The 2020 League of Legends season is finally here! It’s been a long time coming and it seemed like an eternity since we last got a chance to see the elite European LoL teams compete on the Summoner’s Rift, but the wait is finally over.
The League of Legends European Championship will kick off this Friday, January 24, with five thrilling fixtures, followed by four more a day later, on Saturday. There have been a lot of changes to the league and the teams’ rosters and from the looks of it, 2020 will have the most stacked teams in the history of LEC.
Here we will look over the opening five fixtures and give our predictions on each match, with a brief preview of the teams and the fixture itself. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what Week 1 of LEC will bring.
G2 Esports vs MAD Lions
Friday, January 24 – 18:00 CET
MAD Lions (formerly Splyce), are entering the 2020 LEC season with a very interesting lineup, featuring Marek “Humanoid” Brázda and four rookies, who will join him in MAD Lions maiden season in LEC. Suffice to say, MAD Lions will heavily rely on Humanoid and his performances, which to be fair is not all too concerning. He has shown immense potential in his debut year in LEC and he is arguably one of the top-four mid laners in the league.
That said, the four rookies are not to be underestimated either. All of them have proven their quality while playing in lower leagues, which leads us to believe this team has the potential to impress and even finish in the playoffs.
While MAD Lions’ future looks bright, their opening fixture against G2 just might be very dark. It goes without saying G2 Esports are a far superior team to MAD Lions in all aspects of the game and should have a fairly easy time claiming their first W of the season.
Prediction: G2 to win – 1.186 Pinnacle
Alternative bet: G2 -8.5 kills – 1.83 Bet365
Vitality vs SK Gaming
Friday, January 24 – 19:00 CET
Vitality are in a similar position as MAD Lions when it comes to their roster, seeing how the French squad will enter 2020 LEC with three rookies, who we have high expectations for, especially for the former Vodafone Giants mid-laner Aljoša “Milica” Kovandžić, who is in our eyes a very underrated player.
Furthermore, Vitality signed an 18-year-old Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos as their ADC, who brings a lot of quality and potential for growth to the team. There are many reasons why he is by some regarded as FORG1VEN’s successor, and his 42-14 career record is without a doubt one of them.
As for SK Gaming, we don’t have a lot of hope for them. While still a solid team, they have lost a lot of quality with the departure of Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek to Fnatic. With their MVP out of the team, a lot of weight will be put on the shoulders of their bottom lane Slovenian-Croatian tandem in Juš “Crownshot” Marušič and Dino “LIMIT” Tot. Replacing Selfmade is Kim “Trick” Gang-yun, who is a solid player, yet there is no denying he is a downgrade.
Putting the teams side-by-side, we have to side with Vitality, simply because SK lost their key player and will most likely need some more time to figure out how to fill the void. An upset is of course entirely possible, but we can trust Milica and Comp to show their worth and lead Vitality to their first W of the season.
Prediction: Vitality to win – 1.729 Pinnacle
Misfits vs Rogue
Friday, January 24 – 20:00 CET
Bookmakers have Rogue priced as heavy favorites to defeat Misfits and to be fair, we can’t argue with that assessment.
Misfits are entering the 2020 season with a squad filled with rookies, which is the case with many other LEC teams, but in the case of Misfits, their additions are arguably the weakest bunch out of all rookies entering the scene. We are ready for Misfits to prove us wrong, but that is what it seems like before the LEC kick-off.
Rogue on the other side are in our books set to contest the playoffs, and we would not be surprised if they end up claiming the third spot by the end of the split. The team was playing exceptionally well last season, yet were held back a bit with their bottom lane. That, however, will change this year with the arrival of Steven “Hans Sama” Liv, who is a massive upgrade to Paweł “Woolite” Pruski.
With a stronger bottom lane, we can’t expect anything less than a playoff spot from Rogue. Misfits on the other side… they might surprise, but anything higher than sixth-place finish at this point seems very unlikely.
All things considered, we have to side with Rogue for this one.
