• Edward Brady

An Overview of the LEC in 2022

Updated: Jan 31


(This article was written in the preseason, any roster swaps, or new revelations have not been taken into account)


The new year is upon us and with it comes the start of a new League of Legends Esports season. It has certainly been a wild offseason with big names shuffling around left and right and hype and despair all around. With the season kicking off, it is as good a time as any to take a look at where everyone ended up and get a good feel for how these 10 teams are expected to do.


This piece will preview the League of Legends European Championship that takes place every Friday and Saturday. It is the other western league that is seen as being stronger than NA (historical precedence says yes). If people watch NA, they usually watch EU. The reverse is also true. It’s looking to be an exciting season with old faces returning and big names leaving.


Let’s get this started


Fnatic


Roster: Top: Wunder (from G2 Esports Jungle: Razork (from Misfits) Mid: Humanoid (from MAD Lions) ADC: Upset Support: Hylissang


Players lost: Top: Adam (to Team BDS), Jungle: Bwipo (to Team Liquid), Mid Nisqy (Free Agent)


2021: 5th in Spring, 2nd in Summer, 14th-16th at Worlds 2021 (1-5 Group C)


Offseason: After a Spring Split that just kind of happened, a Summer Split worthy of a Hollywood script, and a Worlds run their fans would like to pretend never happened, Fnatic made sweeping changes in the offseason. It was not enough to just be a contender again, Fnatic wanted to reestablish the dominance they were known for back in their heyday. As such, the first of two European superteams was born. In the mid lane, they picked up Humanoid from the back-to-back champions MAD Lions. Disappointing Worlds run aside, Humanoid looked to have patched up many of his major criticisms (mostly dying randomly a lot). And he (alongside the rest of MAD) had a clutch factor all throughout 2021 that can’t be put on a stat sheet. In the jungle, Bwipo was given a big contract by Team Liquid to form the LCS superteam Mk. IV, so Fnatic needed a replacement. And they got a star by snagging Razork from Misfits. He won Rookie of the Split in 2020 and has been seen as one of EU’s best junglers ever since. Even when Misfits have faltered, he was usually still shining. Finally, to round out the top side, they needed a superstar. Wunder from G2 answered that call. He may be coming off a bad year, but he is seen as one of Europe’s most storied top laners for a very good reason. He played a large role in 2019 G2 going as far as they did. He helped establish G2 as the great dynasty of the LEC. A very solid pickup. All of this complimenting one of, if not the best bot lane in a region full of great ones, and you have a recipe for success.


Expectations: Looking at the firepower that is in every single position, it is pretty safe to say that this roster is a title and deep Worlds run or bust type of team. When they were firing on all cylinders, Upset and Hylissang were a practically transcendent bot lane. Humanoid and Razork have developed into elite players, and Wunder really needs no introduction. The reason I have Fnatic at number 1 instead of their competition if because unlike the other super team, I really don’t see how this team can collapse. Unless everyone plays massively below expectations, Fnatic should run through most of the league by individual skill difference alone. However, they have one team that might match them in firepower.


Team Vitality


Roster: Top: Alphari (from Team Liquid) Jungle: Selfmade Mid: Perkz (from Cloud 9) ADC: Carzzy (from MAD Lions) Support: Labrov


Players lost: Top: SLT (to KOI), Szygenda (to Vitality Bee) Mid: LIDER (under contract but unlikely to play) ADC: Crownshot (to BDS Academy), Comp (to Rogue)


2021: 10th in Spring, 6th in Summer


Offseason: After yet another year of failing to recapture the glories of 2018 and being anywhere from mediocre to downright terrible (seriously Vitality is 42-81 since the dawn of franchising and dead last in winrate at 34.1% ) Team Vitality has had enough. What once was a volatile middle of the pack roster who could only get anything notable done if everything broke right has transformed into one of the most noteworthy teams in Europe to date. The only members to survive the purge were Labrov and Selfmade. But for their final 3 players, Vitality decided to go big. When acquiring back-to-back champion Carzzy is the least noteworthy acquisition, you know you have made headlines. Regardless, Carzzy is a very good ADC any competitor would be lucky to have. But it was the solo lanes that turned heads.


