2016 EU LCS: Everything you need to know
The EU LCS has had to deal with something of an exodus during pre-season, with high profile names departing for North America.
Fnatic, who won both the Spring and Summer Splits in 2015, lost a number of key players in particular. This means they are unlikely to dominate in the same manner as last year.
With two teams reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship in 2015, it must be a little disheartening for organizations to lose their talent to a North American scene that couldn’t escape the group stage. Fnatic will hope their eye for talent that brought them success last year remains intact, while Origen will look to build on the astonishing success of their debut season in the LCS.
Last year’s Spring Split saw Fnatic debut their brand new roster and finish a fairly convincing 2nd place behind an impressive SK Gaming. Meanwhile, newcomers H2K and Unicorns of Love managed to surprise many by finishing in the top five.
The play-offs saw Fnatic finish first, with the Unicorns and H2K dumping SK into fourth place, perhaps marking the beginning of the end for them (they were relegated from the LCS in the Summer Split).
Summer 2015 saw a new team on the block in the shape of Origen, a side of mostly veteran players led by former Fnatic Mid Laner xPeke. Origen pushed Fnatic as hard as they could but the Spring Split champions were literally unbeatable, finishing with an 18-0 record.
They were able to carry their form into the play-offs where they again bested Origen. Origen then had to win passage to Worlds via the regional qualifiers as third-placed H2K qualified thanks to their Championship Point advantage.
Spring Split Format
The format for the Spring Split is a continuation of the LCS format from last season before big changes are implemented prior to the Summer Split.
As such, it’s a nine week league, using double round robin rules (every team plays each other twice). The teams who place 1-6 will then move into a play-off bracket, with the teams who finished 1st and 2nd receiving byes to the semis. In the quarter-finals, 3rd will play 6th and 4th will battle against 5th.
The team who finish 10th are automatically relegated to the Challenger Series, with the teams finishing 8th and 9th having to play in the Summer promotion tournament against the 2nd and 3rd best placed Challenger teams. The side who finish seventh neither qualify for the play-offs nor have to play in the promotion tournament, but will still get to participate in the next LCS Split.
Teams are playing for Championship Points and pride in the Spring Split, with 90 points on offer to the top placed side, going down in 20 point increments to the 5th/6th placed sides, who earn 10 CP each. It’s expected that the winning side will also earn an invite to the Mid-Season Invitational international tournament (although the event has not yet been announced for this year).
Let’s have a closer look at the teams:
The reigning champions and one of two EU semi-finalists at Worlds, you would expect Fnatic to be favourites after their dominating performances in 2015. However, their team captain, talented Top Laner and Jungler have all left to play in North America.
Fortunately, in their Mid Laner Febiven and ADC Rekkles, they were not completely stripped of talent. Those two are joined by legendary Korean Jungler Spirit from China’s Team WE, Dignitas’ Gamsu and newcomer Noxiak.
While perhaps overshadowed by the departed Huni, both Febiven and Rekkles boasted phenomenal KDA ratios in the 2015 Summer Split with 6.2 and 10.7 respectively. They have a tough task ahead of them to live up to their Summer heroics though.
It will be difficult for Origen to top last year’s thrilling rise. Formed as a Challenger team for the 2015 Spring Season, they won promotion to the LCS for Summer, had qualified for Worlds by Winter and were semi-finalists at the World Championships a month later.
Their only roster change sees former Unicorn of Love PowerOfEvil joining the line-up to share Mid Lane duties with xPeke. Thanks to the major roster surgery undertaken by rivals Fnatic, Origen can and should be looking to take victory in the Spring Split.
ADC Zven (formerly known as Niels) was fantastic last year as the rookie in a team of veterans, with his summer split KDA of 8.5 and his mastery of Kallista suggesting a star in the making.
Another team with a year to remember in 2015, H2K’s rise from challenger to contender on the world stage is impressive in its own right, if somewhat overshadowed by Origen.
