With one spot in the EMEA Kickoff playoffs up for grabs, KCorp, Vitality, and KOI battled in a round robin play-in stage to sort it out. In dominant fashion, KCorp waltzed their way to a top-four finish.

A 2-0 victory over a Vitality squad still playing without trexx gave KCorp an early lead, and once Vitality rolled over KOI 2-0, KCorp only needed a single map win against a crumbling KOI. They didn't wait for a close dramatic finish as they easily took the first map to secure their playoff berth.

KCorp Banner image by Wojciech Wandzel/Riot Games

Coming into the year, all three of these teams picked up rookie talent from the Challengers circuit while testing inexperienced IGLs. KCorp chose MAGNUM to IGL as an experienced veteran who previously played under IGLs like Boaster and Enzo. Vitality moved their IGL mantle to ceNder after BONECOLD retired, and KOI did the same with starxo after dropping Koldamenta. Ironically, starxo has become the third member of the original Acend squad to become an IGL after BONECOLD and Koldamenta.

KCorp picked and won Sunset cleanly against both opponents. The quick adoption of the newest map as one of their strengths paid off in a big way. N4RRATE popped off both times as by far the highest rated Gekko player in the VCT leagues thus far. Combined, Vitality and KOI won just two full buy rounds on the map.

The only challenge KCorp faced during their play-in run came on Ascent versus Vitality. They ran an old Paper Rex composition with the Harbor/Viper duo that has fallen out of the meta along with Raze, Reyna, and the recently nerfed Skye.

Head on a swivel.

The abundance of smokes and the double duelist gave KCorp's attack significant punch despite the defender-sided nature of the map. However, the lack of a Sentinel gave their defense trouble. It required retakes in the final two rounds of regulation for KCorp to force overtime, but they converted the map in the end.

For their part, Vitality bounced back against KOI. Although they tried to throw a 10-2 start on Sunset, they brushed their opponents aside. Across the play-in stage, Sayf stepped up for his team. Having stepped aside from the star duelist role to accommodate runneR, he had been struggling to put up the same kinds of numbers that he achieved on Liquid last year. His 1.32 rating ranked third in the play-in stage only behind marteen and N4RRATE who mopped up in blowouts.


KCorp easily dealt with KOI to secure their place in the playoffs. After KCorp won Sunset, the result was guaranteed, and they let their stars loose on Bind to clean up the series. They only had to take one true eco round across both maps.

Now this is what team skins were made for.

With these results, the playoffs for EMEA have been set. KCorp will have the daunting task of playing FNATIC for a spot in Madrid while Heretics will face off against NAVI. Both games will take place on Thursday, February 29th.