Photo: Riot Games

We are entering the fifth week of competitive LEC play. This is practically the halfway point of the split, which means things are starting to pick up steam. There are many exceptional narratives that have developed over the last couple of months, and there’s not a soul in sight that isn’t excited to see how things eventually resolve.

The fifth week of LEC play will then give us an even better look into all ten permanent partners and their inherent potential. Some are predicted to rise high, whereas others don’t have nearly as much hype or momentum. That said, there’s not a bad team in the LEC right now, which makes betting exceptionally hard. Excel Esports just took down SK Gaming, and Rogue outclassed Origen in a one-sided shellacking. Those are shocking sights, regardless of your allegiance. Teams are improving on a weekly basis and out power rankings constantly change and adapt.

There’s no expected result in the LEC right now because anything can happen. Well, almost anything. No one’s expecting G2 Esports to drop games, but other than that, everyone has the capacity to pull of incredible, mind-boggling upsets. That makes watching the European region that much more exciting, but from a betting standpoint, we’re in uncharted waters.

So with that out of the way, let’s focus on the games at hand!

DAY ONE

Team Vitality vs. Schalke 04 — For our second match of the day, we have a pretty darn exciting clash between Schalke 04 and Team Vitality.

Now, this is by no means a premier match-up when it comes to the standings. We have one team (Schalke) that is excruciatingly close to attaining top-tier status. They have all the right players, the cohesion, the mechanical prowess — they just lack a little bit more time before getting on the same page completely and actually challenging the upper echelon of the LEC.

But they’re insanely talented, even though they dropped more game than they had to. They have four wins and four losses to their name, which is far from bad, but they came close to emerging victorious on so many occasions. They’re currently tied for fourth with Origen, and they’re two wins behind Splyce, so at worst they’re a solid playoff contender that’s currently developing an identity.

They’re exceptional in multiple facets of play, but again, they lack the consistency and the split second decision making in order to reach the very top. They’re coming into week five with a win over Rogue and a loss to G2 Esports, but even their loss to the defending champions didn’t hurt their stock too much. It was a hectic back-and-forth game (at least early on) and Schalke fought fairly well until G2 upped the tempo and basically strangled them across the map.

Fortunately for them, they’re not up against G2 Esports this time around, but instead against Vitality. What can one say about Vitality that hasn’t already been said? We’re all aware of their inherent potential, but their Summer Split play has so far been downright abysmal. Now, as a team, they’re the definition of “volatile” and “inconsistent”. That said, their most recent fumble and fall from grace was far more monumental than anyone expected. They’re still the same team, but it seems as though the recent meta shifts heavily impacted their strength and ability to dominate.

It’s important to highlight that they’ve been improving quite a fair bit over the last couple of weeks, but it still feels a bit negligible in the grand scheme of things. They’re doing a lot better, but they’re still extremely vulnerable and out of sync. Perhaps most importantly, they’re just not playing good League of Legends on an individual level. We all expect more from Vitality and with good reason — they should rightfully be deemed as veterans right now. Not only have they graced the LEC stage for quite some time now but they also created quite a fair bit of chaos at last year’s World Championship. This is a capable team that is unique in every regard, but they’re just not getting the job done for one reason or another.

In the end, we simply have to side with Schalke. The reasons are manifold, quite frankly. There’s always this lingering fear that Vitality will step up and start dominating, but they simply don’t deserve our benefit of the doubt right now. That said, their dualistic nature is always a reason to be scared when betting on or against them.

You never really know when they’re going to improve as it often happens in a matter of days. Regardless, Schalke need this win if they want to further distance themselves from the rest of the pack. Dropping a game at this point to a team like Vitality could definitely cost them dearly in a matter of weeks.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

Excel Esports vs. G2 Esports — This is a fun one, to say the least. And who would have thunk it? Let’s first look at what this match-up really is on paper. It is a fight between the number one and number ten team. It is a fight between the defending, reigning champions, and a team that no one gave much thought coming into 2019, and with good reason.

It is a fight between the best, most successful and flexible LEC team in history… And Excel Esports.

The dankest of timeline really did happen.

But why is this such a hyped clash? The reason is simple — Excel Esports have displayed incredible grit and fortitude over the last couple of weeks, and currently have a deceptively potent early game. Perhaps that’s even an understatement. They’re absolute beasts early on and have nearly taken down both Fnatic as well as Origen. They’re far stronger than anyone gives them credit for, but they’re still rough around the edges. Perhaps most importantly, they lack the shot calling and the calmness under pressure in order to actually pull off such seismic upsets.

