Week 1 of the League of Legends European championship (LEC) 2022 spring season finally begins today! It has been a turbulent offseason with many roster moves shocking the esports community (e.g Team Vitality) and seasoned players having trouble finding homes for spring (e.g Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer).
But the dust has finally settled, and the drums of war resound in the European arena. MAD Lions are defending champions, but after losing Marek “Humanoid” Brázda and Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság — key pieces in last season’s conquest — will they still hold the crown? Or will we see old legacies from Fnatic or G2 Esports reinstated? We’re here to find out along with “Wildfire” playing in the background.
Here are the five things fans should keep an eye on as Week 1 of LEC 2022 spring gets underway.
— LEC (@LEC) January 10, 2022
MAD Lion and rookies: Can they do it again?
When MAD Lions joined the LEC in 2020, they fielded a roster with four rookies. They made a pretty big splash into the league and managed to qualify to the League of Legends Worlds Championship play-ins. However, that lack of experience may have cost them an early exit at that tournament.
In 2021 MAD Lions signed top laner İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek for his first year in one of the four main regions. In addition, they once again signed a rookie with jungler Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla, who ended up earning a rookie of the split award in Spring. Despite those changes, MAD Lions actually became a much stronger team. They won both LEC titles of that year, were one game away from beating DWG.KIA at the Mid-Season Invitational and were the only LEC team to make it past the group stage at Worlds 2021.
For 2022, MAD Lions are doing it again. They have signed mid laner Steven “Reeker” Chen who just won both Prime League titles in 2021 with Berlin International Gaming. They have also chosen bot laner William “UNF0RGIVEN” Nieminen over many other names for their roster. It will be interesting to see whether MAD Lions’ coaching staff, led by James “Mac” MacCormack, can play some good League of Legends at the top of Europe with rookies. However, the challenge will be much tougher as replacing mid laner Humanoid and bot laner Carzzy is a much harder task.
— Brieuc “LEC Wooloo” Seeger
The Team Vitality “superteam”
Vitality have built a strong roster during the offseason. Signing all three 2021 Worlds participants Barney “Alphari” Morris, Luka “Perkz” Perković and Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság is some serious business. However, many superteams have failed in the past, so it will be important to see how they play together. If the players show good cohesion and synergy in Week 1, it will be promising for both Vitality and Europe.
Luckily, those are players that could work very well together. Carzzy and his support Labros “Labrov” Papoutsakis have played together some years ago in the European Regional Leagues and won the European Masters 2019 Summer Main Event together. Perkz, combined with a strong mechanical jungler such as Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek, can do some serious damage. With a strong but resource-demanding top laner like Barney “Alphari” Morris, Vitality may struggle with resource-distribution as other superteams in the past have, but Carzzy has proven to be a really good weakside bot laner.
🐝 or ⚡?
— LEC (@LEC) January 13, 2022
Overall, the puzzle pieces of this Vitality roster are strong and could match together well. Whether they manage that or not is an important question, and what better way to answer it than in the Match of the Week against another perceived superteam, Fnatic?
— LEC Wooloo
G2 Esports’ rookie bot lane duo
After a disappointing end to the 2021 season, G2 Esports decided to shake things up with a new AD Carry, support and top laner. Their starting top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik is no stranger on the LEC stage. However, the same cannot be said for their bot lane duo. Both Raphaël “Targamas” Crabbé and Victor “Flakked” Lirola are newcomers to the LEC, making their debuts against Excel on Jan. 14.
The rookie bot lane duo previously played in different European Regional Leagues. The 21-year-old Belgian support Targamas dominated the Ligue Française de League of Legends 2021 season with Karmine Corp and also won the European Masters in spring and summer. Flakked is a mechanically skilled bot laner and a former MAD Lions Madrid player.
Even though G2 are no longer favorites to top the standings, there is still pressure on Flakked and Targamas to help the team make a top three finish. Moreover, the new dragons make bot lane priority essential. All these factors make it a must to keep an eye out for how the two perform in their first week against more experienced bot lane duos.
— Rashidat Jimoh
Will there be a new chapter to the Excel story?
Ah yes, the “Excel misses playoffs” joke again! Very cool. Take a bow, cue applause. True, Excel Esports once again somehow developed their usual playoffs allergy, despite going on a run of good form. But for Week 1, my eyes wander elsewhere.
Coach Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool, the six-star general, has been at the helm of Excel’s ship since 2020 spring. This will be his fifth season with the British organization and, season after season, the script has remained more or less the same. Other than not making playoffs being the norm (lazy scriptwriters, I tell you), Excel have almost never started their seasons off well. Other than 2020 spring, where they practically went 1-1 every week, Excel almost always has a poor start, no matter how much faith analysts and fans alike claim that this is their year.
So, why is this important this time? It’s because of their substitutes last summer in jungler Mark “Markoon” van Woensel and support Henk “Advienne” Reijenga. They came in mid-season from Excel’s academy team and changed the team’s identity for the better, despite another yo-yo run to the end. Their additions greatly impressed and many wondered what if they had a whole season to gel with the team. This means their story from summer was just the beginning; now is the time to prove that this team can compete.
Questions will certainly be levied at the new signing of Finn “Finn” Wiestål, after he endured a difficult 2021 with Counter Logic Gaming. But the bigger question is whether Excel can build on their promising form from last year or if they will reuse the same script from seasons past.
— E.G “Megalodontus” Kant
Team BDS will debut after replacing FC Schalke 04 Esports
There are so many threads here to unwind. Team BDS replacing a legacy team, Karmine Corp’s rookies, Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann’s presence, Adam “Adam” Maanane’s transfer from Fnatic and so forth. Unlike the big names for the title, expectations should not be sky high for this team, but there’s enough reason to watch how they might fare in Week 1.
The first bit is, of course, shouldering Schalke’s history within the European scene. While they’ve never won the LEC, Schalke left many memorable moments and fond memories with their departure. Then there’s their roster and coach.
Grabbz joining BDS evokes memories of when Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool joined Excel. They both came from successful projects in the past and are now in charge of something different. Can Grabbz create another powerhouse with BDS? He has picked players who have played on French team Karmine Corp in the past, a team that reputedly had very strong scrim results against LEC teams before, as his core roster.
Will they roar out of the gates? Will they falter instead? Will they be dark horses for the season? We shall see in Week 1.