The European League Championships Series Spring Playoffs marched on with two ridiculous semifinal sets between Origen (OG) and H2K-Gaming (H2K) and G2 Esports (G2) and Fnatic (FNC). The narrative street was long with these four teams. OG was the popular team to win entering the split, but stumbled its way into the playoffs with plenty of question marks.
H2K was an all-star European lineup that forced its style regardless of the opponent. G2 was the upstart surprise team that absolutely plowed through the entire season with little resistance. And, FNC was the stalwart -- the consistent force in the playoffs (six straight LCS finals), the first name in European elite, and the enigma that entered the split without three of their previous starters.
Who came out on top after this weekend and who looked the strongest to take down the European crown?
Origen against H2K-Gaming
These two teams ran very similar styles and strategies throughout the split, and even scrimmaged against each other before the matchup. And it showed in this very closely-contested set. The popular pick to advance was H2K, but it certainly didn't end up that way. Despite the slow pace, OG showed that superior team fighting and swift objective-control was more than enough to move on.
OG absolutely crushed through the early lane phase in what should be H2K's strength,starting the first game in dominating fashion. The team rotated quicker, predicted movements from its opponents, and controlled the vision on the map for the first 20 minutes. H2K took advantage of the passive mid-game to split-push and trade objectives to stall the game out. With the late game damage in H2K's favor, every extended team fight was its advantage, and because of the passivity of OG, the game slipped away. Both teams came to a head at the Baron pit with OG collecting the buff, but H2K winning the overall fight. The push from OG, with the Baron buff, would end up killing them as H2K's defense wiped them and finished off the marathon game.
H2K's early decision-making was too greedy to begin game two, and OG punished them at every opportunity -- tower dives, deep rotations, and extended fights all backfired in H2K's faces. The movement and team fight execution from OG was crisp, whether it was isolating specific champions in scattered fights or an immediate Baron, it looked to be the stronger team. Despite H2K's defenses, the forced fights and second Baron from OG would pummel through for the second game in rather convincing fashion.
— Origen (@Origengg) April 9, 2016
The response in game three from H2K was overwhelming: a dominating lane phase, punishing greedy pushes, finding stray kills, and suffocating the map vision. In typical H2K fashion, it stalled the game with the lead and forced OG to fight in multiple disadvantageous engagements. As a result, it snowballed to a shutout victory.
Both teams started out in passive sets to begin the pivotal game four. It was a game of ward vision, pushing, and itemization. The longest game of discipline between the two teams would finally break when OG's better team execution and peel took the game's first two fights for a Baron power play and subsequent base push. The game would boil down to a huge fight at the Baron pit where OG aced and pushed for the victory; H2K just won a fight at a similar place, but could not push any kind of advantage afterward.
The last game started in the same fashion as game four with both teams agreeing to a "no rush in 15-minutes" strategy. When the team finally fought, OG took the fight and secured the first Baron at the 22-minute marker. The weakness in team fighting would cost H2K again and again when OG transitioned the small leads into large ones through constant pushes. The pressure broke through in one climatic fight and OG finished off the favorite, H2K, in a minor upset.
Fnatic against G2 Esports
The new kings of Europe, G2, took on the old guard of excellence in FNC. A contrast of styles between a risk-heavy, team-fighting core of G2 and the map control focus of FNC, but it would be chaotic newcomers that would emerge victorious.
The first game was a feel-it-out and respect game where the first kill didn't occur until the 16-minute mark and both teams prioritize pushing and map control instead. The slow and steady approach favored FNC, a team that enjoyed the lane phase, and the side lanes suffered as a result for G2 -- with a slight cs-lead to the important damage-dealers on FNC. The strength of G2, however, showed up when it forced a split fight in the middle lane and separated the key members of FNC for easy pickings. Any fight that G2 forced out fell in its favor; the execution in separating key targets while allowing the team's own damage-dealers to stay alive dominated every engagement. One large four-for-two trade allowed G2 to trample through the defenses for the victory.
G2 started the second game with its signature risky style -- tower dives and quick rotations from the ADC, but unfortunately for them, it was punished by FNC each time. FNC would bust the game open with another mistake from G2, this time from Perkz' tower dive, and took a four-for-one fight for complete control. FNC would continue to punish G2's late rotations and took lopsided fight-after-fight until it was clear that this was going to a FNC victory whenever it wanted to close it out.
— oceloteWorld (@oceloteWorld) April 10, 2016
G2 made a concentrated effort to get Perkz started in game three -- constant teleport support, rotations from jungle, and initiated fights for the mid-laner would build him up. In a continuation of the second game, FNC punished G2's overzealous pushes to keep the game at a stalemate. But, G2's skill in chaotic team fights showed up again at a pivotal moment with a Perkz bait-and-switch to fully take over the game. It was a mirror of game one where FNC needed to punish every G2 mistake, but couldn't win any of the large engagements. With the use of a Baron power play, G2 barreled through FNC's bottom lane defense and secured the series' lead.
FNC took the initiate in game four, speeding up the game with early rotations, but G2 showed its resilience and killer instinct with constant pressure and fights as its defensive measure of choice. FNC attempted to avoid every fight, but G2's persistence in finding targets allowed them to force advantageous skirmishes. Despite the dire situation, FNC chased down the risky tactics of G2 for key picks on Emperor and Perkz for a stalemate in the midgame. However, with the assistance of two pick-offs, G2 snowballed a Baron power play to control the entire bottom lane on the map. The pressure seemed to get to FNC's Febiven with two awful mistakes that led to pick-offs and more infrastructure damage to the base. With a final fight at the top lane, G2 bullied its way through the FNC base and made history by defeating the European kings.