After week two in the 2020 Summer Split, we wrote that there was change afoot in the LEC. Chaos has been the hallmark of the league this split, a big departure from a Spring Split that was mostly predictable.
This week, that change extends to the top of the league where a new team sits atop the power rankings. For most of the last five years, G2 and Fnatic have taken turns in the first spot. But this time, it’s a League of Legends team that came out of nowhere.
For the first time in a long time, it legitimately feels like any one of the top five or six teams could have a shot at the title. When we asked our analysts to rank each team from one point (worst) to 10 points (best), there were some more big changes.
|10)||FC Schalke 04||3||—|
With how crazy this split has been, every game over the next few weeks will take on greater importance. Teams, even G2, can no longer take things easy or rely on improvement as the split progresses.
Ups and downs: Vitality, Excel, Schalke
At various times in this split, we’ve had a lot of hope for Vitality and Excel. Excel dropped a couple players heading in and were focused on their youth movement, a smart decision for a team nowhere near the top of the league. We were glad to see Special back in mid lane, even if that meant top laner Expect had to go.
So far, we haven’t seen many results, with Excel’s best win coming against SK. But that’s to be expected in a league that’s gotten really competitive over the last few weeks. Multiple legit playoff teams fighting for positioning means that it’ll be tough sledding at the bottom of the table—and that’s been the case.
Vitality also seemed improved with their new mid lane and jungle duo. They had a great opportunity to leap ahead in the standings last week but dropped a game to a beatable Misfits team to remain tied with Excel at three wins apiece. It was good to see them come back and knock off a solid SK squad that seems to beat good teams and lose against bad ones—but more on them in the next section.
As for Schalke, there never was much hope for them. They desperately need to start making changes and investing in new players because the current ones just aren’t working. That doesn’t mean players like Odoamne and Abbedagge don’t belong in the LEC, it just means that this combination isn’t working for Schalke.
What just happened: SK, Fnatic, Misfits
Just a couple weeks ago, Fnatic were sitting atop the power rankings and looked primed to earn another championship. G2 were struggling coming out of another position swap with little practice time and Fnatic looked comfortable in the meta.
Then they pulled out the bot lane Soraka, sticking with it even as losses piled up. Soraka wasn’t the issue in those losses, but the lack of damage from the rest of the team made her irrelevant as the team chased fights it couldn’t win. Heading into tougher matchups vs. Rogue and G2 last week, we didn’t know what we’d get out of Fnatic.
It turns out we got two more losses, neither of which were especially close. As a result, Fnatic’s taken a tumble down the power rankings, dropping three spots from week two. But that isn’t a reason to panic. The top six spots are competitive in this league, and realistically, any one of them could wind up as champions. Just because Fnatic’s going through a rough patch now doesn’t mean they won’t be there at the end of the season. There are clear things they need to fix and it’s concerning that their adaptations to what seems to be a favorable meta haven’t worked. But their fall has more to do with the quality of the region than their own deficiencies.
One of the quality teams in the LEC is turning out to be SK. Behind the superb play of bot laner Crownshot, SK have taken down G2 and Origen already. Their problem is bad losses to Excel and Vitality. If this team figures out how to be more consistent, it has as real a shot as anybody.
Then there’s Misfits. We didn’t really have a category to put Misfits in this week given the chaos that’s happened in the spots ahead of them. Going 2-0 was fine, but we want to see them beat someone of note before thinking too highly of their playoff chances.
Setback: Rogue and Origen
Both Rogue and Origen had massive opportunities to prove themselves against league-leading MAD Lions last week. Neither team was able to pull out a victory, though. That’s a sign of just how good MAD Lions have become in their short time under that branding. But it sure feels bad for two teams that wanted to play the spoiler role to G2’s dominance in the LEC.
The interesting thing about the two games is that MAD Lions played a controlled style and just starved their opponents off the map. The games exposed vulnerabilities from Rogue and Origen that we’ve been harping on for a while, namely Origen’s jungle and Rogue’s bot lane. It’s not like those players are bad, it’s just that the league has leveled up and we need to see more from them for Origen and Rogue to keep pace.
What Splyce couldn’t do: MAD Lions, G2
When Splyce rebranded to MAD Lions late last year, we didn’t think much of it. Spylce were, for a long time, a solid option in the LEC but not the best. They weren’t especially memorable, either—not as spicy as the old Unicorns of Love teams nor as good at international events as the legendary Misfits squad that took SKT to five games in 2017. They were a classic solid but not spectacular team.
That label has gone in a hurry this year, though. Something about the name change brought in a new ethos, one that’s more brash, bold, and talented than the Splyce teams of the past. They took it to Origen and Rogue last week, pulling out all sorts of champions in the process. It was a signature week for MAD Lions, one in which they proclaimed to the rest of the league, “we can win, and we can do it our way.”
For years, everyone’s been focused on beating G2, but MAD Lions have decided that their stuff is superior. Instead of chasing the kings of Europe, they’d rather dethrone them. And that’s exactly what they’ve done so far this split.
For years, Splyce chased a championship and couldn’t deliver. Now, their descendants are sitting within grasp of the throne.
All photos via Riot Games.