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G2 Esports will be heavy favorites in their game against Team BDS
Vitality are massively favored to continue their fine run of form in this year’s LEC
Fnatic and Mad Lions could be an interesting fixture between two aggressive teams
It tells you of how dire their fortunes have been when the CEO, a non-playing member of their management group, has to issue a public apology to the fans. Excel are in that boat right now, where whatever can go wrong has gone wrong. Their latest reversal against a winless Astralis has threatened to bring the roof down.
They are down 1-5 after six games, and with just three more left in the regular winter split of 2023, they’re looking to at best limit damage; title aspirations, or heck, even being talked of as contenders is a long, long way off.
And just because of this crisis they find themselves in, hedge your bets on Team Heretics to find a way to win. One, they’re in a much better position in the mid-table, and two: they haven’t played like a disintegrated unit fighting their own selves.
That Excel managed all of six kills to Astralis’ 22 in their previous games told you of how much their crisis of confidence has deepened. All said they’re in an unenviable position.
A win is likely to be brushed aside because qualification chances are nil, but a loss can further deepen their scars of a nightmarish season. Vincent ‘Vetheo’ Berrié being consoled by the team manager was among the more painful sights for the team from a player's point of view.
Excel surprised several people by reaching the playoffs of the spring and summer split of 2022. And that came on the back of them restructuring their roles within, except the AD carry position manned by Carry.
Calls for them to summon mid-laner Felix ‘Abbedagge’ Braun, who was hired as a substitute from 1000 Thieves, into the mix for the last three games, which they have to win to try and win to finish in the top eight and qualify for the group stage. With games against Vitality and SK Gaming to follow this one, it ain’t going to be easy.
This game will in all probability decide the fate of both teams as far as a place in the regular split goes. Heretics win would mean sealing a top-eight spot; this would automatically knock Excel out. And given their recent form, Heretics seem more cohesive and well-prepared.
One glance at the points table isn’t enough to judge how much separates these two teams. G2 and Team BDS both have a 4-2 record with three games left, but there’s a difference. G2 are coming off a deflating loss after being the early pace-setters, while BDS have come storming back from 1-2 down to win three on the bounce, thereby carrying oodles of momentum with them ahead of this all-important clash.
Yet, the punters are still hedging their bets on G2 Esports to be the favorites, offering you a minimal increase in your wager should they win. A BDS win will give you three times the returns on your bet. It’s easy to understand why G2 are touted as the favorite.
You only have to look as far back as the LEC 2022 Summer Standings, where they finished top of the pile with a 12-6 record, including winning five on the bounce to surge from the bottom half of the table to the top. There’s no reason why they can’t do it again.
Last week, Team BDS caused a massive upset when they beat MAD Lions with Adam “Adam” Maanane leaving his imprint with an impactful performance. If this gave them some advantage, they saw Team Heretics fight tooth and nail to secure their clash against KOI.
Then and there, you knew this was going to be a contest worth anticipating irrespective of which way the punters think this could head. G2 have played aggressively around Steven ”Hans Sama” Liv who continues to be their trump card.
In Mikyx, they have the perfect foil. The ease with which they beat Heretics with a 20-4 kill score should give BDS a few worries. If they can, however, bring out their A-game and play fearlessly, there’s no reason why they can’t win big.
On paper, this is a bit of a mismatch, a no-contest even, because Team Vitality are so far ahead that even playing catch-up will prove massively challenging for KOI. Vitality are 5-1 up and have taken a lead up top, having already locked in their qualification for the group stages. There are four teams in a logjam for second.
KOI are currently seventh, with a 2-4 record that has completely sapped them of momentum as they sit precariously on. Four-match losing streak. Another loss and their hopes of staying in the top eight could take a massive hit. There’s little reason for any of you to be adventurous and take a punt on KOI in current form.
Back Vitality to win this fair and square. Particularly impressive has been the manner in which Luka “Perkz” Perkovic has helped Vitality surge to the top after a poor 2022. He was in dominating form in their clash against G2 Esports, and his resurgence bodes well for the team as they look to get back in among the title contenders.
At the start of the season the prospect of Vitality competing against Fnatic, especially the comeback king Rekkles, was a mouth-watering prospect, but the manner in which they brushed their opponents aside to win laid down the marker for their dominance. They haven't looked back since. Their mid-laners have laid strong foundations and built on point-precision strategies that the bot laners have cashed in on.
KOI in partnership with Rogue have slumped badly. They finished third with an 11-7 record in the winter split last year, but have so far been a shadow of their lofty former selves. The challenge now is to ensure they can somehow arrest the slide and work their way back into the mid-table to secure a top-eight entry.
Two teams challenging for the top spot and not far away from doing so will round off our final contest on Sunday. The odds are so closely stacked that it’s going to be hard to pick an outright winner on the current form. That said you’re not going to be too wrong if you pick either of the sides, for the punters have pegged the odds to be even-stevens.
MAD Lions have undergone a bit of a revamp, with Elyoya and Nisqy rising up to the challenge. However, there are concerns about Carzzy’s performances and Hylissang’s role as a support player. This has left them in a state of flux, but trust an experienced outfit such as them to iron out these deficiencies.
That said, making abrupt changes to their plans and strategies against the all-dominating Fnatic may not be the best idea. Chasy is also finding his way back into the LEC and is gunning to be a competent top laner like he was in the LCK.
All said, MAD Lions haven’t looked like the dominant force that they were in 2021, but the two-time champions have the potential to be world beaters. It’s all about the one percenters, as management experts would call it, that could eventually make a massive difference.
Teams: Heretics vs Excel, Fnatic vs Mad Lions, Vitality vs KOI, G2 Esports vs Team BDS
Time: Saturday, February 4 at 12 pm ET onwards
How to watch: LEC Twitch channel
With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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