Today, the great competition for regional dominance in Europe begins. The promised hour draws nearer and nearer. It’s been quite a journey and we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. As with all things, all beginnings must end and we present to you our final guide to the European Masters.
In our second piece, we visited the rocky hills of Southern Europe and rainy Britannia, and now we close our voyage with the quirky artificers from Benelux, the renewed spark of competition in Italy, Greece's ambition to rule Europe, Portugal's trial for recognition and the terrifying French army of foxes and rabbits. Here we will tell you about the dominating superteams that smaller regions put together to make their voice heard among many Goliaths of the semi-professional circuit. Let’s dive in once more!
France - La Ligue Française: Team-LDLC (France) and Misfits Premier (France)
France. Wine, fashion, the Eiffel Tower…and home to a host of incredible talent. Always regarded as the third or fourth best region within the EU Masters, French teams have never managed to go the distance, tending to fall short when it matters most. But for this edition, France’s finest is an army worthy of Napoleon: Team-LDLC. With the experience of two former EU LCS veterans and the renowned Yellowstar at the helm, “La Grande Armée” in blue and white have arrived to erase the memory of their failure to qualify in 2018 Spring. Their revolution begins here.
The analogy to the army of the former Emperor fits the foxes like a glove: Team-LDLC are well drilled, disciplined, hard to break down completely and their slow march forwards only means certain death by their continuous but steady volley of muskets. They have a solid early game, based on planned aggression and precise dives. LDLC have patience in spades and are in never in a hurry to force plays. Even if it seems like a big skirmish goes wrong, LDLC will always have each other’s backs with fluid roams and decisive teleports. The two rocks of this team are former EU LCS veterans, jungler Djoko and support Steeelback. Djoko in many ways is the team’s guardian angel. His signature early aggression is still present, ganks are carefully planned and very methodical and he always knows when and where to gank. Steeelback’s near flawless role transition to support has silenced the naysayers during his time as a marksman, and his dependability is paramount to guard the ‘Greek Grenade’ Comp.
The young and explosive ADC resembles Uzi in his younger days and is extremely skilled, his fearlessness often existing as a double-edged sword. LDLC’s sololanes are stellar in their own right as well. One of the best performers is Eika, the unmovable veteran midlaner looking for redemption after years of being downplayed, his champion pool consisting of just about everything from mages to assassins. The rotating duo toplaners round out the foxes in blue and white, consisting of Bandoo and new addition HiRit, providing the team with the flexibility of running tanks or carries. Team-LDLC carry the hopes of the French scene coming into this edition, and they are hungry to have Europe behold their might just as The Grand Army of old did before them. Vive la France.
Player to watch: HiRit. Announced just one week before their finals match, young Korean toplaner HiRit was immediately subbed into the team to play against a surging Misfits Premier. Anyone would have forgiven him if he looked out of sorts...but he didn’t. HiRit tore the opposition apart. His oppressive laning, aggressive nature and relentless split pushing drove his helpless foes in a corner as he plodded on nonchalantly. There were times he was overaggressive and careless during his split pushes but then this begs the question: If he was already this good with four games on stage, what will he become once he is settled?
It seems like a lifetime ago Misfits Academy existed, ruling the British Isles unchallenged in 2018. Misfits Premier was formed at the start of 2019 during the rebranding of the LEC, eventually moving – or “Brexit-ing” – to France. Who could imagine the route to another EU Masters was just a Eurotunnel away? After a near miracle run they almost seized the French throne but were ultimately denied. But that was still enough to earn them a ticket back to the EU Masters and as a brand, they are hungry to redeem their reputation.
Misfits Academy did terribly in the last EU Masters, but what better way to walk the path to redemption than having a team of famished predators? They’re cute, fluffy bunnies you say? Try Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. Ferocious and unrelenting, these rabid rabbits hit the ground running, going all-in from minute one with the intent on making their lane counterparts thoroughly miserable (and preferably dead). This is most obvious with the botlane of Neon and H1iva, with Neon’s Draven being especially obnoxious, while support H1iva retains his old habits of constantly finding engages. This botlane aims to crush their opponents given half the chance and the solo lanes of Dan Dan and LIDER are no exception, with LIDER typically roaming just about everywhere to hunt for his next kill. Jungler Obsess helps to further drive their savagery past seven gears by playing obsessively aggressive (or maybe aggressively obsessed?) with multiple ganks, invades and duels. Once their lanes are razed Misfits Premier make you dance to their rhythm and unleash relentless aggression that forces their enemies to make bad decisions.
However, Misfits’ relentless death scythe does not slit every throat. Once the outer ring of towers gives way, their path becomes less clear and they struggle to ultimately translate the accrued advantages into a Nexus take. They cruise effortlessly past the mid and late game when things click; but many times they pick teamfights they have no business taking or try exploiting a sidelane without properly respecting enemy vision, LIDER being especially guilty of this. Coming into EU Masters once again, will Misfits Premier brutalise their foes like the fabled Killer Rabbit? Or will they flop harmlessly like domesticated bunnies their foes so love to taunt them with?
