• Edward Brady

LEC Recap 2022 Summer


- By Edward Brady


The League of Legends European Championship (LEC) is one of 12 leagues in the LoL Esports ecosystem. Franchised teams pay players considerable salaries to compete for glory, cash, the LEC trophy, and a spot on the international stage. NTTV covered the Spring split extensively in 2022, but what has happened since then? How did the summer split shake out? Let’s answer those questions, and reflect on the 6 teams whose seasons are now over.


How did MSI go for EU?


... It was a mixed bag


On one hand, EU’s representative, G2 Esports, absolutely dominated the group stage. Being in the only 3 team group, they swept both Oceania’s Order, and more substantially, North America’s Evil Geniuses for an 8-0 record. In the Rumble stage, they snapped the South Korean champions T1’s 22 game unbeaten streak! Following it up with an incredible upset against China’s Royal Never Give Up, another victory over EG, and a win against Vietnam’s Saigon Buffalo, G2 were 4-0 and on a 24 match winning streak of their own!


Then the rest of the tourney happened...


After an out of nowhere loss to Southeast Asia’s PSG Talon, things quickly went downhill. T1 and RNG returned with vengeance, PSG completed the sweep, and Saigon Buffalo took them down on the final day to put them in the danger zone. A minor course correction by beating EG again (making the G2/EG h2h 6-0) capped off their 2nd half at 1-4, and finishing 3rd at 5-5. With the first place RNG picking EG as their opponent, G2 faced off against the 7-3 T1. And perhaps as revenge for all of 2019, they routed the European squad in a dominant 3-0. Ending G2’s run at 3rd-4th place. Not the worst run G2’s ever had, but it was very clear who the top 2 teams of the tourney were.


How did summer go?


It was a split with twists and turns abound. Expected favorites fell flat, unexpected heroes rose up, and one organization in particular broke a curse spanning years!


But how about those… less fortunate teams? Well, let’s review the seasons of those no longer with us. Starting from the worst and working our way up.



Team BDS - Unmitigated disaster

Roster

Top: Tobiasz “Agresivoo” Ciba Jungle: Jakub “Cinkrof Rokicki

Mid: Ilias “NUCLEARINT” Bizriken

ADC: Matthew Charles “xMatty” Coombs Support: Dino “LIMIT” Tot/ Robert “Erdote” Nowak

Record/Placement: 3-15 (10th)

Summary: If you were to count the good moments Team BDS had this summer on one hand, you’d still have fingers left over.


In fact, let’s list every good moment they had right now!


  1. They upset G2 Esports for their first win out of nowhere

  2. They dunked on Excel on the battlefield of Twitter and on the rift in a game Excel really needed to win

  3. They stomped Rogue on the 2nd to last day to knock them out of contention for first place.


I could leave it at: “Team BDS had a 29 loss 2022”, but that isn’t very interesting. Despite most preseason signs (signing top EUM talent, well-known well-proven coach, presence in LFL) pointing towards BDS having an at least average debut, the wheels completely fell off the BDS-mobile when the starting gun was fired. Their spring exploits have already been extensively chronicled, but they somehow got even worse in summer!

This time, there’d be no silver linings, no flashes of greatness mired by failing basic fundamentals. Instead, they just failed basic fundamentals while looking like the furthest thing from greatness. There wasn’t a single player on Team BDS I’d put higher than 8th best in their role! Erdote was called up and LIMIT was benched because nobody on Excel caught the rule that you can’t have more than 2 veterans on your LFL team. This is despite them having a perfectly serviceable ADC on that team (Crownshot) they could call up, and Xmatty looking like one of the worst ADC’s to make LEC in years!


Everything from their laning, to their team play, to decision-making was bar none the worst in the league. It got to the point where many mostly tuned into BDS games to find out what new way they’d find to lose. Would they almost get perfect gamed? Would they throw an almost un-losable game at Baron to chase a Tahm Kench? Would they throw away a win against Fnatic in an almost 50-minute fiesta? You never knew what you were going to get with BDS. Aside from the number in the loss column getting bigger.


