While the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) season is coming to an end, the EU Masters (EUM) Summer Split is only just getting started. There’s plenty of exciting European games to come before Worlds 2019 kicks off, as the 20 best teams from across the European Regional Leagues (ERLs) will compete in one outstanding tournament.
This is the opportunity for the greatest aspiring pros from across the continent to showcase their ability, not only to the fans, but to the scouting departments of the LEC’s teams who will already be preparing plans for next year’s roster changes. This season has seen an astonishing amount of incredibly talented EUM alumni who took their first steps onto the LEC stage with 21 up-and-coming players who made their debuts this year.
From the inspirational performances of Rogue’s Finn “Finn” Wiestål, Emil “Larssen” Larsson and rookie of the Split, Kacper “Inspired” Słoma to the astonishing bravery of the six Misfits rookies who shouldered the burden of replacing legends of the game such as Paul “sOAZ” Boyer and Kang “Gorilla” Beom-hyun.
The EUM 2019 Summer will give everyone a glimpse into the future of Europe’s next superstars while also providing hours of entertaining matches. To be fully prepared for the tournament, LPL and EU Masters caster Oisin “BP” Molloy has given his thoughts on what players, teams and regions you should keep your eye on.
The quest for glory
As we have learned over the years, particularly this season, there is a seemingly endless pool of potentially world class players grinding their way through European solo-queue. Europe is perhaps in the strongest state is has ever been in competitive LoL which should result in a breathtaking competition. Molloy believes France are currently the strongest EUM region but there are plenty of teams capable of taking them down:
“I actually think the UK, along with Germany, have what it takes to really go the distance alongside France for this year. With all three regions sending two very powerful rosters each, it's looking like the most stacked EU Masters to date in my opinion.”
Though the Irish caster added that there is seemingly one team above the rest: “The strongest team has got to be France’s Team LDLC, they have an incredibly stacked roster and maybe have something to prove considering they left a lot to be desired in EU Masters Spring.”
The team, coached by Fnatic legend Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim is headlined by another former Fnatic player in Pierre "Steeelback" Medjaldi. After struggling in recent years, the Frenchman has role swapped from ADC to support and has gone under a tremendous transformation since. “This guy is a monster for Team LDLC,” says BP. “He finished with the highest KDA of anyone in the regular Summer Split in the LFL across all positions (7.48) and will be the backbone of Team LDLC if they make a deep run.”
BP adds: “There's always pressure to perform in a tournament like EU Masters. The fact that it only happens twice a year means the players need to step up now or wait another six or so months to get another shot at impressing any potential talent scouts. But funnily enough, if a player can show their skills on a stage with such enormous pressure on them, I think it only adds to their character and makes them even more appetising for LEC teams.”
There will be many more players to keep an eye on, there won’t be a single bad player at the tournament but BP managed to narrow down his list of players he thinks you should keep an eye on.
“One player you have to look at is Matthew "Deadly" Smith from Giants Gaming. Averaging just over 10 CS/M during the regular split and only an average 1.5 deaths a game, Deadly stands out as one of the best botlaners in the tournament. There’s also Zhiqiang "Shadow" Zhao, a new and fresh face to the DACH scene. Shadow has been one of the standout players for mousesports all split and I'm genuinely excited to see, one year on from his EU Masters debut with Team Atlantis in 2018 Summer, if the young jungler can really live up to the high expectations.
“Excel UK’s Rosendo "Send0o" Fuentes Bóveda has been around the ERL scene for a while and despite never being fully picked up for an LEC team, I'm confident to say he might have some flashy plays for us this tournament. Another big playmaker is devils.one’s Mateusz "Matislaw" Zagórski. He was hyped as a star midlaner last tournament and I wouldn't be surprised to see him look to pop off this time around.”
The underdog story
Such is the close nature of EUM, BP strongly believes there is a huge chance for a surprising team to be crowned Summer Split champion; almost anything can happen.
“Right now, even though it's not much of an "upset" per se, I think the UK could finally be on the right track to take the crown for the first time. I really believe that if Fnatic Rising or Excel UK are able to deal with the pressure and expectations that the UK fans give them, then maybe, just maybe, they might be able to bury the UK meme team history.
“On top of that, I think redemption is on the cards for the Polish region as a whole after EU Masters Spring. Despite a shaky at best performance in Spring EU Masters, I think devils.one could be the dark horse to surprise everyone in Summer. They took down Rogue Esports Club 3-2 in the Polish Ultraliga to secure top seed, and I think they really could ruffle a few feathers, similar to how Misfits Premier knocked Rogue Esports Club out of groups in Spring.”
Whoever reaches the finals weekend of EUM Summer 2019 will have more chances than ever before to showcase their ability and experience, as for the first time, both the Semi-Finals and the Final will be best-of-fives. The exciting tournament is already underway with the Play-In Stages and will continue for the rest of the month.
Make sure to tune in to catch all the thrilling action with young players doing everything in their power to prove themselves and earn the first major piece of silverware in their careers.