Rejoice, League of Legends fans—we’re only a couple of weeks away from the start of the 2020 Spring Split in Europe and North America. This past offseason has been one of the busiest to date, with multiple popular teams changing up their rosters and a handful of rookies finding their place on various LCS and LEC teams.
There are, however, a few players who will have the spotlight shining on them a bit brighter this coming season. Whether its a new beginning or a last chance, a select group of individuals will be coming into this season with plenty on the line.
Here are some of the best Western League players that fans should keep their eyes on this year.
TSM – Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
It’s been a long time coming, but we finally get to see Dardoch in a TSM jersey. Dardoch’s move to TSM had been talked about for many seasons—to the point that most people didn’t think it would ever happen. But after two years of mediocrity and disappointment, the perennial LCS champions had to make some drastic decisions concerning its roster.
The result? A new jungler and bottom lane were added for 2020 in the hopes of finding more consistency, while also establishing their own identity for the new decade. At the same time, this might be Dardoch’s make-or-break moment in his career.
The 21-year-old jungler has always seemed to have this dark cloud hovering over his pro life. His toxicity and synergy issues with previous teams marked him as the unfortunate problem child of the LCS and one of the biggest what-if stories in the league.
Dardoch’s time as a pro, however, isn’t over just yet. He still has time to turn things around and this could be one of the best chances he has to prove every naysayer wrong. He hasn’t competed with players of this caliber before, and if he can keep his attitude in check, he could be the lynchpin for TSM’s success in the long run.
Team Liquid – Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen
The rich got richer when it comes to Broxah and Team Liquid, but his addition shouldn’t have people looking at the LCS championship. They’re obvious favorites to win North America again, but the real question lies in whether his presence will help the team at international events.
During each offseason, Liquid has improved its roster over the past two years. They began their dominance by picking up an All-Star cast in 2018, just to replace a few of those pieces a year later with some of the best players NA has ever seen. In 2019, they were able to finish in second place at MSI, but fell short once again at Worlds. It’s a sting that LCS fans have gotten way too accustomed to as the seasons have gone by.
Is Broxah the answer that this team has been searching for? Will his proactive, intelligent jungling style enable the rest of his star teammates to flourish? Can Liquid finally become the heroes that NA fans have needed? These are just some of the questions that fans will want answers to in 2020.
Cloud9 – Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen
Zven has some big shoes to fill on Cloud9, and we aren’t talking about mechanical skill. Instead, we’re talking about how former ADC Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi was the face of this franchise since 2013 and that losing him means that C9 needs to build their identity up from scratch.
The 22-year-old ADC and star top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie are now at the helm of C9. This team has always been known as unorthodox, wacky, and unpredictable. But there were many C9 fans whose faith wavered when the team announced that Sneaky, Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam, and league MVP Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnson were all leaving in 2020.
This is why Zven must have a resurgence next year—to maintain the team’s committed fan base. He had a decent year in 2019, but his mistakes echoed louder than his triumphs. If Zven and the rest of C9 want to earn their fans’ trust, they’ll need to have a bounce back year that leads to more than just another decent Worlds run.
Fnatic – Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek
Last year, Fnatic took a step back in terms of success due to multiple internal issues that affected both the staff and players throughout the season. Former head coach Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool said that these issues were the main reason why the team underperformed in 2019.
As a result, Fnatic made a big decision to pick up Selfmade in exchange for star jungler Broxah. There are only two outcomes to this move that we can see. Either Selfmade’s aggressive jungling style helps push the rest of Fnatic’s talented roster to new heights, or his style will clash with the lineup and the team will flounder once again in disappointment.
No matter what, this move was a necessary risk that the team had to take. It felt like last year, Fnatic started to plateau while their rivals took more and more steps up the ladder. If all goes well, Selfmade could help propel the perennial LEC champions back to the apex of Europe once more.
G2 Esports – Rasmus “Caps” Winther
Another year, another AD carry for G2 Esports. When the team announced that superstar mid laner Caps was switching positions with teammate Luka “Perkz” Perković, not many people were that surprised. We’re used to this team pulling off ridiculous plans before, especially after the past two seasons.
There’s no doubt that Caps will be able to eventually settle into the ADC position, just like how Perkz did the year before. But there’s a lot at stake here and there will still be an adjustment period where Caps has to get used to being a bit less independent and a lot more reliant on his teammates.
Like Doublelift said, mid laners have to make so many decisions throughout the game. ADCs, on the other hand, have to “wait for your support to babysit you until you’re strong.” Caps will need to realize that as an ADC, you can’t roam around the map, you can’t make as many plays, and you have to trust your support to survive.
Then again, G2 has almost always found a way to make things interesting, no matter what champions and lane their players are in.
Schalke 04 – Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou
He’s back. After spending almost four years away from the LEC, FORG1VEN has made his triumphant return to his old stomping grounds. The 27-year-old veteran has become an iconic figure in the European League scene through his brash, non-apologetic demeanor and great mechanical skills.
But three and a half years is a long time to have stepped out of the spotlight. The league isn’t what it used to be and FORG1VEN’s own style on and off Summoner’s Rift might not be enough to overpower the growing strength of the LEC. New stars have emerged in the bottom lane and young, hungry players are itching to prove themselves. Their passion is just as strong as FORG1VEN’s desire to prove he’s still one of the best ADCs in the region.
His name will still bring people to watch games with Schalke 04. The team might not have many flashy names on its docket, but with FORG1VEN, things are shaping up to be exciting nonetheless.