Biggest 2020 LEC Off-Season Winners
This most recent LEC off-season was pretty much in line with an already mind-blowing 2020 — for better and worse. This means we witnessed many mind-boggling twists and turns no one could’ve foreseen. As far as the 2020 LEC off-seasons go, this one was quite historic (and mighty entertaining, despite its bumpy nature). Naturally, some teams did better than others — hence our 2020 LEC off-season winners and losers list!
This time around, we’ll focus on both players and teams. But what constitutes a “winner” in this case? Well, we’ll keep things rather simple. For an individual to be deemed a “winner,” he had to have switched teams and signed for a better (i.e. more competitive) organization. For a team (or organization, depending on your preferred nomenclature) to be deemed a “winner,” it had to have navigated through all the chaos that transpired without losing its most vital players. If an upgrade happened along the way, then more power to them!
So without any further ado, let’s begin!
G2 Esports — Long Live the King
The biggest winner of the 2020 LEC off-season simply has to be G2 Esports. The way Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez (founder and CEO) does business is just astounding. In layman’s terms — he gets what he wants and when he wants it, too. And, to make matters even better, there’s no shady stuff going on either — he’s just smart and business-savvy. His competitive nature and tendency to think numerous steps ahead is what brought G2 so much immense success across multiple different esports.
And you just love to see it.
Now sure, some might disagree with his way of doing things (and at times aggressive rhetoric) but his success and ability to emerge victorious are undeniable. What did Carlos do after losing his most prized performer Luka “Perkz” Perković — the one League of Legends player who put G2 “on the map” years ago? He went out and signed the most successful and revered marksman the West ever produced: Martin “Rekkles” Larsson. And how did he pull off such a historic signing? It’s simple: he created a culture that breeds winners and puts performance (and fun) above all else. If you’re a competitive player with big dreams and lofty aspirations (and not someone who’s just collecting cheques) then that’s the kind of org you want to sign for and subsequently represent.
And boy does seeing Rekkles don a G2 jersey evoke a strange kind of feeling. The fact that his run with Fnatic came to an end is definitely depressing (and end of an era, if you will), but it’s also impossible not to be excited for what’s to come. After seeing him pop off beyond measure at this year’s World Championship, it’s fair to say that he’s once again the de facto best marksman in the West, and is no doubt the perfect kind of addition to an already stacked G2 line-up.
There’s not a team in the West with a better shot at winning Worlds than this one. Of course, it’s still a fairly remote goal, but it’s far from unreasonable.
Schalke 04 — Steady as She Goes
Next up, we have Schalke 04. Their recent (and most historic) run definitely took us all by surprise, so it’s impossible not to be excited for 2021. But coming into the 2020 LEC off-season, most of us felt a kind of dread. Whenever players pop off to such an incredible degree, they tend to receive offers that are simply too good to pass up. Fortunately, Schalke 04 was able to retain its most valuable players, namely Erberk “Gilius” Demir and Felix “Abbedagge” Braun.
Just writing that last sentence makes one feel strange. Gilius is by no means a jungling behemoth; he’s been around for what feels like an eternity, but it wasn’t until the 2020 LEC Summer Split that he really peaked performance-wise. And we were not left indifferent. The same can be said for Abbedagge, although he’s by no means as big of a veteran. Back when he first joined the LEC, he wasn’t particularly impressive in any which way. He had solid games here and there but nothing to write home about. Perhaps most importantly, his tendency to misposition and die in isolation set multiple records — the ones you never want attached to your name. But once the region switched to online play, Abbedagge started playing out of his mind. Maybe that’s even an understatement.
It’s impossible to overstate just how well Gilius and Abbe performed back when their backs were against the wall. Of course, they couldn’t do it alone, and the rest of Schalke definitely stepped up big time. Coming into 2020, however, they did make a couple of changes. Sergen “BrokenBlade” Çelik (former LCS champion and TCL import) will be replacing LEC mainstay Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu, and Dino “Limit” Tot (formerly of SK Gaming) will now be their starter instead of Han “Dreams” Min-kook (future FlyQuest Academy support).
Are these upgrades? Well, it depends on whom you ask. BrokenBlade might be better than Odoamne, but that’s also somewhat debatable and impossible to predict seeing how the seasoned LEC veteran (and former Worlds semifinalist) often has huge dips in performance. Limit, however, was definitely not better than Dreams throughout 2020. Why Schalke would make such a change is anyone’s guess at this point, but it’s not like Limit was dreadful by any means.
Either way, this is still a fantastic roster with a lot of potential. Whether they’ll find as much success next year as they did in 2020 still remains to be seen, but there’s a reason for optimism!
Elias “Upset” Lipp — Time to Deliver
Upset’s career is quite a polarizing, highly contentious topic. His talent is undeniable, but he’s never found any concrete amount of success despite competing in the LEC for quite a while now. Did he have the right support around him? Was he set up for success? That’s somewhat debatable, but we’ve seen time and time again that if a player is truly exceptional, he’ll shine regardless of the team around him. That happened with Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek, Barney “Alphari” Morris, and even Juš “Crownshot” Marušič to a certain degree. The fact of the matter is that Upset had numerous chances to prove his worth and yet he never truly delivered.
