despite many thinking FC Schalke 04 or even G2 Esports would have taken that all-important second place seed during the regular Summer Split, Vitality pulled it out of the bag during the second place tiebreaker in week 9, taking down both Schalke and G2 to secure their spot.
But this isn’t the first time this Split we’ve seen Vitality play exceptionally well. Although they didn’t get off to the storming start they had in Spring Split, Vitality recovered by mid-Split and showed that their strong early game and decisive plays can give the other teams in the EU LCS a run for their money—you only need to look at Kikis’ dominance over Jankos during the Vitality vs G2 game in week nine for evidence of that.
If—in a meta and a Summer Split as competitive as this one—Vitality can come second in the regular split, surely they have a huge chance of winning it all in playoffs?
...But winning won't be easy
Vitality has two main issues to deal with if they realistically want to win the Summer Split.
First, there’s no getting around the fact they must beat Schalke and then either Misfits or Fnatic to take the title. Any of these teams are threatening in their own right—whether you’re looking to tackle Caps in the mid lane against Fnatic, take on Hans Sama and Mikyx in bot against Misfits, or deal with Upset in bot and Amazing in the jungle against Schalke.
This Split has been one of the most competitive in recent years, and as a result it’s just not clear which team could pull through in the finals. All of the teams are solid on the meta and have the capability to snowball if they get an early lead.
If there is a silver lining for Vitality, it's the fact that their play style has evolved sufficiently that teams will not likely camp Jiizuke in mid lane to shut him down, which became a common thread during the Spring Split. With no real weak links in the Vitality chain this Summer Split, they can put up a stronger defence against the other three remaining teams - both during draft and on the Rift.
Aside from the huge task of taking down their competitors to get to first place, Vitality has another issue it needs to deal with to improve their chances of winning. Namely, Vitality needs to keep calm under the pressure.
Vitality is known for being aggressive and for making bold plays. While this often wins them the game, all-too-often a poor in-game decision—whether from Jiizuke, Attila, or another member of the roster—has led to more kills being given to the enemy team, or has enabled the enemy team to walk away with an even greater advantage.
Although this volatility seems to have curbed with the arrival of Kikis in the jungle, Vitality needs to make sure they remain calm under pressure and avoid any rash decisions. They have, as an organization, little experience in this spot, which means they'll have to learn on their feet.
If Vitality can tackle those issues, then they look near on invincible when you consider their current form on the Rift.
The first test for Vitality will be their Bo5 semi-finals match against FC Schalke 04 on Friday 31st August. You can catch the action via the usual channels, including YouTube and Twitch.
Which team do you think will take the title in the EU LCS Summer Split playoffs? Let us know in the comments below!