KOI strangle Vitality in convincing sweep, become first team to reach LEC Winter playoffs

KOI are back to looking like their championship-caliber selves again.

The first berth in the 2023 LEC Winter Split playoff stage was on the line in todays match between Vitality and KOI, and KOI wasted no time gobbling it up. With two quick wins, KOI punched their ticket to the top four, becoming the first team to reach the first edition of the LECs shiny new playoff bracket. 

This past offseason, the LEC completely revamped its format, and the changes have already paid dividends. Despite the playoff stage of each split containing fewer teams, the group stage of the Winter Split has had a playoff atmosphere to it thus far, with each best-of-three series making teams feel as though their split really might be on the line. 

Plus, the addition of best-of series in the regular season allows for teams who may have struggled in the best-of-one round-robin portion of the schedule to bounce back in a different environment. In KOIs case, the team went 4-5 in the first stage of the splita far cry from their run to the LEC championship last summer as Rogue. But in the group stage, they cruised through their two structured series easily. 

Related: Why other LoL esports regions should consider adopting the LECs new season format

Today, KOI looked arguably the best they have all season, particularly in the second game of the match, which looked like all but a formality for KOI after they jumped out to an exponential gold lead just a few minion waves into the game. Game two saw KOI earn three quick kills in the bottom lane prior to the five-minute mark, allowing them to snowball their lead way out of control in the mid-game. In game two, KOI had a perfect game intact all the way until 15 minutes in when Vitality shockingly won a teamfight while playing from a 5,000 gold deficit. 

Although weve yet to see any losers bracket matches, the prospect of looming elimination makes every game feel that much more intense. Following their defeat today, Vitality will drop into the losers bracket of Group A, where theyll face the winner of next weeks Heretics/SK Gaming match in a dire advance-or-go-home series. 

Another playoff qualification match will take place later today between the top two teams in Group B: MAD Lions and G2 Esports.

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