In this preview we will present the participants of Europe's highest competitive League of Legends echelon and highlight their strengths and point out possible interesting story lines which may develop during the course of the spring split. Of course, what is a preview without just a pinch of trivia? In addition, the piece is split in three parts as each is centered around a different group of teams.
Without further ado, let us dive right in and see what awaits us once the summoners enter the Fields of Justice...
Table of contents:
1.) Chapter One: Top Dogs ( fnatic, Gambit, Alliance)
2.) Chapter Two: In the Shadows ( Copenhagen Wolves, Roccat, Millenium)
3.) Chapter Three: The Challengers ( Supa Hot Crew, SK Gaming)
Chapter I: Top Dogs
A friend of mine recently tweeted that "this will probably be the most competitive LCS split so far!", a statement I fully agree with. The mix of quality new comers and veterans of the scene will most likely treat the viewer to an explosive cocktail of flashy plays, strategical depth and a giant dose of entertainment (not to mention the drama). However, three out of those eight stand out as solid candidates for the title - Season 3 fourth place finishers fnatic, the all-rounders of Alliance and Season 3 top eight finishers Gambit Gaming.
All of the aforementioned possess an all-star line-up with contrasting qualities, amazing back stories and an unbelievable amount of skill. Some may consider the Alliance mention a bit far fetched given that they have no official tournaments under their belt, but given the sheer amount of experience each player in that team has, it would be outright crazy not to consider them as favourites. The "top dogs" in Europe have a tough road ahead of them, but also all the necessary players to overcome any obstacle in their way. In the most competitive season so far, will power, strict practice and hard work will determine the one, true king.
The kings of Europe from last season are back and have set their sights on Season 4 with the lengthily discussed addition of star marksman Rekkles. After a very successful World Championship performance, the fanatics took their time with a well deserved break. It seems, however, that the break left its mark on them. A highly anticipated rematch with Cloud9 which had Europe's reputation at stake, took place and a few would have guessed how much of a one-sided affair it would turn out to be. Adding insult to injury, Hai "returned the favour" by instantly picking Kassadin, the trademark champion of xPeke, and proceeded to dominate, avenging his poor performance months earlier.
This should not bother the team all that much. Despite having a rather turbulent start to the Summer split (2-3), they got their act together and after a very hard-fought battle, ended up winning it for the second time in a row. Bringing in a new AD Carry has caused a significant stir within the team. In a recent AMA on reddit Cyanide explained that despite contributing the right skill set for the current meta, Rekkles plays mostly non-CC champions which, in turn, will affect the Finn's ganking approach to bot lane.
- In a recent "Reflections" interview, Yellowstar says that fnatic couldn't take one game off SKT during practise at the World Finals.
- Cyanide began competing at the age of 16.
- sOAZ was introduced to the competitive scene by YellowStar.
- Rekkles's first competitive team was actually SK Gaming, although for a very brief spell.
- The team has never changed their jungler(not to jinx Lauri or anything).
On the bright side, the pressure will be off xPeke's shoulders once the Swedish marksman enters beast mode. Often during the Summer split it seemed that the mid laner's performance was a barometer as to how the game would end. Now, the youngster will not only share the load, but will possibly chip-in as a shot caller. During his time with Copenhagen Wolves, Rekkles was actually the shot-caller and had with him all the times a little black book, where he diligently wrote down different strategies or aspects of the game he wished to explore. Being one of the best marksmen in Europe, his addition will most definitely elevate the performance of the team.
With a new season come new numbers, champion combinations, team compositions and so on. Given the fact that sOAZ is in the house, we should definitely expect a hidden ace up his sleeve. The Frenchman is notorious for bringing out new top laners and setting standards on the Summoner's Rift. Along with Cyanide's immense champion pool, the fanatics, at least on paper, are one of the best line-ups of this split.
Undoubtedly, once the team syncs up, fnatic will be a dominant force in the European LCS.
The veteran ex-marksman has been hailed as one of the best transitional players ever, along with former support turned jungler LoveLin. Backed by his solid mechanics and approach to bottom lane dynamics, the Frenchman is always there if you need action. His ability to create a play or force the enemy team to react helped his team to a top 4 finish during the Season 3 World Championships. With his trusty Leona, Bora is a force to be reckoned with. In a team full of Europe's best why should we follow him? Simple! The Season 4 changes altered the support role in a very interesting manner and his ability to utilize the "buffs" to the role will definitely dictate the team's bot lane performance, not to mention the fact that he is paired up with one of the best marksmen out there.
