LEC Spring Split 2019 Week 1 was interesting, to say the least, as we saw LEC retained its explosive gameplay but with different teams at the forefront of it all.
Expectations can be tricky things to have, especially in the world of League of Legends esports — we like to think of what we previously know about organizations, rosters, players, and even the game, and then we try to apply it towards the matches we view, or we try to use it to predict future matches. We tried to think of it in the same way with the League of Legends European Championship’s opening weekend. We thought it would be more or less the same kind of league, where the expectations are the same because most of the players are, but only the name is different.
The thing that viewers and fans collectively forget somehow is that every new season is like a new lease on life for each of the players, the organizations, and even the game itself. This is a reset is the statement that should be hovering on top of every first game for each of our teams. Previous laurels no longer count, but that also means teams are starting with a clean slate. We are all back to the starting point, where teams once again work towards regional championships, and the greatest reward of each year, the World Championship, is still far away.
With the recently-concluded first-ever week of the League of Legends European Championship, certain expectations may need to be thrown out of the window or may need to be reconfigured, but one thing is certain: this is European League of Legends. With everyone’s quick wit and explosive gameplay, there is no doubt about the region that this league is in. Here is a quick recap of the events of last weekend:
LEC Spring Split 2019 Week 1 Meta Recap
In this regard, nothing much has strayed from our expectations. The meta is still based on lane priority, which means that being able to surprise opponents with flex picks is still an advantage. Champions like Aatrox, Urgot, Akali, Galio, Lissandra, and even the Jayce, among others, can be picked into the lane, as they are fairly stable in lane and can have great kill potential if given the advantage. Great skirmishing junglers then are needed to further enable these picks— we have seen picks like the Lee Sin, Xin Zhao, the Kha’zix, and the Sejuani rise in different occasions in the past week.
For the bottom lane, lane bullies like Lucian and Ezreal still rule the meta. Although we’ve seen teams prioritize Draven more for players who can utilize his harder playstyle. Scaling picks like Kai’sa, Sivir, and even the Caitlyn have seen some play, and can be assisted into the later stages of the game, where they reign supreme. The support position is still mostly tanky initiators like Braum and Alistar, and from time to time we see champions like the Rakan who are a bit squishier. A major difference that I would like to note, however, is that in Europe, they seem to favor mage supports like Morgana and Zilean if they want to protect their lanes or push it to the maximum.
It might be like this for a while longer, so it may be worth seeing which team gets the most out of this meta.
LEC Spring Split 2019 Week 1 — Current Standings
After all the actions that happened over the last weekend, here are the standings of the different LEC teams:
- 1st and 2nd: G2 Esports and Misfits Gaming (2-0)
- 3rd to 8th: Excel Esports, Origen, Schalke 04 Esports, SK Gaming, Splyce, Team Vitality (1-1)
- 9th and 10th: Fnatic and Rogue (0-2)
Teams have only gone through two matches each, which means that there is not much difference in teams’ positions in the standings. If you are worried about your team as of the moment, don’t be. There are sixteen more games that the teams will play, which means that there are still several opportunities for the current standings to change.
Biggest Surprise from LEC Spring Split 2019 Week 1 — SK Gaming
SK Gaming threw us all a decent surprise in their first game of the season, which was also the opening game not only of the Spring Split, but also of the League of Legends European Championship in general.
Their first game was against the World Championship Finalist Fnatic. Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant’s capable drafting certainly gave the team some boosts, but the execution and individual play lies within the squad itself. They actually appear to have beaten Fnatic twice in a row— the first game was remade due to some technical issues, but in that first game, SK Gaming was ahead before the remake. SK Gaming then went to officially defeat Fnatic in the remade game.
SK Gaming showcases the strength of the three former MAD Lions, E.C. members. With Jorge “Werlyb” Casanovas being a rock in the top lane, Jus “Crownshot” Marusic being a reliable bottom laner, and Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek being an immensely smart and mechanically gifted jungler, the support of Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik and Han “Dreams” Min-kook’s capability makes this team stronger on the Rift than it initially appeared to be.
The standout so far for the team has been Selfmade. He’s always at the right place at the right time and he’s capable of expanding a single lane’s lead into the whole map. His mechanical skills aren’t half-bad at all either.. He even made playing Sejuaine look difficult, throwing game-winning Glacial Prisons multiple times.
If SK Gaming continues to combine its solid drafting, its powerful laners, and Selfmade’s smart jungle play, they might become a potential contender for the title.
Biggest Disappointments from LEC Spring Split 2019 Week 1 — Fnatic
If there was a team that shattered our expectations, surely there was a team that was not quite able to meet them.
Our 2018 World Championship Finalists Fnatic kept four out of six of the roster going into 2019. With the loss of drafting coach Dylan Falco, Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool has taken on the mantle of Fnatic’s on-stage drafting coach. But, despite retaining most of last season’s lineup, Fnatic aren’t off to a stellar start. Their drafting is bad, and their execution is even worse. You’d think that a different team was playing from their vision setups and map control. They were uncoordinated and a plain mess overall.
Fnatic have problems. Yes. We mean many. Case in point, they seem to have a hard time putting Tim “Nemesis” Lipovsek in a favourable matchup. It also doesn’t help that they keep on picking him Galio, which has a lot of counters right now. Meanwhile, Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau’s hyper-aggressive playstyle had a negative effect on the team last weekend. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen looks like he has forgotten how to ply, and the team, as a whole just aren’t up to par.
If it’s any consolation, they weren’t totally out of the game. They were competitive at some points. But, they just weren’t as good as you would expect a team coming off a runner-up finish at Worlds 2018.
If I do not say it too often, I will say it again: this has only been the first weekend, and fans need not panic or celebrate just yet: the competition has just begun. There is still a long and arduous path towards the first ever League of Legends European Championship title, and it will require more than just the first week’s set of wins.
We have previously seen teams rise from poor results from the first few matches, and we have seen teams reach their peak early, only to fall off later into the split.
Be sure to support your teams both in victory and defeat.
What do you think were the biggest takeaways from LEC Spring Split 2019 Week 1? Do you think SK Gaming can sustain their start? How long do you think it will take for Fnatic to bounce back? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.