The EU Masters is nearly upon us: the top competition for amateur League of Legends teams is coming up fast, giving us the chance to witness some of Europe’s finest teams battle for glory. Keeping tabs on all of the frenetic action across the whole continent is no simple task, however, but we’ve done the hard work for you, and we’ve outlined everything you need to know about the teams that’ll be aiming to take the top prize.
In our first instalment, we showed you the bitter cold of the Nordics, the beautifully expansive plains of Poland, to the many faces of the Baltics and finally the frenetic DACH circuit. 13 teams are still waiting to be presented, and we’ve detailed the second wave to enter the fray: New blood from Czech Republic & Slovakia, the almighty Spain, the crusading UK & Ireland in search of redemption, and the ever-exciting and surprising Balkans. Let’s dive into it!
Czech Republic and Slovakia - Hitpoint Masters: AS Trenčín eSports (Slovakia)
For the last three years, the Hitpoint Masters and the CZSK region have been synonymous with eSuba, the most successful team the region has ever produced. But alas, no king rules forever. As royalty of the region, eSuba sat loftily on their throne, confident in claiming the title once more before getting dethroned by a new challenger: AS Trenčín eSports. The team is the esports arm of the Slovakian football team of the same name, born in a similar fashion to Schalke 04, and they immediately garnered the support of Slovak and Czech fans alike. They now reap the rewards of their hard work and head towards the EU Masters in their maiden split.
AS Trenčín could be described as a ticking bomb. They play a slow and patient early game, generally playing more reactively. But as the numbers tick down, AS Trenčín ramp up their pace towards that proverbial explosion in the mid-to-late game. This trait has surprised many a foe who thought the game was done and dusted. Even if they are set behind, their gutsy calls and constant skirmishes turn the tides instantly. With experienced Czech jungler Jejky at the helm, he leads the young and energetic roster onward fearlessly. This in turn brings momentum on their side and it translates into more confident calls where newly acquired toplaner Wondro and midlaner Dread who play a mean Ryze and Cassiopeia, can wreak havoc. And when both of them get an advantage, take heed, for they never let up. The botlane duo of Charca and Vasked remain AS Trenčín’s pillars of stability, always being there for the team to rely on when things look bleak.
However, there have been many instances where AS Trenčín is not just behind on gold or kills, but also on objectives such as dragons or turrets. More ruthless teams in Europe will not allow them to employ their explosive mid game strategy of mounting a comeback, catching them in the side lanes easily should they choose to farm and split push to stall. Should they be able to mount comebacks, as they have in their local arena, it would be a true Cinderella story for their fans. AS Trenčín enter the EU Masters with two worlds on their back: not only do they need to prove that the CZSK region shouldn’t be underestimated, but also that their historic victory over eSuba wasn’t a fluke and they deserve to represent their region on the EU Masters as the new champions. Will they live up to this burden of succession?
Player to watch: Wondro. AS Trenčín toplaner for the regular season was Czech resident and veteran Dreedy, a veteran and valuable toplaner within the region. But after Vikingering’s Wondro destroyed AS Trenčín, it was love at first sight and they’ve never looked back. Wondro’s mechanical skill on champions like Jax and Vladimir are monstrous, sometimes single-handedly decimating foes even when he’s outnumbered. The young Slovak has finally been unleashed and has already made a name for himself in his first split. Watch him as he challenges names like Finn, Yoppa, Orome with his brazen and aggressive playstyle.
Spain - SuperLiga Orange: Splyce Vipers (Spain) and MAD Lions (Spain)
Splyce Vipers and their acronym SVP stands for three words: Strength, Valour, Perseverance. Through hard work and strength of will, the amber serpents went from nearly last place in the regular season and unfancied contenders to eventually ruling Spain. Dispatching every contender and naysayer with ruthless efficiency, Splyce have finally sunk their fangs on a coveted League of Legends trophy they have hunted for so long. And this is just the beginning: the EU Masters is next on their list.
The Vipers share a great many traits with their LEC counterpart: Lots of average kills per game (14.4 and 14.2 respectively), thriving in teamfights and favouring the late game in general. SVP are flexible and can play different compositions well enough, but they truly excel when they draft near full teamfighting compositions. Champions such as Jarvan, Zac, Orianna, Viktor or Vladimir let them not only scale, but go in hard. As such, Splyce play a controlled but aggressive style, pressuring wherever possible but rarely taking unnecessary risks. Tierwulf, nicknamed “El Chileno” by Spanish casters, is the centerpiece to this as he selflessly tries to set up every lane. His aggression in attempts to find kills or blow summoners is much appreciated by his laners, who are impressive names on their own. Freeze and Prime make up the botlane and Draven remains a must ban, for this duo will look to duel and kill their counterparts. Solo laners of Orome in toplane and Hatrixx in midlane have had standout performances thus far, each taking turns to carry and support the team while being extremely oppressive in the laning phase. Their wealth of options to carry and draft make Splyce supremely difficult to face.
