Fans’ hopes for the new structure for the group stage of the European League of Legends championship were met by the first best-of-three of the 2023 LEC season, which was an intriguing series. The best-of-three battle between Team Vitality and Team Heretics delivered everything viewers could have hoped for, with both teams displaying development throughout the course of the series.
As Vitality placed first in the regular season rankings, they had the right to choose their opponents for the first round of the group stage. They chose Team Heretics over KOI and SK Gaming. Ultimately it was Team Vitality who came out on top in what was the first Bo3 in the region since 2017, but Team Heretics delivered a clean performance that showcased the team’s ability to adapt to their opponents’ style.
In the first game, it was Vitality who gained significant first blood against the too-daring bot lane of Heretics, who drafted Caitlyn and Varus. This choice perhaps proved too hubristic for Heretics, who lost most of the fights and skirmishes against their opponents throughout the game. With deep map vision and control of targets thanks to Bo’s Kindred, Vitality won after a relentless push into the Heretics’ base, making it seem all too easy.
The second game played out in almost an identical manner, but with a reversed result. Jackspectra’s Zeri had three kills in her pocket within the first two minutes of the game and went on to score two more kills soon thereafter.
Heretics didn’t drop their early advantage and went on to conquer one objective after another thanks to Jankos’ jungle path.
After 22 minutes on the Rift, Heretics had obtained the Infernal Drake’s Soul and the Baron buff without having to win major teamfights against Vitality. This was made possible by the precise vision control the team had established in the enemy jungle and the ambushes led by Mersa’s Nautilus. With Heretics pushing all lanes, Vitality had to retreat into their base—but not even their last stand could stop Heretics from winning the second game in a dominant fashion and tying the match.
After two one-sided games, the third one delivered a nail-biting end to the series. The first blood went to Vitality thanks to Bo rotating and ganking early the top side of the map. But it was Heretics who came out on top after the first teamfight of the game, narrowing the gap between the two teams almost immediately.
The back-and-forth exchanges between the players continued for the entire early and mid stages of the game. Even the Baron buffs were equally conquered by the two teams, with the teamfights to take the objective being crucial to the game’s outcome.
After thirty minutes on the Rift both teams are equal on kills, but with Vitality having a slight advantage in gold thanks to having conquered more objectives than Heretics. But one final fight in front of the Baron pit delivered Vitality the opportunity to obtain the Ocean Drake’s Soul and then the coveted third Baron buff, pushing into Heretics’ base to win the first best-of-three series in the LEC.
Vitality will now either face KOI or SK in the upper bracket of the group stage, while Heretics will have to fight against elimination in their next match.