The LEC marks a new era for Europe. In the EU LCS, 11/12 titles were lifted by either Fnatic or G2 and all eyes will be on those two in the LEC playoffs.
Yet, this is the perfect opportunity for a different organisation to flip the script, to leave their mark and create their own legacy. The level of competition in the LEC has been phenomenal and any regular viewers will know that none of the top six should be underestimated.
That’s why both Splyce and SK Gaming are dark horses for the LEC Spring title. Splyce’s results reflected the team’s in-game style, showing its full potential in the later stages of the season. Meanwhile, SK Gaming marked its return to the elite level of League of Legends by claiming the final playoffs spots though the team had to scratch and claw its way there.
Going from best of ones to best of fives is a massive leap and this will be both teams’ biggest test this season. Who will make good of their opportunity and who will fall short?
Who is king of the jungle?
Polish jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek has been a revelation for SK this year, leading the league with more MVP performances (seven) than any other player in the league this season. When SK obliterated Vitality in the fastest game of the season, Selfmade received a resounding 85 percent in the fan vote for the player of the game.
The fans recognise that the rookie is the linchpin of the SK roster, remove his early-game presence and playmaking potential and this team simply wouldn’t be at the same level. Excluding players with five games or less, Selfmade has the joint-highest kill participation (74.5 percent) in the league alongside his teammate Jus “Crownshot” Marusic and fellow countryman Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek.
However, you also cannot ignore the impact that jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir has had for Splyce. The Romanian isn’t far behind Selfmade in kill participation (73.3 percent) and also sports the best record of assists (145), KDA (5.5), first blood rate (53 percent), gold difference at 10 minutes (180) and experience difference at 10 minutes (321) of all LEC junglers.
While Splyce is known for a strong late game, it’s Xerxe’s hard work in the early stages that sets his team up for success. On top of that, Xerxe will have to also limit Selfmade’s impact around the map as much as possible.
This will be a tremendous match-up and could decide the series. Rookies have historically frozen in the spotlight of playoffs but Selfmade doesn’t across as the nervous type. Xerxe, on the other hand, is well known for his diverse champion pool, making him perfectly suited to bo5s.
No man is an island
League of Legends players lovingly refer to the top lane as an island. Two isolated players are left to their own devices and play a separate game to the rest of their team. Absorbing pressure while simultaneously pushing your advantages is an art.
Experience in the top-lane is invaluable, which is why both teams have veteran players in that position with Tamas “Vizicsacsi” Kiss and Jorge “Werlyb” Casanovas.
Though of all top-laners in the LEC, Splyce’s Vizicsacsi is one of the most bloodthirsty with the second most kills (56) and the highest first blood participation (31 percent). The Hungarian will be licking his lips knowing that Werlyb has the second most deaths (53) of all top-laners.
However, Vizicsacsi’s aggression doesn’t always pay off and with 49 deaths, he isn’t far behind Werlyb himself – especially considering that the SK man played an extra tiebreaker game.
Werlyb has had his struggles this season but has performed when it counts. The Spaniard has the second most assists of all top-laners in the league (89) playing a supportive role for his team. Werlyb has excellent synergy with Selfmade and that could be enough to stop Vizicsacsi from taking over the game.
Proving they deserve to be here
Norwegian support Tore “Norskeren” Hoel Eilertsen made his debut last season and was one of the shining stars on a struggling Roccat roster. So come November last year, fans and players alike were shocked when Norsekeren took to Twitter to announce that he couldn’t find a team for the LEC.
It seems that I will unfortunately not be playing in the LEC next split.— Tore Hoel Eilertsen (@norskerenlol) November 27, 2018
Currently exploring options from other leagues, still hungry and motivated
Playing in the LCS was the best thing to ever happen in my life, and I will make sure I'll work as hard as I can to return.
The overwhelming amount of support for the young player received didn’t go unnoticed as he was picked up by Splyce to complete the organisation’s new-look team. It was a decision that paid off as Norskeren has rewarded that faith with the second highest assists (159), KDA (3.4) and the highest first blood participation (47 percent) of all supports who haven’t missed a game this season.
However, his lane opponent Han “Dreams” Min-kook hasn’t had an easy journey either. The Korean moved to Europe in 2016 as the understudy of Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun at Misfits before he represented Mysterious Monkeys in the organisation’s short-lived EU LCS stint. The Korean returned to the regional leagues, this time for Vitality Academy, until SK Gaming handed him another opportunity.
Dreams refuses to take any chances as shown by his 22 kills – more than any other support in the league. Of course, that aggression also comes at a price as Dreams has more deaths (66) than any other player in the league. Sometimes, a support has to be the sacrificial lamb so that his ADC can take centre-stage and that’s exactly what Dreams does – he does everything in his power to enable Crownshot.
There’s no doubt that Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup is the star of Splyce. More often than not, the Dane becomes the team’s win condition and that’s why Splyce is so dangerous in the late game.
The ADC has repeatedly bailed out his team and sports the second highest kills (81), assists (93) and KDA (7.3) of all ADCs in the league. Kobbe deals out tons of damage whilst remaining extremely difficult to take down – making him one of the most lethal players in Europe.
Yet rookie Crownshot’s stats are not far behind those of Kobbe. The SK carry has the third most kills (73) and assists (85) as well as the highest kill participation (74.5 percent) of all ADCs in Europe. However, Crownshot’s inexperience has been evident at times as the Slovenian also has more deaths (44) than any other ADC in the league, 20 more than Kobbe’s 24. Still, a lot of those deaths were likely during SK’s mid-season dip as the rookie has been in immense form over the last few weeks.
While all eyes will be on the junglers in the early game, it is Kobbe and Crownshot who could make the biggest difference. One good team fight from either players and the game will be over.
Youth vs the well-travelled
Europe has always been known for producing world class midlaners. Kicking off the LEC era, it feels appropriate that four new European midlaners made their debut during the Spring Split. Of those four, Splyce’s Marek “Humanoid” Brazda has perhaps been the most consistent.
The Czech mid-laner is always involved in the action with the third most kills (54) but also the most deaths (53) of all mid-laners in the league. His opponent, Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik, has pretty similar numbers with just three fewer deaths (50) while also sporting the highest kill participation (66.5 percent) of all mid-laners in the LEC.
Both players take a backseat for their ADCs and as a result, they lead the league’s midlaners in assists with Pirean’s record of 110 putting him slightly ahead of Humanoid’s 105 – though Pirean has an extra game under his belt thanks to the tiebreaker.
In a best of five series, anything can happen and a carry performance from either midlaner could be needed. Will Humanoid be able to step up in his first ever playoffs appearance or will Pirean’s experience from SKT be too much?