Going into the 4th Season of LCS, let’s review the contenders and pretenders of this Season’s EU scene!
#1 – Fnatic
I like Fnatic for the #1 spot in Europe. They’re a team with a lot of history, and that history says that they perform best under pressure. Their unique Double AP strategy stands out especially in a region known for the skill of AP mids. The biggest threat to their dominance is nerfs to their strongest champions, especially Kassadin and Lissandra. Their bot lane is now even stronger due to the addition of Rekkles, and look to see him only go stronger under the tutelage of veterans Cyanide, xPeke, sOAZ, and YellOwStar all of whom have been playing since Season 1.
#2 – Gambit Gaming/Moscow 5/Empire
Gambit Gaming rose to dominance in Season 2 with their uniquely aggressive style centered around DiamondPr0x. They were the team to beat, taking 6 1st place showings, 3 2nd place showings, and 2 third place showings, and that’s just in major tournaments. They are 5-1 in IEM tournaments and have had the same roster for most of their time together, minus a half-season departure of Edward.
#3 – ROCCAT
ROCCAT is my Dark Horse for this season: they had a strong showing vs the other European Championship Series teams, including Ninjas in Pyjamas. I can’t say I know that much about them, but the European scene is ripe for a new team. Fnatic and Gambit probably look to secure the #1/2 spots, but the 3rd and 4th spots are no small change, and ROCCAT, Alliance, and Copenhagen Wolves all seem in a strong position to compete.
#4 – Copenhagen Wolves
They are hardly the same team that underperformed in the Spring Split of Season 3 (only cowTard remains), with a dominant showing in the offseason. But they are yet untested as a team.
#5 – Alliance
Alliance is basically a super Frankenstein team, akin to the up and coming dominant Cloud9 EU. Wickd was one of the dominant top laners of Season 2, but has been somewhat disappointing since (really, that’s the story of EG). However, with his EG teammate Froggen and the rest of these players, perhaps he can make a serious play for dominance. Shook was a strong jungler who was hit with a yearlong competitive play ban, so hopefully he’s learned from his time off. Tabzz was the ADC from the #1 European team, Lemondogs, while Nyph hit #1 on the EUW solo queue ladder in Season 3. Apparently, the synergy between Froggen and Shook is already evident, and if the rest of the team can play well together, they’ll be a force to reckon with.
#6 – SK Gaming
Something had to happen with SK; they were one of the more disappointing old guard teams. Can the completely new roster — minus CandyPanda — revitalize the team? I look to see good things out of the Danes Svenskeren and Jesiz, especially, but I don’t see this team gaining their synergy quickly enough to compete with the top EU team.
#7 – Millenium
Under the name ATN, they took 5th place in the last EU LCS split, and with their roster unchanged, it’s hard to see them moving up from that.
#8 – Supa Hot Crew
Having to replace a player just before the start of LCS is never a good sign. It’s hard to envision a future where they place all that highly.
As far as I see it, Fnatic and Gambit Gaming are poised to take the #1 and #2 spots.
After that? I put the smart money on Copenhagen Wolves, Roccat, and Alliance duking it out for the next spots. If Alliance gets their synergy together, they may even be able to hit the #2 spot from the sheer talent on their team. I don’t see either ROCCAT or Copenhagen Wolves having that potential. So why do I have Alliance at #5 and CW and ROCCAT at 3/4? Froggen and Wickd have had their chance to showcase their talents, and they have done nothing but fade from their glory. They haven’t been as disappointing as SK or Millenium or aAa or ATN, so I give them another Season before they fade out. But if there is something that has kept the vanguard EU teams around, it’s not talent. There are loads of long-time players with talent, but the teams that stick around (Fnatic and Gambit Gaming) have ingenuity and moxie. Without that, it seems only inevitable that new blood will rise to challenge you. It is their talent alone that stops me from lumping them in with SK Gaming and Millenium.
Finally, the 6th/7th/8th spots should belong to the dying teams of SK Gaming and Millenium, as well as the new but untested Supa Hot Crew. For SK and Millenium, it’s time to put up or shut up, as neither team has been particularly relevant since Season 2.
Mattias “Gentleman Gustaf” Lehman is a big time nerd-gamer who has been involved in both SC2 and LoL. He has ranked as high as Diamond 1 in solo queue and Diamond 3 in arranged 5s.
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