Just a few months ago, several players across the League of Legends Championship Series and League European Championship were tucked away in regional leagues in Europe. In 2022, however, players across the ERLs made their way to the premier leagues, in large part because of the surprising parity between some of those ERL teams and LEC squads.
The level of play these rookies can put forward in the LCS and LEC remains to be seen, but many sources across the ERLs and LEC agree on one thing: The gap between the leagues isn’t nearly as big as most fans would expect, and the top players in the ERLs could probably hold their own, or become future stars, on a Western roster.
Upcomer spoke to 10 players currently competing on top ERL teams and LEC teams to figure out just how different the teams are in terms of skill. Although scrims are just a small part of the picture for players from both leagues, the results and the closeness of the competition show that the next big player in the LEC or LCS might be hiding in a regional league you’ve never watched before.
Difference in level between LEC and ERL teams
According to LEC and Superliga staff sources, the difference in level between LEC and ERL teams “depends on the different teams that are facing each other. The low-tier ERL teams are not at a similar level to the LEC or anything like that, but the best EU Masters teams could usually face low-tier LEC teams and sometimes face mid-table teams.”
Opinions on this change depending on the person and the situations they’ve experienced, but the level between the best teams in the ERL and the lower LEC teams is not significant. Many claim that they even have equal talent.
“Karmine Corp has been playing toe-to-toe and even winning some scrims against top LEC teams,” a coach of an ERL team told Upcomer. “We are at the beginning of the season, and this data does not have big relevance, but it is a way to see how close some teams are to the LEC level.”
Many of these sources emphasized that the results of the scrims do not have a great significance, and teams are often testing things out. Teams with low win rate in these practice games are able to obtain great results in the competition. Current LEC players, however, said they can see the similarities in play and power level between the best of the regional leagues and the lower-tier LEC squads.
“I think maybe bottom two of LEC are close to same level of top ERL but the others are a step above I think,” Excel jungler Mark “Markoon” van Woensel said. “The difference is mainly in the macro.”
Many other rookies that were promoted this season agree with Markoon, although most of them say that the LEC teams that aren’t expected to be in playoff position have a very similar level to the best teams in the ERL.
Differences between ERL and LEC
The lower gap between ERLs and the LEC is in part because of the younger players that have elevated ERL play in the past couple years. That talent has frequently made its way to the Tier 1 stage.
“That’s why in the offseason you always have a few ERL players promoted,” one LEC coach said, “because their individual level is similar with a higher ceiling or they are already clearly better.”
Several other sources said that one of the differences is with the people you scrim with. Scrimming against high-level LEC teams has helped players learn and read the meta better.
As Markoon said, many other rookies claimed that the big difference is in the macro. Many of the ERL players have similar mechanics to those on LEC rosters, and experience and broader skill is what separates them from the top level of this competition.
Many ERL players end up playing in Tier 1 Western leagues, and it’s not just because of potential. It’s because they’re ready for that level of competition from the moment they join the roster.
It seems that the difference in level between the LEC teams and the top teams in the ERL is not very wide, and those teams frequently competing in scrims might continue to close that gap. The vast majority of sources agree that the difference between LEC teams and top ERL teams is based on the understanding of what a role is in a game and the experience of these players. They point out that the teams that are usually at the top of the LEC rankings, in addition to experience, usually make a difference in skill as well.
In terms of raw skill and mechanics, there is not a big difference, and the best ERL teams could compete against the rest of the teams. That’s what makes the ERLs so interesting this year and worth keeping an eye on.