The LEC 2024 Winter Playoffs kick off this Saturday. Read on to learn all about the exciting match-ups that await, and try to predict the winners yourself!
FormatThere will be eight participating teams - all of the LEC teams minus Karmine Corp and Rogue - and they will be playing in a double elimination bracket. This means that a team needs to lose two best-of-three matches before they are eliminated fully.
There will be four rounds of matches before the finals. The first two will be best-of-three matches, and the rest will be best-of-five.
The stakes? The winner automatically qualifies for the 2024 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and the LEC 2024 Season Finals; which will directly decide who will attend Worlds 2024 down the line.
The Round 1 match-ups, sourced from LEC's twitter.
Team BDS versus Team Heretics
The Playoffs will kick off with what will hopefully be an exciting best-of-three match between Team BDS and Team Heretics. The two teams faced off just one week ago in Week 3 of the regular season. Unfortunately for TH, the game was rather one-sided. Team BDS finished off the Heretics' Nexus by the 30th minute mark, with both of BDS' solo laners dominating over their opponents.
While it's worth noting that a best-of-one victory doesn't always translate to a win in a best-of-three, it's also worth noting the teams' general track records in Winter so far. Team Heretics had a pretty good debut week, but had fallen off as Week 3 emerged. By the end of the regular season, they had only beaten GIANTX, Rogue, Karmine Corp, and SK Gaming and of these, two teams didn't even make it to the playoffs.
On the other hand, Team BDS is enjoying nearly unprecedented success in Winter so far. They only narrowly missed out on first place to G2 Esports, having lost to them at the start of the split. The only other team to beat BDS was Karmine Corp in their final game. So, BDS has lost to the best, and the worst team, but is so far winning against everyone else.
With those odds stacked up against them, we're going to have to predict that BDS is taking this series home with a 2-0. However, Team Heretics could always surprise us. Either way, whoever loses still has a chance to get to the finals via the lower bracket.
BDS is looking to reclaim first place. Sourced from LEC's twitter.
G2 Esports versus GIANTX
Our second series of the day will begin around 20:00 CET (usually sooner than advertised) and will feature G2 Esports and GIANTX. In the regular season, these two teams also met in Week 3, the game going in G2's favour and lasting just 26 minutes.
GIANTX did make it to the Playoffs, but, like Team Heretics, only narrowly. They were able to defeat Karmine Corp, Rogue, Team Vitality, and, MAD Lions KOI, and everyone but MDK is either equal or lower than GIANTX in the standings. Excel, the team that turned into GIANTX, similarly, has not had a lot of success in the LEC in recent memory. Conversely...
... G2 Esports is G2 Esports. They've only lost two games so far, once to Rogue and once to Team Vitality. Both times, it was considered a major upset that G2 lost, and while these sort of losses can always occur in best-of-ones, in a longer series, it’s more unlikely. G2 seems to be as on top of their game as ever, and they’re sure to make it to finals, whether or not GIANTX pulls off the impossible and beats them tomorrow or not. However, we’re going to be giving the predicted 2-0 win to G2 Esports.
SK Gaming versus Team Vitality
SK Gaming and Team Vitality face off on Sunday at 17:00 CET. Unlike the previous two match-ups, this one has more potential for spice and a good chance to go beyond three games. In the regular season, the teams faced off last Saturday with SK Gaming taking the win.
SK Gaming's split started off gloriously, as they claimed a perfect 3-0 week right off the bat. However, they fell of somewhat in the following two weeks, eventually ending the regular season with a score of 5-4; only securing two more wins after Week 1. They lost to Team Heretics, BDS, Karmine Corp, and G2 Esports. Two of the best teams, and two teams a lot closer to the bottom of the standings. With that kind of track record, it can be a bit difficult to predict what they'll do next.
Team Vitality has something of a similar story, though their perfect week was Week 2. Outside of Week 2, they only won one more time, in Week 3 against Team Heretics. Notably, to secure their perfect week, Vitality was able to take down G2 Esports. The other two teams, however, never even made it to the Playoffs, so arguably that dulls the victories somewhat.
We've seen both teams pop off, and both teams lose games they probably should have won. However, we're gonna give the win prediction over to SK with a 2-1 because they seem a bit more consistent, and were able to win more overall, including against Vitality themselves.
SK needs to channel their Week 1 buff to make it through Playoffs. Sourced from LEC's twitter.
Mad Lions KOI versus Fnatic
The next best-of-three will be between MAD Lions KOI and Fnatic. Both teams seem somewhat evenly matched - at least, they are both sitting at a 5-4 score and round out the top five of the regular season. In the Week 3 head-to-head, it was MDK that beat FNC out, in spite of the large experience gap.
Indeed, if there is one thing that makes us think Fnatic has to clear this best-of-three it's the fact that they are a well-known, well-established, team full of veterans. MAD Lions KOI is coming off a complete roster overhaul, having kept only Elyoya from 2023, and adding four rookies.
Put a team like that against a prestigious team like Fnatic, and you have to assume Fnatic will win. However, Fnatic hasn't actually been doing too hot in recent years. Their last LEC title was in 2019, and their roster has been shaken up quite a bit - and more than once - since then. This current roster was able to achieve some measure of respect from Spring 2023 onwards, but they still seem like they are missing that something they had back in the golden days.
In spite of MDK's win in Week 3, and the frankly impressive potential they've shown so far in the regular season, I think Fnatic's experience with best-of series will give them the edge they need to win this one out with a 2-1 score in the series.