This year for the LEC’s newest org was an incredibly unfortunate case of a perfectly serviceable roster on paper imitating a nuclear meltdown. This isn’t the first time this has happened, (2018 summer H2K, 2021 CLG, 2021 summer S04 2022 IMT) nor will it be the last. It just happened at the worst possible time. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and Team BDS did not make a good one.


What they need to fix can be summed up in one word: everything.


What advice I have for them can be summed up in two words: good luck.


Astralis - Too little too late?

Roster

Top: Kiss “Vizicsasi” Tamás

Jungle: Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir

Mid: Oliver “Dajor” Ryppa

ADC: Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup Support: Lee “JeongHoon” Jeong-hoon

Record/Placement: 7-11 (9th)

Summary: Don't let the placement fool you, this was probably the best split Astralis has ever had.




Whether that says more about how competitive summer was or how underwhelming Astralis has been I shall leave open to interpretation.


Back in their autopsy, I had a lot of questions about their rebuild. Does Vizicasi still have it after coming out of retirement? Can Xerxe bounce back from an underwhelming stint in NA? How well will Astralis develop and integrate their rookie support Jenghoon?


After 18 games, the answers in order appear to be: not really, yes, and way better than anyone expected.


Viziicsasi primarily served as a weak-side player. He was tied (with a guy on a team that went 3-15) for the lowest average kills of all top laners, the highest average deaths of all top laners, lowest CS and gold per minute, and the single lowest damage share and Gold Difference @15. Astralis played well enough around his strengths (sticking him on tanks and letting him shot call teamfights), but he wasn't someone you'd count on to win lane, or you'd call one of EU's best.


Xerxe on the other hand had a bit of a resurgence. He wasn’t out and out the best jungler in EU, but he was serviceable, a big factor in their wins, and definitely a far cry from his time in NA.


Jenghoon however, was the star of the show. The league fell in love with him after his amazing Pyke play against Rogue and he didn’t really slow down from there. He was flashy, fearless, and willing to make plays no matter the situation. He even picked himself up a nice award in Rookie of the Split!


While they were usually on the outside looking in, and they did falter when it mattered most with an 0-3 superweek, this split was absolutely a success for Astralis. This was a team projected to get around 3-4 wins at most, and org with very little good publicity. Instead, they were in contention for the final playoffs spot till the end and have given a bit of hope and excitement surrounding them for the first time since the rebrand.


Unfortunately, they may not get a chance to build off this good foundation.


Reports are coming out that Astralis is looking to sell their LEC spot (buyer unknown, rumor has it being fellow CSGO giant Natus Vinerce, or LFL darling Karmine Corp). Even if the sale doesn’t go through, it will leave people feeling that it’s only a matter of time before they leave the scene.

While I was a bit excited to see how they could build after this year, as it stands, I can’t exactly say I or many others will miss them too much. They didn’t exactly do much of anything in either the content or competitive aspect. Their rosters had some interesting pieces but lacked true firepower. Their placings were subpar. So much of their reputation was tied to that Promisq move actually working out. It didn’t. And instead, Astralis got a reputation for doing the bare minimum and being a textbook case for the return of relegation. “Lastralis” was their nickname and people watched them out of morbid curiosity more than anything. While I won't mourn the org, I only hope the players (Jenghoon in particular) find a good home.


SK Gaming - The enigma

Roster

Top: Janik “JNX” Bartels Jungle: Erberk “Gilius” Demir

Mid: Daniel “Sertuss” Gamani

ADC: Jean “Jezu” Massol Support: Erik “Treatz” Wessén

Record/Placement: 7-11 (8th)








Summary: It feels like we are recycling the same script for SK Gaming split after split. They show up with a roster most would call uninspiring, fall completely flat out of the gate, and leave people wanting everyone dropped and the org relegated.

