League of Legends European Championship (LEC) is set to return on Friday, with the opening five fixtures, where we will see 10 of the strongest European LoL teams begin their journey into the Summer Split.
With four tickets for 2020 League of Legends World Championship on the line, the drive to prove their worth and earn the right to represent their region at the season’s culminating event will be higher than ever and since many teams made some much-needed changes in the off-season the LEC Summer has all the elements needed for one of the most exciting and competitive splits in a very long time.
What we can expect this split is more of the same when it comes to the top two teams, as there are not many teams in the league that can compete with G2 and Fnatic (besides Origen), however, when it comes to third-sixth place finish the race looks to be extremely tight and we might even see a surprise appearance from one of the teams that ended the last split below the line.
Vitality and SK Gaming
Picking out the bottom two teams for this split is not exactly hard and anyone who was watching LEC Spring Split would have an easy time recognising SK Gaming and Vitality as the weakest two teams in Europe. Setting them apart, however, is a bit tougher. SK Gaming field a few more “big names” which does set them above Vitality, however, we can’t forget that Vitality have improved towards the end of the split and have shown they can play at a high level, albeit rarely.
Ahead of this split, Vitality finally got ahold of Aljoša “Milica” Kovandžić, who looks like a huge upgrade compared to Lucas “Saken” Fayard and Marcin “Selfie” Wolski, both of whom got removed from the active roster. Other than that, Vitality acquired a new support Labros “labrov” Papoutsakis and parted ways with Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi which is a questionable move since Steelback had a solid season.
SK, on the other side decided to move Janik “Jenax” Bartels from mid to top lane and acquired ex-BIG mid laner Dirk “ZaZee” Mallner as his replacement. While getting rid of Toni “Sacre” Sabalić is a move in the right direction, I’m not too sure about sending Jenax to the top lane.
SK’s success will likely come down to ADC Juš “Crownshot” Marušič who has shown a lot of promise in Spring, but until they pair him with the right players to help him carry games, SK’s future looks as bleak as it did the last split.
Schalke 04 and Excel Esports
Schalke and Excel finished last split side-by-side at eighth and seventh place respectively. While Schalke decided to stick with what they have and build from it, Excel Esports opted for a few roster changes and I believe both teams made the right decision.
Of course, signing a superstar name would be the optimal move for Schalke, but they did not play as poorly as their placement in LEC Spring would suggest. The initial struggles soon disappeared after Schalke replaced Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou with Nihat “Innaxe” Aliev, who proved to be a much better fit for this team. The team looks solid overall and their improvement towards the end of the season is somewhat promising, but there are way too many question marks above Schalke for me to see them as a legitimate playoff contender.
Lukas “Lurox” Thoma was far from impressive in the jungle and while Felix “Abbedagge” Braun looked solid in the mid lane at times, the competition in LEC is far too tough for mediocre players to achieve anything remarkable.
I like Excel Esports for two reasons. They’re an extremely well-coached team and their high ambitions make me believe this team means business and will do everything to achieve their goals. But ambitions alone won’t make them LEC champions. During the off-season, Excel parted ways with Son “Mickey” Young-min and Ki “Expect” Dae-Han which are both solid moves in my book. Neither of the Koreans showed up the last split and although their replacements are a big question mark, they should bring a bit more stability to this roster.
Rogue, Misfits and MAD Lions
Some would argue Origen belong in this group of teams, but I don’t believe that would do them justice since I rank Origen well above all these teams. Rogue come off as the weakest team out of the three on the paper, but that does not necessarily mean they will struggle this season. As mention in our LEC predictions, Rogue are similar to Origen in many ways but are still a level below them. In a way they’re a “baby Origen” for a lack of a better word.
Nevertheless, this team is capable of a lot more than what they led us to believe, but the fact that they looked somewhat mediocre throughout Spring and that they did not make any changes leads us to believe Rogue will likely end this split around the same spot as they did in Spring.
With the addition of Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup, Misfits now look like a proper LEC playoffs team but for them to finish amongst the top three, a lot will have to go right. A lot of their success will come down to Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten – Iván “Razork” Martín duo, but in most part Misfits’ success will heavily rely on their bottom lane. The key to achieving a great split will be integrating Kobbe into the main roster and enabling him to show his full potential. He has a solid jungler next to him and one of the best European supports in Petr “denyk” Haramach, now only time will tell whether how high is Misfits’ ceiling.
MAD Lions gained a lot of supporters after they eliminated G2 from the first round of LEC Spring playoffs, but I’m not too big on the hype. This is still a very young roster that makes rookie mistakes, which seem to be a direct by-product of overconfidence. That is not to say MAD Lions are not a great team that can easily dispose of weaker sides, but when faced with Origen, Fnatic and especially G2, MAD Lions get slapped.
Misfits, Rogue and MAD Lions are the main competitors for the fourth spot leading to 2020 Worlds and since all three have their strengths and weaknesses, we can expect a very tight race. Their success will be likely dictated by how well they can perform against Origen, Fnatic and G2, since I don’t believe they will struggle against weaker teams.
The main win conditions for these teams are as follows: Misfits will have to enable Kobbe, MAD Lions need to develop and stop trying to be G2, while Rogue’s players need to step out of their mediocrity and start showing what they’re capable of.
A team that sits in their own class. They’re stronger than MAD Lions, Rogue and Misfits, but not quite at the level of G2. Origen are an extremely strong team with some of the best individual players in the league. Elias “Upset” Lipp was statistically the best ADC last split, and we can’t deny the super performances from Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm, who has proven to be one of the best mid laners Europe has ever produced and it’s still surprising to know he has never been to Worlds.
Origen’s raw individual quality is what defines this team and I would be shocked if they don’t finish at least third by the end of the split and secure a ticket for Worlds. What’s more, this team has all the needed tools to defeat Fanatic and finish above them. It will all come down to which team will slip against some of the weaker sides.
There is not a lot to say about Fnatic that has not already been said. Their main goal will be to derail G2 and reclaim the LEC crown and while they failed to achieve that in the last three splits, there is a reason to believe Fnatic’s chances to finally sit on the throne are slightly higher this split.
The meta has shifted to favor carry junglers, which should enable Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek to play his preferred style of play and improve upon his shaky performances the last split. That is not to say he played badly, but I expect to see more from him here. Having said that, he will still need to outperform Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, who is arguably one of the best junglers in the world and on top of that thrives in carry jungle meta.
As for other players, we don’t expect anything to change. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson is still the main carry of this team and Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau is still one of the most consistent top laners in Europe. For Fnatic to succeed this season, Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek will have to show a bit more, and by that, we mean he will have to perform better than Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther.
G2 don’t have anything more to prove in LEC and it would be shocking to see them not winning another LEC title. This team is well above all other teams in their league and while they often produce close matches with Fnatic, the fact that G2 consistently defeat their rivals is a reason enough to view them as the undisputed strongest team in Europe.
With Caps back in the mid lane and Luka “Perkz” Perković back in his old ADC role, G2 look to be stronger than they were the last split, namely due to Caps’ inconsistencies as an ADC throughout the regular season.
The question is not so much whether G2 can win the LEC Summer, but instead whether they can finally go all the way and lift the Summoner’s Cup.
Prediction: G2 to win LEC Summer – 1.51 Bet365
Prediction: Origen to reach the finals – 4.50 Bet365