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Flashing in bright teal and orange, the 2022 League of Legends European Championship (LEC) spring split begins on Friday. Fifty players across ten teams step onto Summoner’s Rift in hopes of lifting the LEC trophy in twelve weeks. Among them are some of the best players to ever roam the continent, like Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther, Luka “Perkz” Perković and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov.

These superstars draw many eyes. But, with the cards reshuffled after a hectic offseason, other players have a shot at flourishing. From under-appreciated veterans to fresh rookies, each of them has their own challenges to take on. These are our six players to watch in the 2022 LEC spring split.

Mark “Markoon” van Woensel — Excel Esports

Markoon’s debut in the LEC was as unexpected as it was explosive. In the middle of the summer split on June 28, Excel announced that Markoon would be promoted to the main roster, alongside fellow Dutchman Henk “Advienne” Reijenga. The change in Excel was visible immediately. They went from playing an incoherent, passive game to using a proactive and aggressive style.

Markoon’s mission on Excel is to get the team to their first top-six finish in the LEC. But, individually, Markoon should push himself beyond the playstyle he is comfortable with. He already impressed in his first split, but how will he evolve? Can he adopt new strategies if the situation calls for it? This year, the 19-year-old could go from promising to prodigy. It all depends on how well he is able to channel his talents.

Victor “Flakked” Lirola — G2 Esports

In terms of personality, Flakked fits in G2 like a hand in a glove. The Spaniard has strong brand awareness, a horde of fans behind him and he loves to joke around. Last Christmas, Flakked used his Twitter presence to “ratio” none other than Pope Francis. However, our eyes aren’t on Flakked because he is from Spain and knows how to use Twitter; founder Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez already fulfills that role on G2 perfectly.

No, Flakked should be monitored closely because of the mountainous task ahead of him. His direct predecessors on G2 are Martin “Rekkles” Larsson and Perkz; two of the most iconic players in League of Legends history.

Flakked previously played on academy team MAD Lions Madrid, a mediocre team in the Spanish League, SuperLiga, so his signing by G2 was unexpected. He is the first proper rookie the organization has picked up in years. Not only is Flakked proving himself in the LEC, he is also tasked with proving G2’s ability to scout young players after years of signing battle-tested talent.

Dino “LIMIT” Tot — Team BDS

Unshackled from Schalke 04, LIMIT now seeks glory on Team BDS. | Photo by Michal Konkol. Provided by Riot Games

Judging by the list of teams LIMIT has played on, you wouldn’t think of him as a growing support player. He played for SK Gaming in 2020 and for FC Schalke 04 in 2021. Those teams’ results cast a shadow over LIMIT’s steady performance.  As hard as it was to see sometimes when the team around him was on fire, the Croat has shown strong performances consistently.

LIMIT finds himself as the most seasoned player in a strange cocktail that is Team BDS. Top laner Adam “Adam” Maanane and mid laner Ilias “NUCLEARINT” Bizriken made their debuts in the 2021 summer split with only half a year of LEC experience under their belt. BDS jungler Jakub “Cinkrof” Rokicki and bot laner Matthew “xMatty” Coombs are full rookies. If there were any time for LIMIT to step up, it would be now. With his LEC experience and clever roaming, he can elevate his young compatriots while standing out as the anchor of the team.

Lucjan “Shlatan” Ahmad — Misfits Gaming

Shlatan is one of those players who should have gotten a shot at the big stage much sooner. Scouting experts such as Evil Geniuses head coach Peter Dun have openly advocated for his skills in past years. In 2022, Shlatan will finally make his debut and he has a chance to live up to high expectations.

He has big shoes to fill, though. In 2021, Misfits jungler Iván “Razork” Díaz, put the team on his back in the summer split. He was the main reason for them being one game away from the League of Legends World Championship. By selling Razork and by placing Oskar “Vander” Bogdan in Misfits’ academy team, the organization has stripped their LEC roster of all veterans. Shin “HiRit” Tae-min and Vincent “Vetheo” Berrié still provide the same raw talent they did last year. Can Shlatan find success in his long-awaited debut on such a young lineup?

Labros “Labrov” Papoutsakis — Team Vitality

Labrov is surrounded by great talent on Vitality but shouldn’t be underestimated himself. | Photo provided by Michal Konkol, via Riot Games.

In the discussions about the “superteam” Vitality has produced for the LEC in 2022, Labrov isn’t nearly as spoken about as his four teammates. Perkz, Barney “Alphari” Morris, Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek and Matyáš “Carzzy” Orság are among the best and most successful players Europe has ever produced. Labrov only entered the LEC last year and his team performed poorly.

But, in spite of Vitality’s struggles last year, Labrov impressively found his footing. The young Greek quickly honed his skills and, by the end of the summer split, was arguably a top-three support player. If Labrov learned this much in a barely-operating lineup, imagine what heights he can ascend to now that he’ll be playing with the incredible talent Vitality is fielding alongside him this year.

William “UNF0RGIVEN” Nieminen — MAD Lions

UNF0RGIVEN has the unenviable task of joining MAD Lions as a rookie. The community’s expectations of rookies on this team are extremely high, given their track record. Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser debuted on the roster in 2020 and was considered among the best support players in the LEC that same year. Jungler Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla followed a similar trajectory in 2021.

MAD Lions have clearly established themselves as one of the best scouting teams in the LEC. Still, it was a surprise when they signed UNF0RGIVEN. He had a relatively quiet year with SK Gaming’s academy team. Contrary to Steven “Reeker” Chen, who was signed as MAD Lions’ new mid laner, UNF0RGIVEN did not have a lot of buzz surrounding him heading into the offseason. Yet, this is exactly why he should be a player to watch closely in the spring split. If MAD Lions have signed him, they have seen a player with the potential to get them to the international stage.

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