Winners and losers of the 2019 LEC offseason

The European League of Legends scene will look drastically different in 2020.

Photo via Riot Games

Over the past two years, the LEC has proven itself to be one of the best regions in competitive League of Legends. In 2019 alone, the region won MSI, had all three representatives reach the knockout stage at Worlds, and even made it to the Worlds finals for the second year in a row.

Like most years, however, the offseason has shifted strength around the league. There are plenty of new faces that will be calling the LEC home, with more than 10 rookies set to make their debut in the 2020 LEC Spring Split.

Will this young blood be able to make a name for themselves and push their game to the next level? Which teams have made enough changes to elevate their rosters to become winners? Let’s take a look at who won and lost the 2019 offseason in Europe.

Winners

Origen

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Origen might not have picked up any big superstars this past month, but this organization has built itself one of the best rosters in the LEC—on paper. This team’s ceiling is extremely high, and if all the chips fall in their favor, they could be battling it out for a top-three position in the league.

Jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, for example, had a great year in 2019. His good pathing and decision making helped push Splyce into Worlds and even helped them take a game against SK Telecom T1 and FunPlus Phoenix. He can be a bit inconsistent at times, but he’s improved with his steadiness over the past two years.

The biggest additions to this roster, however, came in the bottom side with AD carry Elias “Upset” Lipp and support Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw. Upset has shown that he can be a top-two ADC in the region and Destiny has plenty of potential from his years playing in the OCE. Together, they could be one of the most impressive duos in the league.

Fnatic

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Although the team only made two changes this offseason, this should be a win for Fnatic fans after the year they just experienced. The 2018 World Championship finalists were clearly strong on paper, but multiple internal issues plagued the lineup throughout 2019. As a result, the team failed to challenge G2 Esports this year and faltered in the first round of the Worlds 2019 knockout stage.

By switching out Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen for Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek, Fnatic should get a jolt of energy that they’ve needed this whole year. Selfmade is aggressive, outspoken, and extremely talented—and he could be the answer to this team’s prayers.

Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez is also joining the team, not as a support but as the head coach of the main roster. Having your first coaching gig with Fnatic might be nerve-wracking, but as one of the most respected supports in EU history, he shouldn’t have too many problems slotting in behind the scenes.

G2 Esports

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Keeping your roster together after a successful year is just as important as finding better players to improve your roster. G2 hasn’t lost anyone from its starstudded 2019 lineup, and because of that, they too are an offseason winner.

This team is clearly the second-best squad in the world and they were determined to keep it that way. G2’s players are some of the best in the world, and with enough time, can adapt and learn from their mistakes. After failing to secure the Summoner’s Cup in front of their home crowd, G2 probably won’t want to feel the sting of defeat again and will work twice as hard to win next year.

Excel Esports

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Although the team is still sticking with mid laner Son “Mickey” Young-min as its starter for 2020, picking up a young ADC like Patrik Jírů with former Splyce support Tore Eilertsen are positive changes for Excel in 2020.

The biggest addition to Excel, though, was locking in coach Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool, who’s been one of the best in the LEC. His knowledge of the game should be able to help this team grow and learn as the season progresses.

The level of firepower on Excel might not be too impressive, but there’s a good foundation that the management can build on in seasons to come. Patience is key for any fans of this team. With a bit more tweaking, Excel could be a team that sneaks into the playoffs soon.

Losers

SK Gaming

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SK Gaming had a tough year after finishing in seventh place during the 2019 LEC Summer Split. Losing a budding star jungler like Selfmade in the offseason won’t help their chances to improve, either.

Toni “Sacre” Sabalić and Janik “Jenax” Bartels didn’t have great performances last year, but the team opted to sign them for the 2020 season. The only real silver lining is that SK managed to keep ADC Juš “Crownshot” Marušič. But even then, this roster doesn’t look like it’ll be able to develop his talents any further.

FC Schalke 04

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Even though some people are excited to see Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou and Erberk “Gilius” Demir return to the LEC, it’s hard to see how they’ve increased this team’s chances to win more in 2020.

Schalke lost a young, talented bottom lane duo with Upset and Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun and replaced them with a veteran ADC who hasn’t played in the league for a few years and a subpar support in Han “Dreams” Min-kook.

It’s hard to imagine why Schalke didn’t opt to pick up younger talent, but maybe the organization wanted to garner more fans by signing one of the more controversial talents Europe has ever seen on the professional stage.

MAD Lions

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Splyce’s parent company, OverActive Media, decided to rebrand its League team ahead of the 2020 season to usher in a new era for the longtime LEC organization. Along with a new team name, MAD Lions also introduced three rookie players to its starting roster.

We won’t know how good these players are until they take the LEC stage, but this team is fresh off of an impressive performance at Worlds 2019. The team’s old roster managed to take games off of SKT and the eventual champions, FPX.

Three new rookies could bring plenty of success next year, but losing a majority of a roster that showed so much promise this past year is still a bit of a headscratcher. There are still some positives left with MAD Lions, though. Building around talented mid laner Marek “Humanoid” Brázda, for example, might be a good decision for the team’s future.