Prediction: Rogue to win – 1.44 Bet365
Alternative bet: Rogue -5.5 kills – 2.00 Pinnacle
FC Schalke 04 v Excel Esports
Friday, January 24 – 21:00 CET
Arguably the most exciting fixture of the opening day of LEC, featuring Schalke and Excel Esports.
Schalke will feature two LoL legends on their team in Erberk “Gilius” Demir and Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou who are making their return to LEC for the first time since 2018 and 2016 respectively, which makes concerned as they are at the end of the day unproven players in LEC.
Furthermore, Schalke’s bottom lane may look like it has lost some quality with the departure of Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun and Elias “Upset” Lipp, but with Han “Dreams” Min-kook and FORG1VEN on board, we are confident they can fill the void or even outperform the previous tandem, as Dreams is a great support, while FORG1VEN needs no special introduction.
Excel Esports are known for being the bottom feeders in their first two LEC splits, which means things can only get better for them and as we see it, 2020 just might be their most successful season yet.
The biggest problem with Excel is their inconsistency, especially in the mid lane where Son “Mickey” Young-min has returned to play for one more season. That said, we have high expectations for Excel’s bottom lane in Tore “Tore” Hoel Eilertsen and Patrik “Patrick” Jírů, who have been average at most so far, but with a new team, there is a potential they can improve.
Many people have Excel ranked as the worst team in the league, but we feel that is a bit too biased. While it’s true we have little to no trust in Mickey, who can be either one of the best mid laners of one of the worst (depending on his day), we can’t forget the biggest change in the team and that is the arrival of the six-star general Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool as their head coach.
With his help, Excel could see a significant improvement, and while it will take quite some time for the former Fnatic coach to save the team from the hole they’re in, there is a potential. As long as they make some changes in the midline.
As we see it, Schalke will start this season strong and while there is a chance they might fall off slightly towards the end, they have enough quality and experienced players to steamroll through weaker opponents. Schalke’s success will heavily rely on their top and bottom lane and while those two are the biggest question marks here, FORG1VEN and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu should deliver and earn Schalke their first W of the split here.
Prediction: Schalke to win 1.662 Pinnacle
Alternative bet: Over 25.5 kills – 1.869 Pinnacle
Origen vs Fnatic
Friday, January 24 – 22:00 CET
The last fixture of the day will see an exciting clash between two old enemies Origen and Fnatic.
Origen are entering 2020 with two huge acquisitions in Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and Elias “Upset” Lipp. Upset is without a doubt one of the best ADC players in the LEC and while Partik was not particularly bad last season, it’s easy for us to say Upset is without a doubt an upgrade when it comes to Origen’s bottom lane strength.
Xerxe on the other side needs no special introduction. He achieved a top-eight finish at 2019 Worlds with Splyce and even made it to the finals of LEC Regional Finals, where he ultimately lost to Fnatic. While he has never won a LEC title, Xerxe is arguably one of the top-two junglers in Europe, since Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen left for Team Liquid.
But it’s not only their ADC and jungler who are easily regarded as one of the best in their positions. Barney “Alphari” Morris and Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm are both exceptional players from whom we expect great things. That said, there are some question marks surrounding support Mitchell “Destiny” Shawn. Nonetheless, Destiny is a proven OPL player, having won three OPL titles with three rosters, so there is some potential he could impress in the LEC as well.
The biggest talking point with Fnatic is the departure of Broxah, which unlike what many believe, we feel like it will benefit the team and their performances. That’s not to say Broxah was having issues with his teammates, but rather the fact that he simply did not have enough impact on the games last season, especially in the early game.
His replacement, Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek on the other side is an extremely aggressive early-game jungler, which can only help Fnatic, who already boast with exceptional laning players.
Another key factor in this team is Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, who has had his ups and lows last season, but he is still without a doubt one of the best, if not the best 1v1 top laners in the league. He is incredibly aggressive and if he can find the synergy with Selfmade, we can expect great things from this squad.
As for our prediction, we have to side with Fnatic.
Prediction: Fnatic to win – 1.427 Pinnacle
Alternative bet: Under 26.5 – 1.892 Pinnacle
Day 1 Best bet: Vitality to win