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ESPORTS

A challenger approaches!

This weekend, Summoner’s Rift will once again explode with action in the 2017 European Challenger Series. Six teams filled with young rookies and seasoned veterans will fight for a chance to move up into the EU LCS in the Promotion Tournament. But to get there they first must survive five weeks of grueling combat against some of the mightiest Challenger teams Europe has ever seen.

Who are the teams?

We’ve never seen such strong teams in Challenger, I fully expect at least one of them to move into the LCS for Summer

James “Stress” O’Leary, EUCS & LCS Analyst
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Fnatic Academy

Sister team to the Season 1 World Champion’s Fnatic, this isn’t the first incarnation of Fnatic Academy.  After forming - and disbanding - in 2013, Fnatic Academy competed in the 2015 EUCS Spring Qualifiers and the 2016 EUCS Summer Qualifiers, but were unable to move forward from either tournament. But third time proved to be the charm, and with a team built around former Fnatic support Klaj, including LCS veterans MrRalleZ and Kikis, Fnatic Academy was able to finally secure a spot after beating Team Forge in the 2017 EU Spring Qualifiers.

“Their main strength is macro and strategic play, it’s obvious they have input from a very high level backbench of analysts and coaches because they played games almost perfectly at points - they are very good at securing objectives early on and securing a gold lead.” - Aaron “Medic” Chamberlain, EUCS Commentator

 

FC Schalke 04

Owned by the German football club of the same name, FC Schalke 04 made their first appearance in eSports when they bought former LCS team Elements’ spot in the 2016 Summer Split.  Although they managed to finish the Regular Season in 8th, the new team failed to keep their stay in the LCS after losing to 10th place Roccat and former Challenger team Misfits. But Schalke didn’t let that discourage them, instead entering the EUCS with a brand new roster consisting of four former H2K members in loulex, Selfie, Vander, and Veteran, as well as CS veteran Upset.

“I'm excited to see how the amount of investment into a team will pay off. I think that with experienced players and a good roster, they will be a fun team to watch.” - Andy “Vedius” Day, EUCS & LCS Analyst

 

Misfits Academy

Newcomers Misfits Academy hope to follow in the footsteps of their LCS sister team Misfits, who had a dominating Summer Split in the EUCS and won against Schalke 04 to move into the LCS.  Looking to recreate their success, MFA purchased the spot of former Challenger team Epsilon, keeping their veteran midlaner CozQ, who has competed in five consecutive Challenger splits. But CozQ isn’t the only CS veteran, Dreams shared the support role on Misfits’ 2016 team, helping them to qualify for the EU LCS in the Promotion tournament.

“Misfits Academy is a team full of former challenger players with some new faces. I'm looking forward to Dreams in particular as I felt he was an impressive individual on the original Misfits roster.” - Andy “Vedius” Day

 

Paris Saint-Germain

Affiliated with the football club of the same name, this will be PSG’s first split in the League of Legends eSports scene after they purchased Huma’s Challenger spot. After appointing seasoned LCS pro YellOwStaR as their CEO, PSG built a team overflowing with talent from their jungler Kirei, who has competed in IWCQ, NA LCS, and the EU CS, to Pilot from the LCK who, alongside his former team Jin Air Greenwings, made it to the LCK Semi Finals, losing 3-1 to three time World Champions SK Telecom T1.

Paris Saint-Germain’s first venture into esports sends a strong statement to their EUCS opposition. The addition of Blanc and Pilot from LCK’s Jin Air Green Wings makes the French Football organisations lineup look scary. I’m expecting the meta right now to favour PSG, where Steve’s affinity for tanks, Kirei’s love of early game junglers, and what looks to be a formidable bot lane can come together and punish their opponents from TP plays.” - James “Stress” O’Leary

 

Millenium

Long term veterans Millenium return for another split in the European Challenger Series after failing to move up into the LCS in a 2:3 loss against Roccat during the 2017 Spring Promotion Tournament despite coming in second in the 2016 Summer Split Regular Season.  The French team has served as a training ground for the LCS, with many of their players moving on to LCS teams, such as YellOwStaR and sOAZ as well as recent players like Djoko. Now in their third consecutive Challenger Split, Millenium look to make it back to the Promotion Tournament and finally move into the LCS.

“Millenium have made it nearly to the top of EUCS on multiple occasions, but have never faced such stiff competition as this splits Challenger teams. Only Pretty remains from their previous lineup, who is now flanked by a lineup of mostly newer faces. Norskeren and Steal are fairly untested in competition, while Mimic struggled as a part of Team Forge in 2016. I think P1noy is going to have to step it up from his last few appearances and channel some of his past successes to ensure MIL start off on the right foot.” - James “Stress” O’Leary

 

Team Kinguin

One of the newest teams in the EUCS, Team Kinguin first appeared during the Challenger Series Qualifiers where they crushed former Challenger team Nerv for a spot in the 2017 Spring Split.  Team Kinguin boasts an all Polish lineup including Woolite, who looks to begin his 4th EUCS Split with a fresh start.

“They’re an all Polish team with a ton of synergy, and they have some experienced heads in Woolite and Sebekx who have both been around a while. But even some of their lesser known players, like IceBeasto and Tabasko, are very strong. Tabasko really showed up in the jungle during CSQ, which is so important right now, and IceBeasto reminded me a bit of Alphari in the top lane - very confident and very willing to make plays.” - Aaron “Medic” Chamberlain

 

What’s the schedule?

The action will begin on Sunday, February 5th at 15:00 CET, and will continue at the same time each Sunday for the following four weeks.

schedule

Where do I watch?

Tune into watch.lolesports.com to catch the matches in English, Spanish, German, French or Polish. For the English broadcast, we’re looking forward to welcoming our new Challenger Series Play-by-Play Shoutcaster Aaron “Medic” Chamberlain (@MedicCasts) who will be bringing the action alongside Andy “Vedius” Day and James “Stress” O’Leary.

 

The season kicks off when former LCS team Schalke 04 take on the newcomers Team Kinguin on Sunday, February 5th, at 15:00 CET.