Grading every LEC team’s offseason roster changes
As 2019 comes to an end, there’s a lot for European League of Legends fans to reflect on. The LEC rebrand as a whole was a total success. Legendary organisations Origen and SK Gaming returned while new faces Excel Esports and Rogue debuted. And of course there was the exceptional, year-long reign of G2 Esports who took one of biggest gambles in esports history and made it work.
The LEC returns on Friday January 24 2020 and the pieces are already starting to come together as all 10 teams have finalised their initial starting rosters.
There’s an abundance of promising young rookies, an entirely new organisation in MAD Lions and a few more ginormous gambles as every team tries to compete with the top. It’s been an eventful off-season so let’s take a look at the signings every team has made and grade what they’ve done.
Excel Esports: A-
Marc “Caedrel Lamont, Ki "Expect" Dae-han and Son "Mickey" Young-min have all remained and that should be seen as good news despite Excel’s struggles last season. There were mixed reactions to Mickey’s return but anyone who watched the Summer Split will know he was one of the strongest mids in the league. Then there are the marquee signings of Patrik "Patrik" Jírů and Tore "Tore" Hoel Eilertsen, both of whom are arguably amongst Europe’s best in their respective roles and with potential to still grow. Along with new coach and six-time European champion Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool, Excel has made a statement during this offseason and should certainly challenge for the Playoffs.
You can check out our interview with the new Excel duo here.
Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen will be a major loss for the team but his replacement is a very good one in Spring Rookie of the Split Oskar "Selfmade" Boderek; especially considering his existing friendship and synergy with mid-laner Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek.
However, the organisation itself has admitted there were internal issues last season and changing one player probably doesn’t change that - especially considering Selfmade is fiery himself. Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodriguez joining in his debut year as a coach is a gigantic risk and he already has a mountain of a task on his hands.
There’s not a lot to say here, G2 managed to keep hold of all of its Worlds finalist stars and can have a second chance at lifting the Summoner’s Cup. The only potential change that G2 has hinted towards is the fact that Rasmus “Caps” Winther and Luka “Perkz” Perković could swap positions. If G2 can flex not only champions but its players as well, there will be no team capable of fully preparing for them.
Other teams have certainly strengthened but for the moment, it’s hard to imagine anyone will be able to dethrone the samurais.
MAD Lions: B-
MAD Lions is a completely new organisation as Splyce has decided to rebrand to the Spanish team. When comparing to Splyce’s Worlds quarter-finalist line-up, this roster is a downgrade but it does hold substantial potential.
Marek "Humanoid" Brázda was one of the best-performing players outside of G2 last split and the young mid-laner could be a force to be reckoned with next season. Alongside him will be four talented young rookies with 17-year-old ADC Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság the standout. Anything could happen with this team but for now, it’s a low grade to play it safe.
It was a disastrous season for Misfits as neither its ‘super team’ or its academy team who won EU Masters could qualify for the Playoffs. Now, the team has gone back to the drawing board and added a few more rookies as well as the strange choice of Korean ADC Ju "Bvoy" Yeong-hoon who spent last season playing in Latin America.
On paper, this team is not convincing in the slightest but there are some upsides. Namely, mid-laner Ronaldo "Ronaldo" Betea a very promising talent and a potentially incredible secret-weapon as he has won competitive games in all five roles
One of the busiest teams in the off-season, missing out on the Summer Playoffs was a massive disappointment following the team’s second-place finish in Spring.
Both Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir and Elias "Upset" Lipp are monumental acquisitions and should, on paper, make Origen title contenders from the start. The only question mark with this team, outside of synergy, is Australian support Mitchell "Destiny" Shaw. This will be a big step-up in competition for him but if his engages are as good as Origen claim, he’ll do just fine.
Rogue was the other debuting organisation in the LEC last season and had a tough start too. However, by the end of the season its young squad looked like one of Europe’s best and even decimated Worlds quarter-finalists Splyce 3-0.
The organisation has understandably kept that core line-up but has strengthened in the one area that realistically needed it with the addition of ADC Steven “Hans Sama” Liv. Quietly, this could be the best signing of the season as the Frenchman is an exceptional talent who was probably held back by his years with the inconsistent Misfits. With a point to prove, Hans Sama could be lethal, especially on an already hungry and talented roster.
Schalke 04: C+
Schalke has had to rebuild once again and the team has taken a few major risks. Namely with the signing of former Worlds semi-finalist Konstantinos-Napoleon "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou who hasn’t competed for a few years.
The other major question mark on this team is polarising jungler Erberk "Gilius" Demir who has had a few opportunities at this level before. This team has quite a few strong personalities and seemingly few upsides, this could be a car crash of a season for the German organisation unless FORG1VEN returns to his former glory days.
SK Gaming: C
Selfmade was the clear star of this team and his departure has left a huge void which hasn’t been filled. Experienced jungler Kim "Trick" Gang-yun helped Schalke go from a team that missed out on Playoffs in Spring to top three in Summer but this is probably too big a project for even him.
Somebody will have to step up and it will likely have to be ADC Juš "Crownshot" Marušič along with new rookie support Dino "LIMIT" Tot which a lot to ask.
Team Vitality: B+
After the team’s Worlds 2018 success, last season was a failure for Team Vitality. The French organisation has tried to find a new group of superstar rookies and may have succeeded. Jungler Duncan "Skeanz" Marquet, mid-laner Aljoša "Milica" Kovandžić and ADC Markos "Comp" Stamkopoulos are all exceptional talents who could compete with the best but for now, that’s only a maybe.
More importantly, Lucas "Cabochard " Simon-Meslet will have to lead by example and try to replicate his sensational performances from last Spring.
Images via Riot Games/LOLEsports | Flickr