It certainly feels like a lifetime since the 2022 LEC Spring Split ended, but finally the Spring Playoffs have begun, and this weekend we were treated to three series that certainly didn’t disappoint. Regular season king Rogue was able to ease past Misfits 3-1 – a feat recreated by Fnatic in a thrilling matchup against longtime rivals G2 Esports. Of course, the Silver Scrapes had to play once, and play it did as Vitality clutched out a 3-2 victory over Excel Esports.
The longer three-week period between the end of the split and the playoffs has allowed players a rare opportunity to take a break to reset, spend time with friends and family, and work on polishing their play with the rest of their team. While Rogue’s Andrei ‘Odoamne’ Pascu has enjoyed these benefits, he does admit to The Loadout that the time away from preparing for playoffs has “messed up the team’s rhythm a bit.”
For Odoamne – whose history as a competitive swimmer has shaped his approach to conditioning throughout a competitive season – the length of time he had away from training was quite jarring. “Even when I was in my swimming days, your body is just at the absolute [peak],” he explains. “With the rhythm of the routine, and repeating it over and over every single day, your body starts functioning like a well-oiled machine.
“Ever since I started playing in LEC we’ve never had that break, and me going out of it [practice] meant the efficiency level dropped.” However, the Romanian does note that once the team returned to its preparations, “things started clicking again,” making for a net positive experience overall.
EZ clappers chogue top 3 cya nerds
— Andrei Pascu (@Odoamne) March 25, 2022
Of course, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Rogue and Odoamne had briefly been off the boil judging from the sharpness of the team’s performance against Misfits on Friday. Going into the games, the toplaner says that it felt “surprisingly easy and clear to play” out each game – even though the team “griefed” game three – thanks to the strength of its drafts and the power of its lanes.
Perhaps most interestingly, and as Odoamne says “uncharacteristically” of Rogue, the team played heavily through its top side for much of the series. In tandem with fellow LEC All-Pro First Team awardee Kim ‘Malrang’ Geun-seong, the pair proceeded to outmanoeuvre their Misfits counterparts – particularly during the first two games.
Piloting Rumble, Jayce, and Gnar across the series, Odoamne was very much at home on comfort picks. With that said, there was one notable absence from the top lane pool we saw throughout the series (and indeed across the weekend): Graves.
League of Legends’ top lane meta in recent seasons has, as Odoamne points out, largely been driven by the most broken item at the time. So far in the LEC this year we have seen the rise of Hullbreaker, with Graves and Gnar as its premium pairings, alongside the occasional purchasing of it for Camille.
However, following nerfs to Hullbreaker on patch 12.5, the briefly-omnipotent item has fallen out of favour. While many have celebrated its demise, Odoamne is sad to see it go. “I personally really enjoyed the Hullbreaker meta,” he says, “because in a way the meta wasn’t about the item anymore.” With most meta champions building Hullbreaker, Odoamne feels that lanes were now actually being decided by pure ability and champion matchups, rather than who could build the stronger item.
Now with Hullbreaker out of the picture, Odoamne believes that champions – particularly Jayce – which can take advantage of Eclipse will return to being the premier blind picks. Already, across the 13 games played this weekend, Jayce has drawn eight bans while being picked up three times – each time before the enemy top lane pick was known.
For the most part, though, Odoamne says that most top lane picks are viable right now as long as they fit the team’s comp. Of course, power picks like Jayce are more likely to come up, but with a fantastic performance on Rumble in game one against Misfits under his belt marking his first piloting of the champion in 2022, it looks like we could see a decent amount of versatility during the playoffs – provided Jayce remains under the ban hammer, of course.
Rogue will be back in action this coming Saturday when it takes on Fnatic in the upper bracket semi-final.