Both Alphari and Perkz were coming off of pretty tumultuous years in the LCS. Alphari was a historically dominant laner, but Team Liquid lost the domestic finals twice, he was at the center of a drama-ridden tire fire that lasted most of Summer, and he couldn’t quite get it done on the international stage. Perkz meanwhile saw high highs and low lows. He took Cloud 9 to an LCS title in Spring, secured them a Worlds berth in Summer, and helped guide them out of the supposed “group of death” and into a quarterfinals spot. That was the first time any NA team made it to the knockout round since 2018. For the bad, he was incredibly volatile in the regular season, didn’t really live up to the expectations given the massive amount of money thrown around, his team got ran over at MSI, and the despite getting the “easiest” opponent in quarterfinals, C9 got swept in rathe embarrassing fashion.


Both wanted to go back to their home regions. Alphari was unlikely to ever play another game in a TL jersy after everything that happened. Perkz didn’t adjust well to the L.A. lifestyle and wanted to move back closer to family and friends. And together, they joined the same team to form EU’s very own Exodia.


Expectations: Make no mistake, this roster has the potential to and dare I say, should win both splits and make deep international runs. Everyone barring Labrov has seen international competition before. Both Alphari and Selfmade were 1 game away from pulling off the upset of the tourney in their greatest respective runs (2017 MSF vs SKT and 2020 FNC vs TOP). Perkz has been labeled the western G.O.A.T. for good reasons. He has 1 LCS title, 8 LEC titles,2 Worlds quarterfinal appearances, 1 World Finals appearance and an MSI title under his belt. This team should take Europe to heights not seen since 2019 G2.


The only question is if they will perform as advertised. Will Alphari and Perkz slump after coming back from NA? Can Labrov cut it at the highest level? How will a team with so many carries allocate resources? Can they avoid collapsing like so many other European super teams? If Team Vitality can navigate these potential pitfalls, Team Vitality will dominate 8 out of 9 teams and have a very real shot at taking out their only “real” competition. If they can’t, it will be just another super team that didn’t work out, and just another year of Vitality being a laughingstock.


G2 Esports


Roster: Top: Broken Blade (from Schalke 04 Esports) Jungle: Jankos Mid: Caps ADC: Flakked (from MAD Lions Madrid) Support: Targamas (from Karmine Corp)


Players lost: Top: Wunder (to Fnatic), ADC: Rekkles (to Karmine Corp), Support: MikyX


2021: 3rd in Spring, 4th in Summer


Offseason: When you build a super team filled with some of EU’s best and brightest to finally translate your domestic dominance into a World Championship and instead don’t even make it to Worlds, it is only natural you will see some changes. G2’s super team never really lived up to expectations, and they were eliminated from Worlds contention in heartbreaking fashion by their biggest rival. The rival who they spent the better part of 2 years putting in the dirt and were thought to have been dead after G2 stole their franchise player (AGAIN) for that super team.


After missing Worlds for the first time in the organization’s 6 year history, G2 decided to go with a wholesale purge of the old guard. That might have just been the last chance for the core of G2 to win it all. And founder Carlos Rodriguez, a.k.a Ocelote, knew that too. As such, their storied top laner, their superstar support, the entire coaching staff, and one of the biggest acquisitions in free agency in 2021 are now gone.


In what is quite possibly G2’s first ever rebuild, they decided to go with a mix of proven players and new faces. Jankos and Caps were the only two that survived the purge, and Broken Blade had proven himself as a very strong top laner. He helped take TSM to Worlds in 2020, almost beat G2 (even getting a pentakill!) in a playoff series in Spring, and was the only bright spot of a Schalke 04 Esports that collapsed due to baffling roster decisions and one of their best players moving elsewhere. A solid pickup for any team.


