Following last week’s theme, this week we are covering the LEC. With Europe slowly becoming the best region of the West and more regional talent being tapped for star-studded rosters, the competition is getting fiercer. Here are our preseason rankings for the LEC.
Putting this roster at number 10 is a bit painful. As a long-time watcher of the EU LCS and the LEC, placing a roster with Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik HolmI in tenth place is unthinkable and dissatisfactory. I would love for this roster to succeed. However, I do not believe they will. An assessment of the roster shows it is mediocre: at best, decent. Seeing the return of Nikolay “Zanzarah” Akatov and Hampus Mikael “promisq” Abrahamsson makes this an exciting roster; however, there are too many concerns about this team being washed-up and unable to make an impact. I will keep my optimism about this team but until there is proof on paper, Astralis is our tenth place team.
9. Misfits Gaming
Similar to Astralis, I see a lot of potential with this team. In quoting League on Lock, if there was a power-ranking about announcement videos, this would easily be Number One. However, multi-man rosters outside of the LCK and LPL do not usually work. This is the case here. There are two top-laners and two supports vying for a final roster position. Personally, I believe that it will end up becoming Tobiasz “Agresivoo” Ciba and Oskar “Vander” Bogdan taking the two starting positions. If this is the case, then this team will have a lot of firepower and can easily be shifted elsewhere. There is also the case to praise the debut of Vincent “Vetheo” Berrié from LDLC. However, with a shaky roster, time will be the judgment for this relatively younger lineup.
8. Team Vitality
Last year, Team Vitality was so close to making it to playoffs (blame the Miracle Run). This year they will be even closer. They kept a majority of their 2020 roster and have been steadily improving. I want to focus on their new top-laner, Mathias “Szygenda” Jensen. Filling the shoes of long-time player Cabochard is no easy feat, but Szygenda proved he has the power to do it on the AGO Rogue roster which took first place in the EU Masters tournament. I think this team has a lot of improvement to look forward to. For now, I put them in eighth, but I have faith that they can make a splash in the LEC and potentially be higher.
7. SK Gaming
Closing our lower half of the LEC is SK Gaming. SK Gaming, like the rest of the lower half of the bracket, can easily make a playoff run. However, they are higher for a number of reasons. First- and thanks to the expertise of our resident LEC expert Sinan– the debut of Ersin “Blue” Gören from 1907 Fenerbache of the TCL is highly exciting. Furthermore, after his stint on TSM, Erik “Treatz” Wessén will be returning home to play with former Misfits Premier ADC Jean “Jezu” Massol. With an explosive mid-laner, SK is a team to watch for upsets and potential title contenders.
6. Excel Esports
Finally, Excel has a good shot of title contenders. Their 2021 roster is very explosive and ready to stamp their name in the history books. Patrik “Patrik” Jírů is one of the best AD Carries in Europe and now he has the team to back it up. Former Fnatic Rising jungler Daniel “Dan” Hockley has proven himself in the Premier League and is ready for the LEC. But perhaps the biggest signing from a Premier League is the long awaited debut of Paweł “Czeckolad” Szczepanik. Czeckolad is immediately in the running for Rookie for the Split and can easily be the factor that either makes or breaks the team. However, his highly praised-debut on AGO Rogue is expected to make waves in the LEC. Excel is finally a playoff team, and I’m excited to see where this team ends up.
5. FC Schalke 04
The entire staff at Stropse were cheering for the Miracle Run of S04 last year. Coming from tenth place to a playoff spot is nothing short of miraculous. This year that run is looking to continue. With the addition of TSM top-laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik, the playoff pushes will continue. Furthermore, the resignings of Erberk “Gilius” Demir and Felix “Abbedagge” Braun create a stable core that will be crucial to the successes of S04 going into 2021.
4. MAD Lions
The most heartbreaking story in the LEC was watching the decline of the MAD Lions at Worlds 2020. This team is so exciting to watch on and off the rift, and their fall from grace at Worlds was hard to stomach. But how do you improve on an already-great team? Take the top-laner that beat them. With İrfan “Armut” Berk Tükek coming from SuperMassive’s impressive Worlds Appearance to shore up weaknesses on the team, MAD is looking stronger than ever. In addition, keeping the core of their roster (especially the resigning of Marek “Humanoid” Brázda) will make the MAD Lions more formidable and a jut for their first title.
Like the MAD Lions, Rogue were so close to glory in 2020. They first defied expectations in the Spring and made playoffs. Then they locked in first place and became the first to go to Worlds in 2020. And then they lost a Best of Five versus Fnatic and crumbled to G2 Esports 2-3. And then Rogue got placed in the Group of Death at Worlds. Blow after blow, Rogue are still heavy favorites to represent the LEC internationally. Going into the offseason, Rogue signed two strong players in Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu at Top Lane and Adrian “Trymbi” Trybus supporting Steven “Hans Sama” Liv. This team is riding high and mighty and looking to make an impact in the 2021 season.
Is anyone surprised that Fnatic is in the top two? Nobody should be but here they are. The Black and Orange champions of Europe slot in at Number Two in our list. After a rather explosive offseason (more about that later), Fnatic made a few large changes to their roster. First, replacing Nemesis is Cloud9 mid-laner Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer. Nisqy made an impact on Cloud9 and will look to repeat a similar feat with Fnatic. Also joining the lineup is Elias “Upset” Lipp who has large shoes to fill to stand up to his former (again more on that later). Finally, joining as the coach is Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi – a well respected guide who coached in both the LEC and LCK. After almost taking down Top Esports at Worlds, Fnatic will look to show that same dominance in 2021.
1. G2 Esports
There should be no surprise who is Number One. And there should be no surprise that this is one of, if not the, biggest roster moves of the offseasons. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson joining G2 is a story out of a comic book. The hero of Fnatic joining the villains of G2 is a story once-thought impossible. But with the signing of Perkz to Cloud9, it makes total sense that Rekkles joins G2. Alongside his former teammate Rasmus Borregaard “Caps” Winther, G2 is easily the best team in the LEC and perhaps an immediate favorite heading into MSI and Worlds 2021 (should they even make it.) Anything less than first place would be a disappointment for this team. They are strong and ready to dominate the world.
With the beginning of the year afoot, every team is coming up strong. But who will be number one? Follow Stropse for breaking coverage of the LEC starting January 22.