European League Championship Series (EU LCS) side Elements’ acquisition by football Bundesliga club Schalke 04 is the talk of the hour within the League of Legends community, with the move by the German club being deemed as one of the first steps for a major involvement from European teams in Esports. But it also sparked interest on football fans, especially Schalke’s, who simply want to know and learn more about this relatively new and for some, unknown, field.
In order to help them to be more familiarized with this fascinating scene, I prepared this, hopefully, accurate list, where I compare some of the world’s most known clubs with some LoL organizations. I am not taking rivalries between clubs in account, exclusively trying to find which teams connect the best to each other.
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Bayern Munich = Fnatic (Europe)
To start things, either team is extremely successful internally: Bayern Munich won the last four Bundesligas, while Fnatic managed to walk with away with the title in 5 out of the 7 bi-annual editions of the EU LCS.
Internationally, both sides managed to grab one major trophy in the past years – Fnatic won the very first LoL World Championship, in 2011 in Sweden, and Bayern defeated Borussia Dortmund in 2013 in order to win the 5th Champions League / European Cup of the club’s history, but they didn’t manage to go past the Semi-Finals in the most recent events (Bayern in 2014, 2015 and 2016, Fnatic in 2013 and 2015).
Finally, both are (still) trained by Spanish managers: while Josep “Pep” Guardiola leaded the Bavarian team in the past three seasons, Luis “Deilor” Sevilla Petit is responsible to keep the Fnatic boys in shape.
Bayer Leverkusen = Origen (Europe)
Bayer Leverkusen is a relatively new force of Germany’s football: despite having joined the Bundesliga in 1979, the club from the Rhine became a major contender only in the 90’s. Origen is not so different. Founded by the legendary Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez, the Spanish organization entered the EU LCS in the Summer of 2015, and managed to end in second place, followed by another silver medal in the 2016 Spring Split.
Leverkusen can unfortunately relate to this very well: the club ended the Bundesliga as the runner-ups 5 times – most recently in the 2010/2011 season. Even worse, in 2002 the “Werkself” manage to finish as runner-ups in all 3 major competitions – the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League – thus earning themselves the nicknames “Neverkusen” and “Vizekusen”.
However, both teams have talented players on their rosters, as they look to break this “curse” in order to claim their place at the top of the podium.
Manchester United = Team SoloMid (North America)
Love or hate them, Manchester United and Team SoloMid are the most successful sides in their respective leagues – while the club from England has 20 Premier League titles, TSM managed to win the North American League Championship Series three times, more than any other team, and their huge fan base is often responsible for heated arguments with other teams’ supporters.
Most recently however, both organizations have been struggling internally and internationally: Manchester United is yet to win a Premier League title after the retirement of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, while Team SoloMid lost the last two NA LCS finals to rivals Counter Logic Gaming. In the European/Worldwide stage, the teams managed to each win one trophy in the past years: Man Utd won the 2008 UEFA Champions League where TSM brought home the 2015 Intel Extreme Masters Katowice trophy.
Paris Saint-Germain = Immortals (North America)
PSG returned to the elite of European football after being able to hire a stellar cast., thanks to the Qatar Sports Investments, who took over the Parisian club in 2011. Immortals, in the meantime, followed a similar path: the team, originally called Team8, was purchased in October by a consortium, which included names like Steve Kaplan, Co-Owner of the Memphis Grizzlies from the NBA, and used the patronage to acquire themselves a strong roster, including Korean duo Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, as popular in League of Legends’ world as superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for example.
But, Immortals, despite ending its first Regular Season with a 17-1 record in first place, lost their Semi-Finals match-up 3-0 to Team SoloMid, and finished its maiden season in third place, while PSG completely dominates France’s football in the past few years – despite falling short in Europe.
Arsenal = Team Liquid (North America)
Both sides are always among the best in their national leagues, but they share an unfortunate connection with the number 4: while the Gunners had 5 fourth place finishes in the Premier League in the past 10 years, Team Liquid (plus Team Curse, the organization it originated from) shared the same fate 4 (…) times, out of a total of 7 Splits played.