They then get their bearings together, make a late-season push out of nowhere, upset a few top teams, but fall just short, leaving us all with more questions than answers.


Only finishing 2 games out of a playoff spot and staying alive until the 2nd to last day of games might not seem like the most glamorous fate in the world. But given the team started 1-6?


SK shouldn't have even been in the conversation for playoffs, yet they found ways to snatch victories from playoff and Worlds hopefuls like Vitality, XL, Rogue, and G2. All of this should point to a promising 2023, especially if they can make the most out of their young players in Jezu and Sertuss.


My question is if they can finally kill their habit of slow starting. SK hasn't finished the first half with more than 3 wins since the Spring of 2020, they haven't finished the 1st half of a split above .500 since 2015. That was back when the league was called the EU LCS! These late-season surges are nice and all, but you can only do so much when you are starting in a 6-7 game hole!


I am cautiously optimistic about SK's future, but I can't in good faith consider them a contender until they prove they can play a full 18 games.


Team Vitality - Charlatans

Roster

Top: Barney “Alphari” Morris Jungle: Kang “Haru” Min-seung

Mid: Luka “Perkz” Perković

ADC:Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság Support: Labros “Labrov” Papoutsakis

Record/Placement: 9-9







Summary: At the beginning of 2022, Team Vitality opened their wallets for some of the biggest names in western LoL in hopes of finally getting out of the LEC's basement for good, and to reestablish themselves as a competitor for the crown.


7 months later, the only thing they accomplished was giving us even more material to mock them endlessly for.


There's no real way around it, Team Vitality are this year's biggest disappointment (if you were rooting for them)/punchline (if you were rooting for their demise) of the LEC and quite possibly LoL Esports as a whole.


This team was comprised of one of the best western top laners to ever play, a World Champion (technically!) jungler, the western G.O.A.T, the back-to-back LEC Champion ADC, and Labrov! Put them all together and what do you get?


Two 9-9 splits and not even a playoff appearance in summer apparently.


The worst part was they somehow managed to one-up their Spring Split in terms of disappointment! Mostly because they actually gave people hope. Sure, the 5-4 start wasn't the best in the world, but by week 6, things were finally starting to come together!


The team was working together well, Alphari and Perkz were regaining their old form, Alphari finishing as a 2nd team All-Pro top, and Perkz even being a potential pick for MVP. Their new addition in Haru was gaining synergy with the team. They entered the final week in a 4-way tie for 2nd, 1 game back of 1st, and with a projected 94.6% chance of making playoffs! All they had to do was win one game!


Unfortunately for them, the wheels fell off at the worst possible time, not just losing their last 5, but to opponents they should've slaughtered on paper.


To recap, they lost to a 6-win Astralis that wasn't projected to do anything, a 6-win SK hanging onto playoffs by a thread, a Fnatic squad entering superweek with only a 30% chance of making it to playoffs, a Rogue that had just lost to BDS, and Excel in a tiebreaker, who were only just beginning to bounce back from a late-season slide.


They dropped 5 spots in one week.


Given the expectation and level of talent on Vitality, there really isn't much of a silver lining for the season. Expect some serious head cutting in the off-season (I'd be shocked if Carzzy is still wearing a Vitality jersey in 2023 after his underperformance) and never expect anything of Vitality again.


Excel Esports - Mixed feelings and missed opportunities Roster

Top: Finn “Finn” Wiestål Jungle: Mark Von “Markoon” Woensel

Mid: Erlend Våtevik “nukeduck” Holm

ADC: Patrik “Patrik Jírů Support: Mihael “MikyX” Mehle Record/Placing: 9-9 (6th) (2-3 R1 vs FNC)





Summary: On one hand, Excel showed some great stuff in the first few weeks, made it back to the playoffs in dramatic fashion, and was 1 game away from advancing, and one positioning error away from sweeping one of EU’s biggest legacy organizations.


