2020 LEC Summer Split Key Results and Takeaways
The 2020 LEC Summer Split is finally over, so let’s go over a couple of key results and takeaways that have managed to pique our interest. The last three months were, as expected, packed with action and many mind-blowing twists no one saw coming. That’s pretty much the norm when it comes to the LEC these days. But even though the regular portion of the split developed in strange and unexpected ways, the split itself concluded in precisely the fashion everyone thought it would — with G2 Esports once again hoisting the LEC trophy.
We all saw the age-old finals match-up between two of the best and most storied European history organizations. With seven titles apiece, we knew we were in for quite a treat. The fact that Fnatic managed to win against G2 a week before the finals only made things that much more exciting. But, as is so often the case with G2, it didn’t matter. They came, they executed, and they won in as dominant a fashion as you can imagine. Fnatic fought back, but only enough to make things somewhat competitive. G2 had control from start to finish and took little time to let everyone know they mean business.
In the end, it was the split we all wanted to see: highly competitive, with a staple finals match-up to close things out. The 2020 LEC Summer Split also had a couple of surprises and results that paint a very optimistic picture for the region as a whole and its immense talent pool — most of which has only just begun climbing the ranks.
So, let’s focus on the most important takeaways, listed below in no particular order!
G2 Esports Can Bleed… But Barely So
A good, dominant dynasty can only be entertaining if it’s challenged from time to time. G2 knows this best. When you think they’re about to crumble and fail, they return with a ferocity and vigor never before seen on LEC soil. Of course, they’re the best and most stacked team in Western history, but you still expect them to “bleed” from time to time. Deep down, you wish for their reign to end only to see their unavoidable return to form. You want to see them struggle, if only for entertainment and narrative reasons.
And sure enough, they fumble and fail on occasion, but only when there’s nothing on the line. They’ll drop games to bottom-tier dwellers throughout the regular season, and they might also lose a couple of Best of 5s here and there, only to spice things up a bit. But once things go down to the wire, once it’s do or die, they prepare and execute to perfection.
Still, they’ve lost two Best of 5s in 2020 — one to MAD Lions and another to Fnatic. That’s important for narrative reasons, but it also means that other teams are stepping up, at least ever so slightly. They’re learning, they’re adapting, and G2’s might and talent is forcing them to explore and find new avenues for success. You’re not going to take down the defending LEC champions by using the same “tools” and methods as they’re using — you need to bring something new to the table, and that’s how MAD Lions pulled off that huge upset back in Spring.
As things stand, G2 is king, but other teams have started catching up. The gap between them might still be immense, but at least it’s shrinking.
Rogue — The Next Breed of LEC Talent
We’ve already covered the next generation of LEC talent. Still, such an impressive influx of players initially came with a caveat: they were a bit too rough around the edges — too green, inexperienced, and, naturally, prone to making a slew of egregious mistakes at the most random moments.
That, in short, didn’t come as a surprise. To excel at this level of play, you need to go through it all — both victory and defeat — to grow and develop as an individual and professional League of Legends player. With more experience behind their belts, however, it became quite obvious that the next breed of European talent is not only staggeringly capable but that it also needed far less time to ascend the ranks, so to speak, than most of us expected. That last part is key.
Rogue and MAD Lions are the real deal, and they’ve already done more than enough to earn our benefit of the doubt. As one can expect, they’re far from perfect, and once those crazy Best of 5s come around, they still lack the resilience and mental fortitude to go all the way. Still, they did insanely well in one of the most competitive regions in the world for two young line-ups. That’s nothing to scoff at.
They’ve also tasted success, especially during the regular portion of the 2020 LEC Summer Split. They know what it takes to compete at the highest levels. Now, they’re just trying to work some kinks out and deliver once it matters. With that in mind, it’s fair to expect both line-ups to deliver and dominate even further once 2021 comes around.
While they ultimately failed to upset the long-established LEC status quo, they’ll compete at this year’s World Championship in China. This will be their first showing on the international stage, so temper your expectations, but they certainly have all the right tools to compete and perhaps even upset should the stars align. Still, facing off against the best teams in the world will provide them with invaluable experience, and it’ll also force them to grow in new and exciting ways.
Schalke 04 — Redefining the “Ceiling”
Schalke 04’s miracle run is one of the most unexpected twists in Western League of Legends history. The fact that they went from being 1W-10L to securing a playoff spot simply boggles the mind, and yet they accomplished such a feat like it was nothing.
Now, there’s a pretty big asterisk next to it: they played in an online-only setting as if they were scrimming. As a result, certain teams prospered by not having to play in front of a live audience. In other words, they played with more bravado and less reserve, and this change was evident almost overnight. Schalke, arguably, prospered the most, and in doing so, did something extremely important: they made us understand that we have to redefine our concept of “skill ceiling.”
Take Felix “Abbedagge” Braun, for example. He signed for Schalke back in late 2018, and he never quite impressed. His Lissandra games were good (if not even great), but his tendency to make egregious mistakes and die out of position time after time made everyone feel like he wouldn’t amount to much. After all, the LEC is stacked with mid lane talent and Abbedagge, while okay in general, couldn’t compete on even footing.
He also set a record way back when for most isolated deaths in the region. This dreadful statistic (for which no one wants to be known for) didn’t happen because he was necessarily a bad player. Rather, he often chose the wrong moments to engage and skirmish. He lacked polish and precision when it came to execution.
Fast forward to the 2020 Summer Split, and Abbedagge is pulling off the most insane and mind-blowing plays. He was so good that most of his peers paled in comparison. Casters started calling him “Fakerdagge,” and there was no irony involved. He was destroying his opponents both in lane as well as in those hectic five-on-five teamfights.
A similar thing can be said for his allies as well. They all prospered beyond belief upon switching to an online-only format. We often hear that players play differently in scrims, which makes sense, of course — there’s nothing on the line. They’re freer and more willing to experiment and go for those insane plays that might backfire horribly.
The fact that they went from being a bottom-tier dweller to a top-tier challenger tells us that we should never gauge a player’s long-term potential based on how well they’re performing on stage. That’s the only thing that truly matters, but perhaps teams need to find a way to help players out when it comes to transitioning their performances from one environment to another. To some players, this comes naturally, but not all of them are created equal. Capable sports psychologists and stacked coaching staffs are almost surely the way to go. Such a thing is obvious now more than ever after witnessing Schalke ascend the ranks in just a couple of weeks.
An Influx of Talent
2020 has given us a look at many exceptional young rookies. Most of them have managed to stand out from the crowd in no small part because of their in-game performances and (unexpected) mechanical prowess. But the fact that they were so darn good wasn’t the biggest surprise; instead, it was the sheer number of newcomers that took the stage and performed well above expectations as seen in the 2020 LEC Summer Split results. You could see their hunger for the spotlight, and their willingness to go the extra mile and trade blows with LEC mainstays.
Watching the LEC throughout 2020 was, in short, insanely exciting. Europe was always known for its rookies and deep talent pool, which is as evident and true today as ever. LEC faithfuls have a reason for optimism when it comes to the European region and its longevity.