It’s been a long road, but the LEC’s first year under its new format comes to a close with the start of the season finals. With teams from around the world having already secured their World Cup berths, EMEA’s top prospects battled for the right to join them. Let’s take a look at the upcoming competition and how the teams fared after the summer.
Already stuck with teams like Gen.G and T1 competing on home soil, and a powerful JDG roster looking to complete the golden path after winning the LPL Summer Split will give stiff competition to anyone who qualifies. The LCS is also looking to challenge, with a powerful C9 roster looking to reach new heights and Golden Guardians blocking the door to Worlds for the LEC’s fourth seed.
Death from afar and death in ball.
Starting on the Summer Finals weekend, it was winner take all between Team Heretics and Fnatic, with the winner winning the Season Finals and the loser unable to exceed the point margin required to qualify. In the end, it was Fnatic who came out on top, changing tactics after a loss in D1G1 and a shaky win in D1G2 thanks to Hextech Soul. By switching to a poke-oriented strategy, Fnatic was able to find an identity and take the series 3-1, but failed to turn that strategy into success against XL, with the only pick in their 3-1 loss against their British brothers being Kindred of Razork’s unexpected choice in D2G3.
Piloted by Noah, Lethality Varus returned to the LEC stage alongside Humanoid’s Jayce in Fnatic Game 3 and Game 4. After weathering the storm of Jankos and Vetheo roaming the lane, these two champions’ mid-game long-range damage was able to render fights and contested goals useless for their opponents. Jayce in particular had a high priority all weekend picking/banning our top four teams.
Fnatic seems to be on the verge of changing this strategy so far in the Season Finals, but it hasn’t been without its few bumps along the way. Continuing this strategy of attacking Excel, Fnatic had some success, but seemed too reliant on Ivern, Jayce, and Kai’Sa, all champions who are hotly contested picks and bans.
So, they seem to have made the transition from long range death to death on a ball and are playing a much more LPL and LEC Spring Split style that we saw in the LEC Spring Split, clinging to victories in the fourth and fifth games. of their series, elimination against XL in the season finales, and getting revenge on Summer. Focusing on picks like Taliyah and Tristana who can be flexible between roles gives the team more draft versatility and high combat damage. I’d also like to draw attention to Trymbi’s choice of Nautilus, who scored early kills for Fnatic and helped them get through some otherwise shaky lane stages.
G2 executed a similar strategy against XL in their 3-0 playoff final, with an extremely high priority on the Kai’Sa draft, which they flexed between the Caps and Hans Sama. Hans in particular looked menacing in the selection in D3G1 and D3G3, with a combined KDA of 01/20/17 for the entire race. G2’s ability to flex this key pick allows them to fill the gaps in their composition with other strong picks like LeBlanc and Kog’Maw to adapt and successfully counter their opponent’s draft in the second round of picks.
The most notable example of G2’s drafting excellence is displayed in D3G2, where G2 blocked Rell/Kai’Sa’s bot lane meta-threat in first and second, blinded a strong Jax pick for Brokenblade in third. , and then completely flipped the script in XL by flexing these champions into jungle and mid lane roles respectively, and blocking their tried-and-true Braum/Kog’Maw bot lane.
G2 seems to be happy with this style for the most part and has continued with its unorthodox drafts, but it’s not just a light-hearted casual pick. Brokenblade has kept the fort on tanks like Poppy and an unorthodox but effective Kled pick, and Yike seems to be experimenting with carry picks again, like his pick of Evelyn in W1D2G2 vs BDS. Additionally, Kog’Maw and Braum remain a high priority pick for the team, with Braum notably overrepresented in picks/bans in the G2 series, while other teams experience picks to deny him. They are definitely the ones to watch as they race to their first season finals crown.
MAD Lions, our Spring Split champions, suffered a huge fall from grace and flopped early in the Summer Split. That being said, their championship winning streak has earned them the right to exact revenge in the season finales, an opportunity they are clearly eager to seize.
Throughout the spring, Carzzy and Chasy have been in incredible form, so they’ve been the ones keeping up with this list. It was a big if, and although Chasy had some difficulties in the series of her MAD vs. Excel, Carzzy is sure that she has a step up once again. With Hylissang in shape, Carzzy can max out his abilities, find early leads, and be a huge source of damage for his team in W1D1G1, as well as picking up the win with a square kill in the second game of the same series. Elyoya reappeared, and it is not surprising because with his contract almost at the end, let’s see if this time the MAD Lions can finally sink their teeth into some international competition.
French giants Team BDS have long struggled to find momentum in the LEC, but have improved by leaps and bounds since the return of their current ERL squad. They came out en masse in spring and showed promise for summer, but failed to reach the same heights. However, it has been a year of firsts for this organization and they are well on their way to another after making the LEC top four in the season finals.
A pick that many have questioned as a player in the BDS franchise, Nuc has consistently shown himself in the team’s success and looks like a real threat in the mid lane, especially on aggressive mages like Cassiopeia. In addition, Sheo was a reference point throughout the year and found his place within the roster, coordinating the team until the middle of the game. While Adam looks like the Achilles heel of the team at the moment, underperforming against both BrokenBlade and Irrelevant, if he can learn to fully play the bottom and the team is able to play for an in-form Crownie (who looked monstrous in BDS’s win at W1D2G2 over G2) it may be time for a BDS breakthrough like never before.
Despite being (for lack of a better word) trampled in the Finals by G2, there are many advantages to the XL roster that has grown by leaps and bounds individually and as a team over the course of the Summer Split and Season Finals. . With an identity still centered around aggressive teamfights and heraldic rift control, XL showed much more diversity of choice and some members in particular shone.
Veterans on the roster, Odoamne and Abbedagge, put in some monster performances in XL’s race for second place in the summer. Peach is finding his place on the roster as well, playing much more proactively and chasing hints for his lanes to help XL overcome any hiccups in the game. This is a squad that went from 10th in a row to five games against a super in-form Fnatic team. I hope that the defeat of the reigning Kings of Europe in the 3-0 victory of G2 in the summer finals and of the MAD Lions in the season finals does not affect the determination of the team, and I remain hopeful for the future of this template.
Ultimately, SK Gaming remains as it was: a roster packed with promising talent led by their veteran jungler Markoon, but still unable to break through to the upper echelons of the LEC. If there was a team to prove, it was them, but this LEC dark horse couldn’t make much of a statement by sealing his World Cup ticket.
Markoon will be instrumental in guiding his team to future success, and I’m specifically focusing on how he interacts with Sertuss. At their peak, the two are a terrifyingly deadly duo in the jungle, and with champions like Akali and Sylas returning to the fray, SK’s stock could be rising in the upcoming split.
Rell remains the No. 1 pick in the LEC, having been 100% represented in every season finale thus far. Close behind are Tristana, Renekton, and Xayah, all with nearly 100% representation.
The ADC pool is large and diverse in the LEC right now, but popular backup options include Kalista, Draven, Kai’Sa, Zeri, and Ezreal.
Ivern and Taliyah are still very prevalent, with the latter often being banned due to his ability to move between jungle and mid. Other mids like Maokai and Sejuani are pushed out in a crowded jungle meta, unlike Poppy, who has found a new home in the top lane as a recall tank, much like Alistair’s popular support pick.
Azir and LeBlanc also remain popular midlaner options, but the group is quite diverse in this role due to flexible picks and the occasional surprise appearance of Neeko.
The LEC season finals continue today, culminating in next week’s final in Montpellier. You can watch it on the LEC Twitch or on the LoL Esports site and as always we’ll bring you full coverage of the twists and turns of the league.