He was always on the edge, on the cusp of breaking through and actually becoming a great marksman but it never materialized, for whatever reason. He’s a gatekeeper, in that sense — too good to be deemed a failure and just not good enough to enter the pantheon of LEC marksmen. Talk about being stuck between a rock and hard place…
Fortunately, 2021 will provide this German AD carry with yet another shot at reaching greatness — this time under the Fnatic banner. Is he deserving of such a prestigious opportunity? Well, depends on whom you ask, but it’ll be mighty interesting to see him compete next to some of the best players Europe ever produced. For Upset, 2021 will be “do or die” and we can’t wait to see if he’ll deliver!
Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi — At Long Last
YamatoCannon is as experienced a coach as they come. He’s also pretty darn good at this job, despite what some people think. Still, the teams he led over the years all share a similar set of qualities and, by proxy, flaws. Yamato’s teams are insanely aggressive, prone to playmaking, and they thrive off of bravado. They’re also one-dimensional and incapable of rebounding after a horrendous start. They’re binary in nature — they’ll either win and dominate beyond measure or wholly implode.
Of course, this is an oversimplification, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Furthermore, his teams, while undeniably fun to watch, always had a skill ceiling. They could only win through the most brutal of means. Again — fun to watch, but void of any layered macro and nuanced League of Legends. This is why they were often fan favorites, but failed to accomplish much in the grand scheme of things.
This is why pairing him with Fnatic makes a lot of sense. It’s the ultimate test, after all, but also a good stylistic match. Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, Selfmade, and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov are some of the most aggressive playmakers Europe ever fostered. So in that sense, they’re perfect for Yamato — a coach known for leading (and developing) confident playmakers. Furthermore, he never had the luxury of coaching seasoned veterans. That’s a fact most people fail to understand. Yamato is mostly known for taking relatively unknown players and pushing them into the limelight. In fact, he’s absolutely amazing at that. But once they reach a certain level it’s like they plateau. With Fnatic, however, he’ll have more of a supplementary role. He won’t need to teach them how to best play the game because they know it already. That’s quite a fascinating position for a coach to be in and we don’t get to see it that often. Instead, Yamato will be able to focus on leading them towards success, on building synergy and trust, and on concocting a plan on how to best take down the reigning champions G2 Esports.
Leading Fnatic is what most coaches dream of, and Yamato — after honing his craft for years with mid-tier gatekeepers — will finally have the opportunity to leave a mark with the boys in black and orange.
Martin “Rekkles” Larsson — A Switch for the Ages
A list of 2020 LEC off-season winners simply wouldn’t be complete without the one and only Rekkles. If you’re a Fnatic fan, this most recent off-season was a pretty traumatic one. But if we view things as objectively as possible, then it’s fair to say that Rekkles struck gold. His legacy with Fnatic has already been solidified. That’s a fact. So why not sign for his biggest competitor, seeing how they’ve been stringing wins and winning trophies left, right, and center? It makes all the sense in the world. He’s still as competitive as ever and his drive to win did not diminish over time, despite playing on the biggest of stages for what feels like an eternity.
Winning on home soil no longer interests this legendary Swedish marksman. In that sense, he’s done it all. But his trophy case will forever feel empty without — at least — a Mid-Season Invitational medal or, at best, a World Championship trophy. And what’s the one team that has a shot at attaining both? G2 Esports. Furthermore, we mustn’t forget that Rekkles was on the receiving end of things throughout both 2019 and 2020. Ever since Rasmus “Caps” Winther left the team, Fnatic has been unable to break through. They’re the second best team in Europe and that won’t change any time soon; Rekkles’ decision to switch teams is not only justified but also commendable.
And we can’t wait to see him don a G2 jersey and compete under their banner. It’s a sight none of us ever expected to see, and is undeniably one of the most exciting storylines coming into the 2021 competitive season.
Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu — A Well Deserved Upgrade
Finally, we have none other than Odoamne, one of the most experienced and respected top lane veterans in the West. The last couple of years of his career, however, have been quite an enigma. He had good splits, bad splits, moments of brilliance, moments of absolute mediocrity, and everything in between. He’s not a volatile player by nature, but it seems as though that his motivation fluctuates depending on whom he’s playing with and which org he’s playing for.
Regardless, when things go down to the wire, he’s a clutch player with a breadth of experience and a deep champion pool to boot. Naturally, seeing how he’s still one of the best performing top laners in the region, it was only a matter of time before he got an offer that was too good to refuse — like the one from Rogue. These two are truly a match made in heaven. Despite their best efforts, Rogue simply couldn’t compete at the highest of levels because of their top laner Finn “Finn” Wiestål. It’s not that Finn was horrendous per se, but he just wasn’t good or consistent enough. In other words, Rogue was in dire need of a top laner who could hold his ground against the very best and even win from time to time — and they’ve finally found one in Odoamne.
2021 is shaping up to be quite an exciting year for the LEC and we can’t wait for the season to begin!