Europe’s LEC starts up again on Friday morning which means it’s time for an overview of the moves, my tier list, and thoughts on futures markets for the Summer season.

 

Tiers defined:

 

F Tier – I’m not sure I’ll give any of these out but it’s mostly reserved for uniquely bad situations like maybe an expansion team or team from a smaller, weaker region at a large tournament or something.

 

D Tier – Non-playoff teams that have next to no shot without a borderline miracle developing to have a chance at playoffs. Not all regions will have these. Often rebuilding teams, teams with large rosters and constant swaps of subpar players, or straight up awful teams.

 

C Tier – Non-playoff teams that need a lot of things to go well to have a shot at competing domestically.

Often these teams are trying and competing but lack the players/skill to really compete with the stronger teams. Sometimes will beat middle of the table teams but will also drop some games to worse teams.

 

B Tier – Teams that might make the playoffs or might just miss. Most of the “middle of the table” teams fall into this category. Often they either do one thing well but have weaknesses or they’re a pretty solid team that just doesn’t have the skill/ability to be much better than they are.

 

A Tier – Likely playoff teams that could contend for a title if a few things go their way. Usually solid teams with a weakness or high upside teams with multiple question marks.

 

S Tier – World championship caliber teams and/or teams that are substantially ahead of their region. S+ rating indicates teams that I feel have a great chance at winning the world championship.

 


 

C Tier:

 

SK Gaming

 

Arrivals: ZaZee (mid), Jesiz (head coach), Jenax swaps to top from mid

Departures: Sacre (top), Unlimited (head coach), Ventair (top) to academy

Projected Starters: Jenax (top), Trick (jungle), ZaZee (mid), Crownshot (ADC), Limit (support)

Substitutes: Bertho (support)

Odds: +4900 to win Summer

These moves had to happen. SK were stagnating and literally looked like a depressed team in their games last split. This will probably be a breath of fresh air but unless Trick can recapture some of his former glory in the jungle, this team lacks the overall talent to overcome that deficit and compete with playoff quality teams. SK should be better but still not a great team. At least they’ll bring some energy.

 

 

Team Vitality

 

Arrivals: Milica (mid), Labrov (support), Nji (jungle), Shanky  (talent development)

Departures: Skeanz (jungle), Steeelback (support) both to academy

Projected Starters: Cabochard, Nji, Milica, Comp, Jactroll

Substitutes: Labrov (support)

Odds: +4900 to win Summer

It’s bizarre to me that Skeanz was sent back to challenger when he was the strongest player on the team last split. Perhaps the changing jungle champion pool or poor chemistry with Milica is to blame but we’ll find out. Speaking of Milica, we’ll finally get to see the mid that Vitality intended to start 2020 with before the pandemic halted progress and stalled him with visa issues. Both of the bottom of the table teams made improvements and will be more competitive teams but they’ll likely have similar win totals with how deep Europe is overall.

 

B- Tier:

 

Excel Esports

 

Arrivals: Special (mid) from academy, Kryze (top), Swiffer (mid)

Departures: Expect (top), Mickey (mid)

Projected Starters: Kryze (top), Caedrel (jungle), Special (mid), Patrik (ADC), Tore (support)

Substitutes: Swiffer (mid)

Odds: +3300 to win Summer

Mickey had to go and while Special hasn’t been… special academy, he’s played on the stage before and was a decent starter. If not, Swiffer will take his place. Kryze will get the nod over Expect who struggled mightily last split and has slowly been on the decline. This team desperately needed a new look and they were still a bubble team even with Mickey being a huge detriment in the mid lane. Even though the new players are relative unknowns, given the amount of time since we’ve seen Special in the LEC, they’ll almost certainly be upgrades. Excel have to tools to be a playoff quality team but they’ll need Kryze and Special to elevate above the stiff competition.

 

Misfits Gaming

 

Arrivals: Kobbe (ADC), Doss (support) joins from academy

Departures: Bvoy (ADC)

Projected Starters: Dan Dan (top), Razork (jungle), Febiven (mid), Kobbe (ADC), Denyk (support)

Substitutes: Doss (support)

Odds: +2400 to win Summer

I love the addition of Kobbe to replace Bvoy who wasn’t terrible but left a lot to be desired in the bottom lane. This will give Misfits more ways to win besides Febiven and Razork getting fed. By the end of the season, teams had figured out a number of ways to focus on shutting the duo down and the rest of Misfits were unable to carry the load. That said, I also think Misfits might be due for a little regression as well. While I think the addition of Kobbe can solve a lot of their problems, Dan Dan is still a huge liability to me and might be the worst top laner in the league. If that continues to be the case, Misfits “ceiling” remains very low to me. Look at every team I have ahead of them on this list and their top laners. Then compare the remaining four players. The league is highly competitive and with every team improving I feel Misfits might not have the same room for growth and might be left behind a bit.

 

B Tier:

 

Rogue

 

Arrivals: none

Departures: none

Projected Starters: Finn (top), Inspired (jungle), Larssen (mid), Hans Sama (ADC), Vander (support)

Substitutes: none listed

Odds: +2100 to win Summer

Rogue are a tremendously unexciting team but I feel their top to bottom roster strength and solid fundamentals will help them set the bar for what a playoff team looks like in the LEC. We’ve seen the high range of outcomes with this team just not as often as we’d like but the “floor” is also very high. They’ll need to improve their early game, especially in the current metagame if it’s anything like the LPL has dictated. They won’t just be able to be “Origen-Lite.” I want to see them being proactive and making plays and using what’s optimal in the metagame instead of simply sticking to “tried-and-true.”