The Vipers, patient hunters they are, don’t like to close the game right away. They take it safe, postponing the ultimate fate to when their composition comes online. And there you get the big combos that make their style unique and unforgettable. However, this does not come without repercussions. Many times, when approaching the closing moments of a game they seem to get itchy and misplay crucial teamfights, thus opening a way for an enemy comeback. This attribute becomes even more evident during slow, drawn out games with little to no engagements. Without engagements to further their advantages the Vipers have a tendency to force unnecessary fights, like serpents provoking pachyderms. But adversity is nothing new to this team. Over the course of their harsh split, Splyce have been molded into a solid unit, one that will sacrifice their lives for one another to achieve victory. Fangs at the ready, the Vipers hesitate no longer and are ready to strike. Fear their venom.
Player to watch: Hatrixx. Maybe because Norway faces the Atlantic, the narrative of Norwegian midlaners having large champion pools isn’t exclusively for Nukeduck. Ryze, Yasuo, Orianna, Zed,Swain,Viktor and even Kassadin: Hatrixx has everything you need and more. Selfless and decisive, if he sees an opportunity to assassinate the backline or to lay down the perfect combo, he will jump straight in. Recognition and glory have been a long time coming for the talented Norwegian and now that he’s had a taste of it, nothing will stop him from getting his next trophy: The EU Masters.
MAD Lions returning back to the EU Masters is no surprise; qualifying as the 2nd seed however, certainly is. After a dominant regular season, the Lions were once again favoured to win it all, but Splyce Vipers managed to reverse their namesakes’ natural matchup and left them licking their wounds with a bitter 0-3. The former Spanish champions have a steep climb in front of them before their claws can grasp the ultimate trophy once again. But take heed, for MAD Lions are still defending champions of the European Masters.
The Lions faced a daunting task in 2019: to rebuild the team that won nearly everything last year. Assembling a roster, nay, a super team, Lions field star players in all roles on paper. And this reflects in-game where the Lions rely a lot on their individual skill to perform. The early stages of the game are quite controlled and they never take unnecessary risks, like a patient pride of lions stalking their prey. But perhaps the strongest arsenal of MAD Lions is their adaptability. They can adapt quickly to the pace of the game and tailor their game plan to suit it, or quickly modify their game plan to suit the pace instead. Yoppa is the terror in the top lane and he draws all the pressure for the Spanish pride; while his counterpart in the midlane Pretty is extremely solid and hard to exploit no matter the matchup. Jungler bluerzor has favoured Skarner as of late and is a flexible jungler, able to adapt to what his team or the game requires such as early ganks or invades. EU LCS veteran Samux is paired with the old lion Falco in the bot lane, making them one of the sturdiest components of this new roster. With coach Araneae at the helm once again, the Lions are predictably a team that features strong macro play and are difficult to break down.
But as with all new rosters, incredible individual talent or not, have visible issues.The best way to describe this iteration of the Lions roster is they base their gameplan on their lanes’ performances. This works well as long as they can prompt a snowball off it and mercilessly subdue their enemies, but the reverse is true when they can’t. Even with the gauntlet they must face that is the play-ins, the Lions still roar defiantly. Will their claws still maul those who oppose them, or will their crown finally be snatched away?
Player to watch: Yoppa. The storied Superliga Orange top laner, is possibly the most skilled player in Spain. Jungler bluerzor tends to favour snowballing him ahead and with good reason: He always goes berserk and often finds crucial solo kills that set him way ahead in comparison to other top laners. Yoppa however plays on knife’s edge. It’s this attribute that awes those watching him and at the same time heralds his demise, making the viewing experience exciting and unpredictable. Watch out for his pocket Zed in the toplane!
United Kingdom and Ireland - LVP UK League Championship: Fnatic Rising (UK) and Diabolus Esports (UK)
Fnatic, the undisputed emperors of Europe. They stand uncontested in their halls of glory, bathed in the reflected gleaming sheens of multiple trophies and accolades. And yet they hunger for more. To be at Fnatic is to constantly strive and struggle, never stopping in pursuit of total mastery of one’s craft. Their academy team Fnatic Rising, who have fulfilled the prophecy to rule Britannia, arrive in Europe, hungering for more.
