With European Masters Summer 2019 kicking off shortly, we’ve already taken a look at four teams who are vying for the trophy; from the DACH region with vermillion mice and the red star of hope from the Balkans. All worthy challengers for the crown – and now we have four more talented teams from around the region who could very well take the vacant throne for themselves.
For the last four hopefuls, we journey to the Spanish front of Inquisitors and Warships, the undisputed king of Britannia and a rogue turned crusader, seeking redemption for past failures. Buckle up as the EU Masters starts in four days and the arena of stars once again will be flooded with blood and tears. Let’s dive in.
Spain – SuperLiga Orange: Vodafone Giants (Spain) and Origen BCN (Spain)
For years, Spain has been the South Korea of European semi professional leagues: every young talent aims to play there, and the strongest teams have battled in the fiercest of arenas. In 2019, however, this belief was greatly challenged and who better than to keep the flag flying high for the Spanish Armada than one of the EU LCS’s former founding members: Vodafone Giants. The kings of Spain once again return to the EU Masters, bringing with them many old memories and new legacies.
Giants once arrived at the EU Masters exactly one year ago but failed to make it past the Play-in stage. But like their mythical namesake, they’ve hibernated, feasted and returned more monstrous than before. In the era of ‘play your style’, Giants remain one of the most straightforward and ‘traditional’ teams, preferring the old twin carry threat approach of mid/ADC with the rest of the team supporting them, setting up fights when they see an opening and marching in steadily to take the win.
With Antonio "Th3Antonio" Espinosa absorbing immense pressure on his preferred tanks (especially Cho’Gath), aggressive jungler Iván "Razork" Martín Díaz is free to stalk the enemy jungler in his own territory or find early ganks, allowing their star mid laner from the vaunted KlikTech side Aljoša "Milica" Kovandžić and the botlane duo of Matthew “Deadly” Smith and Petr "denyk" Haramach to play very aggressively. The two carries are the centerpiece of the team: the former a stunning mechanical player with 13 solokills in his last split and Deadly being a formidable CS machine, the total damage output from the two averages 60 percent of their team’s damage. These are numbers that dominated their Spanish opponents.
As in most fairy tales and fantasy renditions, Giants love a good fight. The moment they hit a power spike or accrue even the smallest advantage, the team groups as soon as possible to contest objectives and force skirmishes. Their very methodical and forward approach has proven to be effective, but at times this backfires when a fight or objective contest doesn’t go their way. No one has been really able to make Giants truly show their hand, as people thinking The3Antonio is only limited to tanks will be sorely mistaken. Will the Spanish region be able to stand on the backs of Giants, or will they encounter Giantslayers once more?
The final game that crowned Giants as the kings of Spain, their steady, indomitable march forward eventually sealed their victory
It all began in Spring 2018, when fans of the EU Masters always asked, “WHEN DOES ORIGEN PLAY?”, to the point it became a recurring meme. After a long year and a bit, we can safely answer this question: September 9th! Origen BCN have finally landed in the EU Masters much to the joy of their adoring legion. The first edition of EUM was won by their predecessors and after two heartbreaking finals in the SuperLiga Orange, this is the perfect opportunity for OGB to end 2019 with a bang.
Recruiting one of the brightest young coaches in Baltat "AoD" Alin-Ciprian, he has drilled OGB to be much like their sister team in LEC: they thrive on a path of patience and total control. Their style mimics the LCK World Champions of old by suffocating enemies with vision and champions that can threaten with their presence alone.
They place emphasis on drafting safe carries in the hands of Alexander "Venzer" Kostadinov, like Kai’Sa or even Karma, in turn allowing support Adrián "Homi" Moldes López to roam and either establish vision or invading in tandem with Russian jungler Nikolay "Zanzarah" Akatov. “El Ruso” has many pocket picks including Nunu and Ornn. He might not be the most active early game jungler, but he repays in kind by being the flag-bearer for OGB: his voice leads the team, pulling the trigger when needed and taking necessary risks for the team.
What truly sets them apart is their fearlessness in drafting odd picks and strategies, showing picks like Ornn jungle and even Shaco support! And while fans do love their total control approach with their sometimes whacky picks, their extremely patient and generally risk averse style has seen them struggle in more chaotic games where their opponents constantly disrupt their set game plan. OGB now seek to move out of the enormous shadow of their predecessor; will their fans continuously see them pave the royal road or be left asking, “WHERE IS ORIGEN?”
