The old adage goes that third time’s the charm, and that certainly seems to be the case for Misfits Gaming, as the organisation has completely rebuilt its roster for a third consecutive split in the League of Legends European Championship.
There’s no doubt that last year was a calamitous season for Misfits with 12 different players taking to the stage, but neither the star-studded Spring roster with Paul “sOAZ” Boyer and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyun or the young academy roster that won EU Masters were able to qualify for the playoffs.
Misfits have said goodbye to the majority of those players, apart from midlaner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, who only played six games last Summer, and young toplaner Danny “Dan Dan” Le Comte. They’ve since been joined by two more rookies, as well as South Korean botlaner Ju “Bvoy” Yeong-hoo, who’s played all over the globe, having competed in the LCK, China’s LPL, and in Latin America with Argentinian LLA organisation Furious Gaming.
This new iteration of Misfits certainly lives up to the organisation’s namesake, but so far, the results have been superb. The team had a poor showing in Week 1, losing both matches against tough opposition in Fnatic and Rogue, but they haven’t lost a game since and are now on a four-game winning streak, capped off with a shock victory over Origen in Week 3.
“If I'm able to do those things to a high level, if I can lead and carry games, we're going to do great things.”
It was a sensational performance by 19-year-old jungler Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz, who dominated the map in the early game and picked up the first four kills of the match. He outclassed Worlds quarterfinalist Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, and received an overwhelming 80.9 percent of the Kia Player of the Game votes. The Spaniard had a difficult start on the LEC stage, with a few mechanical mistakes like failing his Flash, but now Razork is flourishing with confidence.
And while there have been some impressive individual performances, its Misfits’ teamwork as a whole that has suddenly made the organisation look so fearsome. All of Misfits’ players, apart from Bvoy, currently find themselves within the top three for kill participation in their respective roles in the LEC. And the botlaner himself is holding his own with the fourth-highest KDA (10) in the league, while Elias “Upset” Lipp is his only rival who has fewer deaths than Bvoy’s five.
The team have been playing a really clean and cutthroat style, keeping deaths to a minimum with the second-highest joint KDA (1.49) to date, averaging one Baron a game (the second-best in the league) and only G2 and Fnatic can boast a quicker average game time than Misfits’ 33:49.
Considering the length of time this squad has been together, their level of coordination is impressive, especially when you remember how inexperienced a lot of these players are. Bvoy and Febiven are the only senior voices on the team, and the latter has taken up a leadership role within the squad.
Speaking to Laure "Bulii" Valée after Misfits’ first win of the season, Febiven revealed he was relishing the role: “It's hard, I like the responsibility. I feel like I have all these things I can do and have to do for the team because if I don't, it'll show.”
“I think that will be the difference-maker for our team,” he says. “If I'm able to do those things to a high level, if I can lead and carry games, we're going to do great things.”
“It's the process, it's the work ethic, it's the effort, it's leading by example. Making sure the guys look up to me and putting them in the right mindset so we can become the best team that we can. I'm just trying to be that guy they can look up to.”
Febiven is becoming the kind of player that he was fortunate enough to be surrounded by at Fnatic when he debuted back in 2015. And while he’s had difficult spells at H2K and in North America, we’re starting to see glimpses of why he was originally hailed as a world-class prodigy. His excellent performances have put him right up there with G2 Esports’ Luka “PERKZ” Perković, as Febiven is just behind him with the second-least deaths (8) and the second-best KDA (6.4) of all LEC midlaners.
We’ll see how the two of them matchup with Misfits taking on G2 this week, and while the reigning LEC champions are still undefeated, a strong and convincing performance from MSF will no doubt secure the team’s status as a major threat to the rest of the league’s playoff contenders.