In North America, several viewers felt the European League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) lacked in highlight reel capability compared to its North American counterpart. However, this should not be a problem whatsoever this season. No roster from last year’s European LCS returns unchanged, and the new teams provide interesting prospects with a penchant for playmaking ability. The status quo of the European LCS may be no more once the Spring Split takes off. It seems some teams are more ready than others for the big stage. The following teams are listed in descending order by where I feel they will place next split (from last to first).
Several Fnatic fans may be annoyed that I ranked them as the worst team going into the upcoming Spring Split. Unfortunately, without a full active roster, it is hard to predict Fnatic’s effectiveness in the LCS. The only players currently on the active roster are top laner sOAZ, rumored to join former teammate xPeke on Team Origen, and YellOwStaR, their all-pro support player. However, YellOwStaR cannot carry this team by himself. There are not any teams that the organization could pick up to replace their once dominant force.
Possibilities – Pick up promising free agents from Challenger Scene; Release YellOwStaR and hope xPeke brings Team Origen to them (which is a real long shot)
- GIANTS! Gaming
The mechanically talented roster of GIANTS! Gaming surprised European fans during the LCS Expansion tournament. GIANTS! Gaming stomped past former LCS stalwart Millenium and promising challenger team Reason Gaming. They only lost one series in the tournament to the other qualifying challenger team, H2K Gaming. Although mid laner Pepinero and support Rydle are both proven talents, the rest of the team is fairly green. They are all very talented role players and decent in team fights, but their lack of experience may lead them astray. This team will drop several games early on, but I feel they may rally later on if directed appropriately.
- Copenhagen Wolves
There is nothing to see here, folks. This roster is nearly the same as it was when they requalified once again during the relegation tournament. Top laner Youngbuck, jungler Airwaks, mid laner SorenxD, and support Unlimited remain the solid yet dissapointing active roster. They also received a downgrade at AD carry with Freeze, formerly of Ninjas in Pyjamas, replacing promising prospect Woolite. As much as I appreciate this team’s experimentation, they have been at the bottom of the European LCS since the beginning of the 2014 season. If the Copenhagen Wolves truly wanted to contend for a top spot in Europe, they should have made more roster changes.
Formerly the Supa Hot Crew of the European LCS, MeetYourMakers looks like a shell of what it once was under its original name. Although they retained their strong top laner Mimer, AD carry Mr. Rallez, and improving mid laner Selfie, the rest of the team looks lackluster. After Millenium’s collapse, MeetYourMakers signed H0R0 as their jungler. Due to H0R0’s struggles after leaving Korea, he looks to be a significant downgrade from their previous jungler Impaler, now a part of the North American LCS on Team Coast. Their signing at support is Nisbeth, and I think everyone has the same question. Who is that? Overall, this roster looks less impressive than the previous Supa Hot Crew roster, and they may have some communication issues out of the gate.
- H2K Gaming
As the other challenger team to qualify through the LCS Expansion Tournament, H2K Gaming has a lot to prove. Fortunately, their roster has a lot of LAN experience. After several setbacks from qualifying, the active team of top laner Odoamne, jungler loulex, mid laner Febiven, AD carry Hjarnan, and support Voidle finally get their chance to show their skills on the big stage. The difference between this team being a middle of the pack team and one that is in contention for the top spot will all come down to LAN jitters. This team has the skills to beat any top team in Europe on a good day, but if they choke, as they have in the past, they will struggle to beat the bottom teams. I feel that this team will struggle a bit in the beginning, but once they get their momentum, they are a dark horse to head straight for the top.
- Team ROCCAT
Before IEM Cologne, I would have ranked Team ROCCAT a bit higher in the standings. However, their play during the tournament looked a bit sloppy. Top laner Overpow is still adapting to his switch to top lane from mid lane, new AD carry pickup Woolite and Vander still have synergy issues, and the mid lane is still a major question mark. The new mid laner will either be recently unsuspended player Nukeduck or former Korean mid laner Ryu, according to several rumors and reports. Although I feel that this active roster has a lot of potential to be a top team for Summer Split, the jury is still out for this upcoming season.
- Unicorns of Love
Although they were a long shot to make it into the LCS during the relegation tournament, Unicorns of Love knocked out Millenium 3 to 2 in the series to get their shot. After qualifying, the European LCS fans voted for UOL to represent Europe alongside Alliance at IEM San Jose. Several League of Legends fans felt that the Europeans wasted their second shot at winning the tournament by sending a relatively unknown team.
However, it was not Alliance but rather UOL that made it to the grand finals, where they fell to North America’s #1 team Cloud 9. UOL also won a convincing series over Team Solomid, where veteran jungler Kikis pulled the Twisted Fate jungle out of a hat. Top laner Vizicsacsi and mid laner PowerOfEvil are two of the strongest individual laners in the current European LCS. As long as this team continues to improve their team fighting ability and rotations, they are a shoe-in to be a top team. On top of that, they are extremely fun to watch, and you never know what they will pick next.
- Gambit Gaming
During IEM Cologne, Gambit Gaming looked closer than they have in a long time to the old Moscow Five. Gambit Gaming added the latter to the long list of IEM events they have won, and they looked mountains better than they did last year. Diamondprox showed a form reminiscent of early season 3 at times, making Sejuani look like part of the meta. Mid laner niQ showed improvement, as well as their new top laner Cabochard. AD carry P1noy and support Edward looked fairly well-synergized, and they certainly match each other’s overaggression.
This Gambit Gaming roster exemplifies aggression, just as the old Moscow Five did. Whether that is the reason they hit their stride this split or becomes their downfall will become clear very quickly. However, I feel Gambit Gaming has the potential to reach the top 3 this split.
- SK Gaming
SK Gaming returns with an improved roster for the 2015 Spring Split. They replaced veteran AD carry CandyPanda with promising candidate FORG1VEN and mid laner Jesiz with Fox (formerly Watdefox) of SK Gaming Prime. They kept dominant top lane force fredy122, improving jungler Svenskeren (his gameplay, not his attitude), and extremely knowledgable support nRated. I feel that if this roster meshes anywhere near as well as the last incarnation (not a pun) of the SK Gaming roster, then SK Gaming may be the scariest team to face next split.
- Alliance (or whatever they’ll be called next split)
Alliance still looks like the team to beat going into the 2015 European LCS Spring Split. The team made only one roster swap. After AD carry Tabzz left the team, they replaced him with the only AD carry that played at his level last split: Fnatic’s former AD carry, Rekkles. The team is headlined by savvy veterans of the game, including top laner Wickd, jungler Shook, mid laner Froggen, and support Nyph. Although Wickd does need to expand on his champion pool that currently consists of Irelia, this team certainly looks more stable than any other roster going into next season.