In Friday's EU LCS Spring Split clash, the first of the Quarterfinals, we see third place Splyce (11-8) take on sixth place ROCCAT (8-10) with postseason hopes on the line in a best-of-5 series.
Let's take a look at the battle to come.
2018 has been a shocking year for Splyce, one that saw many changes to the formula fans had known of the team. After setting focus on internal growth for its squad of returning players, some going on three years with the team, fans were surprised to see it all change coming into 2018, losing four of its core members and leaving only ADC Kobbe behind. Splyce put together some solid signings late in 2017 to recover the squad's strength, including the likes of Xerxe in the jungle, but it would certainly be new territory for the organization. Despite this, though, it seems like the same old Splyce rose from the ashes, maintaining a competitive posture in EU with a third place finish.
You know that piece of gum that you just can't get off the bottom of your shoe? For the EU LCS, Team ROCCAT has been exactly that for some time. Always managing to surprise doubters, and always just squeaking by to contend with the league's best, the squad has had analysts perpetually scratching their head through roster changes and all, taking home matches they seem to have no business winning and dropping the seemingly unlosable all the same. But despite some bright spots, this is the team's first Playoffs since 2015. Through a powerhouse mid lane presence in Blanc, the team has managed 8 hard-fought victories this split, just enough to make it to the Quarterfinals at sixth place, where they plan to bust more brackets than UMBC.
For Splyce, Odoamne seemed to have the potential to be one of the best European top laners heading into 2018. And on some days, he actually looked the part. But then there were the others. Sitting at a subpar 2.3 KDA (48th in the league,) and a measly 65% kill participation (46th in the league,) the team certainly wishes it got more out of the top side of the Rift this spring. If the Romanian got his hands on champions like Camille, he could be relied on for a heavy victory; landing on a champ like Ornn, however, and you could expect some question mark pings to follow. On Odoamne's best days you can see flashes of the top laner that made plenty of noise at Worlds 2016, but on his worst, flashbacks to a painful 2017 with H2k were more prevalent. The good news? ROCCAT don't have much to boast of either on the topside of the Rift, and having Xerxe in your jungle is some pretty good insurance.
For ROCCAT, Profit has been a bit of a disappointment in 2018 as well. The former SKT player came with high expectations to EU, but his stats place him in the lower-middle of the pack. With a 3.1 KDA (35th in the league,) and 64% kill participation (48th in the league,) you could say that Profit has been a similarly dim light to Odoamne this split. But while the stats read the same, Profit has done better with much less, and has been a bigger part of the puzzle for his team.
Verdict: Profit gets the better of this top lane clash.
Splyce's strong suit has always been consistency across its squad, but 2018 reworked the puzzle. Now the team plays much more off the strength of its bot side, and a huge part of this is its threat from the jungle in the form of the former Unicorn, Xerxe. Boasting the third highest KDA in EU at 7.1, and the 13th best kill participation at 78%, it's clear that the unconventional jungler has been the heart and soul of this new Splyce squad. Bringing the same pugnacious spirit that made fans flock to Unicorns of Love in 2017, Xerxe turns the heat on from the jungle, and can do it on just about any champion you put in front of his cursor. Give the man Zac and you've shot yourself in the foot; try to ban him out, and see whatever new face he wants to play that day, likely to equal effectiveness. The Romanian has been a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma for the EU region since the beginning of 2017, and it doesn't look to be stopping now despite new surroundings. Look for Xerxe to snowball bot lane out of control, putting Kobbe in position to do what he's done the entire split. But we'll get to that.
Fans of ROCCAT know the Swedish jungler Memento quite well, despite him heading to Giants Gaming in 2017. Many were excited for him to return to the squad for 2018, but he's definitely had a subpar spring. Worse, he faces his opponents sharpest weapon. Memento has posted a 3.3 KDA this split, less than half that of his opponent, though still participating in just 3% less of his teams kills at 75%. The jungler's role so far has been to assist Blanc, his team's biggest threat, to snowball his lead and transfer it to the rest of the map, often to and from the bottom lane. But for all of the things Memento does okay, Xerxe does them better, and even has a broader champion pool to do it with.
Verdict: Xerxe rules the jungle.
For Splyce, picking up Nisqy heading into 2018 was an interesting proposition. Nisqy spent his 2017 stunning North America with strong performances in his late summer play as a rookie. In returning to Europe, he has maintained a middle to top of the pack spot in the mid lane, proving a strength for the squad as a whole, but there are still some holes to his game. Nisqy has an average 3.9 KDA (ranked 27th,) and a much more solid 9.7 cs/min (ranked 17th,) but he falls drastically short of what a team wants from a mid laner at just 65% kill participation. The silver lining? Splyce usually gets it done without him, electing to put resources and pressure on the bottom side of the map instead. The bad news? Nisqy stares down ROCCAT's biggest strength.
It's not even a discussion whether Blanc has been pivotal for Team ROCCAT's Spring Split, as he's clearly separated himself from the pack with consistent strong performances regardless of the state of the game he's in. Coming in with the highest KDA for mid laners at 4.8, and the second highest kill participation at 81%, this fight is looking like a heavy mismatch. He even sports the tenth highest cs/min in the league, if that wasn't enough already. Team ROCCAT will rely heavily on Blanc and any lead he can establish come Friday, and he's proved dependable in that role the entire split. It's time to prove it in a best-of-5 setting, and it's to prove it with everything on the line. If ROCCAT want to escape the Quarterfinals, Blanc will have to play out of his mind, but there's no doubt that he will come out ahead of his opponent in likely every game.
Verdict: Blanc holds down the middle of the map.
This is where things heat up. Splyce's bottom lane is one of the most devastating pairs in the EU LCS. Kobbe posts some fantastic stats with a 5.0 KDA (10th in the league, 4th among ADCs,) and the 4th best cs/min in the league at 10.8. But the strength of this duo doesn't just come from the one with the gun. kaSing, while bringing some interesting stats to the table, has proven himself as a strong support in Europe. He sports the best support KDA around at 4.7 but at the same time posts one of the worst support rates of kill participation at 71%. To put this into perspective, kaSing has participated in a lower percentage of his teams kills than Boris did for Schalke 04. Let that one sink in. Still, this bottom lane is all fireworks for Splyce, and is one of its best points of strength, especially in combination with Xerxe from the jungle. Look for these two to make their presence known in all of Saturday's games.
In an almost inverse of Splyce's bottom lane duo, Team ROCCAT find themselves with one of the highest performing supports in the league all around, and one of the worst ADCs as well. Give HeaQ Caitlyn and you're probably in for a rough night, but beyond that, the young ADC has proven to be one of ROCCAT's weakest links. Backed by Norskeren who's having a fantastic spring with a 3.5 KDA from the support position, and boasting a solid 80% kill participation, the ADCs own stats fall a bit short. While it could be blamed on the amount of time the team spends in losing position in comparison, we don't expect this trend to turn around for ROCCAT entering Friday.
Verdict: Kobbe and kaSing put on the pressure in the bottom lane.
While ROCCAT have a penchant for surprising those that doubt them, I have to go with Splyce to take home a relatively easy 3-1, moving on to fight G2 Esports in a Semifinals rematch from Summer, a match that was perhaps the best of the entire Summer Split Playoffs which drug out to an absolute war.
Be sure to catch the first Quarterfinal match for the EU LCS Spring Split Playoffs this Friday, 1pm EST. You don't want to miss it.
Let us know what you think of this playoff matchup in the comments below!