The LEC is in full-on hype mode right now. Riot Games’ European team has done a great job putting out hype videos, social media posts, and other quality content to get us all ready for the first LEC season. A new era will kick off on Friday when Fnatic take on SK Gaming in the inaugural match of the 2019 season.
With so much change going on, there’s a lot to cover about the new league. There are new rosters, a new format, new players to watch, and new tier lists. But with the first match just around the corner, it’s time to put our reputations on the line and make some actual predictions.
So here are our predictions for the 2019 LEC Spring Split. In alphabetical order, we looked at the best and worst case scenarios for each team.
Best case: Excel Esports picked up a slew of veterans from all over the place in a bid to be competitive in their first split at the top of European League. We’re not sure that the strategy is going to work long-term, but for one split in a best-of-one format, you never now. The best case is that the easygoing, fun atmosphere that players like Fabian “Exile” Schubert and Raymond “Kasing” Tsang bring is a boon for team chemistry as they make an unexpected run to the playoffs.
Worst case: Many of Excel’s veteran players have had a lot of success in the past, but that always seemed like it happened when conditions were good, when metas were favorable, or when they had good teammates around them. It’s possible Excel can recreate that, but what are the chances it works out for everyone? If Excel bet wrong, they likely set back their own development as they plummet to last place.
FC Schalke 04
Best case: FC Schalke 04 bet the farm on mid laner Felix “Abbedagge” Barun, who showed out in the Turkish league last year. If he’s this year’s Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro, this team could contend for a top three spot and accrue some major Championship Points, just like Jiizuke did with Vitality last year.
Worst case: Ironically, it’s the veterans around Abbedagge who may have the most to prove this year. They’ve all shown flashes of greatness, but were unable to translate that into success last year. And given how much organizations like Origen and Misfits have invested in their teams, making the playoffs could be out of reach for Schalke if things don’t click quickly and the side lanes don’t succeed.
Best case: Fnatic win MSI. Seriously, that’s the goal. They got a taste for success last year at Worlds. There’s no reason that new mid laner Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek can’t be the next Rasmus “Caps” Winther. Fnatic already know they can win in the region. This year, it’s about getting that international trophy.
Worst case: Fnatic eventually figured out the meta last year, but it’s a little concerning that we’re still seeing non-marksmen in the bot lane. Big crit changes are coming that could make or break ADC Martin “Rekkles” Larsson. And with increased competition from others—we see you, G2—Fnatic may not even make it back to the EU final.
Best case: Honestly, their goals have to be the same as Fnatic’s, especially after they poached Caps away. This is a team built to win big beyond just the European region.
Worst case: There are honestly a lot of places where things could go wrong. They have three lanes that all require resources and a jungler in Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski who’s best on carries as well. Luka “Perkz” Perkovic has to learn how to play with a support, and support Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle has to prove his sense for engages isn’t off. There’s a chance that they flame out in the first round of the playoffs, an odd quirk that’s dogged Jankos’ teams in the past.
Best case: A return to form for Misfits means that they’ll contend for the European championship and might be the region’s representative at MSI. They have a veteran roster full of former champions, and their fans shouldn’t expect anything less.
Worst case: Unlike G2, they don’t have resource problems. But one of their primary carries, mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, has to show that his performance last summer with Clutch Gaming was a fluke and that he does have the confidence to play a whole range of champions. He’s going to face tougher competition this year as he returns to EU, and he has to pull through. If he doesn’t, this team could also lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Best case: Origen are one of the teams with the highest potential range of outcomes. All of their players are good enough individually that you can picture them hoisting the new LEC trophy. But there are a lot of questions on whether they can deliver in the clutch. If jungler Jonas “Kold” Andersen can improve his decision making and bot laner Patrik Jírů can play more safely, Origen could return to the European championship.
Worst case: It’s hard to imagine this team missing playoffs, but that’s a real possibility if they don’t jell fast enough. We’ve seen instances in the past where unfortunate meta shifts have derailed each of these players. They’ll hope that something similar doesn’t happen in 2019.
Best case: Rogue is another team that signed a bunch of veterans but seemingly without a strong conviction around their team philosophy. At the end of the day, we simply don’t know who this team’s carry is. If they figure that out, sixth place is all they need to make playoffs this split.
Worst case: If they don’t figure out where the damage will come from, this could be a tough season. And unlike Excel, there isn’t a young player that they can focus on developing, either. There’s real blow-up potential for this team if things go south.
Best case: SK Gaming are reaching for the playoffs like everyone else, but they also know that’s a bigger reach for them than most. Playing for a playoff spot in the last week of the regular season would be great for their team full of rookies.
Worst case: SK’s strategy hinges on the chemistry that was developed between the three rookies they signed from Spanish team Mad Lions. But if it turns out that mid laner Nemesis was the real reason for that team’s success, SK could have made a big mistake. They need at least one of their rookies to pop off so they know who to build around for the next split. Only then can they continue their developmental process.
Best case: It’s hard to imagine Splyce doing much better than last year when they made playoffs and won a series following the Spring Split. With teams improving around them, a repeat performance would actually be a great outcome for Splyce.
Worst case: The challenge for Splyce will be finding a way to survive until the late game. If they can’t do that, the meta could absolutely murder them the way it did last summer, when fast-paced action was too much for Splyce to handle. In that case, falling out of the playoffs is a real possibility.
Best case: Team Vitality are one of the other teams with a legitimate shot at winning it all. Honestly, though, we would be happy with a playoff finals performance that gives them a launching pad into the summer. That would prove that coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi’s tactics work and show that this team wasn’t a one-hit wonder like we’ve seen from this region in the past.
Worst case: New jungler Lee “Mowgli” Jae-ha can’t keep pace with the rest of the players in the early game and Vitality lose the spark that made them special last year. They could flirt with falling out of the playoffs in that situation, but we’re counting on them to stay in the sixth spot even if everything goes to hell.