In the bot lane, G2 decided to search the vast pool of EU Masters talent for their final 2 pieces. After much deliberation, they decided on Flakked from MAD Lions Madrid, and Targamas from the wildly popular French League team Karmine Corp. The two certainly seem to be fitting in with G2 from a branding standpoint, but only time will tell if they can develop properly and succeed on the biggest stage.


Expectations: This is where the significant drop-off between FNC/VIT and everyone else. You could make a decent case for almost any of the 7 remaining teams to snag the final Worlds spot when the dust clears at the end of the season. Albeit that is mostly because the top of the league took a heavy hit an many teams (on paper) downgraded. For the first time in a very long time, G2 is coming into a year as not a clear favorite to win it all.


G2 is mostly here because they have some of the best proven commodities out of the stew of teams. Sure Jankos and Caps had a rough 2021, but they are some of the most storied players the league has ever seen for a reason, and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will return to form. Broken Blade is also an excellent pickup. When it became clear that G2 and Wunder were going to part ways, everyone from fans, to analysts, to personalities wanted G2 to pick up Broken Blade. He was most likely the best player on the market in his role.


It is the bot lane that is the biggest question. Targamas did see great results in the LFL. But how well will that translate to play on the biggest stage? Flakked doesn’t even really have that, MAD Lions Madrid was mostly mediocre results-wise throughout 2021. But G2 clearly saw something they liked during that span, or they wouldn’t have picked him up. If those two can develop properly and the veterans return to form, perhaps G2 will return to dominance.


MAD Lions


Roster: Top: Armut Jungle: Elyoya Mid: Reeker (from Berlin International Gaming) ADC: UNF0RGIVEN (SK Gaming Prime) Support: Kaiser


Players lost: Mid: Humanoid (to Fnatic) ADC: Carzzy (to Vitality)


2021: 1st in Spring, 3rd-4th at MSI 2021 (2-3 L to Damwon KIA), 1st in Summer, 5th-8th at Worlds 2021 ( 0-3 L to Damwon KIA


Offseason: Despite being the back-to-back LEC champions and the only LEC team to make it out of groups at Worlds 2021, MAD Lions couldn’t quite keep the whole band together. Both their star mid laner Humanoid and their great ADC Carzzy left for two different super teams. Despite the shakeup, MAD Lions didn’t completely collapse in the off-season. Kaiser was arguably the more important member of the bot duo, Elyoya had an outstanding rookie season, and they kept fan favorite Turkish top laner Armut.


As for their replacements, SK Gaming Prime weren’t exactly world beaters in the Prime League, but they were not terrible either. UNF0RGIVEN is not a bad pickup, but he is mostly an unknown. Reeker did see a bit of success on BIG as they made it to the knockout round both times in 2021, and even made it to the semifinals and took eventual champion Karmine Corp to 5 games. Even so, he still wasn’t exactly on everyone’s list to promote, and he has big shoes to fill.


Expectations: Despite the new additions being downgrades on paper, I am a bit excited to see what MAD Lions can do. Ever since they came into the LEC, MAD Lions have made their name from excellent rookie development. Shad0w, Carzzy, Kaiser, Elyoya, even Humanoid didn’t have a ton of experience under his belt before MAD Lions.


If MAD Lions can make lightning strike thrice, perhaps they can pull off the 3-oeat. But because they are working with unknowns, I can’t quite place them any higher.


Rogue


Roster: Top: Odoamne Jungle: Malrang (from Damwon KIA) Mid: Larssen ADC: Comp (from Vitality) Support: Trymbi


Players lost: Jungle: Inspired (to Evil Geniuses) ADC: Hans Sama (to Team Liquid


2021: 2nd in Spring, 3rd in Summer, 9th-12th at Worlds 2021 (2-4 Group A, lost Tiebreaker to Cloud 9)


Offseason: During their sendoff from Worlds, I wondered if Rogue had enough flexibility to make the moves that would take them over the top. I was worried they signed everyone too soon and they were taking a huge risk on the core paying off.