 

 

FC Schalke 04

 

Arrivals: Nukes (support) joins from academy

Departures: Cassonade (performance manager) leaves

Projected Starters: Odoamne (top), Lurox (jungle), Abbedagge (mid), Innaxe (ADC), Dreams (support)

Substitutes: Gilius (jungle), Forg1ven (ADC, not likely to play), Nukes (support), Kamito (ADC)

Odds: +4900 to win Summer

Schalke are my biggest grower. Models seem to love this team based on their trending metrics in the second half of the season and that makes a lot of sense. This team was playoff caliber by seasons’ end, they’d just dug themselves too deep a hole to make a run. With a full offseason to build chemistry with that same lineup, I think Schalke will show what I expected them to before the Forg1ven fiasco and more like they were at the end of Spring.

 

A Tier:

 

MAD Lions

 

Arrivals: Jido (analyst)

Departures: LazerChicken (performance and team operations)

Projected Starters: Orome (top), Shadow (jungle), Humanoid (mid), Carzzy (ADC), Kaiser (support)

Substitutes: none listed

Odds: +1700 to win Summer

This rating implies a continued improvement. At the beginning of the Spring split I thought MAD Lions would struggle while learning who they were and adjusting their four rookies to the professional stage. They came out hot and kept improving. While I don’t think we’ll continue to see the same, drastic level of improvement, I do expect MAD Lions to continue on their development. This team showed a lot of excellent characteristics and if they can clean up their early games or add a potent tempo game to their arsenal I think they’ll be a contender.

 

 

Origen

 

Arrivals: none

Departures: Kayys (head of scouting/strategic coach) suspended and then fired

Projected Starters: Alphari (top), Xerxe (jungle), Nukeduck (mid), Upset (ADC), Destiny (support)

Substitutes: none listed

Odds: +1200 to win Summer

If Origen can show similar to how they did in the playoffs, on the higher end of their range of outcomes, I could see them joining Fnatic in the “S” tier but given their weak record against both Fnatic and G2 it’s difficult to put them there in conscience. I’ll be looking to see if Origen can further develop as the year goes on. Their macro game is excellent, their drafting is excellent, albeit uncreative, and their players are excellent. I’d just like to see them think a little outside the box from time to time and evolve.

 

S Tier:

 

Fnatic

 

Arrivals: none

Departures: Veigar v2 (strategic coach) leaves

Projected Starters: Bwipo (top), Selfmade (jungle), Nemesis (mid), Rekkles (ADC), Hylissang (support)

Substitutes: none listed

Odds: +120 to win Summer

Fnatic are a world class team and probably the second best Western team, but they just can’t beat G2 who are in a class all their own. That’s nothing against Fnatic who remain a cut above the rest of Europe. The real question is whether or not the separation between Fnatic and the “A” tier teams ends up being a full tier gap or closer. MAD Lions and Origen have the ability to contend on a similar level to Fnatic in their higher ranges of outcomes but overall I feel as if Fnatic will differentiate themselves enough to deserve a tier all their own.

 

S+ Tier:

 

G2 Esports

 

Arrivals: Perkz role swap to ADC, Caps role swap to mid

Departures: Izpah (general manager) leaves

Projected Starters: Wunder (top), Jankos (jungle), Caps (mid), Perkz (ADC), Mikyx (support)

Substitutes: P1noy (support)

Odds: -182 to win Summer

It’s a bit ridiculous to think that G2 have improved their upside but as we saw by the end of 2019, Perkz was an absolute monster at the position and competing with the best in the world. This move also has the added bonus of keeping the players engaged and interested.

G2 are more than likely winning the LEC yet again. The only way I don’t see it happening is if they suffer a similar fate to Fnatic this split, making it to the finals and only having one series loss to give and just having an off day. There’s some credence that can be given to the thought that Perkz might take some time to once again readjust to the bottom lane position at a professional level that might make you want to fade G2’s regular season winning prospects but it’s difficult to not see them being settled in by seasons’ end.

 

 

Tier List:

S+: G2 Esports

S: Fnatic

A: Origen, MAD Lions

B: FC Schalke 04, Rogue

B-: Misfits Gaming, Excel Esports

C: Team Vitality, SK Gaming

 

The overall picture in Europe is that I think there are going to be a clear four “locks” for playoffs and the final two spots will be up for grabs between all of the four “B” tier teams. The “B” vs “B-” separation indicates who I feel is most likely to make the playoffs of those four. While Vitality and SK Gaming look to be at the bottom of the table yet again, it should be noted that leagues tend to progress overall as a season goes on. Teams get more experience against each other, everyone continues improving for the most part. So while the bottom two teams appear to be the same, Vitality and SK Gaming both should be significantly improved and will probably be more competitive more often even if they end up with win totals that aren’t that much different than Spring.

Futures Strategy

Unfortunately, I don’t really see anybody besides G2 taking this down so the LEC is a bit boring. If you wanted to take a shot at Fnatic +400 that’s reasonable and if you want a really long shot I think MAD Lions is your best bet at +1700 but I’ll be abstaining from any true outrights. I do like Origen and MAD Lions “to make the final” given their odds and potential progression during the Summer. You can get those at +350 and +600 respectively over at Bet365. Obviously shop around. I don’t see too much else I like and I personally won’t be making any plays other than a chalky G2 to win the split.

My Picks:

“To win LEC Summer 2020”: G2 Esports -182 (5.46 units)

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