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The 2022 Spring Split for both the League of Legends Korea Championship (LCK) and League of Legends European Championship (LEC) have concluded.
On 3 April, South Korean juggernauts T1 won the LCK Spring Championship, becoming the first team in their region to win a regional title undefeated.
Then on 10 April, European behemoth G2 Esports went on a perfect lower bracket run and swept Rogue Esports to claim the LEC Spring Championship.
But what were the keys to T1 and G2's winning runs? Let's take a closer look at the most popular champions in the LCK and LEC playoffs, and which ones helped bring both T1 and G2 Esports to victory.
Top Lane: Jayce
The Defender of Tomorrow was very popular in both the LEC and the LCK playoffs.
In the LCK, he was picked eight times, mostly by T1’s Choi “Zeus” Woo-je and Gen.G’s Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon. Jayce was very successful in his appearances in South Korea, sporting a 75% win rate in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, in the LEC, Jayce was the third most popular pick in the top lane with a 50% win rate. The champion was mostly present in Rogue Esports and Fnatic games but wasn’t a priority for G2 in the entire playoffs.
Jayce dominates the top lane because he can effectively poke and harass his opponent in the laning phase.
His Acceleration Gate is also an important ability in teamfights, as it increases the movement speed of all allies who pass through it.
Jayce got a nerf in 12.7 because of his popularity and consequently dropped to Tier 3, but he’s still a great counter pick against the likes of Teemo and Lilia.
Special Mentions: Ornn, Gnar
Two other popular champions in the top lane were Ornn and Gnar. Most teams in the playoffs whipped up Ornn to counter a split pushing draft.
The Freljordian Spirit of Forging wasn’t prioritized by T1 in the LCK but Ornn was present twice in G2’s drafts in the finals, where the champion demolished any side lanes trying to go solo.
Gnarr, on the other hand, was a LEC favourite and was mostly drafted by Rogue and G2.
Jungle: Lee Sin
For some reason, the blind monk has been a classic esports favorite for many seasons now, despite all attempts to nerf him to switch up the pro meta (he’s getting nerfed in 12.7 again).
In the LCK, he was present in 12 games in the playoffs and had a win rate of 58.3%. Lee Sin was a priority pick since many junglers have mastered his kit (T1 did not have him in the finals because Gen.G would always pick him).
Lee Sin is less successful in the LEC, with a sad 14.3% win rate, but that didn’t stop teams there from picking him at least 7 times throughout the playoffs.
This jungler is popular mostly because of player mastery, but also because of his strength in both the early and the late game.
He’s able to execute ganks that can disrupt formations in teamfights, on top of great sustain. Combine his Safeguard with his E, and Lee Sin is one annoying champion to deal with.
Special mentions: Viego, Volibear
Two other jungle favourites were Viego and Volibear. Both champions were the second and third priority in the LCK, while they both took the first and second spots in the LEC.
Viego’s abilities allow him to deal a lot of damage, both in teamfights and in melting away map objectives.
Meanwhile, Volibear gets picked a lot because of his single target and area-of-effect clear, along with his potential to execute ganks cleanly while tanking up a fair amount of damage.
Mid Lane: Ahri
The Nine-tailed Fox probably makes up half of the great moments in the playoffs for both regions, and for good reason.
Ahri’s the second most popular pick in the mid lane for the LCK and was picked 6 times with a 100% win rate. In the LEC, she was in 7 games in the playoffs with a 71.4% win rate.
Since the release of her rework in February, Ahri’s turned from a squishy, forgettable assassin mage to a formidable, high-mobility, sustain-focused midlaner.
In the hands of the G.O.A.T. Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok of T1 or legendary G2 Esports midlaner Rasmus "caPs" Borregaard Winther, Ahri is an absolute champion shredder with some slippery escape options that make her difficult to kill.
Both Faker and caPs used the champion in two games at their respective grand finals, consequently winning both games.
Special Mentions: Ryze, LeBlanc
The top picks for both the LEC and the LCK are different: Ryze is LCK’s top pick with a less than stellar 37.5% win rate, while in the LEC, Leblanc took the top spot with a 55.6% win rate.