Now I only wish that were my biggest worry about this team.


Rogue lost both of their best players to North American teams. Inspired had already signed an extension in Summer, yet EG were willing to pay the buyout. Hans Sama joined the patented TL super team. Rogue lost the 2021 Summer LEC MVP and one of EU’s best ADCs in one fell swoop. Even worse, they lost them to NA. Now not only are their 2 biggest X-factors gone, but they will be playing in an entirely different league. One where they are unlikely to see international glory ever again. To say this has done a good job of giving an organization that was already lacking in fans despite their good play even more negative publicity would be an understatement. For allowing 2 of the region’s most promising talents to head overseas, it would not be much exaggeration to say that Rogue became one of the most hated teams in Europe thanks to the offseason.


As for their replacements, almost anything realistic would be considered a downgrade from Inspired and Hans Sama. For the jungler, they nabbed Malrang from Damwon KIA. He was their substitute, came in for a bit of Summer and did look pretty good, but how truly elite is he? Come September and October, how is he going help Rogue get over their habit of playoff failure? I’m not sure how much room he has to develop, not am I sure if his celling is high enough to call it a good pickup.


As for the ADC position, there were rumors floating around surrounding 3 players. Their EU Masters ADC Lucker, one of the European greats Rekkles, or Vitality’s benched ADC Comp. They went with the latter. This might not be a bad pickup. Comp got a raw deal on Vitality. He played with a terrible team in Spring and when the losing continued in Summer, he got benched despite not really being the problem. All of this in his rookie split. Perhaps now that he is away from a team that in recent years couldn’t develop rookies properly if their life depended on it, he could flourish?


Expectations: I am incredibly skeptical of this Rogue roster. With two of their biggest weapons gone, anyone would be considered a downgrade. My biggest issue with this team is that it doesn’t feel like they have anyone who is going to carry the team through clutch situations. Maybe Comp if he develops fast, but otherwise this roster looks good, but not great.


Even if Rogue pulls off yet another amazing regular season, I will remain unconvinced until they can translate it into playoff success. The team has proven time and time again that they struggle mightily to play under pressure. It feels like this is the year a lot of Rogue has to prove something. Larssen needs to prove he can translate his regular season dominance into a playoff performance that is worthy of being called one of EU’s truly elite mid laners. Trymbi needs to prove that Rogue made the right move ditching Vander a year back after an up and down 2021 and an underwhelming Worlds. Malrang and Comp need to prove that they are legitimate pickups for a team that is trying to win instead of budget options for a team that couldn’t hang on to their stars. And they have big shoes to fill. And finally, the coaching and support staffs need to prove they are capable of fixing Rogue’s longstanding issues. If this is just another year of blown mid/late game leads, 1 dimensional team comps, and playoff failure, there will be some serious questions about Rogue’s future.


Rogue is going in as an underdog without too much support at their back, ironically enough they are back to how they started in 2017 in that regard. They will have to reestablish themselves fast if they want to keep the reputation as one of Europe’s best.


Excel Esports


Roster: Top: Finn (from CLG) Jungle: Markoon Mid: Nukeduck ADC: Patrik Support: Advienne


Players lost: Kryze (to JDXL)


2021: 8th in Spring, 7th/8th in Summer


Offseason: Excel Esports are the only team in the LEC to have never made playoffs. This is both a mark of incredible pain and ineptitude (even Astralis made playoffs as Origen) and one of the main reasons people play attention to them. In the eternal quest to place higher than 7th, Excel changed… very little. They only rescued Finn from the tire fire that was 2021 CLG. One must give them credit for saving a man from a broken organization and giving him a new home in his home continent.

Yeah this is the team with the least amount of changes in the LEC. A surprising show of roster continuity.