The Russian overlords are back with a bang! Ever since the reunion with the iconic "support-carry" EdWard, the team has racked win after win, dispatching their opponents with the same grace as shown almost two years ago. Seemingly nothing of note has changed in the line-up, but the competitive flame is once again strong within. For a good amount of time Gambit seemed lost. The line-up switched between Darker and then Voidle, but ultimately it was EdWard who brought back "the magic".
Despite the bumpy Summer split affair, the Russians made it all the way to the finals where they narrowly lost to their kryptonite fnatic. A very impressive finish considering all the problems and rotations the players had to endure. Their World Finals adventure marked the first time that the Russians placed outside the top 4, which needless to say, was disappointing for them.
Luckily, the CIS machine is far from obsolete. We were already given a sneak peek at the Battle of the Atlantic where an Ammumu support was showcased to a decent degree of success. Eddy, days before, hinted at a couple of more "viable champions" which we will see at the bottom of the Summoner's Rift.
- Alex Ich was initially a top laner and in the early days of LoL was asked to join SK Gaming.
- Both Alex and Diamond are married(Sorry ladies).
- Diamond is a very good chess player. In a few tweets he stated that he was actively following the Anand vs. Carlsen championship game.
- A lot of people laughed at Genja's Ashe tear build, but rumour goes that Riot actually considered the build "broken" and nerfed it.
- Gambit have fallen victim to a Nidalee in their World Championship games twice. In Season 2 (then Moscow 5) against TPA who utilized a top lane Nida and in Season 3 against the poke composition of Najin Sword, led by Nagne's spears of death.
- Diamond has stated in an interview that "if you want to call yourself a jungler, you must master Lee Sin".
The rise of Shyvana has lit the path of both Darien and Diamond as both favour her and have reaped immense success on the champion. Speaking of the Season 4 changes, we saw an absolute monster in Diamond's Evelynn and I personally expect her to be a must ban against Gambit in all of their matches. Danil has been keeping his top form without any noticeable drops and after their boot camp, I am convinced that a reborn, S4 savvy team will emerge to dominate Western Europe.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback to the Russian overlords would be the fact that they will stick to their plan of flying prior to the matches as German laws prevent them from staying on German territory longer than a fixed number of days. In addition, given their marital status and other factors (distance in Russia), the team will not be getting a gaming house.
Alexey Ichetovkin is and always has always been the driving force behind the squad. Possessing a seemingly never-ending champion pool, he has time and time again solidified his position as one of the best mid players not only in Europe, but worldwide. In Season 3, Alex did give way to the young hotshots, but as the fellowship reunites, it is time for him to once again lead his comrades to victory through solid calls, monstrous farm and jaw-dropping plays.
When the EG split was announced many fans were heartbroken. Some reminisced the good old days of Season 2 when the five lads seemingly came out of nowhere to become the only team to stop the Russian threat. Others welcomed and embraced the change as it gave both parties what they wanted most. Regardless of all this a truly amazing team emerged - Alliance. With their latest addition, former SK Gaming support player Nyph, the team put their final piece into place and is now ready to prove to everyone that a new power is arising.
After the dissolution of the fabled "Super Team", Froggen's future seemed uncertain. The dubbed "best white player to play League of Legends" by Thorin, started to assemble a new team, given that his former line-up had other plans for their future. Being a major part in the "Super Team" he once again asked Shook to partake in his new endeavor. As Jwaow had contract obligations to TCM Gaming, a logical choice was country mate Wickd and last, but not least marksman ace and former World Finals competitor Tabzz.
- If the LoL division of Alliance wins or at least becomes a top 3 contender, we could safely say that the organisation holds the two best MOBA teams in the world (the other one being the Swedish DotA 2 champions led by Loda).
- Tabzz used to be one of the biggest talents on mid lane. What is more, he was considered the best Fizz player in the world by far, many months before Fizz actually gained popularity.
- Shook was the first jungler to receive a praise from a then demigod Diamond in an interview (Season 2).
- Froggen and Wickd were part of the only foreign team to make The Champions final.
After a spectacular debut at Battle of the Atlantic with substitute Kazmitch, the team quickly completed the move of Nyph to Alliance and completed a very, very scary, all-round roster. On the one hand, we have Nyph, Froggen and Wickd whose experience and knowledge will rub off on the newcomers which, in addition to their immense skill as separate players, will boost the team's league performance. On the other are Netherlands' finest - Shook and Tabzz. Both have impressed everyone with their solid play throughout the Challenger League and LCS respectively. The Dutch duo has proven their worth and their champion mentality. Their hunger for silverware is shared within the team and this is one of the many reasons why this composition is so scary.
