Can the underdogs make the upset?
The LEC Winter regular split has ended in the blink of an eye and now it’s time for teams to fight in the groups stage. Will there be any major upset? Let’s see all the round 1 matches.
LEC Winter Groups – Eight teams qualified
The LEC Winter Groups is the newest introduction to the 2023 season in the EMEA region. With the double round-robin eliminated, the best eight teams from the winter split will advance to a double-elimination bracket to determine the top four.
Now that matches are going to be Bo3 (best-of-three), teams will have to prove their real worth in order to advance to playoffs. Given that we were only able to witness Bo1s so far, there is still quite a lot of uncertainty around most teams. Let’s take a look at the individual matches of Round 1.
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LEC Winter Groups Round 1 matches
VIT vs TH
Vitality chose Team Heretics as their first opponent in the LEC Winter Groups. Being the number one seed, it’s quite logical to see them favorite going into this match. That said, there are a couple of things that might swing the balance and that VIT must address in order to dominate the other teams in the league.
First, some teams seem to have understood how VIT work and they are trying to neutralize VIT’s core member: Bo. By tracking him and shutting him down, Vitality struggles to create good enough pressure points on the map. Neon and Kaiser don’t seem to be comfortable on strongside bot lanes and Perkz struggles to solo-win the mid lane without proper help. Luckily for them, Photon is stepping up by playing carry-oriented champions.
Heretics, on the other hand, will just have to keep up their growth trajectory. Thanks to the double-elimination bracket, they will have a chance to redeem themselves. Their focus will be on trying to show their best gameplay possible and keep that positive trend. They are not ready for now, but be aware of them in the losers’ bracket.
Predictions: VIT 65% | TH 35%
SK vs KOI
SK Gaming had a winter split well above expectations and are looking like strong contenders in this first 2023 split. That said, they are going against KOI who have shown great signs of recovery in the last week, beating Vitality and locking the winter groups.
KOI seem to struggle in the new meta, both in terms of drafts as well as coordination. Odoamne’s departure might have caused some problems in Szygenda adapting and red side doesn’t seem friendly for KOI. The team has problems playing around their bot lane if they can’t get their hands on a strong bot lane. Even if Malrang comes to impact the lane, KOI can’t create a good enough lead to let Comp carry the game. Given that they’re going against Exakick and Doss who have had stellar performances, SK is likely taking this series.
Predictions: SK 60% | KOI 40%
MAD vs AST
This is probably the most one-sided match between the four. While Astralis did manage to qualify, MAD Lions have shown to be head and shoulders above in almost all aspects. The only thing going for Astralis is late-game scaling: if MAD is unable to close out the game and AST can get their hands on scaling picks like GP or Sivir, then there will be a chance for AST. Otherwise, they are likely going to get 2-0’d by MAD.
Predictions: MAD 70% | AST 30%
G2 vs BDS
G2 vs BDS is going to be the most exciting match to watch in Round 1 of the LEC Winter Groups. Not only because G2 is involved but because there is actually potential for BDS to take down the powerhouse G2.
As always, when things are not that one-sided, drafts play a major in swinging games from one team to another. We already saw in their Bo1 series how G2 respects Adam’s pocket picks like Darius and Olaf, which most teams didn’t in BDS’ victories. In a Bo3, however, it’s unlikely that G2 can keep those two champions permabanned: this is a key factor in the series.
Aside from that, though, the other main element is the mid lane. While Crownie and Labrov shouldn’t have many problems keeping up with Hans Sama and Mikyx, nuc will have to make sure Caps doesn’t wreak havoc and take over the game. If nuc can keep him in check, we might have a big series on our hands. It will be hard, but it will show that BDS is the real deal in 2023.
Predictions: G2 55% | BDS 45%
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