Player to watch: LIDER. The Master Assassin. This current meta is made for him. Advantage has only one synonym in Misfits’ eyes, and that is “to kill”. LIDER’s champion pool reflects this: His six most favoured champions are mostly assassins, Zed, Akali, Kassadin and Irelia among others. His love for Akali is so iconic that we dubbed him “AkaLIDER”. LIDER’s Yasuo however, is pure dread. It is so terrifying that it has been banned against LIDER all but three times the whole split. As for those three times? Pity the fools who had to face the wind.
Greece and Cyprus - LoL Greek League: Future Perfect WLG (Greece)
One of the biggest football clubs in the country, Panathinaikos, brought glory and recognition to the scene by defying all odds, making it to the playoffs stage in the EU Masters Summer 2018. Could we see a repeat run this year? Future Perfect WLG (We Love Gaming) would like to think so.
In the past, the Greeks used to ply their trade in the Balkans, bringing back much of the “Balkan style” back into their scene. And FP WLG love a good fight, willingly charging into just about every skirmish or teamfight. Their warpath to the top is their duality of going extremely wild or surprisingly reining in their bloodlust to play a slower, macro focused game. Under the guidance of vastly experienced Italian coach Ferakton, Future Perfect WLG have assembled together a roster that should be rightly labelled a superteam. This band of gutsy Spartans is led by former Illuminar Gaming jungler behave, who expertly dictates the tempo with his aggressive ganks and invades, stretching the very limits of his champion. FP WLG’s solo laners are incredible names as well: Delitto, widely considered to be the best toplaner in Greece and Von in the mid lane, known for his aggressive picks and a terrifying Vladimir. They round out the bot lane with the rotating ADCs in the aggressive Goose (formerly Peezy) and the solid Bananitoo, both possessing different champion pools, along with Greece’s best support Labrov (who plays pretty much anything). This highly skilled roster can carry from just about every position, flexing multiple picks in draft and leaving opponents befuddled.
Future Perfect WLG are merciless and unrelenting, preferring to employ a potent 1-3-1 to easily collapse on their foes. They will give you no quarter and “see hero, kill hero” the moment their enemies respawn! With such dominance locally, FP WLG have yet to be pushed to reveal all their cards. Shields, helms and spears at the ready, how far will FP WLG carry the hopes of the Greek scene up the steps of Mount Olympus?
Player to watch: Delitto. Future Perfect WLG’s mountain in the top. Often underrated and underappreciated, Delitto’s versatility and reliability cannot be understated. Delitto is able to play just about any champion requires along with any style his team needs, from being the Greek Dyrus and absorbing a lot of pressure in a hard matchup; to behave setting him up to carry on picks like Kennen or his immaculate Jarvan. He is never a liability and coming back into the EU Masters once again, Delitto is out to equal or better his previous Top 8 run, kicking unsuspecting foes back to the respawn fountain while shouting, “THIS. IS. WLG!!!”
Italy - PG Nationals: Campus Party Sparks (Italy)
EU Masters Summer 2018 was a stunning year for Italy. Heralded by many as unfancied contenders and starry eyed dreamers, OutPlayed reached the quarterfinals after stunning performances against Polish titans Illuminar Gaming and Nordic powerhouses Ninjas in Pyjamas. And for 2019, their achievements served as impetus for new teams and investments within the scene. Campus Party Sparks are the result of this evolution. Completely unshackled by the weight of their predecessors, Sparks defied tradition and blitzed through every challenger including Outplayed to be finally crowned “Best in the Boot”.
Unfancied to even make it this far from the start of 2019, Sparks have turned their stargazing dreams into reality on the back of their unusual style. Broadly speaking, Sparks do not look like an Italian team. Maybe it’s because of their trifecta of Estonian representatives, but here they are heralding the peninsula’s hopes and dreams with an unceasing, unyielding aggression. Bold and relentless, Sparks are all about early aggression and dives to the point of recklessness. If you remember our car analogy of last week’s German team BIG, Sparks are like a roaring Ferrari: breakneck pace and aggressive styling. Veteran jungler Rawbin IV is the main driver of this supercar. His timely invades, albeit greedy sometimes, allows midlaner Librid – the “original” Corki – to leave his lane and escort him into the enemy jungle. But the true focus of the team is ultimately in the bot lane. Endz and Cospect, the Estonian duo, can take every matchup and snowball it to no end (pun int-End-ed). Toplaner Acidy is a true rock, flaunting his Ornn even when the meta does not favour the pick. Italian fans know they can trust the experienced coach Cristo, who has all the aces up his sleeves to make Sparks a fearful enemy to draft against in any meta.
