The European Challenger Series has been the little brother of the EU League Championship Series, but this split the little brother has grown up and is starting to challenge the big brother. The Challenger Series will feature two big sport clubs, two academy teams of LCS teams, and two longtime esports organizations. Among these teams, there are many players with top level experience and many young European talents. This article will preview the six teams competing and predict which teams will make it to the promotion tournament at the end of the split.
- Top – Etienne “Steve” Michels
- Jungle – Tomas “Kirei” Yuen
- Mid – Jin “Blanc” Seong-min
- ADC – Na “Pilot” Woo-hyung
- Support – Hampus “sprattel” Abrahamsson
Following FC Schalke 04’s entrance into League of Legends, PSG has created its own team and has stocked it with top talent. PSG acquired its Challenger Series spot from Huma, and the organization’s first acquisition was bringing in famed European player Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim to serve as the head of esports. With YellOwStaR at the helm, PSG got to work creating a team that would be able to make it into the EU LCS. The team features former EU LCS players and two Koreans from the League Champions Korea (LCK).
Steve has played in the LCS for two years with Team ROCCAT, Elements, and FC Shalke 04. He now moves to a new sports club from his home country and brings his fans with him. Kirei has played on many teams, most recently playing in Turkey for Dark Passage. He’s a young talent, but has plenty of experience in a competitive setting. Blanc and Pilot join the team from Jin Air Green Wings in the LCK. Sprattel rounds out the roster as the support. Sprattel has competed the LCS for three splits previously on Elements and FC Shalke 04. With the experience and talent on the team, PSG is set to qualify for the promotion tournament, with a shot at making it to the EU LCS.
FC Schalke 04
- Top – Lennart “Smittyj” Warkus
- Jungle – Jean-Victor “loulex” Burgevin
- Mid – Marcin “Selfie” Wolski
- ADC – Elias “Upset” Lipp
- Support – Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan
Though the organization’s first split in the LCS was a failure and the team was relegated to the Challenger Series, Schalke has stuck with esports and plans on making its way back to the top league. With all of Schalke’s players leaving the organization, the club rebuilt its roster with European talent. Schalke seems committed to making its esports team successful, and this lineup of players can do just that.
Smittyj played for Giants Gaming last split and helped the team stay in the LCS with solid top lane play. Loulex has been around the European scene for the past two years, even making it to the World Championship while playing for H2k-Gaming in 2015. Selfie has played for multiple LCS teams and has emerged as a strong European mid laner, and should be a solid carry for the team. Upset is the fresh face on the roster, being the only player without previous LCS experience, though he has competed in the Challenger Series for the past year. VandeR rounds out the roster coming off an amazing split with H2k, during which he made it to the semifinals of the World Championship. Along with the other sports club in the EU CS, Schalke’s team is set for a spot in the promotion tournament and has a chance to make it back into the EU LCS.
- Top – Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek
- Jungle – Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen
- Mid – Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer
- ADC – Rasmus “MrRalleZ” Skinneholm
- Support – Johan “Klaj” Olsson
Fnatic has been in the EU LCS for quite some time. The organization is legendary in Europe. This year, Fnatic will be fielding an academy team in the Challenger Series that features young talent, and experienced players to help cultivate the new kids. The team cruised through both the open and main qualifier to make it into the EU CS. This squad could easily compete in the EU LCS.
Many people in the European scene recognize Kikis as a shot caller who has led multiple teams to success. He now leads this academy team in hopes of making it to the promotion tournament. Broxah is an inexperienced jungler, but the veterans around him on this team could help him grow into a top European jungler. Nisqy is another young player and hopes to grow alongside Broxah and possibly play for an LCS team. MrRalleZ has played multiple splits in the LCS and has flirted with being one of the best EU AD carries, but his teams have not seen much success. Klaj played for Fnatic’s main squad last split, and now looks to lead the academy to success.
- Top – Park “Jisu” Jin-cheol
- Jungle – Leon “Lamabear” Krüger
- Mid – Sofyan “CozQ” Rechchad
- ADC – Florent “Yuuki60” Soler
- Support – Han “Dreams” Min-kook
Following the main team’s promotion into the LCS, Misifits decided to create an academy team to supplement its LCS team. Like the parent team, this roster features both European talent and Korean talent. Along with the strong roster, former Copenhagen Wolves support Petar “Unlimited” Georgiev joins the team as the head coach. The team will challenge for a top spot, but the roster does not have as much experience as some of the other teams
Jisu previously played for Korean Challenger team Ever8 Winners, and now joins another Challenger team in Europe to prove himself. Lamabear played for the Misfits team as they qualified for the LCS, and now plays in the Challenger Series again to help a new team qualify. CozQ has been around the EU CS for a few years and looks to finally make his break into the LCS with his new team. Yuuki60 played with Lamabear on the Misfits team last year and joins the new Challenger team to help them qualify. Dreams is the final player of the team, and was with Lamabear and Yuuki60 on the old Misfits team.
- Top – Min “Mimic” Ju-seong
- Jungle – Moon “Steal” Geon-yeong
- Mid – Prodromos “Pretty” Kevezitidis
- ADC – Kristoffer “P1noy” Pedersen
- Support – Tore “Norskeren” Hoel Eilertsen
Millenium is a multiple esport organization that has competed in the EU LoL scene for some time, but has not played at the top level for a few years. The organization has put together a new roster in hopes of making it back into the LCS. Last split, the team made it to the promotion tournament butcould not qualify for the LCS. This year, it will be much harder for the team to make the promotion tournament as the teams in the Challenger Series are much stronger than they were last year.
Mimic has played in Korea and Europe for multiple teams. Last year, he played for EU Challenger squad Team Forge and later in the year played in Korean Challenger for SBENU Korea. Steal joins the team after being a substitute for the KT Rolster team in Korea. He does not have much time on the rift, and is looking to showcase his talent for Millenium. Pretty previously played for Millenium and is continuing his play for the team with the new roster in hopes that they will be stronger. P1noy has previously played in the EU LCS, but has not been able to make it back to that level in recent splits. Norskeren is an EU talent who has played for multiple small European teams.
- Top – Marcin “IceBeasto” Lebuda
- Jungle – Wojciech “Tabasko” Kruza
- Mid – Sebastian “Sebekx” Smejkal
- ADC – Paweł “Woolite” Pruski
- Support – Paweł “delord” Szabla
Team Kinguin made their way through the main qualifier to make it into the EU CS for the spring split. The team features an all-Polish roster that plays well as a team and has good communication since they all speak the same language. Though the team is strong to have made it through the qualifier, Kinguin does not have the talent and top-level experience like the rest of the Challenger teams.
All the members on the team do have a lot of experience on many teams, but only one of them has previously competed at the top level. Woolite has played in the LCS, but he was never one of the best EU AD carries because he has had multiple issues with his positioning, though looks to stay aggressive with his new team. The all-Polish lineup can be strong and perform moderately well in the EU CS, but this squad will only serve as an upset threat to the other teams.
The EU CS will begin later this month, in a single round-robin fromat with best-of-two series. The EU CS is stronger than ever before, featuring two major sports clubs, two academy teams, and two frequent Challenger teams with new rosters. The little brother is growing up.
Who do you think will win the league and make their way to the promotion tournament? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @GAMURScom.