On the other hand, they struggled after the hype wore off, fell flat for a few weeks in the midseason, and totally collapsed in games 4 and 5, suffering a reverse sweep in the first round of playoffs.


Definitely a mixed bag of a split.


Excel, fresh off a Bootcamp in Korea had a very strong start to the split. They went 5-2 in their first 3 weeks, only losing to both members of the spring finals (G2 and RGE). Although they were a step behind the front of the pack, they were a very real pick for a dark horse run for the title! And then the rest of the split happened, and everything fell apart.

Excel went 2-6 before the final week of the season! Their only highlight was a 2-0 week 5 over a middle-of-the-pack Misfits and a struggling Fnatic. Mikyx was putting up double-digit death counts, most of their losses weren’t even close, they got slapped by the teams they were supposed to be challenging for a title (VIT, G2, MAD), and stumbling over teams that were supposed to be easy pickings (AST, SK, and I cannot stress this enough, BDS). After another ugly loss to Rogue on the first day of superweek, Excel had to win against SK just to stay alive in the playoff race! A far cry from their title aspirations only a few weeks prior.

Fortunately for them, they turned things around in the final 2 games, eking out a win against SK and stomping an eliminated Astralis. And thanks to a bit of help, they got to play Vitality of all teams for the 6th place spot. One fairly onesided tiebreaker later, and they made their 2nd ever playoffs.

It might have been the same result and scoreline as spring, but this one hurt far more. It was a very winnable series for Excel. Fnatic too was limping into playoffs, and Excel swept them in the regular season. Thanks to some great play from Patrik’s Nilah, they struck first blood. When Fnatic tried to run back the same comp, they punished them mightily in game 2. Fnatic was looking sloppy, their drafting made no sense, and all members of Excel were on the same page. It was Excel’s series to lose.

And they did just that.


After a critical teamfight where they caught out Upset, Excel made the decision to try and end the game instead of falling back and going to Elder Dragon. This is a decision that will haunt them as Wunder landed a perfect Gragas barrel onto Patrik, stopping the push and granting Fnatic time. After a 45-minute game 3, Fnatic finally found life in the series. Game 4 was very much their own fault through and through. Fnatic tried to hand the series to Excel by playing the much-maligned Lucian/Nami lane, Renekton, and Humanoid hadn’t shown much on Sylas. Excel was set up for victory with a very strong repeat performance on the Nilah. Unfortunately, Mikyx’s Yuumi seemed determined to attach to everyone except his AD Carry. After losing another game they could’ve and should’ve won, the momentum was completely gone. And everyone knew it.


In game 5, I and 492,064 people watched an organization die live on broadcast. Finn had a horror show to match his game 4 performance, Upset went deathless as he tore through the broken members of the black-and-white brigade, and a few fights later, what was unthinkable only 2 games ago was now a reality. Fnatic was moving on, and Excel’s season was over.


Despite the heartbreaking ending, this was a good year for Excel. They finally made the playoffs, (twice) they found a good core and were a game and a series away from making Worlds. The true test for the organization will be next year. You have a good core, and they’ve had a year to gel. How do you build off that momentum? Will this be the starting point for a true contender? Will they stagnate into mediocrity? Or will they fall back into the abyss?

The road ahead is rocky and fret with peril, but if navigated correctly, it will lead to greatness. All that’s left is to see how Excel walks this road.


Misfits Gaming - Rollercoaster of emotions Roster

Top: Joel Miro “Irrelevant” Scharoll Jungle: Lucjan “Shlatan”

Ahmad/Nikolay “Zanzarah” Akatov

Mid: Vincent “Vetheo” Berrié

ADC:Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík Support: Mertai “Mersa” Sari Record/Placing: 10-8 (5th) (1-3 R1 vs G2, 0-3 R2 vs FNC)




Summary: This season really can’t be properly evaluated without addressing the elephant in the room. On July 27th, Misfits announced they would be selling their LEC spot at the end of the year to the Spanish organization Team Heretics.