Expectations: Given that the previous roster only missed playoffs in Summer by 1 game with a massive handicap as Markoon and Advienne only came in after a few weeks there are some actual expectations surrounding Excel. This could be the year they finally make playoffs! Most of the top of the table (on paper) downgraded, and the bottom of the pack are either running budget rosters (SK, MSF), are gambling on new talent (BDS), or are Astralis. Assuming Excel doesn’t collapse and actually plays up to expectations for once (when you think they are going to be decent they suck. When you think they suck, they rattle off win after win over the top of the table) A playoff berth might be in their future. I can’t have faith that they will go any further than that, but just breaking the curse and killing the memes would be a big step forward for an organization that has been stuck on the fringes of playoffs for 2 years now.


SK Gaming


Roster: Top: Jenax Jungle: Gilius (from Schalke 04 Esports) Mid: Sertus (from Misfits Premier) ADC: Jezu Support: Treatz


Players lost: Tynx (to Axolotl) Mid: Blue (to Dignitas), Twohoyrz (to Barça eSports)


2021: 6th in Spring, 9th in Summer


Offseason: SK Gaming have not really been relevant since they rejoined the league during franchising. Sure they have had a few very standout players, (Crownshot and Selfmade being the notable examples) but they usually get swept up by other teams. After being a fringe playoff team that almost snuck into the 3rd seed in Spring and a Summer season that was a disaster from the word go, (the coach played support and was terrible, the star support had to roleswap to jungle because they dropped their previous one, the emergency sub mid laner might have been better than their actual mid) SK looked to wipe that from memory. Unfortunately, they couldn’t quite acquire the firepower of the top of the table teams. At least Jezu and Treatz have been reunited and could be a point of power. As for the final 2 members, Gilius is making his return to pro play after being inexplicably benched for Kiriei (dead last in their final split was their reward). In the mid lane, Misfits Premier is sending even more players to the LEC in Sertus


Expectations: This roster feels like it should be around the middle of the pack. You have proven entities in Jenax, Gillus, and Treatz, and some developing players in Setus and Jezu. They have no real shot at the title, but they could give the middle of the pack a good fight. SK gives the same vibes they have since the dawn of franchising. They just exist. People don’t really hate SK because that implies people care about SK. It is going to take a monumental effort from Gilius and the bot lane if they want to reverse that reputation.


Team BDS


Roster: Top: Adam (from Fnatic) Jungle: Cinkrof (from Karmine Corp) Mid: NUCLEARINT (from Schalke 04 Esports) ADC: Xmatty (from Karmine Corp) Support: LIMIT (from Schalke 04 Esports)


Players lost: N/A


2021: N/A


Offseason: You may be wondering why those two categories are blank. That is because Team BDS only just acquired an LEC spot. Schalke 04 was having serious financial trouble and they had been relegated. Unfortunately, the LoL team (which was not only good but a fan favorite) paid the price. BDS were the lucky team that shelled out the big bucks for a franchise spot in EU’s top professional league.


As for their 1st ever roster, the team decided to simply embrace fan requests in their own way. If Karmine Corp couldn’t get a spot in the LEC, they should at least make it in spirit. As you can see, nearly all of Team BDS’s roster is from Kcorp. Three from the most recent iteration, and one more in Adam who was promoted from Kcorp to Fnatic in the Summer. They topped it off by retaining LIMIT from Schalke and acquiring some of G2’s coaching staff in head coach Grabbz. All-in-all, not the worst roster that’s ever entered a professional league….


Expectations: …But they are still far from being a true contender. This roster is incredibly inexperienced. Their most “veteran” player is LIMIT, who has only been in the LEC for 2 years. Adam only has 1 split of LEC under his belt. And the rest are as fresh as can be. With no true voice of experience on the rift, there could be a very rough learning curve for Team BDS. I doubt many of the players are going to live up to the hype they earned on Kcorp immediately. This is almost the very definition of a development roster. The success or failure of the roster will not be in where they finish in the standings, (as it will almost certainly be low) but how well and how fast the roster improves as individuals and as a team. This should be seen as the first step in a long road to success, not an all-in push. Maybe keep an eye on them for curiosities sake, but don’t expect them to be anything super this split.