Traditionally, the UK and Ireland’s finest have done rather poorly in the European Masters. Yet, Fnatic Rising’s ambitions were clear from day one. Building what is most certainly a superteam, this roster was assembled to win. Non-flashy and decisive, this disciplined team has been one of the most consistently adaptable rosters in the British circuit. Favouring a controlled, oppressive style where they punish opponents after forcing rash plays, they have also shown proactivity from early to mid game. Jungler Dan is central to this, even though he leans towards a more farm heavy/objective based style, ultimately, he dictates Fnatic’s tempo. Flanked by two extraordinary solo laners, Shikari - now a four time consecutive UK champion – in the top lane is the unmovable mountain who almost never loses his lane. MagiFelix – or, as some call him, MagiFaker – has finally translated his mind-boggling solo queue montages into consistent carry performances on stage, aside from random moments of getting caught overextended. xMatty himself is an incredibly reliable carry and he is spoilt for choice when it comes to supports: Prosfair is his usual lane partner, while there’s also former EU LCS support Targamas who displayed an immaculate performance in the Grand Finals.
Fnatic’s strong vision control and impressive counterengage abilities make them a frightful prospect to face, systematically accruing every small advantage possible, leaving foes ultimately powerless to oppose them. They’ve had some hiccups during the regular season but returned stronger than ever, leaving opponents very little to exploit. With possibly the strongest representative the British Isles have seen yet, we ask this again: Will Fnatic Rising finally bring it home?
Player to watch: Dan. Ever faced that really annoying jungler in your game who seems to be everywhere, has a CS lead over yours and still manages to take every objective on the map? That’s Dan. Having an uncanny ability to read the enemy jungler’s movements, Dan utilises this knowledge to time clever invades and ganks, setting up his lanes and still maintaining healthy CS numbers (especially on Karthus!). To the enemies we say, don’t flame your jungler: You had no chance to begin with once Dan connected.
Diabolus Esports have a dream: To bring their vision of brimstone and fire unleashed upon the European continent. Last Summer, they almost seized the chance to participate in the EU Masters, but were painfully denied. But in 2019, this young, ambitious battalion armed with unholy zeal and devilish flamboyance set the British Isles ablaze. Cackling maniacally, their gaze now drifts abroad.
Diabolus fears no one. Do not let their relatively calm early game fool you, for once the mid game approaches, they exemplify their motto: Give ‘em hell. This team will fight and scrap at any moment's notice, even if they are behind. Those unprepared are left as ash in their fiery wake, especially when it comes to the late game (their speciality). Jungler Munckizz ignites their path, utilising aggressive champions such as Rek’Sai to get them going. Mid laner Kroghsen is their solid rock who never falters on his plethora of mages. The ever exuberant and flashy top laner Kerberos flexes mages in the draft phase with Kroghsen, famous for his potent carry champions and Cho’Gath, and will split push to the end of time if given the chance. But it is their ADC Yusa, who is but a rookie, that has drawn all eyes. He has shouldered the responsibilities of carrying the nefarious battalion through many times with the composure of a veteran, flanked by his stalwart support in Hadow. Casters within the scene often referred to this as “The Yusa Show”.
Bold and brazen, these firebrands have been moulded into a formidable unit over the UKLC split. But play with fire too often, and you get burnt. Diabolus have shown to be mistaken prone early on and can too caught up in their bloody ways, allowing enemies to punish their frenzied scrambles – and more often than not, tend to be set behind early on. Top laner Kerberos and the bot lane duo are typically guilty of this, meaning Diabolus have to rely on stalling until the late game more often than not. After all, these young devils still have much to learn. Should they continue harnessing that which makes them so daunting to face, their enemies will be nothing but fuel which drives this hellish tide forth, burning all asunder in their conquest for European glory.
Player to watch: Kerberos. Despite being named after the legendary three-headed guard dog of Tartarus, top laner Kerberos generally only has two modes: feed or destroy. Flashy, daring and often quite greedy, he favours carry champions like Jax and mages such as Vladimir and Ryze. This in return leads to opponents attempting to shut him down and punish his overreaches. Failure to do so leads to Kerberos becoming sheer terror incarnate manifested upon the Rift later in the game.
Balkans - Esports Balkan League: Random 5 (Bulgaria) and Crvena zvezda Esports (Serbia)
As the years go by and League of Legends grows, teams rely more and more on investment and sponsorships, aiming to grow their names as global brands. Yet the EBL brought us back to 2015 in a nostalgic fashion with a team of five Bulgarian friends defying all odds, just as Unicorns of Love eliminated SK Gaming back then. Here is what Regional Leagues – and specifically the EBL – have that is impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world: friendship can still topple any investment or obstacle. This is the true magic of Random 5, the new champions of the Balkans.