Perhaps it’s fitting then that the unexpected last dance embodied everything about the franchise from conception to death.

The summer split had a terrible start. Zero and four, not competitive in the losses at all, no bright spots, league laughing stock. It got so bad that they were being compared to BDS and their match in week 3 was being looked forward to ironically as a “match of the weak”.


And then they won their next 5 straight games.


All of a sudden, Misfits roared to life, slaying both bottom-tier teams, (SK/BDS) competitors, (MAD/FNC) and top dogs (G2) alike. Not only was the new franchise face in Vetheo popping off, but Neon was establishing himself as another avenue to victory for the red and white. There were still holes, (Irrelevant was a rookie on weak side, Shlatan had a small champ pool and was a big weak point) but there were signs of life. Back-to-back losses to Excel and Vitality looked to signal the magic running out. The sale being announced shortly afterward also didn't help build faith.

But then, an unexpected roster change lead to even more unexpected results. Zanzarah was promoted from Misfits Premier, and Misfits won their next 5 games. The move was lukewarmly received as Zanzarah hadn’t shown much at the LEC level, and Misfits Premier was busy making a playoff push of their own. But against all odds, the move worked! His small champ pool wasn’t a big issue given that almost his entire pool was meta. While they’d lose their last 2, they’d win a tiebreaker against Fnatic to secure the much coveted upper bracket seed.


Sadly for them, when it came to best-of-5’s, it was the same story as Spring.


After 2 games of stomps for and against, Misfits gave G2 an excellent fight in game 3. It was close, it was contested, but the series broke in G2’s favor thanks to excellent play in the clutch from caPs and the bot lane. Game 4 might as well have been the killing blow for the entire franchise. G2’s composition built to get ahead early did just that and Misfits were blown off the map. Fortunately for them, they still had one last chance to qualify in the lower bracket.


Unfortunately, it was a funeral march for the organization.


A white-hot Fnatic marched into the LEC studio and tore Misfits asunder. To their credit, they almost pulled out a victory with what was considered to be a largely superior draft in game 2. But they were simply outplayed in the fights. In games 1 and 3, it was a complete and utter slaughter in favor of Fnatic. EU’s longest-lasting legacy org was in a completely different league than Misfits. And it shone through in those 2 games. Over the course of the series, Upset’s spears, boomerangs, and gunfire tore through the hearts of the Misfits as they had no answers against the superstar ADC. 4 games and 104 minutes of game time later, and Misfits took their final bow in Berlin.


Thus ends the tale of Misfits. This is a franchise that has seen unthinkable highs and unspeakable agony. They’ve seen the world’s biggest stage, and they’ve fallen into the pits of complete irrelevance. They’ve made super teams and operated under some of the lowest budgets in the league. This is a franchise that really saw the full spectrum of success and emotion over the course of 5 years. Theirs was an incredibly bittersweet existence


Although the final result was unquestionably painful, 2022 was a very fitting sendoff for the org. They were fun to watch, had some incredible moments, punched well above their weight class, and left us all wanting more.


But when it mattered most, they just couldn’t get it done. It’s the story of the franchise. From falling in 5 games to one of the greatest dynasties in esports SKT in 2017 to being one best-of-5 against Fnatic away from Worlds 2 years in a row. The only silver lining is that the stock of the coaching staff and many of their players is higher than ever. Given the work the staff did on their budget, and the highlight plays from Vetheo and Neon, teams looking to compete would be fools not to at least consider picking them up.


Regardless, we have lost a good org today. May Team Heretics fill their shoes admirably.


The seasons of Rogue, G2 Esports, Fnatic, and MAD Lions will be recapped in our coverage of Worlds 2022. Worlds 2022 will begin on September 29th. I hope to see you then!


This has been Edward Brady, for NTTV.


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