Vive la France! Vive la révolution!
Twenty teams, 13 regions, one coveted title: the EU Masters. In the arena of stars, bathed in blood, sweat and tears, we crowned a new champion this weekend in Misfits Premier. They have broken the iron grip of the Spanish warlords in the past and put France squarely on the map, finally living up to their potential of not just a “Top 3” or “Top 4” region, but the best.
Theirs is truly a tale of grit and determination, sparking the beautiful underdog tale esports fans the world over long to see. Still lingering in our memories are the Unicorns of Love who went from unfancied underdogs to competing at the highest stage of European competition; Misfits Premier are no different. Few people thought they had any chance at all after being drawn into the group of death, placed against the DACH region’s number one seed in quarters, thrown against the defending champions in MAD Lions and finally challenging a surging SK Prime in the finals.
Yet they stand here and they stand tall, as your champions of the 13 regional leagues.
In a previous interview toplaner Danny “Dan Dan” Le Comte mentioned he loved being an underdog. It got opponents overconfident and made them underestimate what Misfits were capable of. “We've been the underdog against every team pretty much so the guys are really used to that, and I think they also thrived in that kind of view,” head coach Jesse “Jesiz” Le told us after their win, acknowledging the tag placed upon Misfits Premier since the EU Masters began.
Though to him, he also believes that the tag mattered little: “Underdogs or not, I don't think that matters at all. I think at the end of the day whoever wants to win more, wins.”
Contrary to the impression people have of Misfits, the team have remained incredibly confident and upbeat, believing in their structure, talent, experience and playstyle till the very end.
“We didn't have any special preparations for SK Prime. We had the same draft as we always do against teams and we just played like we always do. Nothing special,” Midlaner Adam "LIDER" Ilyasov admits.
Jesiz adds: “We've maybe scrimmed around three or four times at most. For every team I think we just took one team at a time. We didn't really over-prepare for one then under-prepare for another team.”
Halting the Blitzkrieg
So what was their thought process coming into the finals? Dan Dan answers: “We knew that we had the talent on our individual players and that we should just play to our strengths, play our style and that's what we did.”
Simple as that then. Jesiz agrees, adding they had better drafts too. “It looked like my players wanted to win a bit more than they (SK Prime) wanted to win. In the best of five against us, it really looked like all the SK players were trying to not lose rather than trying to win,” he says. “They're (SK) all good talents and I can definitely see them having bright futures but I think they had their mentality wrong coming into the series.”
That being said, the killer rabbits did face a lot of difficulty early on in the second game, where SK’s ADC Keduii really got going on his Kai’Sa. That game took awhile for Misfits to come online before they started cleaning up fights to take the win.
“The second game at the start looked a bit scary. When Kai'Sa was 5-1 or something but she int-ed a bit so it got winnable,” LIDER says. Dan Dan also adds: “Maybe the second game was a little bit chaotic because of the bot lane. There was some there were some scraps but I think overall in the rest of the series, everything was controlled. We knew we could scale well. We had our win conditions."
"Sacre obviously had very good games and I would not be surprised to see him in the LEC next year."
SK toplaner Sacre is heavily regarded as one of the best players if not the best in this EU Masters. Despite the ‘raidboss’ like aura emanating from him, Dan Dan kept a level head and soldiered on. “From my perspective, it was quite difficult to play but I personally did not feel any pressure because I've played against him before. He had very good match ups. Sacre obviously had very good games and I would not be surprised to see him in the LEC next year.”
Vive la France?
Being the winners of the EU Masters carries a heavy burden. The region itself celebrates: feasting, drinking, and serenading the joyous populace with songs of victory and triumph. But no king rules forever. The teams from France now must prove their worth once again in the next EU Masters.
"I don't think any league can compete with France with the sheer strength of good teams that there is."
“France has got a lot of very good teams. I don't think any league can compete with France with the sheer strength of good teams that there is,” Dan Dan confidently states, believing that even coming into this edition, France were the strongest region. “There is about one good team in every region. Poland has Rogue, the UK has Fnatic, Spain has MAD Lions and Splyce for example. But France has Vitality, GamersOrigin, Team-LDLC and Misfits. So I do think that France next split is going to remain the strongest.”
LIDER also adds Misfits can be the number one team in France. “I think we still are the best and we can be the best. As long as we perform normally like we like we do in LFL.”
The ties that bind
For all their underdog labels, Misfits Premier almost took the title in France in an extraordinary run in the playoffs not too dissimilar to the EU Masters. Yet they are a team riddled with inconsistency. On a good day they could beat anyone but the opposite was also true. However, their time in the EU Masters – playoffs especially – displayed how terrifying a team they could be. Something changed.
“We are a very emotional team. I do believe that when we start losing we lose confidence in ourselves. We lose track of how we play, what we should play for. Jesiz came to the team and just turned everything around because he has the experience and the knowledge to create talent in a team where talent exists but hasn't been exploited yet,” Dan Dan says.
"He doesn't care if we win the EU Masters. He just wants to grow the players that he has."
“He just tells us ‘If you want to int, just int!’. He doesn't care if we win the EU Masters. He just wants to grow the players that he has. And I think that that mindset has just made everyone in the team say ‘Okay, I'm going to play my best and if I die to the gank then it doesn't matter.’”
LIDER also cited Jesiz as the carrot that holds the bunny unit together. “At first we had a new coach so we had to teach him a bit of the game, and besides that we had some clash of personalities. We have always been slow in our first game as well, I always feel we int or something at the start. But after we got Jesiz we improved a lot. Huge shout out to him, he's really good. And he made the team get together, he knew how to lead the team.”
LIDER adds that their win against Rogue Esports Club in the group stage also was a huge catalyst. “We shouted and honestly we're more happy winning against Rogue than we were winning here in the finals. As you can see it in the clip we were so full of emotions and I screamed for the first time after winning. We started to trust each other more and had less personality clashes."
The shouts of the team as they upset Rogue Esports Club
This win also makes Jesiz the only person thus far to win the EU Masters as a player (Origen, 2018 Spring) and as a coach. And to him, winning it the second time felt all the more gratifying.
“I think this is a higher point just because it's the second time I won. I started out the year really poorly. I got a lot of flak, I think kind of underserved and at least here I kind of proved some of the haters wrong,” Jesiz says calmly. “Obviously, purely on my own happiness, I was more happy when I won it as a player. The kind of happiness that I felt winning it this time around as a coach is more like a ‘proud dad’ moment.”
Summer Is Coming
As soon as Spring has graced us with her lovely presence, she’s come and gone like a fleeting breeze. Summer beckons. What lies next in the volatile sphere that is the European Regional Leagues no one can say for sure. But Jesiz hopes to carry on the majesty of 2019 Spring onwards.
“I'm probably gonna stay with Misfits as the Academy coach. I really enjoyed my time with these rookies.” Jesiz says. “I don't really know if it's going to be the exact same five players but I'm sure you know we'll be able to win again. Hopefully I can win three times in a row.”
Can Misfits Premier defend their crown in Summer? Dan Dan certainly believes so.
“Our coach currently has the most trophies, he is the two star EU Masters general now. So we're gonna make him the three star one if the roster stays the same.”