Misfits Gaming


Roster: Top: HiRit Jungle: Shlatan (from Misfits Premier) Mid: Vetheo ADC: Neon (from Schalke 04 Esports) Support: Mersa (from GamersOrigin)


Players lost: Jungle: Razork (to Fnatic) ADC: Kobbe (to Astralis) Support: Vander (to Misfits Premier)


2021: 7th in Spring, 5th in Summer


Offseason: After getting knocked out in the playoffs in absolutely heartbreaking fashion, (Pentakilled by Viego in game 5 vs Rogue, loss in 5 games with tons of pauses to Fnatic) the Misfits Gaming roster has suffered due to forces in, and out of their control. One of their biggest stars in Razork left for the greener pastures of Fnatic. This is a devastating loss for a team that was on the brink of greatness. Kobbe also left, which did hurt, but not as much. The last move on the other hand made almost no sense. They demoted Vander to their EU Masters team. Why???


Is this just to keep up the trend of Vander getting kicked off teams despite being one of the best players on them? It happened on H2K, it happened on Rogue, and now it has happened on Misfits. How does this always happen to him? How does this man not have an LEC team?


As for their replacements, Shlatan comes from the quite skilled Misfits Premier that has been a top team in the LFL, Neon is coming off of a bad Summer Split but was a key contributor to the #S04MiracleRun, and Mersa has been kicking around the EU Masters scene for a while.


Expectations: This team isn’t very experienced and are working with a ton of relative unknowns. Maybe Shlatan and Mersa burst on to the team and crack some skulls alongside a well developing Vetheo. Maybe the roster crashes and burns. There isn’t much reason to believe the roster will be a top team, but there isn’t much to definitively call them a failure. We will just have to wait and see.


Astralis


Roster: Top: WhiteKnight Jungle: Zanzarah Mid: Dajor (from Fnatic Rising) ADC: Kobbe (Misfits Premier) Support: Promisq


Players lost: Mid: MagiFelix (Free Agent) ADC: Jeskla (to Vitality Bee)


2021: 9th in Spring, 7th-8th in Summer


Offseason: The rebranded Origen continued to win themselves no fans throughout the most recent offseason. They decided to mix keeping their current players and obtaining some new ones. But who they kept and who they dropped turned some heads. Sure, Magifelix wasn’t exactly elite, but he did have moments of greatness. Jeskla actually wasn’t terrible, he had his moments and was shackled down by something else (which we will get to). Their replacements? Kobbe, who hasn’t exactly looked like his old self ever since taking a split to go overseas. And Dajor, who is almost a complete unknown and has very little experience at even the EU Masters level (1 split on Fnatic Rising. That’s it).

It’s who they kept that surprised everyone. WhiteKnight received criticism for even getting a shot in the first place last year and although he had a bit of a resurgence in Summer thanks to his Lee Sin, he still wasn’t an elite top laner. Zanzarah may be a young talent with a great personality who definitely has a future on the LEC desk if he if he wishes to take that path. But he also has serious issues with his champion pool. Finally, Promisq has been considered one of the worst supports in the league for a while now, has very few fans thanks to his toxic nature in solo queue, and Europe has a very deep pool of supports just waiting for a shot on the biggest stage. He was still kept around for reasons of “leadership”.


Expectations: There was a reason I said you could make a case for most of these teams to snag that final Worlds spot. This team has next to no weapons, bottom tier players in almost every role, a very low ceiling and no shot at breaking into the top of the table. Looking at how Astralis built a roster makes me long for the days of relegation. The team has almost no supporters, has done nothing unique or interesting in terms of branding and has not and will not get anywhere near success. There is almost nothing redeemable about this roster (maybe Dajor/Zanzarah develop well, WK/Kobbe step up, and they get a new support?) and they practically have “dead last” written on them from the outset.

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