These five players, in particular, will have a point to prove next season in what could be, the defining year of their careers and legacies.
As 2019 comes to an end, it’s natural that most people will be in a reflective mood. Moving into not only a new year but a new decade, many will have major goals and ambitions in mind. It will, undoubtedly, be the same for all the pros in the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) as the long offseason continues to drag on.
Every pro will be chomping at the bit to return to the LEC stage and start working towards their goals, but there will be a select few who will have a slightly larger fire burning inside. Redemption, acknowledgement, a fresh start, the new season will mean something different to every player. They all share the same goal. The LEC trophy.
These five players, in particular, will have a point to prove next season, in what could be the defining year of their careers and legacies.
Starting off with the most experienced player on this list, former Worlds semi-finalist Konstantinos-Napoleon "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou has returned to competitive play full-time after completing his military service.
The Greek ADC will be preparing for a different type of war as he steps foot onto Summoner’s Rift once more with the personal aim of dominating his opponents. FORG1VEN has always been infamous for his “lane kingdom” as he had almost perfected the art of the early game and was a master of gaining advantages over his opponents. His sieging played a major role in H2K’s stunning Worlds run back in 2016.
However, the game has changed quite a bit since FORG1VEN last appeared on stage. Teamwork has become an even more integral part of the game and it is now much harder to carry a game single-handedly, especially just through winning lane. FORG1VEN was the king of the 2v2 but his sacred lane can quickly deteriorate into a full 5v5 brawl within the opening 10 minutes.
It will be fascinating to see how the Greek star adapts even if he himself, has hardly changed. FORG1VEN is still not afraid to speak his mind and will let you know his opinion of players though perhaps he has mellowed slightly as the years have gone on.
Even for a player of FORG1VEN’s calibre, replacing Elias “Upset” Lipp who had been Schalke’s franchise player for a couple of years, will not be easy. Yet, it’s probably fair to say that something at Schalke needed to change. The organisation has attended the final stage of European Playoffs on multiple occasions now, including last Summer, but is still waiting for its first appearance at the World Championships. That is a monumental feat that FORG1VEN has already accomplished and he will be desperate to prove that he is still one of the world’s best and return to the international stage once more.
Next onto a player who is still in the early stages of his career, Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek only debuted in 2019 but already feels like a part of the European furniture. The Polish jungler made quite the statement in his first-ever LEC game as he led a young SK Gaming side to recuperate from a heart-breaking remake, following an in-game bug, to overcome the odds and shock Fnatic, technically twice, with a sensational Sejuani display.
Now, Selfmade finds himself on the team he used to leverage his own name in a move that will almost certainly define his career. There will be a new level of pressure on his young shoulders as he looks to change the fortunes of one of esports most prestigious organisations.
At his best, Selfmade is unstoppable and capable of ripping teams apart. In the Spring Split, he received more player of the game awards (seven) than any other pro and unsurprisingly, was voted Rookie of the Split as he pulled SK into the Playoffs. Now, rather than help players up to his level, Selfmade will have to take a step-up himself to match his world-class teammates - especially if he wants any chance of dethroning G2.
Fortunately for the jungler, he has been reunited with his good friend Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek which will undoubtedly make the transition easier. That jungle-mid combo could be devastating for the rest of the LEC if Fnatic unleashes its full potential.
One of the most intriguing transfers of the off-season, Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw has become the first Australian player to ever compete in the LEC as he has joined Origen and its extremely strong roster ahead of 2020.
The support has three OPL titles and two Worlds appearances to his name but he is still somewhat unproven when competing against teams from major regions. He will have to learn quickly as Origen has enlisted the services of top stars Upset and Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir in hopes of challenging for the LEC title once more.
But Destiny doesn’t want to simply blend into the background. Talking to Hotspawn, the support revealed he wants to be an individual who expresses his own opinions rather than “follow”. There will be a lot of eyes the 22-year-old, waiting to see if he will sink or swim in what is easily the biggest opportunity of his career so far.
For the first time since going pro, Steven “Hans Sama” Liv will compete on stage for a team other than Misfits. The Frenchman suffered a turbulent season as the organisation’s super-team experiment collapsed and he `had to watch the majority of the Summer Split from the academy line-up.
Hans Sama did get a few LEC games towards the end of the season and ended it with a bang as his dominant performances sealed victories over Team Vitality and Splyce. However, the ADC will be thankful to find some consistency next season as he tries to take Rogue up a level.
The Frenchman was, at one time, one of Europe’s brightest bot-lane prospects but he has recently been overshadowed by the likes of Upset and Patrik "Patrik" Jírů. Next season, Hans Sama will be surrounded by limitless potential and he will have to step up if he wants to stand out amongst Rogue’s talented squad.
It was a strong debut year for Marek "Humanoid" Brázda as he cemented himself amongst Europe’s best mid-laners, quite the feat when you consider just how many incredible mids the region has produced.
The Czech star became one of the primary carries of Splyce, lightening the burden on Kasper "Kobbe" Kobberup. Now that the Danish ADC has departed for North America, this is Humanoid’s chance to step up and become a franchise player.
Splyce has rebranded to MAD Lions and Humanoid is the only remaining relic from the Worlds quarter-finalist line-up. Next year, Humanoid will be the most experienced member of the team as he will be joined by four rookies and will have to lead by example to make their introduction to the league smooth.
With 13 solo-kills in the Summer Split alone, Humanoid has proven he has the talent to challenge the best. Now he just needs to find consistency and the ability to step-up another level in big games.
Images via Riot Games / LOLEsports | Flickr