They are, however, another side who have undergone major roster changes, with three players departing. Fortunately for H2K, they have signed some excellent replacements. Jankos and VandeR are arguably the best players from last year’s under-performing ROCCAT side, while FORG1VEN is considered one of the most skilled western AD Carries, even if he has struggled to find a team that can match his talents.
Returning Mid Laner Ryu may be a quiet presence, but his control of the Mid Lane is well reflected in a Summer 2015 KDA of 5.
Vitality purchased Gambit Gaming’s LCS spot for the coming season, marking a sad day for fans of what was once the dominating Moscow Five.
Vitality retain Cabochard, the Top Laner and focus of Gambit’s Top Lane oriented playing style. Joining him is the Bot Lane from last season’s successful H2K side in KaSing and Hjärnan, ROCCAT’s Mid Laner Nukeduck and former Elements Jungler Shook. KaSing is an excellent play-maker and elevates the conservative Hjärnan, who boasted a KDA of 6.22 in Summer 2015.
Unicorns of Love
The Unicorns of Love’s impressive first year in the LCS was unfortunately tarnished towards the end of the Summer season with Jungler Kikis leaving mid-way through to play in the Challenger scene. Their eventual finish of 4th place wasn’t quite good enough to carry them through to Worlds and since then they have lost influential Mid Laner PowerOfEvil to Origen, with AD Carry Steelback coming in.
Former Gambit Gaming Jungler DiamondProx also joins and the veteran player will be hoping to recapture his long since departed form. Once known as a world class Jungler and innovator, his Summer Split KDA of 1.93 highlights his decline.
This Elements team unfortunately looks like something of a mistake. The organization had hoped to sell their LCS spot, but failed to do so before the deadline. Since then, they have scrambled to assemble a side capable of competing. The roster they have formed looks set to struggle and their ADC MrRallez will have to perform exceptionally well if they are to stay afloat. His Summer Season KDA of 4.75 suggests he might just be up to the task.
A mid-tier side with a flamboyant Mid Laner, Giants may not be the best team to ever grace the LCS but on their day they’re capable of giving anyone a tough game.
Their hopes will be pinned on Xpepii (the Mid Laner formerly known as PePiiNeRO), a player with a ludicrously deep champion pool and a bizarre clause in his contract that lets him play the ADC role when facing off against Fnatic’s Rekkles. His poor performance in the EU Regional Finals left him with a KDA of 0.64 across three games, and he will need to improve on that.
Former LCS superstar Ocelot’s Challenger side took quite a while to reach the LCS, but they’ve made it now and won’t want to relinquish the spot any time soon.
Their roster includes former Unicorns Jungler Kikis (now playing in his preferred Top Lane role), alongside PerkZ and Hybrid from the side that earned promotion. Koreans Trick and Emperor complete the side.
Emperor was part of the Team Dragon Knights side that were relegated from the NA LCS in 2015, partially due to his own visa problems. Emperor will believe he can perform above the standard that led him to a KDA of 3.39 in the nine games he was able to play.
For several splits, ROCCAT have been known as the team who everyone hates to play against in scrims (practice games), but who never seem able to translate their practice into performances on the main stage.
Perhaps with an entirely new team they can mend those ways.
Their side is made up largely of LCS journeymen, with Top Laner fredy122 and Support Edward boasting a wealth of experience. Fredy122 has shown in the past that with the right team around him, he can be devastating from the Top Lane.
After Dignitas EU’s promotion, Riot Gaming’s rules meant that their owners had to sell the LCS spot due to their ownership of the NA Dignitas side. Now known as Splyce, the team largely retains the roster that won promotion. The exception to this is Jungler Trashy, who played last year in North America with the relegated Enemy eSports with a KDA of 3.55. An all-Danish side, Splyce are the unknown factor in the Spring Split 2016.
The EU Spring Split 2016 looks poised to be a much tighter affair than last Summer. Fnatic are likely to be weakened by their departures, while a number of strong squads have formed. Origen now look like the team to beat by retaining their core and adding depth to the squad. Both Vitality and H2K have formed experienced rosters and you would expect those sides to make up the top four in the standings come season’s end.
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