The most distinctive trait of this merry band of friends? They never, ever, give up. No coach or management? No problem. Despite their players’ champion pools being rather limited and leaning towards comfort picks, they can play literally anything that has a use in a teamfight. And that is their speciality. Usually very risk-averse during the laning phase, jungler Spooky focuses on farming and keeping the status quo. What saves R5’s early games are solo laners LMZS (not SMLZ from the LPL we promise) and LUBEEENZZZ (whose Kennen is undefeated to date): ready to collapse as soon as the enemy jungler tries to invade, protecting their territory. Once jungler Spooky spots the right opportunity, he propels midlaner LMZS to the skies who in turn proceeds to snowball the other lanes. And the botlane of R5 is true terror with ADC VendettazZ and support Turanaga, the latter being a very prolific roamer and playmaker. But the epitome of the team is their puzzling yet entertaining mid game teamfighting. As if they were literally rolling a five-sided dice, the outcome is just as unpredictable. Roll a five, and you get the frame-perfect engage, the crucial flank, the impossible 5k gold comeback. Roll a one, and R5 end up never pulling the trigger, fighting without their carries or picking a terrible time to engage.
Their tendency to only look for fights has predictably not always worked out, meaning they have to play from the back foot against more coordinated teams. As their name says, Random 5 are unpredictable and you never know what to expect facing them. But one certainty is their unshakeable unity, coordinating 1-3-1 compositions as well as skirmishes. In the wake of their compatriot Hylissang and his pink companions of the past, Random 5 are here to lighten up the EU Masters stage with a smile.
Player to watch: VendettazZ. You might think we’re highlighting this young ADC solely for his stunning haircut, but there’s more to him than funky ‘do. A true master of the spear, his Kalista embodies the coordination and synergy that only R5 possess, to the point of blind picking the champion five times against former champions ASUS ROG Elite. Random 5 tend to play around this explosive ADC and when the occasion calls for it, he’s ready to pull out champions like Sivir and Kai’Sa, and still carry the team. Europe, watch out. The Bulgarian marksman is here to play.
EU Masters 2018 Summer was a forgettable affair for Crvena zvezda Esports or Red star Esports – the esports side of the soccer organisation. Finishing last in play-ins, it seemed their woes would continue coming into 2019. However, sheer grit and determination shone through, taking them from rock bottom all the way to near the summit of the Balkans. It’s time to honour the weight and history of their association with Red Star Belgrade, Serbian superstars and legends.
Like their Balkan representatives of old, Crvena zvezda are very partial to the “Balkan pain train” strategy. This means whenever possible, they will play fast and they will look to fight or skirmish. A lot. As much as they are able to, this team will bulldoze plates, turrets and champions relentlessly if given half the chance to snowball out of control. Shlatan is main facilitator of this style by finding as many ganks early on as possible, intent of getting his lanes ahead as fast as he can. Shlatan usually has this luxury thanks to his solo lanes, with the oppressive Swede in Quinncidence barraging the toplane and Marrow Ooze holding the midlane. Watch out if they get Jayce and/or Zoe respectively. Support in Cl0x provides much needed assurance and strong playmaking skills to complement Macedonian ADC Goldento4st, who prefers to play it safe and become a nuisance later on in the game. Once the mid game arrives Crvena zvezda continuously badger the opposition till they find an opportunity to pick a big fight, with the tendency to use Baron as their bait.
Crvena zvezda are very oppressive to deal with when they are in the lead. They leave very little room to contest, as when they smell blood, the whole squad homes in to take the fight, turrets be damned. Yet, this reliance on their quick snowball from the early game does leave them very vulnerable when Shlatan’s ganks do not go well, instantly halting the Balkan train. The other is to hunt the botlane duo. ADC Goldento4st usually has quite a weak laning phase and Cl0x has to protect him, meaning the opposing botlane duo more often than not has priority there.
Player to watch: Shlatan. Roaring back into the European Masters, the Polish jungler is out to prove he is not finished. The architect and conductor of the Balkan pain train, Shlatan’s aggressive and proactive nature is the true key to Crvena zvesda’s snowballing style. He is always finding any opportunity to give his laners an advantage, even if it means sacrificing some farm in the jungle to go from top to midlane. Champions such as Elise, Gragas, Lee Sin and his pocket Graves pick allow him to duel early on and still be useful enough later to conduct the pain train. Next stop? The EU Masters!