They did win against SK Gaming and that, in and of itself, is an incredible achievement considering just how bad they were for the longest time. They’re not predicted to upset the status quo and no one’s expecting them to actually take G2 down, but they’re going to fight like their lives depend on it — which makes this match an absolute must watch.

A team that has nothing to lose is a dangerous opponent regardless of the context. One thing is for sure: they lack the mechanical skill in order to complete the upset. That said, G2 Esports has the tendency to troll and to do what people least expect them to. They’re bored, that’s a fact. They want to have fun and they could actually draft for fun, meaning they could put themselves at a disadvantage from the very get go.

In other words, this could end up being a much closer match than more people expect. That said, we simply have to side with G2 Esports. There’s no way we can bet against the best and most flexible team in the world right now.

Winner: G2 Esports, 1.08 (odds @ Betway)

Rogue vs. Fnatic — Yet another incredibly interesting clash between two teams that sit at opposite sides of the standings. On one hand, we have Fnatic — the former “kings of Europe”. On the other, a team that has only recently picked up a bit of momentum. Now, to be quite fair, Rogue’s one-sided beatdown over Origen got a lot of people thinking. How could it not? To win is one thing, but to outclass a top-tier team to such a degree is a completely different matter.

But the problem is, we don’t know just how well Rogue played when compared to how badly Origen assembled on that given day. They couldn’t mount much of an offensive and it was evident on the Rift as well. They simply couldn’t get off the ground and while Rogue’s stellar play did disable them from the very get go, they were still uncharacteristically out of sync and prone to making egregious mechanical mistakes.

According to many different sources, Rogue are on an upswing. Many people consider them a playoff dark horse and even though they didn’t do much to deserve such hype (other than beating an unprepared Origen), it’s still an exciting notion that makes this one match, in particular, that much more exciting. Could they take down Fnatic? Could they make it an even fight? The odds are definitely stacked against them, but if they do manage to tango with the second best team in the region then we might see a huge shift in the middle of the standings.

Either way, we have to side with Fnatic on this one. Betting against them at this point in time makes zero sense, and even though the game might be a lot closer than most people expect, they should still be more than capable of getting the win. They’re entering this week with Magifelix instead of Rekkles and that will surely impact their strength, but they should still be head and shoulders above a surging Rogue squad.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

SK Gaming vs. Origen — Finally, to close out the day, we have an absolute banger. Well, at least on paper. Both of these two teams are well-known for their stellar play. They’re some of the best teams the LEC has to offer, and while they failed to leave much of a mark in the grand scheme of things, they were still more than capable enough in order to rattle a few cages and throw their names into the mix.

Origen cemented themselves as a Top 3 team back in Spring, whereas SK Gaming needed just a single split in order to lock down a playoff spot. That’s commendable, to say the least.

Right now, however, both teams lack momentum and hype. They’re definitely solid, that’s for sure, but they’re entering today’s match on a low. In fact, the connection is fascinating. Origen was outclassed by Rogue (a team that was ranked ninth for the longest time), whereas SK Gaming dropped a game to Excel Esports, the worst team in the region (stats-wise).

Both playoff contenders dropped the ball against the unlikeliest of challengers — at the worst possible moment. They need every single win they can get, and by losing to bottom-tier dwellers, they’re seriously hurting their chances of reaching the playoffs.

Speaking of playoffs, the race for Top 6 has never been this intense and close. Other than G2 Esports, only two other teams look like bona fide contenders — Fnatic and Splyce. Everyone else, however, is in the running (except Excel who can’t really attain a playoff spot because of their overall win-loss tally).

This game matters quite a lot. Both teams are extremely close to one another in the standings and getting a win here would give them a huge upper hand once the regular portion of the split concludes. They want to evade any potential tiebreakers; they want to get the job done as soon as possible and not depend on anyone else.

Predicting the outcome of this one clash is downright impossible. There’s not a lot to which we can cling to, especially considering just how badly both teams played last week. They’re looking for redemption and their road towards the top starts here.

We’re siding with Origen on this one, but expect an insanely close, back-and-forth game that could easily enter the fiesta realm. Either way, we should be entertained.

Winner: Origen, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)