There is however one thing Ferraris – the old ones especially – have been known for. All that speed and power tends to come at the cost of reliability. As much as Sparks’ aggression is highly revered as their trademark, it can also be their own undoing. To put it simply, Sparks are very reckless. Diving turrets early over and over, picking fights a man down over minor objectives, they simply rely on making up disadvantageous passages of play with even more fighting. This strategy of course is risk piled on more risk, but that is why fans adore Sparks. Their rise went from a ‘spark’ to an open flame, and now that destiny has called them to the arena of stars, what is their reply? Was Italy’s performance last year a fluke, or are the “Explosive Estonians” really looking to contend for the Top 8 again?
Player to Watch: Endz. Veteran of the Italian landscape despite his Baltic descent, the former Team Forge ADC is so popular that he even has an italianized alter ego Twitter account, the irreverent Lauro Tarcusi. And for good reason: his Twitter banter is only rivaled by his presence on the Rift. Given the right resources, he can turn the game on its head with his countless skirmish-oriented mastery picks: Tristana, Kalista, Lucian and an exceptional Draven, but also busting out the occasional pocket Kennen or even Yasuo. Against Endz, you never know if it’s your ‘end’ only after it hits you. Hard.
Portugal - LPLOL: For The Win Esports (Portugal)
In 2016, the Portuguese football team won its first ever major trophy in the form of the Euros, proving nothing is impossible for this small nation. Consolidating the statement from last year’s Summer Split, For The Win Esports once again ‘kicked’ their rivals K1ck Esports out of the finals and conquered the revamped LPLOL trophy for the second split in a row. The undisputed rulers of Portugal are about to face a tough challenge once again: the EU Masters. Last edition, they exited without so much as a whimper. It’s time to show Europe what they truly are made of.
For the almost three-years long partners in crime of Frozen in the top lane, Xaky in the mid lane and Plasma Lemon (now just Plasma) this is no surprise. After years of losses to K1ck Esports, their teamwork became so tightly knit that no opponent in on the peninsula could stand up to them. With returning ADC Afm and his arsenal of lane bullies (even Miss Fortune!), the bottom side of the map is able to earn their own merits. From lane prowess alone, they earn large leads through last-hitting alone, keeping their enemies at bay and stopping them from farming. This allows jungler Own3r to drown the enemy toplaner with his presence, thus setting Frozen up. After such early games, it’s all textbook plays for FTW: towers are their true aim while they disregard kills unless they’re gifted them. Teamfights are a bit tricky. The Portuguese Party hits its best groove when Own3r and Plasma are the one directing the engages, but not so much when they get initiated on.
Memories of 2018 still linger in the minds of the Portuguese faithful. Will they honour their name of “For The Win” or return once again empty handed and be branded “For The Loss”?
Player to watch: Plasma. To the URF aficionados, Plasma is one of you. A relentless initiator, the support prefers tank picks such as Galio, Braum and even Jarvan IV and Ornn; everyone with big, loud crowd control tools are his friends. Establishing lane dominance since minute one, he coordinates the teamfight setup with his jungler Own3r every time his cooldowns are up. As one of the most promising supports entering the tournament, he has a lot to prove returning to the EU Masters.
Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) - Benelux Premier League: Defusekids (Netherlands)
The Netherlands is famous for producing cheese, tulips and famous League personalities such as Febiven, Special and Youngbuck. Last year, however, was not a memorable one for the Benelux. Their representative, Echo Zulu, destroyed the scene and in-turn were trounced in the EU Masters. In 2019, from the solemn ashes rises a new superteam in Defusekids. They are out to bring the might of the Dutch Empire into the EU Masters this time around.
Put simply, Defusekids are a bit at odds with their name, for their style is the complete opposite of defusing bombs: it’s explosive, oppressive and brutal. With a team of incredibly talented individual players, this bloodthirsty team certainly do not need Dutch Courage to get them going; the thought of sending their foes back to the fountain is incentive enough. Defusekids favour aggression from the get go, forcing multiple skirmishes and invades to get their snowball rolling.
Jungler Hades and Support Kaas are the main facilitators of this with their very roam heavy style, often seen going from lane to lane together or punishing mistakes on their own. Hades’s champion pool reflects his aggressive mindset with picks like Kha’Zix and Lee Sin. ADC Kitty tends to favour a safer laning phase, funnily enough, before he goes berserk later on with picks like Vayne and even Vladimir. But the true terror of Defusekids is their sololaners: Alois and Chapapi from Echo Zulu. If left on carries, Alois will simply ransack the top lane and take over the map while Chapapi’s versatility and stability makes sure Defusekids always has pillar to lean on should things go awry. Keep an eye out for Chapapi’s pocket Xerath and Kassadin, they have won games for the team when all hope seemed lost. Will Defusekids finally crack the code and prove to Europe they are no pushovers? Or will their challenge sink silently beneath the Dutch canals?
Player to watch: Alois. TheShy who? Alois is originally a one trick Riven main, hence why Riven is often banned against him and with good reason. His Riven is terrifying. Flamboyant and bold, Alois aims to dominate the opponent and this in turn draws a lot of the pressure top side. His other picks such as Jayce, Irelia and Sion have all wreaked havoc once he got going. Fail to shut him down or give him Riven and Alois eats his foes and the Nexus as stroopwafels before breakfast.