Now that the mid season drama is over, the rosters are locked-in, a new format is adopted and everything else is set for the start of the 2016 EU LCS Summer Split tomorrow, it is the time for previews and predictions of each side’s strengths.

10. Giants Gaming

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Lennart “Smittyj” Warkus
  • Jungle: Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian
  • Mid: Na “NighT” Gun-woo
  • ADC: Son “S0NSTAR” Seung-ik
  • Support: Morgan “Hustlin” Granberg

While last Split’s performance was likely one of the worst of a team in the LCS, Giants Gaming succeeded to retain their LCS spot in the promotion tournament. Nevertheless, the departure of star player Isaac “xPePii” Flores will leave Giants’ fans very unsure about what to expect from their team.

Giants acquired former Ever8 Winners Mid laner Na “NighT” Gun-woo from the Korean challenger scene, and Jungler Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian, ex Inspire eSports, from the EU CS to replace Kim “Wisdom” Tae-wan, who left for Misfits EU.

A roster with a mix between players with weak performances in the LCS and unproven talent is the most likely to end up the year in the promotion tournament.

9. Team ROCCAT

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Sang-won “Parang” Lee
  • Jungle: Karim “Airwaks” Benghalia
  • Mid: Felix “Betsy” Edling
  • ADC: Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi
  • Support: Ji-hwan “Raise” Oh

ROCCAT’s performance in the Spring Split was somehow heartbreaking. After having arguably the best early game against practically every team, they kept failing to close games and chained loss after loss.

After a ninth place in the Regular Season, ROCCAT fought its way back into the LCS in the promotion tournament. The team proceeded to part ways with ADC Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert and Support Lewis “Noxiak” Felix, while Top laner Simon “fredy122” Payne moved to the sub position.

In a surprising move, ROCCAT acquired UOL’s star ADC Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi to add to the talent of their carry players Felix “Betsy” Edling and Karim “Airwaks” Benghalia. The roster is completed with two Koreans: Top laner Sang-won “Parang” Lee and Support Ji-hwan “Raise” Oh, both coming from Korea’s Challenger team Stardust.

This split’s hopes for ROCCAT will be to avoid relegation and challenge for a playoff spot. While the team has some potential, their chances of success will depend on the synergy that the two Korean players will have with the rest of the team.

8. Splyce

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Martin “Wunderwear” Hansen
  • Jungle: Jonas “Trashy” Anderson
  • Mid: Chres “Sencux” Laursen
  • ADC: Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup
  • Support: Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle

Last Split was a disappointment for a team who came to the LCS with promising talent, with the likes of Chres “Sencux” Laursen and Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup. While Sencux had some glimpses of brilliance (especially in a phenomenal game with Le Blanc), the rest of the roster failed to show consistency even against low tier teams.

After finishing 8th in the Regular Season, Splyce decided to only make a change in the Support position, replacing Nicolai “Nisbeth” Nisbeth with former Fnatic substitute Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle.

The team lead by charismatic coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi will put their efforts into avoiding relegations and fighting for a place in the playoffs.

7. FC Schalke 04 Esports

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Etienne “Steve” Michels
  • Jungle: Berk “Gilius” Demir
  • Mid: Hampus “Fox” Myhre
  • ADC: Rasmus “MrRalleZ” Skinneholm
  • Support: Hampus “sprattel” Mikael Abrahamsson

German football team Schalke 04 acquired the LCS spot from team Elements, in a move that would bring traditional professional sports closer to the e-sports scene.

Schalke 04 kept the same roster, with the exception of Mid laner Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire, who however, after an underwhelming Spring Split, was replaced for former UOL Mid laner Hampus “Fox” Myhre.

Over the course of the Last split, Elements managed to pull off some good performances, especially towards the end of the season. With the acquisition of a more reliant Mid laner, Schalke will hope to challenge for a place in the playoffs.

6. Unicorns of Love

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss
  • Jungle: Kang “Move” Min-su
  • Mid: Fabian “Exileh” Schubert
  • ADC: Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min
  • Support: Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov

The Unicorns had a Spring Split full of up and downs. The team started very strong with Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov leading the team, but after the legendary Jungler had to step down due to visa issues, UOL could not perform consistently, and kept swapping Junglers. In this chaotic environment, the team has shown some glimpses of quality, especially from the two original Unicorns members Tamás “Vizicsacsi” Kiss and Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov.

Nevertheless, the real sensation last split was the performance of Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi, who stepped up to become one of the most solid ADCs in EU. That is why it came as a surprise for many UOL fans that the organization let its star player leave for ROCCAT, a team that potentially could be an adversary in the fight for a place in the middle of the table. His replacement is Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min, former ADC of Vortex from the NA CS.

UOL also parted ways with Mid laner Hampus “Fox” Myhre, now in Schalke 04, and with Jean-Victor “Loulex” Burgevin, the last in a long list of Junglers who played for the team Spring Split. They were replaced respectively with Mid laner Fabian “Exileh” Schubert, ex SK Prime and NIP, and Kang “Move” Min-su, former Jungler for Gravity.

While having Move in the Jungler position could be seen as an improvement, the rest of the replacements look as to be downgrade if compared to the last split’s roster. If the Unicorns fail to maintain a consistent roster yet again, the team may struggle to even make it into playoffs.