OGB are at their best here where they can exert their influence over almost every part of the map
United Kingdom and Ireland – LVP UK League Championship: Fnatic Rising (UK)
The dream of all LEC teams is to see their academy team flourish with available talent to challenge their main roster, and together, strive for greater things. While they aren’t quite there yet, Fnatic Rising are certainly close. The kings of Britannia won the British treble and with one more shiny trophy added to their bursting cabinet, they now set sail once more to claim the one trophy that has so far eluded their grasp: The EU Masters.
Making it to Top 4 in Spring is not nearly enough to sate their incredible drive: Fnatic Rising want the crown. While one can easily dismiss their recent championship as a foregone conclusion, their ride to the top hasn’t been calm seas and sunshine. Much like braving the British weather, they’ve faced roster issues but amazingly came out better for it. Roleswapping promising mid laner Ronaldo "Ronaldooo" Betea to support breathed new life into the team, as his aggression and love for roaming with jungler Cantoursna "Nji" An allowed them to play with much more freedom.
ADC Matthew Charles "xMatty" Coombs has already seemed to have formed a strong partnership with Ronaldooo and the experienced marksman has had a standout split thus far, shining on picks like Xayah and he also can play Karma bot (and a pocket Veigar). New top laner Brian "Bando" Ferrando has already made a good impression with his varied champion pool and mechanical skill, but it’s Felix "MagiFelix" Boström who once again hogs the spotlight. His ability to dominate the lane while still absorbing an enormous amount of pressure has been invaluable to the team this split.
Going into EUM, Fnatic still remains a bit of an enigma. Other than scrims and a single series from the UKLC Grand Finals, there isn’t much hard data on this lineup. In said finals, there were moments where it looked like they didn’t quite gel, indicating that there’s work to be done on their team synergy. Their greatest strength will be the element of surprise, but their unity could be an attacking point for more established rosters. The last edition saw this team salvage the UKLC’s honour and this time, all eyes will be on them to live up to the Fnatic name. To be at Fnatic is to be the best: will they bring it home this time?
Fnatic Rising subverting expectations of a slower style by going in hard. What can we expect in EUM?
Poland – Ultraliga: Rogue Esports Club (Poland)
Poland did not have a good campaign in the last EU Masters and the favourites to win it all, Rogue Esports Club, disappointingly failed to exit the group stages. One would think the rogues would be left battered, beaten and beyond hope. But it’s the opposite. Their zeal and fury birthed from that dismal memory has once again returned them to where this began: The EU Masters.
As an academy team, Rogue promoted their whole team into the LEC for Summer, a testament to their talent. While this proved beneficial to their LEC playoff goals, this has surprisingly had no impact on their dominance of the local scene. Hiring a legend within the scene in Christoph "nRated" Seitz, he has drilled and rebuilt REC from the ground up. Stylistically extremely similar to their Spring form, REC are still a team that employs a potent punishing, controlled playstyle that is generally macro focused, risk-averse early on and extremely decisive later.
The difference for this summer is their players: aggressive jungler Marcin "behave" Pawlak, who was pivotal to Future Perfect WLG’s championship run last split. Marcin "IBO" Lebuda (previously known as IceBeasto), is still the beast in the North once he gets going. The botlane of Martin "HeaQ" Kordmaa and Oskar "Raxxo" Bazydło, with HeaQ’s experience from the very top levels of competition, form a steady and steadfast partnership. But their coup is bringing a name familiar to most back home to Poland, and that is their midlaner Marcin "Selfie" Wolski. Do not think for a second his skills are dulled; he is still capable of incredible mechanical outplays he was so well-known for in the past.
REC are also difficult to draft against due to their ability to flex multiple picks and they’re not afraid to experiment, such as HeaQ on Pyke or Selfie’s Diana – to counter Corki – and Nocturne mid. Solid and hard to abuse, REC don’t leave many openings for opponents to exploit. They are their own worst enemies here with the occasional indecision plaguing them, allowing much faster teams to snowball onto them. Perhaps we will see another creative attempt like Misfits Premier’s legendary game this Summer to crack them open. This time, with more level-headed expectations, REC have all the cards to make a deep run. Will the EU Masters be trampled beneath their iron fist or will the hooded bandits once again return empty handed?