At long last, the LEC has returned. And what a sight it has been to see the Mid-Season Invitational champions, G2 Esports, back on home soil. But they were not the sole returning team: playoff contenders Origen, Fnatic and Splyce were also ready.
In the meantime, other teams geared themselves for new beginnings. SK Gaming, Rogue, FC Schalke 04 and Excel Esports's roster changes has changed the LEC picture, with the extent revealed over time as the season goes on. So will Misfits Gaming's 10-man roster implementation, and Team Vitality's decision to stay put despite their downfall in the final the stretch.
And in the wake of Week 1 of the LEC summer split, the following picture took shape.
1. G2 Esports
G2 Esports have taken charge of Europe as soon as they returned, as they were in control during their victories against Splyce and Origen. Unlike MSI, their first week in the LEC summer split did not require original picks. Indeed, the decisive yet somewhat rusty G2 Esports picked standard compositions and unfolded their game plan in their terms, leaving nothing to change. Origen bravely attempted to shake them out of first place, but G2's objective control and Luka "Perkz" Perkovic's prowess on Xayah were too much to overcome.
Fnatic have gone back to their winning ways from the second half of the spring split, with good drafting and solid decision-making in the early game and during late game team fights. The efficient Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen helmed Fnatic's early-game execution, and Tim "Nemesis" Lipovsek devastated opponents during late-game team fights. However, Fnatic's approach to mid-game team fights and objective setups was unsteady Misfits Gaming. As such, it will take them time to contend against G2. But the same cannot be said about Week 2 opponents Origen.
Many fans and observers rightfully regard Origen as the second best team in Europe, but they have company. Considering their outings on Week 1, they have shown that they stood alongside Fnatic at worst. However, their odd drafting priorities against Team Vitality complicated a game they would have won more handily otherwise. Perhaps their execution was relatively lacking, considering their convincing showing against G2 Esports. Despite losing that game, their reactive play and ability to discern G2's game plan will be valuable against Fnatic on Week 2.
4. Misfits Gaming
Misfits Gaming have fixed their biggest flaw during the offseason, and it showed in their unity during their first two LEC summer split games. Formerly a five-man team with as many diverging approaches to the game, they have moved as one against Fnatic and Rogue. However, they still retained some of their old flaws: against Fnatic, their objective setup process featured crucial lapses in the vision control and patience departments, and Steven "Hans sama" Liv lacked a proper front line during late game team fights. Their implementation of the 10-man roster may improve their structure during gameplay calls and flexibility, should the coaching staff prioritize strategy aspects and development over performance.
Splyce has clear game plans and drafts, but in-game adaptability and consistency remain shaky. Against G2 Esports, their risky game plan hinged on Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomir's ability to contain Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski in a favourable matchup on paper; so, when Jankos took control, Splyce's scaling composition turned into a dud. They recovered against Team Vitality with Xerxe redeeming himself on Elise, and with Splyce leveraging Vitality's mistakes into a decisive victory.
Judging by Rogue's week 1 showing, their promotion of their academy roster to the LEC was the correct decision. The difference is night and day: Rogue has become an adaptable squad with solid solo lanes and a savvy jungler to leverage their strengths to the fullest. Furthermore, their rookies, Kacper "Inspired" Sloma and Emil "Larssen" Larsson, showed no signs of stage fright. However, Misfits Gaming targeted their lack of care for their bot lane and their trigger happiness in early game confrontations -- issues they need to address to ascend further in the rankings.
7. SK Gaming
SK Gaming have entered the LEC summer split with Toni "Sacre" Sabalic in the top lane instead of Jorge "Werlyb" Casanovas, a change they were adamant on making. However, the change may have caused a ripple effect, as their lack of reactivity and inability to fight for a single lane's advantage was evident against Fnatic. Although they fell behind against Schalke 04 in the early game, they showcased marked improvements regarding reactivity and the establishment of lane priority. In the end, their level of play across the board helped them salvage a terrible situation, but that may not happen against better teams.
8. FC Schalke 04
FC Schalke 04 are a paradox. On one hand, they have the talent to contend for much higher ranks than the seventh place they achieved during the spring split, as evidenced by their play in Week 1. On the other, their tunnel vision around objectives at crucial moments of the game have led to their downfall as they neglected their surroundings against SK Gaming. But there is a silver lining: Kim "Trick" Gang-yun's integration into the lineup has provided more decisive play.
9. Team Vitality
Team Vitality's overzealousness is hurting them across the board. The all-out mid game brawling that helped them shock the world at the 2018 World Championship is incompatible with the draft they engineered against Origen, and their subsequent head-scratching map movements (especially in the bot lane) single-handedly lost them the game. In addition, Daniele "Jiizuke" Di Mauro's unsuccessful assassination attempts against Splyce were unnecessary, but possible tell signs of other underlying issues. One has to hope that it was an off week, failing which they are likely bottom dwellers in the LEC, despite Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet's strong play.
10. Excel Esports
Excel Esports's current position is a testament to the European region's improvement since 2017. Otherwise, their failed transition from the early game stage to mid game against Rogue would not have been as costly. In fact, their early game play throughout Week 1 shows their comfort during the first 10 minutes of the game. However, their inexperience as a team led to their downfall, as their extremely risky skirmishing attempts attested. The problem lies in their execution; perhaps that will fade in time, and their standing will improve.