But things are starting to change: Arsenal ended this season’s Premier League only behind Champions Leicester City, and the American organization actually had 2 third places in a row before ending the past NA LCS Spring Split once again in the dreaded fourth place. Signs which should give hope for the teams commanded by two World Champion players, Mesut Özil (2014 with Germany) and Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin (2013 with SK Telecom T1).
Liverpool = H2K-Gaming (Europe)
Home to two charismatic and popular commanders, Jürgen Klopp and Neil “PR0LLY” Hammad, Liverpool and H2K-Gaming usually perform well in the Premier League and EU LCS, respectively, but still are to win (again) a domestic title – Liverpool’s last one was over 25 years ago, when today’s Premier League was still called Division One, while H2K were never been able place higher than third after clinching the promotion into Europe’s top tier in December 2014.
Leicester = G2 Esports (Europe)
A meteoric rise in order to surprisingly become champions, an unknown duo leading up and showing their talent to the world, almost everything connects Leicester City to G2 Esports. Almost.
After barely escaping relegation last year, the club from the East Midlands amazed everybody by taking the Premier League by assault, and, led by Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, was able to clinch the title after 36 matches. A similar story happened in the Summoner Rift during this Spring in Europe.
G2 Esports, founded by former star player Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago, failed twice to qualify to the European League Championship Series, but in September, finally, barely defeated SK Gaming 3-2 to secure its spot in Europe’s premier league. And then, led by Jungler Kim “Trick” Gang-yun and Mid laner Luka “PerkZ” Perković, dominated the league, and lift the trophy after beating Origen in Rotterdam.
I do wish that these are all the similarities both teams share with each other: after winning the EU LCS, G2 Esports traveled to its first international tournament, the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational. And after a dreadful performance, the team ended up fifth out of 6 participant teams – a disaster for European fans. I really hope that this article doesn’t somehow jinxes Leicester in the upcoming UEFA Champions League.
Atlético Madrid = Counter Logic Gaming (North America)
While Barcelona and Real Madrid traded titles for several years in Spain, the NA LCS had until the Summer of 2015 not seen any other victor not called Team SoloMid or Cloud9.
But everything changed after Atlético Madrid and Counter Logic Gaming managed to break the hegemony of these two teams in their respective leagues. They achieved this feat not by necessarily having the best and most talented player in each position. The recipe for Atléti’s and CLG’s victories was hard work and a strong sense of collective play.
This also led to international success, which, however, ended with a sour taste for both organizations: Atlético lost the 2014 UEFA Champions League final to arch-rivals Real Madrid, and CLG weren’t able to stop Korean powerhouse SK Telecom T1 in last Sunday’s decision at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational in Shanghai.
They will however, have a chance to recover, as the “Colchoneros” prepare to face their eternal enemies once more for the European trophy next week, while Counter Logic Gaming will most likely represent its region at the World Championship, which will take place on its home soil – the United States.
Originally, I only wanted to relate football clubs with Western League of Legends’ organizations, but I couldn’t let this final one out:
Real Madrid + Barcelona = SK Telecom T1 (South Korea)
Imagine a highly hypothetical scenario where Real Madrid and Barcelona somehow decided to merge themselves, forming one gigantic club. What would become of world’s football? If you want to know the answer, just take a look at Korea’s SK Telecom T1, maybe the best team to represent this utopian thinking in any competitive sport (or e-sport).
Home to League of Legends’ best player of all time, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the powerful organization, after being formed in 2013, won that year’s World Championship with a then 17-year old Faker leading the charge, and, after a tough 2014, came back to 2015 like a wrecking ball in order to completely dominate the Rift.
From last year to this day, SKT did win all but two tournaments they played: the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational, where they lost 3-2 against China’s EDward Gaming, and the 2015 KESPA Cup, a minor competition, where the side, coming fresh from another World Championship title, didn’t, if you pardon my French, give a crap about.
Meanwhile, they did win 3 Korean championships, the 2015 World Championship in Berlin, the 2016 Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, and finally, the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational in Shanghai. And they want more. What makes SKT so magnificent and feared is its thrill for perfection, its search to simply be the best: the same lining of thinking which makes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi be likely the two best footballers in the 21st century so far. Now imagine again, what would happen if they were to play alongside each other. The result is SK Telecom T1.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games