5. Team Vitality

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet
  • Jungle: Kim “MightyBear” Min-soo
  • Mid: Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik
  • ADC: Hyeong-gi “Police” Park
  • Support: Raymond “KaSing” Tsang

Vitality ended the Regular Season with a promising third place, only however, to drown against Fnatic in the Quarter Finals. The team proceeded to part ways with Jungler Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema and ADC Petter “Hjärnan” Freyschuss, who wanted to step out from competitive gaming. Their replacements are two Koreans: Jungler Kim “MightyBear” Min-soo an unproven solo queue talent, and former ESC Ever and Apex Gaming player Hyeong-gi “Police” Park as ADC.

Vitality decided to take a risky move by bringing two Koreans in two roles with little synergy, and this may result in slim chances to perform against top teams. Communication and adaptation issues may arise, but if the team managed to overcome them, the talent of players like Lucas “Cabochard” Simon-Meslet and Raymond “KaSing” Tsang could potentially bring Vitality to a successful season.

4. Origen

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Paul “sOAZ” Boyer
  • Jungle: Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider
  • Mid: Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage
  • ADC: Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou
  • Support: Glenn “Hybrid” Doornenbal

Many Origen’s fans felt betrayed after the announcement of bot lane duo’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez departure to rival team G2. The team seemed to have recovered following a disappointing Regular Season, claiming second place in the EU LCS, but the achievement did not satisfy the players, who started to look for better options after the finals in Rotterdam.

However, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez and his staff managed to obtain Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou as ADC and Glenn “Hybrid” Doornenbal in Support, the former coming from H2K, the latter from G2. While both replacements are strong individual individuals, the departure of the two most consistent players in the Spanish team puts a lot of responsibility on players that had mixed performances in the Regular Season.

In paper, Origen’s roster is a strong, filled with multiple talent in the likes of Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou. Will they though meet the expectations of Origen’s fans and deliver also in the Regular Season? One may hope that they do, but for now too much uncertainty floats around OG to be sure.

3. H2K-Gaming

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu
  • Jungle: Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski
  • Mid: Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook
  • ADC: Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek
  • Support: Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan

Entering the mid season with an aesthetic make over, and a new starting ADC, H2K comes to Summer Split expecting to assert their status as an European contender. While many hoped that H2K would be the team that would offer Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou the success a player of his caliber deserves, the fourth place in the playoffs was somehow a disappointment. After some tensions between the ADC star and the rest of team, they both decided to part ways.

Fortunately for H2K, if there was a player who could replace the Greek prodigy, this one would be another ex-CW talent, Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek. After a disappointing Spring Split in the NA LCS in terms of team results with Renegades, the Czech ADC returns to Europe with the opportunity to prove his talent, this time, with  top level team-mates at his side.

H2K will hope that the talented ADC will help them overcome last Split’s playoff debacle by bringing stability to an already well rounded roster. If this is the case, H2K fans can expect their team to even challenge for Europe’s title.

2. Fnatic

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin
  • Jungle: Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon
  • Mid: Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten
  • ADC: Martin “Rekkles” Larsson
  • Support: Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim

The 5-times EU LCS Champions are coming to the Summer Split stronger thanks solely to one player: Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim. The legendary Support is back after playing the Spring Split for Team Solo Mid in the NA LCS and will try to lead Fnatic once again to Worlds.

The road however, will be harder than last year’s journey during the Summer, where Fnatic managed to go the Regular Season undefeated in order to win the trophy: neither Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin and Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon were able to repeat Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin’s high level of plays.

Also, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson is coming from a rocky split, after some shaking performances alongside rookie Johan “Klaj” Olsson. YellOwStaR’s comeback may be a strategical improvement, as it relieves the Swedish’s ADC from shoot calling duties in order to focus entirely on his game.

It should be noted also that the organization also signed Jorge “Werlyb” Casanovas, former top laner for Giants, which may come handy in this new format of Best-of-Two.

Despite the team’s Spring Split mixed results, every year Fnatic seems to reinvent themselves. Now, with the guidance of its captain once more, the team is expected to challenge for the EU LCS title.

1. G2 Esports

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Projected Starting Lineup:

  • Top: Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlareks
  • Jungle: Kang-yoon “Trick” Kim
  • Mid: Luka “PerkZ” Perković
  • ADC: Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen
  • Support:  Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez

Despite G2 Esports’ disastrous performance at the Mid-Season Invitational, one thing is certain: the current EU LCS Champions are coming stronger to this split.

By signing bot lane duo Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez from league rivals Origen, G2 not only weakened one of its main challengers for the European crown, but also strengthened its roster substantially with two world-class players. The question is, whether the remainder of the team will be able to synergize with the new players, in particularly with Rookie of the Split Luka “PerkZ” Perković, who may now be forced to share the team’s resources with Zven: the Danish ADC also has a carry play-style, which often demands a high investment from the rest of the team.

Finally, G2 Esports also signed Ki “Expect” Dae-han, from China’s LSPL side Gaming 2144. The Korean will initially join the team as a substitute, but it could be expected that if there are enough changes in the meta, the Korean may start in some matches, rotating with current Top laner Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlareks.

The current EU Champions are undoubtedly one of the main contenders for the title, and, perhaps even more important, to secure one of Europe’s spots in the World Championship.

 

A final word:

With many teams undergoing massive roster changes, and with the introduction of a lot of unproven Korean talent, the Summer Split will be one full of hopes and uncertainties. Many close fights are to be expected all around the table, so the ranking is surely not set in stone.

Some interesting battles would be for the 2nd, in order to claim the bye for the playoffs, and for the 6th and final spot in the Summer Playoffs.

Photo courtesy of Riot Games