This article is part of our League of Legends series.
Team Vitality secured a third-place finish on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Misfits Gaming in the European League Championship Series Summer Split.
Vitality kicked off the series with a critical error: giving Rakan over to enemy support Michael "Mikyx" Mehle. Misfits locked in the champion the instant it made it through the ban phase, and Mikyx got the chance to demonstrate why no team had allowed him to play it in the postseason. Forming the quintessential duo alongside the Xayah of AD carry Steven "Hans sama" Lim, the Misfits' bottom lane dominated, finding a kill in the 2-vs-2 that quickly translated to more kills and turrets around the map. By the end of the opening game, Hans sama had built up a stellar 9/1/6 KDA (kills/deaths/assists) to push Misfits to victory.
However, while Misfits' bottom lane continued to look stronger than its Vitality counterpart, the same couldn't be said for the rest of the team. Jungler Nubar "Maxlore" Sarafian had a solid Game 1 on Graves but was easily outshined by Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek, who was able to help keep the Misfits' duo lane in check. The mid lane matchup was even more tilted, with Misfits' Chres "Sencux" Laursen having a repeat performance from the semifinals, in which he was simply outclassed by his opponent. Vitality mid laner Daniele "Jiizuke" di Mauro put together some of his best performances of the year, playing different champions in each game and excelling on every single one. Sencux, meanwhile, relegated himself to simple and supportive champions and fell flat on his face when he deviated to Yasuo in Game 3.
Vitality's consistent leads around the center of the map gave it a huge advantage in the numerous early skirmishes that characterized the entire series. With the early aggression and short game times, Hans sama never got the chance to properly scale and was unable to carry his team outside of Game 1 despite his solid play. Both of these teams love to fight, but only Vitality was in position to do so on Saturday. Throw in a couple of fatal macro mistakes, and Misfits couldn't hope to win the series, allowing Vitality to take it in four games.
It's a bittersweet victory for Vitality, as it finished below its seeding and will watch the European finals from the sidelines on Sunday. Its fate is out of its hands for the time being, as it needs a Fnatic win to guarantee it a spot at Worlds 2018. Otherwise, it will join Misfits in the Regional Qualifier.