Ryze is popular in the LCK, though he wasn't that successful even in the hands of Faker, who lost one game and won another during the LCK grand finals.
Ryze has also been nerfed, and solo queue players are having a hard time mastering him, so his win rate and popularity all boil down to the pro player's proficiency on the champion.
It seems, though, that pros aren't willing to let him go from the meta, so we're hoping for a Ryze rework in the future.
In the LEC, LeBlanc had a 100% pick-ban rate in the playoffs. She wasn’t the go-to of G2's caPs, but in Fnatic’s match against G2 in the upper bracket semifinals, Marek "Humanoid Brázda picked the mage assassin and won three out of four games with her.
Bot Lane: Xayah
It’s nice to see another completely different champion overtake Zeri and Jinx in the Spring Playoffs.
Xayah hasn’t been a staple in the Pro scene for quite a while, but toward the end of the regular Spring season this year, her popularity rose.
In the LCK playoffs, Xayah was picked 14 times but had a 42.9% win rate. Xayah wasn’t T1’s priority (although Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong picked her in the demifinals), but she’s been a constant in Gen.G’s drafts.
In the LEC, she’s the third most popular (with Aphelios and Jinx overtaking her), but she was G2’s key to success, winning all games with her after Victor “Flakked” Lirola dropped Aphelios for her.
Special Mentions: Jinx, Zeri
This is a bit of a no-brainer — Jinx has returned to the meta thanks to her buffs late last year.
If Xayah was Flakked’s key to victory in the LEC finals, Jinx was Gumayusi’s. Jinx was in 9 games in the playoffs with a 77.8% win rate in the LCK, while in the LEC, was in 16 games, but with a lower win rate at 31.3%.
Zeri, on the other hand, was very much broken for most of the season, with her nerfs in 12.7 crippling her only after the LCK and the LEC playoffs, where she had a 100% pick-ban rate.
Zeri also recently got a hotfix after that recent debilitating nerf.
Nautilus wasn’t the top pick for both regions in the playoffs, but he was mostly present in T1 and G2’s drafts throughout.
Nautilus is a potent early game support who can easily transition into the late game thanks to his excellent zoning and CC abilities.
There are few situations in which he cannot be used, and the pressure he exerts is unmatched.
He was in 9 games in the LCK with a 44.4% win rate, but was in T1’s draft once in the grand finals. In the LEC, he was picked 13 times, but for some reason only had a 23.1% win rate.
Special Mentions: Rakan, Tahm Kench, Renata Glasc
Rakan, Tahm Kench, and Renata Glasc have been interesting picks throughout the LEC and LCK playoffs.
Ryu "Keria" Min-seok’s Tahm Kench has been a staple toward the end of the regular season, and was still a constant pick in the playoffs. He was a beast that could tank through most teamfights, incredibly notching a 100% win rate throughout.
Meanwhile, Rakan was a staple in the LEC Spring playoffs, appearing in 11 games with a 81.8% win rate.
Rakan is a great tank support with ample mobility and crowd control abilities that can set up ganks. He’s also the 4th most-picked support in the LCK with a 40% win rate.
Lastly, we didn’t want to miss the chance to talk about Renata Glasc.
While she was only picked once in the LCK playoffs, she won on her debut. In the LEC, she ranks third, being present in 7 games with an 85.7% win rate.
She’s also Raphaël "Targamas" Crabbé’s favourite champion, mostly because she’s so lethal against scaling team compositions and has deadly crowd control.
We’re liking the variety that the LEC and LCK Spring playoffs have given us so far (perhaps except for the standard Lee Sin pick in the jungle).
The LPL and the LCS are still going to have their grand finals next week, and we’re wondering what the competing teams will bring to the final games of the split.
However, with the buffs, nerfs and reworks happening, expect to see a huge meta shift in the coming weeks, in preparing for the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational, where eleven of the best regional teams will clash for the title.
The MSI will begin on 10 May and will be held in Busan, South Korea.
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.