Season 4 has been very generous to Alliance. Shook is an excellent mechanical jungler and as carry champions rise at that role, his excellent play paired with Froggen's genius will leave their opponents fleeing in terror. If they sync up properly, the only other Jungler-Mid duo who could potentially rise up to them would be Diamondprox and Alex Ich. Ironically, the Alex - Froggen match-up is a duel which has been going since Season 2 and also, Shook is the first jungler to be praised by Diamond in an interview.
As a possible downside of this new line-up, only one thing comes to mind - format. The five players need to become a single unit and adapt quickly as the best of one format of the LCS could be very unforgiving to stubborn teams or those who are not willing to learn.
The Dutch jungle maestro has been a star in his own right since the start of the Season 3 LCS. Then, toxicity issues and a one year suspension got in his way. Due to lucky circumstance another countryman of his, YoungBuck seemingly jump started Illyes' career (hence the Shook v2) and he become a fabled machine in the European challenger scene. If Shook brings his A-game to the super week, I easily expect a 5-0 scoreline from Alliance.
Former lead editor and interviewer for SK Gaming
Follow me on twitter - @Adddler or LINK
iNNERFiRE - multi-game journalist and Editor-in-Chief: 2012
onGamers - League of Legends Feature Producer: 01.2014 - 02.2015
SK-Gaming - League of Legends Lead Editor: 11.2012 - 08.2015
My journey into eSports started in 2004 when I accidentally caught a small video on TV from the WarCraft 3 WCG 2004 final. I opened up the SK Gaming website from my father's laptop and never stopped reading to this day. In early 2010 I started writing at a Bulgarian news website simply because I disliked how the current editor was handling his job and with time, I got to be Editor-In-Chief. My main writing interests back then were StarCraft 2, QuakeLive and League of Legends.
Fast-forward to 2012, after a small hiatus and moving to England to attend university, I decided to start writing news posts again, inspired by a couple of industry figures who have taken their turns taking eSports writing to a new level. With the beginning of IPL5, I was given a trial with SK Gaming which was successful and I never looked back.
In early 2014, onGamers presented me with an incredible opportunity to join their ranks which I took. Although I believe my 2014 was rather poor (in terms of work ethic and results), I have made changes during the winter break to ensure that sufficient effort will be made to repair that. Unfortunately, due to the collapse of the team, the project was at a stand still which marked the end of my stint with the oG crew.
I continued producing 1 on 1 interviews with SK members until July 2015. After that, other commitments arose and I figured I could not provide the flow of content I promised my superiors and took a step back, leaving SK.
If you are an eSports fan who is looking to get into writing or simply want to chat about eSports across the years, you can always find me on my twitter - @Adddler . Below you can find some trivia about me.
BroodWar / StarCraft 2
BW pro: sAvi0r and Flash (for different reasons)
BW race: Terran
BW series: Hana Daetoo MSL
SC2 pro: Creator and Stephano (different reasons)
SC2 race: Terran
SC2 series: ThorZain vs Polt at DreamHack Open 2012 and any big final played by King MvP
StarCraft related article: God of the Battlefield
Pro: Alexey 'Cypher' Yanushevski
Map: Aerowalk, BloodRun (100% Eastern European choices)
Series: Cooller vs Cypher. Especially the brilliant defensive Cypher game on Aero (game 4).
Rivalry: Rapha vs Cypher
Quake related articled: The Quadra Interview and the one and only Cypher PoV
League of Legends
Pro(s): FORG1VEN, Faker, WeiXiao, NaMei and Mata.
Position: AD Carry
Series: All the World Elite games at IPL5, KT Bullets versus SK Telecom T1 K OGN Summer 2013 Final and LPL Summer Final between StarHorn Royal Club and EDG (The perfect Jinx game by Namei).
League related article: Most of TeamLiquid.net's takes on the 2012 and 2013 OGN tournaments.
Team: Fnatic (2008-2009)
Series: AGAiN vs Fnatic at WCG 2009. Literally broke a cup after the game. One of the most emotional series for me as a spectator.
Gfinity League of Legends - August 2013 (SK Gaming)
EU LCS Week 5 London - June 2014 (SK Gaming / onGamers)
GamesCom 2014 Cologne - August 2014 (SK Gaming / onGamers)
EU LCS 2015 Week 7 Spring Split - March 2015 (SK Gaming)
Intel Extreme Masters Season IX Katowice - March 2015 (SK-Gaming)
LCS EU Season 4: The teams
LCS EU Season 4: The teams
LCS Spring promotion qualifier preview
THE NEW JERSEY